With the 2020 season possibly kicking off in less than 30 days, time is of the utmost essence.
And Louisiana Tech would like to know whether or not a trip to Waco, Texas will be part of 2020 schedule.
“We’re still waiting on Baylor,” Tech Athletic Director Tommy McClelland told The News-Star Friday. “We now know Baylor’s schedule and they’re working through their plus-one.”
The Big 12 Conference released its altered schedule, which includes nine league games that’ll start Sept. 26 plus one non-conference matchup, earlier this week. Baylor’s out-of-conference date, handed down by the Big 12, is slated for Sept. 12.
Simply plugging and placing the game on both of the program’s schedule is tricky. Where that date for Baylor falls, the Bulldogs are scheduled open Conference USA play in Hattiesburg versus rival Southern Miss.
“Some of it is related to the date they want to play on Sept. 12 and we have a game with Southern Miss. But we’re working through that in a collective effort. There are puzzle pieces that have to fall in place in order for it to happen,” McClelland said. “But we’re going to try to find a way.”
The Golden Eagles are one of just very small group of FBS teams that still have all 12 of their games intact, meaning there’s not much wiggle room for the Louisiana Tech to move their game with USM to possibly play in Waco to open the season on the 12th.
Per the Big 12, its members will have a minimum of two open dates. As it stands, the two other open Saturdays for the Bears are Oct. 10 and Nov. 21, so it’s possible they could try to play their non-conference game on one of those dates. However, that’s expected to be a last resort for Baylor.
Tech’s homecoming is scheduled for Oct. 10 against UTEP and following the cancellation of its game at Vanderbilt, Tech filled Nov. 21 with a highly-anticipated regional showdown with Louisiana-Monroe that’ll be played at Independence Stadium in Shreveport.
Glancing at where both of their schedules currently stand, Tech and UTEP have a common open date Sept. 26 and a move up could open the door for the Tech-Baylor game to be played. According to McClelland, the C-USA office would have to authorize any move of a conference game.
“You’re not just trying to fit your piece, there’s other pieces on the board. Once our season is scheduled, really the only flexibility you have is the common open date. But this year is a little different because games have been lost by a lot of people,” McClelland said. “The conference is working with us on it.
“But ultimately, Baylor has to choose to play us. We’re working toward that end but we do have 10 games. So we’ll see what works best for us.”
The only other non-conference opponent Baylor originally had on its schedule was Incarnate Word, but the Southland Conference decided to postpone fall sports Thursday. While the decision left it up to each individual athletic program to play up to four out-of-conference games, UIW will not explore games this fall.
Playing at Baylor would net a $500,000 payday for Tech, who already lost its other guarantee game when the Southeastern Conference adopted a 10-game conference only schedule. Louisiana Tech had its trip to Vanderbilt canceled and potentially could lose out on $800,000, but McClelland told The News-Star that it’s still undetermined whether or not the athletic department might could receive at least part of that money as the mitigation and payment process remains unclear.
Originally, Louisiana Tech’s visit to Baylor was schedule for Sept. 26, the date that the Bears will now host Kansas.
With the start to the potential season rapidly approaching, McClelland said he’s asked Baylor for an answer as soon as possible so he can know which direction he needs to go.
“This week, I told them that it would be good for everyone and that we need to know,” McClelland said. “But that game is still important enough for us that I have to be patient.”