I’ll put aside Coach Arbuckle’s slightly off kilter training regimen for the moment and talk instead about the fine job he did for Rice under difficult circumstances. Arbuckle had been recruited as our first AD as well as the first coach of all the sports offered when we opened in 1912–baseball, track and basketball in addition to football. We stole him from Southwestern in Georgetown, where he had made that small school into a Texas athletic powerhouse. This recommendation letter from the UT coach is characteristic of the sorts of things people said about Arbuckle:
Several years ago I ran across this vivid evidence of the good manners he expected (and got) from his athletes:
There was a lot of excitement surrounding Arbuckle’s hiring in Houston at large, where hopes of building a football powerhouse of our own ran high, and his arrival was noted in the local papers:
And in truth he did a very good job, compiling a record of 51-25-8 from 1912 to 1923 and earning the trust and respect of the students while teaching both English and History. He was replaced by John Heisman in 1924, becoming the first in a long line of Rice coaches who fell victim to unrealistic expectations. (Heisman failed miserably by the way and was gone himself after the 1925 season.)
Not long ago I found this poignant compilation he made of his record as Rice’s football coach. I’m pretty sure the handwritten numbers along the left column are the enrollments of the schools we played against:
This is my favorite photograph of him:
Rice fight never dies.