SWC to now

So…this is interesting as the dust is starting to settle.

When the Big 8 approached the SWC for a full 16 team merger, Texas and Texas A&M felt that they should be the only two Texas schools to join the "Middle of America " Conference.

We all know Texas politicians got involved and a large public school in West Texas (Texas Tech) and a small, albeit older, private religious school (Baylor) were included in the Big 8 expansion package to form the Big 12.

We all know that all four SWC schools from the 2 largest metros were excluded to fend for themselves.

Houston (large public)
Rice (small prestigious private)
TCU ( small religious private)
SMU (small religious private)

Fast forward to 2023 (or 2025) and the current landing spots for the former SWC 8 is very reflective of their individual journey.

Texas and Texas A&M finally got their wish all along, or maybe the new wish of onlyTexas now, and are finally the only two worthy Texas schools in a single Conference. They have finally separated themselves from the other Texas schools but not in the “middle of America” Conference, as orginally planned, but in a conference in the Southeastern United States. Interesting enough, they “pulled” two former Big 8 schools with them (Mizzou + Oklahoma) and are reunited with former SWC mate, Arkansas.

Texas Tech & Baylor, after enduring multiple raids of the Big 12 and Texas Tech possibly going west without Baylor, added a former SWC mate in TCU and now Houston. The Conference, that was once Middle of America remains Texas dominant (4/12) but the footprint now stretches West to Utah, North to Ohio, and East to Florida.

The only two former non P5 SWC mates will also be reunited but in the G5 AAC, albeit a watered down version of that Conference. It could be said that SMU was late to reinvest in their athletic program and Rice may be just starting to do it now…with their invite to the AAC.

Nobody knows what will happen to those two but it is interesting that the two quality private schools in the two largest Texas cities are currently on the outside looking in.

SMU got out hustled by TCU and ironically Rice has always had the largest self sufficient pool of resources of the 4 yet choose not to use them to elevate their athletics…even though they somehow managed to win a natty in baseball. They even had Tom Herman before UH did.

It will be interesting to see what those two do moving forward.


The ESPN 30 on Pony Express was interesting. Basically until Dickerson and some others got involved and brought in June Jones, their whole angle was that they would care less about winning and more about doing things the “right” way and avoiding the appearance of doing anything wrong. (I found especially interesting that the players involved in that were basically barred from university events during a lot of that time.

TCU, on the other hand, took a much more mercenary view jumping around from conference to conference improving its position. We were somewhere in the middle. Mostly trying to improve, but until Maggard without much of anything in the way of vision.


A crime how SMU paid for the sins of every program in the SEC. When it comes to paying players the SEC is probably into the hundreds of millions since the 70’s.

The key is they didn’t have the DMN trying to take them down


I thought people were exaggerating with the whole “Their real crime was defeating Texas” but lordy lordy that was really how it kind of went down.


Clemens then went after everybody

Texas : How dare you be competitive with us, we will do everything to destroy your program

Also Texas: We’re always picking up the slack for weak conference competition so we’re leaving, so there


Rice simply needs to drop down to I-FCS.

They will never be in a Power conference.


Everything about Rice sucks, their students, their athletics, their ideologies. I have learned to really not like Rice. People always say, “JFK gave a speech here”, yeah, and I haven’t seen stand up pissers troughs since the Astrodome.

The ironic thing is that of all the SWC castaways, they had the most built in resources- a prestigious reputation, a huge endowment, and great campus, a huge stadium, and in a large market yet they CHOSE to deemphasize athletics and school spirit.


Hanger-on in the AAC with a handful of other small private schools and Navy isn’t such a bad deal as long as they can work it.

Having said that, if they’d been left behind it might have been time to start thinking outside of the box. Not FCS but go all-in on hockey or something.

They’ll be playing teams like Charlotte.

Rock bottom.

They were already in a conference with Charlotte. Now they’ve got SMU and Tulane instead of UTEP and Middle Tennessee. This represents improvement.


It represents real improvement in quality of opponent…Imagine Rice having to play Memphis, SMU. ECU. Tulane, Navy along with UTSA and West Kent. They will struggle to win. They struggle now in a terrible cusa…

Rice deinvested in its baseball program also and allowed it to rot away - never seen a school with a national presence just let it fall - that’s the one sport you keep bending rules to stay competitive

At this point, I think Rice is waiting for the last generation of alums who care about sports to die off. Even into the 1990s, Rice football would draw a legit 1,500 students to football games. Games vs UT and Aggy, the students would fill two sections without tarps or the MOB spread out like there’s a new variant of Covid.

If I were POTUS at Rice, I’d bite the bullet and drop to D3. Join Chicago, Wash U, Emory, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western, Rochester, and Brandeis. It would immediately lift their academic reputation. Probably be top ten like UChicago within a decade.


I could see this happening… Academics in the ONLY thing that school cares about…their fan support is so bad they literally have to get a special waiver to be a D1 school. They simply do not meet qualifications without it.

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I wonder if they didn’t have that huge stadium sitting on the south end of their campus they’d be more willing to embrace what they actually want to be- an academic powerhouse with a multitude of sports programs that bring in a few hundred or perhaps thousand hardcore alumni here and there but don’t drain too many school resources. What are the chances they eventually get rid of football, raze that stadium, and rebuild the whole south end of their campus?

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Very sad since they could have been a Stanford type of Academics +Athletics but that ahip sailed away a long time ago.

It will be interesting to how serious about this recent AAC athletic push. They are promoting a big athletic fundraising campaign.

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I think they’ll get better because it will be easier for them to recruit better players in the AAC. Noticeably, their performance got worse as their conference did. You can see the dropoff after we left Conference USA. They had two great seasons when their CUSA v2.0 recruits were playing against CUSA v3.0, then they just flatlined, which I think shows the recruiting differential.

So while I don’t expect them to do well, with recruiting plus reinvestment I expect the level of mediocrity they had when we were together in Conference USA rather than what they’ve had since. Being with SMU, Tulane, and Tulsa make a lot of difference even if we aren’t there, as will the level of exposure the AAC provides (which is far above and beyond what any of us had in Conference USA.

Football will never be important to most of the Rice student body, but having the team gives them something not very many small liberal arts schools have: a football program that plays at what is nominally highest level of the sport (at least until or unless there is a formal P5/G5 split). In an increasingly competitive environment for private schools, I don’t think you give that up easily. Not unless you have to, probably. Their program just had what may be the worst decade or so in its history, and its response was to reinvest.