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December 3, 2012
Louisiana Tech was faced with a difficult decision with regards to the football team's bowl fate over the weekend. Unfortunately for Tech, extenuating circumstances and a series of dominoes fell in such a way that left the football team on the outside looking in what is being called a broken bowl system.
Tech athletics director Bruce Van De Velde spoke with the media Monday about the events surrounding the team's bowl fate.
THE INDEPENDENCE BOWL SCENARIO
Tech officials received an invitation from the Independence Bowl late last week, Tech Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde said Monday.
On Saturday morning, the Independence Bowl called and told Van De Velde that they needed Tech's decision that day. During halftime of the Oklahoma-TCU game that afternoon, the Independence Bowl called back and said they needed Tech's decision before the end of the game.
However, Van De Velde and Tech officials decided it was in the school's best interest to wait until Sunday to accept an invite after all of the games had been played. Later Saturday afternoon, Tech was informed by the Independence Bowl that an agreement had been struck with the Mid-American Conference which meant that Shreveport was no longer an option for the 9-3 Bulldogs.
"I expressed to the Independence Bowl on Saturday or on Sunday that any team that they chose from the Mid-American Conference would be there for them on Sunday. That was not going to go away," Van De Velde says.
TECH'S COMMITMENT TO SHREVEPORT MEANT NOTHING
Throughout the years, Tech has worked to build strong ties with the Shreveport-Bossier community to help expand its fan base in North Louisiana. Tech has academic and research facilities in the area and even played a game at Independence Stadium earlier this year against nationally-ranked Texas A&M.
It appears that Tech's commitment to the Shreveport-Bossier community meant little to the Independence Bowl committee as a result of this week's actions, according to Van De Velde.
"We felt we had built up political capital with the community and the Independence Bowl. We play home games there, including a big one this year," he said. "In 2008, the Independence Bowl needed us to play in their game. Coach Dooley and I decided to turn down the Texas Bowl and go to the Independence Bowl because they needed us. We have a large fan base there and we could sell many tickets, and would give them the matchup north Louisiana seems to be clamoring for to some level."
THE SCENARIO THAT LEFT TECH AT HOME
"On Saturday both Oklahoma and Kansas State won their games, so we felt very good that there was a 90% chance the Big 12 would have two teams in the BCS placing us in the Heart of Dallas Bowl or in the Liberty Bowl," said Van De Velde. "Later that night, Nebraska lost by a great margin and it threw the BCS into a tizzy and allowed Northern Illinois to move up, and on Sunday, Northern Illinois moved up to 15th in the BCS knocking the University of Oklahoma out of the BCS and pushing all the Big 12 teams down a notch."
"Iowa State, who is bowl eligible at 6-6, was left without a contracted bowl and they were taken by the Liberty Bowl instead of Louisiana Tech, eliminating the last spot for Louisiana Tech."
GEORGIA TECH GETTING A BOWL AT 6-7
Georgia Tech received a bid to the Sun Bowl after being granted a waiver by the NCAA to become bowl eligible, despite having a losing record this season.
"It impacted our bowl chances and a couple of other schools as well," Van De Velde said. "We were disappointed the waiver was granted because it was voted down 4-3, but the NCAA president came in and decided that Georgia Tech would go to a bowl game at 6-7, and that took a spot away. We probably would have [gotten a bowl]. It is conjecture, but it certainly could have happened."
THE LIBERTY BOWL
Tech had been told that they would be fine in the Liberty Bowl's eyes but that obviously did not happen.
"There is no reason for me to throw anybody under the bus. (The Liberty Bowl) had to do what they had to do, and it is disappointing. I thought that we should have been in the Liberty Bowl, but they felt like Iowa State, an AQ school from the Big 12 at 6-6; they wanted to take them. That is the world that we live in."
THE BULLDOGS HURT THE MOST IN THIS
The Bulldog football team was ultimately hurt the most in this whole ordeal. This team was able to put Tech on a level no other team has ever done. They are heartbroken from the coaches to the players. Van De Velde said he plans to speak to the team.
"I do not know (what I will say), but I am going to have to just speak from the heart and tell them how deeply sorry I am and I hope I can make it up to them. I have talked to the coaches, but I will have time to meet with the players at the appropriate time, especially the seniors."
Tech associate head coach Rob Likens delivered the news to the team as head coach Sonny Dykes was in New York City.
"Our associate head coach, Rob Likens, did that because Coach Dykes is out of time in New York City at a National Football Hall of Fame dinner that I was supposed to be at, but I cancelled and decided to be here and visit with all of you today. Rob did that and did a very fine job with the players."
THE SILVER LINING
Tech moves into Conference USA next season. Conference USA has many more bowl tie-ins than the dying Western Athletic Conference who only had one.
"We entered this season knowing that the WAC had just one bowl game under contract and the champion of the conference goes to that bowl. If we were not champions, we would be in the at-large pool as a non-AQ school. This is one of the reasons it was so important for us to receive an invitation to Conference USA, which we will enter into next year, where Conference USA has five guaranteed bowl agreements and the possibility of a sixth is pending."
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