Fresh off one of their best seasons in school history, 9-3 Louisiana Tech has reportedly elected to stay at home rather than play nearby Louisiana-Monroe, a former rival.
Louisiana-Monroe had been confirmed for the nearby Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. for a week entering Sunday's bowl selections, but because of a years-old grudge with neighboring Louisiana Tech, they'll host MAC member Ohio.
The 8-4 Warkhawks, fresh off of their best season in school history as a member of the FBS (including an upset of Arkansas in Little Rock), were slated to play nearby Louisiana Tech, but the 9-3 Bulldogs have allegedly refused to play ULM. Reports earlier in the week indicated that Tech would hold out for other offers rather than play ULM, but have announced via their official Twitter that they'll instead end their season:
Multiple sources have confirmed that Tech was offered a slot against ULM in the Independence Bowl, but after not finding another interested bowl game, elected to end their season at 9-3.
"I hate it for the kids, that's my only reaction," Louisiana-Monroe athletic director Bobby Staub said Sunday evening. "It would be great for our fans and alumni, for all of North Louisiana and for our student athletes. Certainly, it would have also been advantageous from a financial perspective as well. But [Louisiana Tech] have their reasons, apparently. You'll have to ask them."
While being interviewed for a story in September, Staub acknowledged a current stalemate between the two programs -- after Louisiana Tech refused to play the Warhawks (formerly Indians) in football, ULM prohibited all of its scholarship sports from scheduling the Bulldogs.
The Independence Bowl, located in Shreveport, La., could've overcome missing out on an eligible SEC team (one of the conference's contracted tie-in conferences) by attracting nearby Tech (70 miles) and ULM (100 miles) in what would've been an assumed easy sell out for the 53,000 seat Independence Stadium. Tech also hosted Texas A&M in the same facility earlier this season. In 1997, Tech set an attendance record of just over 28,000 in a home game against ULM at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.
Tech leads the all-time rivalry 30-13, but the teams have not met since 2000. ULM joined the FBS' Sun Belt Conference in 2001.