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FIU didn't leave the state of Louisiana completely behind when it moved from the Sun Belt Conference to Conference USA. The Panthers will face two Louisiana teams in Conference USA play: Louisiana Tech and Tulane.
As we continue our look at FIU's opponents in its new conference we head to the Bayou State, specifically Ruston, La. where Louisiana Tech is located. Louisiana Tech or LA Tech as it is commonly known, is a former Sun Belt member just like FIU and also had an athletic director that was an athletic director at FIU.
LA Tech has two nicknames for its athletic teams and one of its mascots perished a hero. Among LA Tech's most famous alum is a "Mailman" and a quarterback-turned-TV and film celebrity.
In the previous FIU’s Conference USA Opponents Series you got to know:
East Carolina Pirates
Now let's get to know Louisiana Tech . . . .
LOUISIANA TECH BULLDOGS
1ST GRAD WAITS A YEAR FOR COMMENCEMENT
Louisiana Tech University opened as The Industrial Institute and College of Louisiana in 1894 during the second Industrial Revolution. The university became Louisiana Tech in 1970. The university is known for its engineering programs.
In May 1897, Harry Howard became the school's first graduate. Colonel Arthur Prescott, LA Tech's first president, awarded him with a Bachelor of Industry degree, but there was no formal commencement. The first formal commencement was held the following May with 10 graduates receiving their diplomas.
DUCK DYNASTY BEAT PITTSBURGH STEELERS DYNASTY
If he had pursued a football career, Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" fame might have been the quarterback during the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty days of the 1970's. Robertson (photos above) was the starting quarterback at Louisiana Tech for two seasons during the 1960′s. Eventual Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw was Robertson's backup at LA Tech.
However, Robertson walked away from his final year of football so he could spend more time hunting and fishing. During three seasons of football at LA Tech (1965-67 — his final two seasons as the starter), Robertson was 179 for 411 passing for 2,237 yards and 12 TDs, but threw 34 interceptions.
SNAKES ON TV
No, it's not a sequel to "Snakes on a Plane". In October 2011, TechTV, the university's television station ceased airing all Hollywood films due to budget cuts and quality control issues, and has since begun to decline dramatically in popularity. The station is most known for the 24-hour "snake-a-thon." During these 24 hours, there was nothing shown but pictures and videos of snakes in their natural wildlife.
SUN BELT & FIU TIES
Louisiana Tech was a member of the Sun Belt Conference from 1991-2001 for most sports. Since 2001, LA Tech has been a member of the Western Athletic Conference, but it will leave the WAC in July 2013 to join Conference USA.
LA Tech and FIU both had the same athletic director at different points in each school's history. Butch Henry was the AD at LA Tech from 1979-1980. Henry was also a former AD at FIU in the late 1990's.
Among the universities with "Bulldogs" mascots, LA Tech was the first to adopt the nickname. LA Tech adopted Bulldogs as its nickname in 1900, the first of the four FBS Bulldogs to do so. (Georgia followed in 1920, Fresno State in 1921, and Mississippi State in 1961). . . .Keeping with the SEC theme, LA Tech is the only team from a non-AQ conference to defeat an SEC champion in the BCS era as the Bulldogs defeated Alabama in 1999. . . .In one of the better rivalry game names, LA Tech plays Fresno State in football in the "Battle for the Bone", a term coined because both universities are nicknamed the Bulldogs.
FROM HERO TO MASCOT
The legend of the Louisiana Tech Bulldog dates back to the fall of 1899. Five Tech students on their way home from class reached the edge of campus and noticed a quiet old bulldog sitting alone under a tree. Assuming the dog was a stray, they fed him all the food they had with them and continued on their way.
When the men reached the boarding house where they were living, one of them discovered that the bulldog had followed them. They all liked the bulldog and decided not to send him away. They received permission from the owner of the house to keep the dog and to let him sleep in the kitchen for the night. However, they would have to make other plans the next day.
During the night, a fire broke out in the house and the bulldog was the first to be awakened. The old dog became alarmed and ran from room to room tugging at the sheets of the bed to wake the students and the owner. Once the owner and the students had assembled outside, they were horrified to discover that one boy was still in the house. By this time, the house was almost completely full of smoke. Before the boys had time to react, they saw the bulldog run back into the burning house. Moments later, the final student ran out to safety. They all waited for the bulldog to come back out, but it never did.
By dawn the fire was out and the boys searched what remained of the house in hopes of finding the old bulldog alive. After a short time, they found the old dog lying in an unburned corner of the house. The smoke and heat had been too much, and the heroic dog did not make it.
Soon, the news of the stray old bulldog spread across the Tech campus. Everyone grieved and felt a closeness to the bulldog that most of them never knew. A loving old bulldog had become the first Tech hero.
A year after the death of the bulldog, Tech began making plans to start its first football team and needed a mascot. The students voted unanimously to become the Bulldogs in honor of Tech's first hero.
FIRE BELL HONORS BULLDOG
The Fire Bell was used for many years in Ruston to alert the town of burning fires. After Joe Aillet Stadium was built in 1968, the old Fire Bell was transported to the stadium atop the hill in the south end zone. The Fire Bell is rung before every football game to commemorate the bravery of the bulldog that perished saving the lives of students in the burning house in 1899.
NO FEMALE BULLDOGS
In 1974, Louisiana Tech President F. Jay Taylor established the university's first women's athletic program, a women's basketball team. He hired a 28-year-old P.E. teacher from Ruston High School, Sonja Hogg, as the program's first head coach. However, Hogg refused to call her team the Lady Bulldogs after the LA Tech men's nickname. She said bulldogs were "unfeminine" and that a lady dog is a word that rhymes with ditch. For that reason, her first initiative as head coach was to nix the nickname Bulldogs from any connection with her team. Thus, Hogg decided to change her team's nickname to the Lady Techsters.
When the school went to one uniformed blue color after years of different shades of blue the Lady Techsters kept their own shade due to LA Tech's rich tradition in women's basketball. The Lady Techsters basketball team was granted the only exemption to not adopt reflex blue and was allowed to continue to use the traditional Columbia blue.
Hogg did not allow her Lady Techsters to wear knee or elbow pads because they were unladylike. Additionally, she designed the Lady Techster jerseys with sleeves (photo above) because she did not like her ladies showing their armpits or bra straps.
LA Tech began football in 1901 and have won three Division II national championships (1972-74). The Lady Techsters women's basketball program won three national championship titles (1981, 1982, 1988) and made 13 Final Four appearances in the program's history. The Lady Techsters softball program has made three appearances in the Women's College World Series (1983, 1985, 1986).
LA TECH LUMINARIES
Among the notable Tech alums: NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and FOX Sports personality Terry Bradshaw, country singers Trace Adkins, Kix Brooks (Brooks & Dunn), Basketball Hall of Famer Karl "The Mailman" Malone, who has the school's court named after him, Karl Malone Court, former Miami Heat forward P.J. Brown, Phil Robertson from "Duck Dynasty", Cheryl Ford (Malone's daughter & WNBA champion), Teresa Weatherspoon (current Lady Techsters basketball coach and Olympic Gold Medalist).
LA Tech has a women's bowling team, which is considered an NCAA sport. LA Tech has club sports that include: ultimate frisbee, paintball, and bass fishing. LA Tech also has a 44-acre golf course in Lincoln Parish where its golf teams play.
LA Tech alum Kim Mulkey is the first and only woman to have won NCAA Division I basketball titles as a player and head coach.
There is an Attendance Cost Calculator on the school's website that gives you an estimated cost of attending La Tech:http://www.latech.edu/financial_aid/collegecostcalculator.shtml
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