Bailiff, a Texas State grad, learned quickly how important.
"It was our first year here, when we walked down the stairs to the practice field," Bailiff said. "You'd look in the locker room and they'd be in full pads, and they'd have their biochem books open and you'd think, 'What a sight - sitting there in full pads in the locker room.' "
Sometimes, there was a price for that.
"Right after team meetings, you'd go out to the practice field and realized they knew a lot about biochemistry but had forgotten everything they learned in our meetings," Bailiff said. "We had to start taking their books away before practice and just making sure they were watching football a little bit more."
Never fear. A Rice student finds ways to compensate.
"Their first road win they had was against Southern Miss, our first year in '07," Bailiff said. "And we got on the airplane, all the lights came on and everyone opened their book bag and they studied on the way home.
"I had never been on a charter flight like that, where nobody talked, everybody studied."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.