Rice Owls

MOB members playing trombones in shorts at football game, Rice University
Rice University

Rice offers mea culpa for band’s ‘Title IX’ shot at Baylor

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Those wild and wacky collegiate marching bands are at it again.

At halftime of Baylor’s Friday night 38-10 win over Rice, the Owls marching band, known as the MOB, decided that they would pay tribute to the visitors with a performance that included the group spelling out the phrase “Title IX.”  That, of course, is a reference to the spate of sexual assaults that have plagued the scandal-laden football program over the past several months.

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, university officials apologized for the performance, saying “we regret any offense, particularly if Baylor fans may have felt unwelcome in our stadium.”

It’s not believed the school will take any action against the band.  Below is the entire statement released by the university:

The Marching Owl Band, or MOB, has a tradition of satirizing the Rice Owls’ football opponents. In this case, the band’s calling attention to the situation at Baylor was subject to many different interpretations. Although the band’s halftime shows are entirely the members’ projects with no prior review by the university administration, we regret any offense, particularly if Baylor fans may have felt unwelcome in our stadium. While we know that the MOB did not intend in any way to make light of the serious issue of sexual assault, we are concerned that some people may have interpreted the halftime performance in that vein. Sexual assault is a matter of serious concern on campuses across the nation, and all of us have an obligation to address the matter with all the tools at our disposal. The MOB sought to highlight the events at Baylor by satirizing the actions or inactions of the Baylor administration, but it is apparent from the comments of many spectators and Baylor fans that the MOB’s effort went too far.

Ex-coach Art Briles shows up for Baylor’s game at Rice

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 5: Head coach Art Briles talks to his players from the sideline against the Texas Longhorns at McLane Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
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Baylor made the trip down to Houston to round out their non-conference slate with old SWC rival Rice on Friday night. The contest would likely have been an unremarkable game on a weekend full of great matchups but it appears that Bears fans were not the only ones who made the trip to see their team.

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Yes, courtesy of a fan at the game, that is indeed former Baylor head coach Art Briles in the stands at Rice Stadium watching his old team. Biles was fired from the school in May after an investigation by law firm Pepper Hamilton found the football program did not properly handle allegations of sexual assault involving several players on the team.

Having Briles show up to the game looks like the latest stop in the coach’s image rehabilitation tour. He was interviewed on ESPN last week apologizing for mistakes during his tenure and has been seen at a number of other college campuses and NFL training camps in the past few months.

It should be noted that the ex-coach showing up for a game is not completely unexpected considering his son Kendal Briles is the program’s offensive coordinator while his son-in-law Jeff Lebby is the Bears’ running backs coach.

Still, the appearance of Briles at a Baylor game is bound to raise a few eyebrows and cause folks to wonder if he’s there to see old players and coaches or even if he might be a little interested in scouting Rice should that head coaching job come open at the end of the year.

Mountain West to consider expansion with or without Big 12 poaching

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 05:  The Championship Trophy, with the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Game trophies, sit on a table fieldside prior to the Mountain West Championship game between the San Diego State Aztecs and  the Air Force Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
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Regardless of what happens in one Power Five conference, one Group of Five league could be expanding.

Air Force and Colorado State of the Mountain West have reportedly made the cut as the Big 12 looks to expand by at least two teams and possibly four.  That conference could make their expansion decision as early as the next month.

In the meantime, the MWC won’t be sitting idly by waiting to be poached as commissioner Craig Thompson confirmed Saturday that his conference will look to expand independent of what the Big 12 does.  And, more to the point, Thompson doesn’t hide the fact that the league would like a presence in the state of Texas.

“I can say this — and I said it at our [football] media days. We have a lot of people saying, ‘If there’s an opportunity to be in your league, we’re interested.’ So there are numbers there,” Thompson said, without getting into any specifics. “I’ve challenged our membership to think about expansion — with or without losing [current] members. Do we look east? Do we look at the state of Texas, for example?

“So that’s probably going to be something we have to confront this year.”

The Salt Lake Tribune mentions current Conference USA members North Texas, Rice, UTEP and UT-San Antonio as possibilities from the state of Texas.  The Sun Belt’s Arkansas State is also considered a viable option.

Report: Memphis no longer a candidate for Big 12 expansion

MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 17:  Daniel Montiel #80 celebrates with Paxton Lynch #12 of the Memphis Tigers after a touchdown against the Ole Miss Rebels at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee.  The Tigers defeated the Rebels 37-24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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The Big 12’s list of potential expansion candidates appears to have shrunk by one notable name according to a recent ESPN report on Friday.

Sources told the network that the University of Memphis is the latest school to get cut from the Big 12’s list, which once numbered as many as 22 schools but is now down to a reported 11. The omission of the Tigers is bound to raise a few eyeballs as the athletic department has made significant strides in recent years and has the backing of powerful local booster Fred Smith and his FedEx empire.

The ESPN report noted that the 11 schools will begin meeting in Dallas with Big 12 officials starting next week, with a possible decision on expansion coming as soon as a board of directors meeting on October 17.

In addition to the notable names like Memphis and Boise State who are out of the running to join the Big 12, the names of the schools that could get an invite is just as notable. The usual suspects of BYU, Cincinnati and Houston were among the names ESPN reported are in the final 11, along with Air Force, UCF, UConn, Colorado State, Rice, South Florida, SMU and Tulane.

Interestingly, the report also said Memphis offering to take less revenue from the Big 12 actually may have hurt the school in the long run because the league wanted teams that could strengthen the conference as opposed to being “propped up” by an invite.

The entire Big 12 expansion process is seemingly never-ending but it appears that things are starting to move along now that the list of prospective schools has been riddled down. It remains anybody’s guess as to whether the Big 12 even expands at all, or whether they add two or four teams. Given how the process has played out so far, it might be wise to expect the unexpected.

Just ask Memphis.

Boise State confirms it too is no longer a Big 12 expansion candidate

BOISE , ID - SEPTEMBER 13: A general view of players cleets on the blue turf during the game between Boise State Broncos and Bowling Green Falcons at Bronco Stadium on September 13, 2008 in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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East Carolina confirmed Wednesday that the Big 12 had informed the university that it was no longer a candidate for the latest round of expansion.  A day later, a Mountain West school has done the same.

In a statement, Boise State president Bob Kustra confirmed that the school had expressed an interest in joining the Big 12.  However, “the conversations didn’t get far enough to spark a deep analysis on what the partnership could have meant to either Boise State or the Big 12.”

Below is the entire text of Kustra’s statement:

We will always explore opportunities to put our university and our students in the best position for success. In this case, we believe we provided the necessary information for the beginning stages of the process, but the conversations didn’t get far enough to spark a deep analysis on what the partnership could have meant to either Boise State or the Big 12. We remain confident that our membership in the Mountain West Conference provides tremendous opportunities for our student-athletes in all sports. We wish the best to the Big 12 as they move forward.

Boise was one of 20 Group of Five programs who made initial presentations to the Big 12 stating their case for inclusion.

It’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  A report surfaced earlier this week that stated invitations have been sent to those six schools, as well as USF and two other unnamed AAC schools.  ESPN reported that number of finalists to be more than a dozen: Air Force, BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Houston, Memphis, Rice, SMU, Temple, Tulane, UCF, UConn and USF.

Those on the receiving end of the invitations are expected to take part in another round of presentations, after which the conference will settle on their new members.  While the conference is looking at expanding by both two and four teams, it appears the former is the more likely number.  A final decision on both the members and number of members is expected at some point in October.