RUSTON, La. — Fans of Louisiana Tech football are not happy with the school's athletic director after jockeying itself out a postseason bowl bid.
The Bulldogs had a 9-3 season record and had the nation's highest scoring offense. It was assured by one bowl, the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, they would get a bid. However, La. Tech athletic director Bruce Van De Velde believed he was forced into turning down the offer by Independence Bowl officials.
"In consultation with our coach and our university president, we asked Independence Bowl officials for more time to make a decision until we could properly consider all post season options that were available to Louisiana Tech. Unfortunately, we were not afforded that time and the decision was made to rescind the offer,” according to Van De Velde on Louisiana Tech's atheltics website.
Independence Bowl chairman Jack Andres said organizers had to set a deadline for La. Tech. They were concerned if they waited, they would be stuck with a team that was barely bowl eligible and too far away from Shreveport to bring many fans to the game. Andres said they contacted La. Tech a second time and left messages, but the call wasn't returned.
Van De Velde denies the refusal rumor about the Independence Bowl bid, even though he said the offer was refused in the same statement. “Contrary to media reports, at no time did I, our head coach or a member of our administration turn down an official invitation to any bowl game," he said.
The Independence Bowl ultimately decided to pick Ohio University from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) to play against the University of Louisiana at Monroe from the Sun Belt Conference.
La. Tech fans also believe a rumor that university officials tried to avoid playing in the Independence Bowl because of UL-Monroe's invitation to play in the game earlier last week. The Independence Bowl would have become a rivalry game had La. Tech accepted it's bid. The schools are a mere 35 miles apart from one another.
La. Tech head coach Sonny Dykes went to Twitter Sunday night and said, "I'm heartbroken for our 31 seniors that have given so much for LaTech. They deserve to finish their careers in a bowl game."
La. Tech alum Karl Malone ripped his school on Twitter Sunday. "I am Bulldog to the core, I am heartbroken and embarrassed that our university would do this to Tech Nation," wrote the NBA Hall of Famer. "To our football and staff this … is exactly what is wrong with our university. Now it's time to get former athletes to run our program. I'm [six-foot-nine] and not hard to find."
La. Tech plays in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), a conference with only one bowl tie-in. Utah State, the winner of the WAC, receives that tie-in. La. Tech finished third in the WAC after losing its last two games to Utah State and San Diego State. Schools who have winning records in a conference with little or no bowl tie-in must jockey for a bowl that is open to at-large berths.
Last night's Bowl Championship Series (BCS) selections created a domino effect on all the bowl match-ups, which led to La. Tech being out of a bowl. The BCS picked MAC Champion Northern Illinois to play as an at-large bid in a BCS Bowl, the Discover Orange Bowl, because the Huskies, a champion from a non-automatic qualifying conference, finished in the top 16 of the BCS standings and higher than two champions from automatic qualifying conferences, Wisconsin from the Big Ten and Louisville from the Big East.
This caused Big 12 school Oklahoma, who would have received the BCS at-large bid, to be pushed out of the BCS entirely and into the AT&T Cotton Bowl to play Texas A&M. This also caused Big 12 Conference officals to need its original bowl tie-ins, as they had nine bowl-eligible teams. Iowa State (6-6) landed in the Liberty Bowl to play C-USA champion Tulsa as an at-large pick. Oklahoma State (7-5) ended up filling Big 12's final spot in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Purdue.
Either the Liberty or Heart of Dallas Bowls may have picked La. Tech had the scenario didn't occur.
Next season, Louisiana Tech moves over to Conference USA, a conference with five bowl tie-ins. However, Dykes or Van De Velde may not be around to see that happen. Dykes is rumored to be intervied by Pac 12's California for its head coaching job. Bulldog fans are calling for Van De Velde's resignation over this bowl debacle.