Rice University gave Todd Graham his first opportunity to be a head coach of a college football program. And Graham was quite successful in his only season on South Main, leading the Owls to their first bowl game since the early 1960’s.
But Graham’s stay on South Main was anything but platonic. After being named Conference USA Coach of the Year and renegotiating his contract with Rice, Graham announced a couple of weeks after the bowl game that he was leaving to replace his former boss as head coach at the University of Tulsa. By virtually all accounts, Graham handled the job change about as badly as possible.
Well, as predicted in my post at the time of Graham’s job change, it was just a matter of time before Rice’s notorious Marching Owl Band (“the MOB”) would have an opportunity to comment on Coach Graham’s antics, and that opportunity presented itself this past Saturday during halftime of the Rice-Tulsa game at Rice Stadium. The MOB performed a halftime show entitled “Todd Graham’s Inferno,” which concluded with the following comment over the stadium public address system:
Childish for sure, but nothing out of the ordinary for the MOB. And it was certainly not even as clever as the MOB’s theme for their halftime show during Rice’s bowl game against Troy last year — “Troy Loses. Read Homer”
So, how did the University of Tulsa respond? By doing precisely what the MOB probably wanted — fueled the inferno by filing a complaint against the MOB with the C-USA commissioner:
The University of Tulsa has sent a formal complaint to Conference USA regarding Rice’s halftime show during the Golden Hurricane-Owls football game on Saturday.
The performance by the Rice marching band was titled “Todd Graham’s Inferno” and depicted a search for the former Owls coach through different circles of Hell, based on Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”
After taking numerous jabs at Graham, the show ended by calling the Tulsa coach a “d—–bag” over the public address system.
“We filed a formal complaint with the conference and that’s where it stands now,” TU athletic director Bubba Cunningham said.[. . .]
When asked what he wanted the complaint to accomplish, Cunningham said, “We need to provide an environment where a student-athlete can participate and fans can enjoy college athletics in a very positive way.”
Sportsmanship has been a point of emphasis in C-USA, the Tulsa athletic director said. “When we don’t meet those standards, we need to look at ourselves as a league and find how we can make that experience better,” he said.
Yeah, that was real sportsmanship displayed by Cunningham and Tulsa last year when they lured Graham away from Rice right in the middle of recruiting season.
At any rate, all of this provides the opportunity to pass along again the following anecdote about football coaches that legendary Houston sportswriter Mickey Herskowitz tells:
Halas was furious that the Rams failed to ask for his permission and threatened to take Allen to court. At a league meeting after the issue was resolved, Halas used the occasion to vent his anger at his former defensive coach.
“George Allen,” Halas raged, “is a man with no conscience. He is dishonest, deceptive, ruthless, consumed with his own ambition.”
At that point, Vince Lombardi leaned over to the owner of the Rams and whispered:
“Sounds to me like you’ve got yourself a helluva football coach.”