Rice football hit a new low on Saturday, falling to a previously winless UTEP team at home. Mike Bloomgren is taking the loss harder than anyone else.
“We’re just past the point of moral victories. I love that they fight, but we’ve just got to win games.”
The frustration in the room was palpable following Rice’s stunning near-blowout loss at the hands of the now 1-8 UTEP Miners. Rest assured fans, head coach Mike Bloomgren hears you loud and clear and he feels the pain as deep as anyone else associated with this program, if not more so.
“I never thought I would be associated with a team that has had this little success,” Bloomgren admitted following the loss,” This has been very difficult.” It was a difficult result in more ways than one for Owls everywhere. Prior to Saturday, UTEP’s last win came in November of 2016 — nearly two years ago. The toll a defeat to a program that had been so bad for so long is ringing loud and clear through the Rice locker room and through Bloomgren’s ears. The reverberations are going to continue for some time.
“UTEP made more plays than we did down the stretch and that seems to be a common theme,” Bloomgren said in the aftermath of the defeat, adding that his team has been “given a lifetime of lessons this year.” If the team doesn’t start learning from these gut-wrenching moments, Bloomgren knows they’ll be in for more of the same feelings. And that’s not fun.
“It’s no fun right now to do this,” he said, “The fun is in the winning… life is not fun for me right now because this is such a big part of my life. It’s not fun for our coaches; it’s not fun for our players. It’s just not fun. Fun is in the winning.”
It’s been a challenging season for Bloomgren and his staff. This team has been repetitively punched in the mouth and asked to respond. For every step forward the Owls seem to take two steps forward, but that doesn’t mean the steps forward should be ignored. This team has shown signs of progress, something evidenced by their willingness to fight back from a 31-3 deficit and turning it into a one-score game in the fourth quarter.
Bloomgren says there’s no “magic pill” and he “wouldn’t be able to sleep if I threw these seniors out with the bathwater.” This staff won’t throw in the towel and write this season off as lost, no matter how gruesome the record might be. Instead, they’re going to keep working, keep making adjustments and keep showing up on the field every Saturday with winning intentions.
This team needs to see progress, at whatever the cost. “At this point, everything is on the table,” said Bloomgren. The Owls’ new head man inherited a 1-win team with a monumental rebuild awaiting him. It’s been harder than even he could have anticipated, but it doesn’t mean all is lost. This is the valley. There’s nowhere to go but up.
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