For Bayou Bucket, rivalry may become memory
UH alumnus Diego Lopez still remembers the 2011 Bayou Bucket, in which former quarterback Case Keenum threw for nine touchdowns in the rain.
Soon though, such experiences may be a distant memory for Cougars fans.
With the Cougars out of Conference USA and into the American Athletic Conference, dates have not been set for any more games with Rice, so the Bayou Bucket will go on hiatus. This leaves some students and alumni disappointed and upset at the loss of one of only two crosstown university rivalry games in the nation.
“It’s an absolute travesty,” Lopez said. “Rice is a great rival, and collegiate sports are great because of rivalries. That those are falling by the wayside because of money and conference realignment is awful. I will miss playing Rice.”
The problem is with fitting nonconference games into a rigid schedule that is often planned years in advance. Back in 1995, the teams faced the same problem and had to go on a four-season break after the dismantling of the Southwest Conference.
The Cougars take pride in winning the crosstown matchup. Many of the players competed against each other in high school, and several on each team’s roster were recruited by the opposing school, said head coach Tony Levine.
“You can truly throw the records out. Our young men are going to be ready to play, and certainly (Rice head) coach (David) Bailiff and the Rice student athletes will be ready to play,” Levine said.
“This is a highly competitive game, and the celebration that ensues when the game concludes is one you see in those rivalries where the winning team runs over, grabs it and begins to enjoy themselves on the field at the other program’s expense.”
Both teams say they remain interested in keeping this tradition going, even if it may not be on an annual basis.
Spanish and history senior Nick Heisig said if UH is canceling this rivalry game tradition, they should make it worthwhile.
“If they are going to schedule teams in place of that, they need to be marquee matchups that will bring national prominence to our program and city,” Heisig said. “Otherwise, cancelling a rivalry match for a small-time opponent is a massive letdown for the city as a whole.”
Other students, like logistics and supply chain management senior Ross Coburn, see the possible cancellation of this 42-year tradition as just a stepping stone as UH climbs onto bigger and better conferences.
“It’s all part of the conference movement, so I’m not too upset,” Coburn said. “I’d rather have UH upgraded to a better conference than keep the Bayou Bucket.”