A Cherry on Top of a Bad Football Season

The Dallas Cowboys are in the doldrums. LSU failed to avenge their loss to Alabama in last year’s championship game. My least favorite team in college football is going to win another BCS championship. And now this.

My alma mater Louisiana Tech had the best season in the history of the school’s football program. They finished the season with the nation’s number one offense. They went 9-3 and spent several weeks in the BCS rankings. They beat two teams from automatic qualifying BCS conferences and came within a whisker of beating Texas A&M (final score 59-57). It was the absolute best season Tech has ever had. And yet they are not going to a bowl, and it is their own fault.

Tech received an invitation to the Independence Bowl, and they turned it down. Why? Because the guys running the program got too big for their breeches. They thought it would be better to gamble on an invitation to the Liberty Bowl (which did not come through) rather than stoop to play in the Independence Bowl against an old rival ULM. Tech has now become like the high school kid who is too cool to hang out with his best buddies from junior high. It’s that arrogant kid who doesn’t want to sully his newfound popularity by hanging with the social pariahs he used to call his best friends. Tech is the Ronald Miller of college football.

Well, pride goes before a fall. Now no other bowl has issued an invitation to Tech, and the Bulldogs will be sitting out the post season after the best season they’ve ever had. This is a disaster for the program, a disaster for recruiting, a disaster for revenue, and most of all a disaster for the 31 senior athletes who put together a brilliant season and who were counting on administrators to land them a spot in a bowl. I feel most sorry for these players who didn’t know before today that their last game was two weeks ago. Head Coach Sonny Dykes tweeted earlier this evening:

I’m heartbroken for our 31 seniors that have given so much for Louisiana Tech. They deserve to finish their careers in a bowl game.

I’m heartbroken too, coach. You and this team deserve better than this. Thank you for the best season in the history of the program.

Yes, there are other parties at fault in all of this. An unfair bowl system that gives bids to 6-6 teams over 9-3 teams is to blame. An Independence Bowl forcing Tech to commit early is also to blame. But for me, Tech administrators are most to blame. No matter what happens, it’s their job not to make frivolous gambles with the program. It seems to me that that’s what happened here, and it blew up in their face.

The Associated Press is reporting on Karl Malone’s response to this sad fiasco. There are many who share his frustration. Here he is in his own words:

“I am Bulldog to the core, I am heart broken and embarrassed that our university would do this to Tech Nation. 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 (6-foot-9) and not hard to find,” Malone wrote.

Malone demanded to know the reason behind turning down the Independence Bowl and called for a change in leadership.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to hire a person doing it for university, and not somebody doing it for a bigger and better job in their mind?” he wrote.

“To Bleed tech Blue, you got to be Tech.”

12 Responses to A Cherry on Top of a Bad Football Season

  1. Ryan Soulier December 3, 2012 at 1:16 am #

    I believe Dykes has a $25,000 bonus he’s entitled to for a bowl appearance. I’ll sign a petition that he still get that money. He earned it.

  2. David Thomas December 3, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    Sorry about Tech. But I am glad that it seems you may be rooting for the Irish on January 7th. I have heard that though the odds be great or small, they have a long history of winning over all.

    That ought to be a line in a song…hhmmm.

  3. Adam Cavalier December 3, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    I wonder what Terry Bradshaw thinks of people calling this the best season (and team) the school has ever had.

    P.S. We will show Clemson who the real Tigers are (and who can rightfully call their stadium Death Valley). Geaux Tigers!

  4. Steve Martin December 3, 2012 at 5:39 am #

    It’s a crying shame what they have done to those young men at Tech and their loyal fans.

  5. Ray DeFrese December 3, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    Actually Denny, it’s worse than you thought. A 6-7 (i.e., sub .500) Georgia Tech team gets to play USC in the Sun Bowl.

    • Stephen Beck December 3, 2012 at 11:24 am #

      It’s not GT’s fault that the two best teams in their division have bowl bans (both recommended by the NCAA, though Miami volunteered themselves in hopes to reduce future penalties). Would you have suggested they stay home and let Duke, who had a worse conference record but better out of conference, go to the ACC Championship instead and give up their own shot at the Orange Bowl?

  6. Stephen Beck December 3, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    If you want to do some blame-shifting, Nebraska could be a good place to start. Their huge blowout loss resulting in a large dip in the Coaches Poll accounts for a lot of the rankings points that allowed NIU to make a BCS bowl and set off the chain reaction of Iowa St taking La Tech’s presumptive spot in the Liberty Bowl.

  7. Karen Akin December 3, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    The fiascos surrounding Tech athletics go back 26 years. That era is soon coming to an end. As a fellow alum, one can only trust that new leadership will move the programs forward again.

  8. Bobby Loudon December 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Denny, I think this was absolute arrogance and pride on Tech’s part. They couldn’t stomach having to play(and legitimize) ULM and if they were to lose, they would no longer be able to believe the myth that they are on par with LSU and all the other directional Louisiana schools are beneath them. It’s sad, but totally predictable based on their past actions and attitudes.

  9. Jonathan Nida December 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    It’s not entirely accurate to say that Tech turned down the iBowl. They requested more time and were granted it. In the end, they did not respond in a timely manner according to the iBowl, but they never “declined” an invitation. In the end, the “hometown” bowl played hardball with the dawgs in a way that most home town bowls would find ridiculous. Plenty of blame should go to the Tech AD, but the iBowl deserves blame as well.

    • Denny Burk December 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      I agree, Jonathan. The Independence Bowl shares the blame big time for this. That being said, I still think the decision to tell them to wait was a gamble. Then Tech let the offer expire which was an even bigger gamble. That’s the problem, and that’s what I think is wrong here.

  10. doccochran December 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Denny, I share your frustration, but I still hope Alabama beats Notre Dame, and I think they will.

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