I assume it’s to win, but maybe part of it is force of habit. They’ve been doing it for a really long time.
Among the photos that campus photographer Tommy Lavergne resurrected from old glass plate negatives (see this post) is this stunning image of a very early Rice-Texas football game. Most of the Rice pictures I see from this era are deeply interesting in their content, but pretty lackluster as images. Not this one. You can feel the tension of the kickoff and the nearness of the crowd, with the capitol looming behind. I think it’s beautiful.
The game was played at UT’s original Clark Field, which was constructed in 1887 at the corner of 24th Street and Speedway. Clark Field remained the home of the football team until they moved into Memorial Stadium in 1924. Taylor Hall was built on this site in 1932 to house part of the engineering school. In a clear and convincing demonstration that time continues to pass, Taylor Hall was razed about this time last year and has been replaced with the Dell Computer Science Building.
I’ve tried pretty hard (in more than one archive) to figure out exactly when this picture was taken. I can’t be positive, but I think it was 1916, with 1915 the other possibility. Whatever the precise year, this rivalry was a very, very big deal to the Rice students of that day. The scrapbooks are full of memorabilia–ticket stubs, programs, etc. For the 1916 game, Rice chartered a special train car to bring its fans to Austin. This image is pretty faded, but if you enlarge it you can just make out “Rice Rooters Special” on the banner. (You may be shocked to know that quite a bit of poker was played on this trip. I have some of the chips.)
And here are the Rice fans, along with the band, marching up Congress Avenue:
So, we lost that game in 1916. We lost in 1915 too. But those were day games, there being no such thing as stadium lighting yet. It’s at night this year so I like our chances better, with us being owls and all.
Bonus: Tommy’s going to Austin with the team and he promises to try to get a similar picture of the kickoff.