The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs put together a phenomenal season in 2012. They went toe-to-toe with Heisman Trophy favorite Johnny Manziel, boasted the number one offense in college football and finished the season with an impressive 9-3 record. Despite all of that, they will not be going to a bowl game and the blame for that lies squarely with their Athletic Director, Bruce Van De Velde.
The school’s statement, released via Associate Media Relations Director Patrick Walsh’s twitter account, said simply that “Louisiana Tech has not been selected for a postseason bowl game,” but that wasn’t the whole story.
The Bulldogs had received a bowl bid from the Independence Bowl, which would have put them against their old rivals the UL Monroe Warhawks. Reports say that La Tech wasn’t interested in playing the Warhawks, though. Some people said it was out of fear, while others claimed it was because of a sense of superiority. Either way, Tech had a bowl at their fingertips and turned it away.
Van De Velde came out to assure everyone ULM had nothing to do with the decision and made himself look like a bumbling fool filled with excuses. He says that two other bowls, the Heart of Dallas and Liberty Bowls which he considers more prestigious, were heavily interested in the Bulldogs and he wanted to wait and see if an offer would come from one of those two bowls.
He asked the Independence Bowl to hold their spot until Louisiana Tech heard back from these other bowls, but “They (the Independence Bowl reps) called us on Saturday and put a deadline on us,” Van De Velde said. He complained that they wanted to keep the Independence as a backup plan while they vetted the other two, more appealing, choices. The reps obviously said no and moved on.
Van De Velde then laid the blame for them getting pushed out of bowl season on the Northern Illinois Huskies for making it to the Orange Bowl, forcing a bigger program out of the BCS into the second-tier bowls. This “trickle-down” effect went all the way down into the Heart of Dallas and Liberty Bowls and pushed Louisiana Tech out of the equation.
That wasn’t the end of the AD laying blame. He called this situation a result of Louisiana Tech’s conference, the WAC, dissolving. He complained that it was basically like being an independent without automatic tie-ins and being forced to find their own bowls.
His “blame game” method of explaining away the horrendous mistake of getting his football program left out of bowl season should end with his resignation or unceremonious firing.
At the end of the day, Van De Velde said he felt that the Bulldogs were “trending up” in bowls over the last two years and that the Independence Bowl didn’t fit into their upward trajectory. His miscalculation will cost the school a huge pay-day of playing in a bowl.
Instead, the school gets nothing and the football program has nothing to show for their efforts this season. Head coach Sonny Dykes tweeted: “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.”
But because of Bruce Van De Velde, they won’t. Instead, the 6-6 Iowa State Cyclones take their spot in the Independence Bowl. The 6-7 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will get to go bowling and so will the Rice Owls, who the Bulldogs beat by 20 this season.
For Louisiana Tech, however, their season and the seniors’ careers at Louisiana Tech have unceremoniously been cut short because of the boneheaded, prideful decisions of the leader of their athletic program.
That is unacceptable and Van De Velde must be held accountable.