Philadelphia, PA – Wanting only the best for someone or something you care about is only natural.
However, that sentiment provides very little relief in Ruston these days, as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs have been left on the outside looking in at this year's bowl season.
It's not like Sonny Dyke's team limped into the offseason. The Bulldogs finished up with an impressive 9-3 overall record, thanks to the nation's top- ranked offense - an offense that nearly toppled Texas A&M (59-57 loss) along the way.
The Bulldogs put on a strong campaign led by senior quarterback Colby Cameron, who won the 2012 Sammy Baugh Award, given to college football's top passer. Cameron set an NCAA record for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception in a season (428). He passed for just over 4,000 yards this season (4,147), with 31 touchdowns and just five interceptions. With his efforts, LaTech finished the year atop the nation in both scoring (51.5 ppg) and total offense (577.9 ypg).
None of that mattered however, when Northern Illinois won the Mid-American Conference and finished in the top 16 in the BCS rankings, guaranteeing the Huskies a spot in a BCS Bowl game. The ripple effect knocked Oklahoma out of the BCS picture and into the regular bowl pool, with the Sooners landing in the Cotton Bowl. The Liberty Bowl was an attractive landing spot, but went with Iowa State as an at-large team.
Of course, none of this would have mattered had Tech Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde pulled the trigger right away and accepted the Independence Bowl bid that was offered the school.
A bird in the hand...
In Van De Velde's defense, his job was to secure the best bowl game possible for his program and there was simply no way of knowing that this would be the year that the BCS bubble would burst and a MAC school would earn its first- ever audience with the big boys, in turn causing a trickle-down effect that would leave Louisiana Tech without a chair when the music stopped.
"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," said Van De Velde. "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."
Sounds like the spin-doctoring that should be expected when a monumental gaffe like this occurs.
Van De Velde is now coming under a ton of criticism, by fans and alumni alike, including an obviously disturbed Karl Malone. The Basketball Hall of Famer is one of Louisiana Tech's most famous alum and took to Twitter to rant about the situation.
"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"9 and not hard to find,"
Malone didn't stop there, as he then set his sights on the powers that be in Ruston.
"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? Whoever made this desicision [sic,] have the balls to tell the guys why.
"TechNation what I have been saying for a long time, start hiring former tech athletes to get the pride back into The university and athletics.
"To Bleed tech Blue, you got to be Tech."
Trying to put out some of the fires, Dykes has chimed in on his feelings on the subject at hand.
"Under no circumstances did I ever think there was any possibility at all that we would not play in a bowl game," Dykes said. "It is a shame that our nationally recognized team and its 31 seniors have to end the season this way."
Perhaps, those 31 players should have been the first thing on everyone's mind prior to not accepting a postseason destination when it was offered.