I can name three cities in Louisiana. The first is New Orleans, and I can name it because it’s about the only city in Louisiana that everyone knows. The second is Baton Rouge, which I can name because I pride myself in knowing state capitols. The final city I know in Louisiana is Lafayette, and I only know it because I pay too close attention to college sports and I know that’s where University of Louisiana-Lafayette is.
Until I looked up where Louisiana Tech was I had never heard of Ruston. It’s a city of about 21,000 people, which is almost identical to Charleston, IL. This made me think that, basically, Illinois is playing Eastern Illinois in the Heart of Dallas bowl. Then I realized Eastern produced a football player that has a good chance of being the NFL MVP this season (Tony Romo) and another that is Tom Brady’s understudy (Jimmy Garappolo), whereas Louisiana Tech has produced… Luke McCown.
Louisiana Tech was founded back in 1894, a simpler time, when its stated mission could be “for the education of white students in the arts and sciences for the purpose of developing an industrial economy in post-Reconstruction Louisiana.” Do you notice who is left out of this explicitly post-Reconstruction mission statement?
It’s hard to say exactly when the mission of Louisiana Tech loosened up on all that racist stuff, but according to the College of Engineering and Science’s “Firsts of the College” web page, the first degree awarded to a black student wasn’t given out until 1970. For reference, Brown v. Board of Education integrated schools way back in 1954. So, progress is slow in Ruston.
Sports teams at Louisiana Tech go by the nickname Bulldogs, except for the women’s sports, which go by Lady Techsters for some incomprehensible reason. Besides forcing female athletes at the university go by awful and exclusionary nickname, LA Tech didn’t even add women’s sports until 1974 when they generously gave a PE teacher $5,000 to start a women’s basketball team.
Louisiana Tech athletics are probably best known for producing Karl “The Mailman” Malone, a power forward for the Utah Jazz who was best known for losing two consecutive NBA Finals to Michael Jordan and the Bulls and never winning a title in his 19-year career. Terry Bradshaw is also an alumnus of LA Tech, but if anyone tells you they know Terry Bradshaw’s alma mater then you must be speaking with Terry Bradshaw.
In football the Bulldogs are pretty ho-hum. They hired Skip Holtz, son of storied coach Lou Holtz, two seasons ago, only to quickly realize that coaching talent is not hereditary, as the younger Holtz is 12-13 in two seasons at the helm. This year La. Tech (8-5) was only able to beat the weakest opponents on its schedule, losing against some real shitty teams like Old Dominion and Northwestern State.
In bowl games the Bulldogs have a pretty poor record, too. Despite playing in Division I since 1975 (with a slight break in the ’80s), the team has played in just 6 bowl games and has a record less than .500 because they finished a bowl game in a tie (2-3-1). Can you imagine watching a bowl end in a tie? What a fucking idiotic ending to a bowl game. Here’s hoping Illinois buries the Bulldogs’ faces in the turf at the Cotton Bowl.
Kick off for the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl is noon at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The game will be aired nationally on ESPN.