This weekend marks not only the final home games of the season for Rice baseball, it also marks the end of the Wayne Graham era, a notable one in Houston Sports.
In Houston Sports — there are two things that Rice University are most known for, their outstanding academic reputation and their baseball program. The man who built the program into a national power will coach his final three games this weekend against UAB.
According to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (KRIV), Wayne Graham, who has been the head coach of the Rice Owls since 1991, will not be returning after this season. The Owls are currently 21-26 overall and 9-12 in Conference USA play.
Despite their current record, Wayne Graham is a college baseball legend outside of Houston Sports. His resume is one of the best the game has ever seen. In 37 seasons as a college head coach, coach Graham has a record of 1,722-610, in his 26 seasons at Rice, he has amassed a record of 1,147-497.
He has won 21 conference championships (11 Conference USA crowns, nine Western Athletic Conference championships , one Southwestern Conference Championship) and he also coached 38 All-American selections.
He has led Rice to the postseason 23 years in a row, which is the third-longest active streak in NCAA baseball. He had led the Owls to the NCAA Super Regional 10 times and seven times to the College World Series, winning the National Championship in 2003. What a track record in Houston Sports.
Graham has coached 59 players (in the last 10 years) that were drafted by Major League Baseball
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teams and has had 14 players drafted in the MLB first round. His most recent player being Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals. Well known ballplayers such as Lance Berkman and Philip Humber played for Graham at Rice among many others.
Before Rice he was already a steady fixture in Houston Sports, Graham coached at San Jacinto College, where he created a dynasty in the junior college baseball circuit. He won five national championships and several conference championships. While at San Jac, he coached the “Rocket” Roger Clemens. He was named coach of the century by Collegiate Baseball magazine, as well as Coach of the Decade (1980s) He was also named the top junior college baseball coach in the country five times and won the national coach of the year six times.
Before San Jac, he coached several years in high school, having success at Scarborough and Spring Branch High.
Wayne Graham played college baseball at another powerhouse program with legendary coach Bibb Falk at the University of Texas.
As you can see, Wayne Graham has had quite the career with monumental success. There would be no Rice Baseball that we all know today without coach Graham.
With all that Graham has given to college baseball and Rice University, something else should have been done to make this transition easier. Apparently there are some rumors that some former player wanted him out and orchestrated Graham’s contract not being renewed.
Former Rice standout Wade Townsend lent his thoughts on Twitter a few weeks back:
Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle wrote his opinion of the situation and I have to say that I agree with him. It’s incredibly sad to see this happen to someone that brought so much to the university and their athletic program.
Thanks Coach Graham for all you did for Rice, I’m sorry it had to end this way. Your contributions to the Rice Owls will never be forgotten.