Louisiana Tech not filling all 12 of its football dates for this upcoming remains a possibility.
On a zoom meeting with media members Friday afternoon, Tech Athletic Director Tommy McClelland confirmed that the football team’s scheduled season opener at UNLV Sept. 5 has officially been taken off the table.
“We’re not playing UNLV to start the season, and we’ll be having conversations with them about when we will reschedule that game,” McClelland said. “It’ll be in another year, so it will not be in 2020 due to their constraints as a league that they put on. The earliness of that game and the state of the Nevada, it did not seem feasible that was going to occur.
“(UNLV Athletic Director) Desiree Reed-Francois and I have had good conversations about it. I don’t know when that’ll be, right now, we’re focused on 2020.”
Speculation around the Tech-UNLV game mounted earlier this week following the Mountain West Conference’s announcement that its member schools would be play any football game prior to Sept. 26 and the adoption of an eight-conference game, plus two nonconference game model.
The game’s cancellation marks the third game for Louisiana Tech that has been canceled, postponed or altered this offseason. The Bulldogs home opener opponent on Sept. 19 was initially slated to be Prairie View A&M, but the Southwestern Athletic Conference made the call last month to postpone football until Spring 2021.
McClelland acted quickly and filled that date with Houston Baptist just two days later and told media members Friday that the game contract with the new team allows for flexibility in the event the game can’t be played due to coronavirus related issues.
Then last week, Louisiana Tech’s final out-of-conference road trip to Nashville to face Vanderbilt was nixed after the Southeastern Conference moved to a 10-game conference only schedule for 2020, opening up Nov. 21. Tech announced Friday it replaced Vandy with Louisiana-Monroe in a contest that will be played in Shreveport at Independence Stadium.
McClelland said Friday that he was no rush to try to find another opponent for Sept. 5 as Tech awaits the new schedule for the Big 12, who announced it will go to a nine-plus-one schedule this year. As it stands, Louisiana Tech is one of two nonconference foes still scheduled for Baylor and dependent on when the Bears’ OOC date falls, will dictate whether or not Louisiana Tech will be able to travel to Waco to meet them.
“We’re not in an immediate rush to fill (Sept. 5) because we’re trying to create maximum flexibility as we’re waiting to find out about Baylor. The game with Baylor on the 26th we know will not occur because there will be Big 12 games that day,” McClelland said. “But there is a possibility we could be Baylor’s plus-one and we’re waiting for the Big 12 to announce their conference schedule and how that impacts our ability to be their opponent or not.
“That’s just a fluid situation. By not scheduling in that area, it provides me some flexibility as it relates to that game. Once we have clarity on that, then we’ll determine what we do moving forward.”
For Tech, it makes sense to want to keep Baylor on the schedule instead of UNLV as it’s slated to make $500,000 to play at Baylor. The UNLV game wasn’t a guarantee game for Louisiana Tech.
It’s possible that Louisiana Tech will be out $800,000 that it was supposed to pull in playing at Vanderbilt this season.
Most money game contracts have clauses built in that permits teams to cancel games due to “acts of god” or other external factors out of individual institutions’ control.
While he knows that the UNLV game is off, McClelland he’s unsure of a timeline as to when he’ll know whether a road contest with Baylor can take place and he’s playing the waiting game.
“We’re reacting to their decision. Depending on the date they so choose to try and play us, it may be really easy, obviously if it’s Sept. 5, or we may have a lot of puzzle pieces to move,” McClelland said. “If it’s Sept. 12, we may or may not be able to move Southern Miss. The 12th is more complicated, but the 5th is certainly very easy.”