It takes some time to build a program. How have the various Rice football coaches faired in their second year at South Main?
After a two-win season in 2018, Rice football coach Mike Bloomgren enters 2019 with a renewed vigor. The Owls went through the growing pains expected with a coaching change last season, rebuilding as they went. That season was all about installing the right schemes and educating the younger players. 2019 marks a transition from training from what most coaches call “Year Zero” into the “real world” of sorts.
Officially in his second year of command, Bloomgren joins the ranks of 14 Rice coaches who stayed at the school for multiple seasons. Eight of those coaches won had a better winning percentage in Year 2. Six fell short.
Interestingly enough, the best Year 2 season in school history came in 2008 with David Bailiff at the helm. Rice won 10 games that season, capping things off with a Texas Bowl win over Western Michigan. Bailiff’s squad was coming off a 3-9 start the year before, a hair better than Bloomgren’s 2-11. Fortunately for Bailiff, he had the benefit of senior quarterback Chase Clement as well as pass catchers Jarrett Dillard and James Casey.
Other coaches had more work to do in Year 2. Jimmy Kitts (8-3 in 1935), Jack Meagher (8-4 in 1930) and Jess Neely (6-3-1 in 1941) are the only other Rice coaches to finish with a winning record in their second season.
Ultimately the successes (or failures) of Bloomgren’s predecessors have a negligible impact on his team’s outlook for 2019. For the most part, those that have come before him have taken a few seasons to get things up and running. Legendary coach Jess Neely’s best season came in Year 10. Time will tell where Bloomgren fits amongst the ranks.