The Rice Owls went searching for a new head football coach ten days ago. But Mike Bloomgren targeted Rice two years ago. On Thursday, the two formally came together as Bloomgren was officially named as the new head coach of the Owls.
Bloomgren was the associate head coach/offensive coordinator for the Stanford Cardinal before taking the Rice job. He had been at Stanford since 2011. During that time, the Cardinal have made eight straight bowl games and have gone 72-20 on the field. Stanford has won eight or more games in each season that Bloomgren has bas been on staff while winning the Pac-12 conference title three times. He has coached 12 NFL draft selections and 11 All-America selections. He coached Christian McCaffrey, the NCAA’s all-purpose yardage record holder, and he has been the mind behind a Stanford offense which, this season, has produced Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love.
He’s been a hot name when it comes to head coaching jobs in college football. But Bloomgren’s been waiting for just the right job. And two years ago he earmarked Rice as one of the five schools (along with Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt) where he wanted to be head coach. He was looking for a school like Stanford where players could go to excel on the football field while having every opportunity to not only succeed in the classroom, but to take challenging classes.
“I came to the realization that those are the kind of kids I wanted to work with,” Bloomgren said. “I wanted to work with world class students, and world class athletes, and there are very few places where you can do it. So when I say I earmarked Rice, I literally did.”
He’s convinced that not only can he win football games at Rice, but that he can also turn Rice into a consistent winner. He noted that Stanford hadn’t exactly been known for its winning history before Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach in 2007 and who was followed by David Shaw in 2011. If Stanford can do it, Rice can do it. And Rice can do it.
“[Rice has] won,” Bloomgren said. “You’ve watched the program win. Win a conference title, win ten games, win eight games in the very recent past. Anytime you see that, and when you believe in yourself and believe in the process, then yeah, we can make this thing work. I know the stories about Stanford before I got there, when Coach [Jim] Harbaugh first got there, and they had just went 1-11 and they were talking about dropping football, or going non-scholarship. And Stanford’s certainly come a long way in those 10 years.”
The hiring will bring about a new look for the Owls on offense as Bloomgren plans to bring along the pro style offense run by Stanford with him to Rice. It may take awhile to implement, but the end result will be power running game coupled with the West Coast offense.
“It’s what I believe in,” he says. “I believe in a West Coast foundation with a power running game. I think that if you can run the rock, control the clock, score touchdowns, and play great defense it’s a recipe to win games and championships. And that’s what we’re going to try to do. Now in year one, we’re going to see what best fits our personnel and how we can incorporate those things, but you will see and feel a physical style of play.”
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He’s still got to hire a staff, and while doing that, he’s also got to hit the recruiting trail. Bloomgren’s been named one of the nation’s top recruiters in years past, and he’s been recruiting for Stanford which has to deal with many of the same issues that Rice deals with in terms of grades and academics. He definitely recruit Texas because he says Texas players are among the best coached in the country, but he won’t limit himself to Texas because if he could recruit nationally at Stanford, then he can recruit nationally at Rice.
As for his staff, nobody has been hired yet, but he has some names in mind. He says he’ll talk to those who are already on the staff, but he stresses the need for people he knows and trusts to fill out his staff.
“We’ll definitely talk to everybody on the staff,” he says. “I want to do that because I’ve been on the other side of the coin, as well. So I will talk to everybody on the staff. I have some guys in mind, and the problem with it is, even if they’re great coaches here, they’re not guys that I’ve worked with, and guys that I’ve been in trenches with. Guys that I trust. And with a first job, as important as it is to get things rolling the right way, I’m going to go with guys that I know and trust for the most part.”
It’s a new day dawning for Rice football. And with the Stanford model to pave the way, it might make for a very, very nice day.