Rice's Sam McGuffie Aims to Medal at the Winter Olympics

Sam McGuffie (in the Rice cap) celebrating at the 2017 World Cup.
Sam McGuffie (in the Rice cap) celebrating at the 2017 World Cup. Photo by Molly Choma/USA Bobsled & Skeleton
Sam McGuffie was a do-everything offensive threat for the Rice Owls. A Rice Owl from 2009 to 2012, McGuffie primarily played running back, but he also spent lots of time in the slot and at wide receiver. He finished his career with 2,299 all-purpose offensive yards, scoring a total of 16 touchdowns and placing 11th all-time in receptions among Rice players.

But next month, McGuffie, who also played a year of football at Michigan, has the change to surpass anything that he ever did as a college athlete. That is because he has been named as one of the 12 members of the United States Bobsled team that will be competing next month in the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

McGuffie will be just the fourth ever Rice Owl to compete in the Olympics. He is the first ever to compete in the Winter Olympics. He will be a member of both the two man bobsled teams and the four man team.

“I’m happy I get to represent Rice University and the City of Houston wherever I go, but especially at the winter games,” McGuffie said in a statement when he was named to the team. “Rice is family. Rice has been behind me when I started out on this crazy adventure in 2015. Hopefully I can represent the university and fellow alumni well. I’m just real excited for this opportunity.”

McGuffie became nationally known as a high school player when he hurdled a defender to score a touchdown. He was highly recruited, choosing Michigan over schools like Notre Dame before coming home to Rice. He also competed on Rice’s track and field team. He spent time on the practice squads of the Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, and New England Patriots before spending the 2014 season with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The United States has not always been the most impressive of participants in the bobsled. The four man team went from 1956 to 2002 without medaling. The two man team went from 1948 to 2014 without earning a medal in the event. The U.S. got the silver and bronze in the four man event in 2002, the gold in 2010, and a bronze in the last Winter Olympics in 2014. The two man team got the bronze in 2014.

This is McGuffie’s third year as a member of the U.S. National Team and he has five World Cup medals. He finished in third place as a member of the four man U.S. bobsled team in 2017.

McGuffie will be part of a four man team driven by Codie Bascue. McGuffie, Evan Weinstock, and Steve Langton will be the sled’s pushers. The job of the pushers is to build up as much speed with the sled as possible before all members jump inside as the sled hits the ice track. The two man team will be Bascue and McGuffie, with McGuffie serving as the brakeman, which means he gets to hit the brakes once the finish line is hit. And that’s an important job because bobsleds can top off at around 90 mph with a world record of around 125 mph. And it usually takes less than half-a-minute to run the course.

This will be the first Olympics for both McGuffie and Bascue. McGuffie will not the first football player to be a member of the U.S. Bobsled Team at the Olympics. Herschel Walker was part of the 1992 team and was also a pusher on his team.

McGuffie is with the team training in Germany. He will take part in the Opening Ceremonies on Friday, February 9, but he then has most of the next two weeks off. The two man bobsled team will compete on February 18 and 19. The four man team will compete on February 24 and 25. And knowing how NBC loves to do up-and-close personal type videos with US Olympians, perhaps there’s a chance that McGuffie’s American Ninja Warrior audition tape will be shown for all of the world to see and enjoy.

If one of McGuffie’s teams should medal, then he would become just the second only Rice athlete to earn an Olympic medal.
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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal