9-3 Louisiana Tech won't play in bowl

Updated: December 3, 2012, 10:53 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Louisiana Tech will not play in a bowl game this season after finishing 9-3 and turning down an invitation to play in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl, a source told ESPN.

"Louisiana Tech was offered a bid Saturday to play Louisiana-Monroe," an Independence Bowl official told ESPN. "They turned it down."

Malone 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-foot-9) and not hard to find.

-- Louisiana Tech alumnus Karl Malone

Athletic director Bruce Van De Velde told The Associated Press that Independence Bowl organizers offered a spot in their game on Saturday afternoon, but the Bulldogs had other possible options still available to them. Van De Velde said he asked the Independence Bowl for more time to make a decision, but was told by game organizers that they could not wait.

"Nobody turned a bowl bid down," he said. "We asked for more time to vet two other opportunities that we had that we felt good about."

Independence Bowl chairman Jack Andres said organizers had to set a deadline for Louisiana Tech. They were concerned if they waited they would be stuck with a team that was barely bowl eligible and too far away from Shreveport to bring many fans to the game.

"We had to make some decisions to get somebody in there. We've got sponsors, hotels. There's a lot of money riding on this," he said.

"Before we made another deal we called them back. We said, 'We're still willing to have you at the bowl, but need to know fairly quickly.' So we gave them a deadline and they didn't call us back until way later than that. If you don't call us back, that's a 'No.' And we made another deal so we'd have a quality bowl team."

The Independence Bowl ended up selecting Ohio University from the Mid-American Conference.

NBA legend Karl Malone ripped his alma mater on Twitter for missing out on a bowl.

"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-foot-9) and not hard to find," Malone wrote.

Malone demanded to know the reason behind turning down the Independence Bowl and called for a change in leadership.

"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?" he wrote.

"To Bleed tech Blue, you got to be Tech."

The Bulldogs finished third in the Western Athletic Conference, which has only one bowl tie-in. That went to champion Utah State. San Jose State, which finished second, will play in the Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman.

Louisiana Tech is leaving the WAC to join Conference USA, which has five bowl tie-ins, next season. The WAC will no longer sponsor football after this season.

"Under no circumstances did I ever think there was any possibility at all that we would not play in a bowl game," coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. "It is a shame that our nationally recognized team and its 31 seniors have to end the season this way."

Louisiana Tech said it was in line to play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, but when Oklahoma missed out on the BCS, it caused a chain reaction that pushed Iowa State out of the Heart of Dallas Bowl and into the Liberty Bowl in the Bulldogs' place.

"I think we're just shocked Northern Illinois jumped that high," Van De Velde said. "I'm happy for them, but I'm disappointed for us."

On top of being left out of the postseason, Louisiana Tech is facing the prospect of losing Dykes.

Van De Velde said the coach had interviewed with California and that Louisiana Tech was waiting to find out if Dykes would be staying with the Bulldogs.

Information from ESPN's Brett McMurphy and The Associated Press was used in this report.