2008 Texas - Profiles, History & More
Western Michigan WR Jamarko Simmons
Western Michigan WR Jamarko Simmons
Posted Dec 19, 2008

Player profiles, team history, the breakout players, the best bowl moments and more for the 2008 Texas Bowl.

2008 Texas Bowl Player Profiles & History

Western Michigan (9-3) vs. Rice (9-3)

Dec. 30, 8:00 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Texas Bowl History
2007 TCU 20, Houston 13
2006 Rutgers 37, Kansas State 10
2005 TCU 27, Iowa State 24
2004 Colorado 33, UTEP 28
2003 Texas Tech 38, Navy 14
2002 Oklahoma St 33, So Miss 23
2001 Texas A&M 28, TCU 9
2000 East Carolina 40, Texas Tech 27

Get Tickets for the Texas Bowl 

- 2008 CFN Texas Bowl Preview

Scroll Down For Each Team's Bowl History

By Richard Cirminiello

Best Owl Bowl Moment: Back in the day, Rice was a feisty program under legendary coach Jess Neely, stepping up every few years and winning a Southwest Conference championship. Led by the dynamic pitch-and-catch combo of Tobin Rote to Froggy Williams and a cast of talented seniors, the 1949 squad was the best of the lot, going 10-1 and capping the year with a 27-13 Cotton Bowl victory over North Carolina and Choo Choo Justice.

Best Bronco Bowl Moment: Western Michigan’s next bowl victory will be its first. The Broncos came close in the 1988 California Bowl, nearly shocking high-powered Fresno State at Bulldog Stadium before falling short, 35-30, to the passing of Mark Barsotti and the running of game MVP Darrell Rosette.

The Last Time You'll See ...

Rice: QB Chase Clement. When the program shifted in 2006 from Ken Hatfield’s option to a pro-style attack under Todd Graham, who could have imagined Clement would blossom into a star? No one has had a bigger hand in the Owls’ two recent bowl appearances than the senior, who owns just about every school passing record, accounting for 120 touchdowns, over 11,000 total yards, and a ton of clutch plays late in close games.    

Western Michigan: WR Jamarko Simmons. Simmons will be leaving Kalamazoo with no less than 254 grabs, making him the school’s all-time leader in receptions. A physical 6-2, 230-pounder, he uses his body well in traffic and has a knack for making yards after the catch. Although they won’t be facing each other, the cold war between Simmons and Rice’s Jarett Dillard, two of this year’s top 10 most prolific receivers, will be an intriguing game-within-the-game.

Breakout Player ...

Rice: S Travis Bradshaw. Bradshaw must’ve known something that others didn’t when he turned down scholarship to walk on at Rice. Just a redshirt freshman, he’s been one of the big surprises on defense for the Owls, making 81 tackles, breaking up five passes, and really having an impact toward the end of the year. Bradshaw has been particularly effective in run defense and as an open-field tackler. 

Western Michigan
: WR Juan Nunez. In a complimentary role, Nunez has carved out a productive niche in the Bronco passing game, making 55 catches for 661 yards and seven touchdowns. However, he better start getting used to more attention. Three of this year’s top four receivers, Jamarko Simmons, Schneider Julien, and Branden Ledbetter are seniors, meaning the sophomore will be play sans protection next fall.

Best Non-Game Event
The bowl’s signature event is Rodeo Bowl, which is held at the George Historical Ranch, located about 20 minutes southwest of Houston. They take both teams out there one evening and volunteers from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo set up rodeo events for the teams to compete against one another.  Some of the events are cow chip tossing, a calf scramble, and a roping contest. Afterwards, they have a big barbecue for both teams with live music so that they can all relax and have a good time. Two years ago, it was especially fun watching the Rutgers kids try to figure out what in the world they had gotten themselves into.

For fans, it's probably TexFest. TexFest is a massive pre-game party that’s thrown right outside the stadium.  It's free to anyone, and you don't even need a game ticket to attend. There's food, drinks, and games all over the place. Both teams enter the stadium by walking right through the middle of it, so team arrivals are a big deal with their bands and fans lining the walkway. There is also live music by Texas country music artists, which usually will draw a number of their fans on their own.

Player Gift Package
Each player gets a $350 Best Buy gift card, a Swisstek watch, an Under Armour HeatGear Long-Sleeve Tee, an Under Armour twister pant, an Under Armour tech cap, a Toppers backpack, and a commemorative belt buckle.

The unique thing this year is the Best Buy gift card. While most bowls give some sort of high tech gift, they’re giving the players the gift card and then turning them loose on a shopping spree inside a local Best Buy. It allows the kids a bit more freedom to choose something they'll really use, plus it should be a pretty fun photo op as well.

Charitable Component
The charitable beneficiary is DePelchin Children's Center. The agency was founded in 1892 by Kezia Payne DePelchin to shelter orphaned children. Over the years, DePelchin has expanded and adapted its programs to meet the needs of a dynamic and growing Houston. Today, DePelchin Children's Center, with the continued support of the Houston community, is the largest and most comprehensive provider of children's social and mental health services in the Houston area.

The Texas Bowl donated $50,000 to DePelchin in 2006 and increased that amount to $80,000 last year. The goal is $100,000 for this year's game.

How Success is Measured
The game has have five primary objectives by which success is measured: 1. Deliver a memorable experience for the athletes, schools, and conferences. First and foremost, this game is for the teams, and the committee wants to make sure that they have a great experience throughout the week.

2. Create an entertaining and engaging experience for the fans. They look at how many "Bowl Backer" ticket packages are sold and how many tickets are sold locally, particularly those sold before the teams are announced. If people are buying tickets before the team announcement is made, that probably means they either had a good time last year or heard good things about the game and want to see for themselves.

3. Positively impact an important and distinctively Texan charity. Again, DePelchin is their partner and their goal is to donate $100,000 this year.

4. Deliver visibility, positive perception, and economic impact for Houston.

5. Build a stable economic model to allow long-term bowl sustainability and a platform for growth. Again, local ticket sales are a big component of this. There will be years where the matchup isn't as attractive as others, so they have to count on Houstonians to fill up the stands year-in, year-out.  The only way to do

that is to put on a great event and make sure they enjoy the experience as a whole. They also look at how they’re doing with local sponsorships and trade agreements to determine if the Houston business community is supporting the game? Thus far, the answer has been a resounding yes.

MVP of the Bowl
Heather Houston.  Heather is the Texas Bowl Manager and is essentially the person in charge of every aspect of the game. The game’s full-time bowl staff is only four people (many on the Texans staff work the game, but are technically considered volunteers). Heather is constantly working the phones with coaches, athletic directors and conference commissioners to secure the best possible matchup for the game. When she's not doing that, she's working with the board of directors or finalizing details at the team hotels or talking to local companies about purchasing ticket blocks. On top of that, she has volunteers calling her at all hours to see what they can do to help out.

One neat little note about Heather: she is one of two women in the country, along with Missy Setters at the Independence Bowl, to be in charge of an NCAA bowl game.  Given the perception of bowl games being decided by a the good ol' boy network in some smoky backroom, it’s a credit to Heather that she and Ms. Setters have broken that stereotype.

Impact to the Community
The Texas Bowl has been a tremendous boost for the Greater Houston area. According to the Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Texas Bowl has generated an average of $25 million in local revenue over the past two years, putting it on par with major conventions such as the Offshore Technology Conference in terms of economic impact in the greater Houston area. 

The hidden benefit of the bowl on the local economy is its timing. Fans traveling in to root on their school fill up hotel rooms during the week between Christmas and New Years, which is generally an extremely slow period for the hospitality industry since most folks spend that time at home or with family.

Role of Volunteers
Volunteers are on the front line of making the Texas Bowl a memorable and positive experience for the teams that come to the game. Their enthusiasm for football and love of the Houston community create the perfect hosts the game needs for this event.

Right now, they’re working with about 200 volunteers at the Texas Bowl. Their responsibilities are extremely varied, but they are broken down into two main functions: hospitality and events. Hospitality includes the Team Hospitality, Media Relations, Family Hosts, and Band Hospitality sub-committees. The Events Committee is broken down into sub-committees for Rodeo Bowl, TexFest, and In-Game. As mentioned earlier, many members of the Texans staff work on a volunteer basis as well, and they couldn't pull it off without their help. 

Rice Bowl History (4-4)
2006 New Orleans Troy 41, Rice 17
1961 Bluebonnet Kansas 33, Rice 7
1960 Sugar Mississippi 14, Rice 6
1957 Cotton Navy 20, Rice 7
1953 Cotton Rice 28, Alabama 6
1949 Cotton Rice 27, North Carolina 13
1946 Orange Rice 8, Tennessee 0
1937 Cotton Rice 28, Colorado 14
Western Michigan Bowl History (0-3)
2006 Internat'l Cincinnati 37, Western Mich 24
1988 California Fresno St 35, Western Mich 30
1961 Aviation New Mexico 28, Western Mich 12

- 2008 CFN Texas Bowl Preview