Why Is Louisiana Tech AD Punishing Players by Declining Bowl Bid?

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterDecember 3, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 08: R.P. Stuart #83 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs tight wires the sidelines for a touchdown against the Houston Cougars at Robertson Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs defeated the Houston Cougars 56-49. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Athletic directors and their ilk have a tendency to put a spin on things. We know this from experience.

But on BCS Selection Sunday, Louisiana Tech associate media relations director Patrick Walsh ignited a firestorm on Twitter when he tweeted that Louisiana Tech was not going to a bowl game because it had "not been selected."

Louisiana Tech has not been selected for a postseason bowl game. Nation's No. 1 offense ends year at 9-3. #WeAreLATech

— Patrick Walsh (@LATechPWalsh) December 2, 2012

At first, the sympathies came pouring in.

How could the 9-3 Bulldogs get snubbed like this? Walsh's Twitter account then got hammered when the truth came out: Louisiana Tech did receive a bowl berth from the Independence Bowl but decided it wanted to wait on other options. 

According to CBS Sports columnist Bruce Feldman, athletic director Bruce Van De Velde gambled and lost. Said Van De Velde:

We asked the Independence Bowl to let the games play out because we were told by the Heart of Dallas Bowl and the Liberty Bowls that they were very interested in us. They (the Independence Bowl reps) called us on Saturday and put a deadline on us. We thought there would be a spot open for us in one of those other bowls. We asked them to wait so we could vet out these other options, but they wouldn't.

That's kind of like being asked to the prom by the trombone player and telling him, "Hey, nothing personal but can I put you on hold in case the captain of the football team asks me out?"

The Independence Bowl already had Louisiana-Monroe as one of its participants, and there is reportedly bad blood between Monroe and Tech. ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy seems to indicate that Louisiana Tech is trying to spin its way out of the giant dumpster fire it created, but the Independence Bowl is sticking to its guns. 

Independence Bowl official told me "Louisiana Tech offered bid Saturday to play Louisiana Monroe. They turned it down"

— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 3, 2012

Van De Velde took a huge risk and lost, but in the process he prevented his school from a nice payout and a great sendoff for his football team's seniors. Make no mistake, the football team was excited for the postseason.  

Head coach Sonny Dykes tweeted his excitement.

We are very excited about our bowl game possibilities. Looking forward to finishing the season with a win. Go Bulldogs!

— Sonny Dykes (@SonnyDykes) December 2, 2012

After Tech was shut out from a bowl game, Dykes tweeted this:

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.

— Sonny Dykes (@SonnyDykes) December 3, 2012

The school's Facebook page hit DEFCON 1, the outrage escalated and the niceties were dismissed.  

Long snapper Josh Cuthbert expressed his frustration on Twitter.

Love all my boys who are seniors especially! No bowl game 9-3 not too happy right now... @r_allen86 @mnels33 @cspence89

— Josh Cuthbert (@Jdb51me) December 3, 2012

Previously, Cuthbert had tweeted something more damning, but it was deleted minutes after Mark Schlabach retweeted it.  

La. Tech deep snapper @jdb51me Oh yeah and way to go athletic director #yousuck

— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) December 3, 2012

Former basketball player Karl Malone chimed in as well.

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

— Karl Malone (@TheDeliverer_32) December 3, 2012

is exactly what is wrong with our university. Now it's time to get former athletes to run our program. I'm 6"9 and not hard to find.

— Karl Malone (@TheDeliverer_32) December 3, 2012

Yahoo! reporter Eric Adelson reportedly talked to Tech offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, and his players' reactions were predictable.

LaTech OC Tony Franklin says players are "devastated" about not going to a bowl. "Every emotion you can have, from to sad to angry."

— Eric Adelson (@eric_adelson) December 3, 2012

There's no explanation for a school's greed when players put their unpaid bodies on the line. When a school's athletic director gambles with the small reward these players get at the end of the season: A paid vacation with plenty of swag

Last year, the Independence Bowl participants, according to the Sports Business Daily, received these gifts: "Gift suite, Timely Watch Co. watch, New Era cap and a commemorative football." A gift suite is basically a private shopping experience with a vendor (such as Best Buy or Nike) that allows the player to select merchandise that doesn't exceed a preset limit. 

No vacation, no bowl-week experience—where the team is treated like royalty—and no swag.

Most of these seniors will never play another down of organized football. Don't kid yourselves, that Independence Bowl watch means a lot to these players.

What a lousy way to end a 9-3 season. A team that had the nation's No. 1 scoring offense was let down by a bunch of grown-ups who acted like spoiled, rotten brats. 


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