Mike Bloomgen is the 19th coach in Rice football history, joining a rich tradition which dates all the way back to 1912.
It all began with a 3-2 season in 1912 led by Phil Arbuckle, the first Rice football coach in school history. His 11-years in charge, albeit with a gap in 1918 when John Anderson led the team, set a precedent for long-tenured coaches at South Main.
Although there have been stretches with more turnover than others, Rice has had relatively few men in charge of the football program over the last three decades. Since Fred Goldsmith took over in 1989, Rice has had five head coaches: Goldsmith (five seasons), Ken Hatfield (12 seasons), Todd Graham (one season), David Baliff (eight seasons) and now Mike Bloomgren.
Limited turnover hasn’t necessitated sustained success. The Owls have two conference championships to their name over the last 60 years, a number which contrasts sharply with the six championships they won in the SWC from 1934 to 1957, a span of just 22 seasons. The majority of those championships came under the leadership of all-time great Jess Neely.
Neely’s career record of 144-124-10 isn’t awe-inspiring, but his 12-year stretch from 1946 to 1957 was arguably the most successful era of Rice football. During that period the Owls finished inside the top 10 nationally four times, climbing as high as No. 5 in the nation at the conclusion of the 1949 season.
Since Neely finished with a career 53.7 percent winning percentage no other Owls’ coach that lasted more than a single season has finished with an above .500 record. There have only been three coaches in school history to accomplish the feat, Neely, Arbuckle and Jimmy Kitts. If Bloomgren can get the Owls back to level he’ll already be among some of the most successful coaches Rice football has ever had.
19 is a lot of coaches, but if things break the right way, the Owls won’t have to start looking for No. 20 for quite some time.