Boise State will play a funky Tuesday night game against Louisiana Tech tomorrow evening as they get into the meat of their conference slate. Louisiana Tech is coming off a 48-35 defeat of Idaho and Boise State has been taking it easy after a unsurprisingly easy win over San José State. Louisiana Tech always seem to give the Broncos trouble...in Ruston, but games in Boise have been decidedly smoother sailing for the Broncos as they've won by an average margin of 35 points when they get the 'dogs at home. Despite our history with the team (we first met in 1973) we know little about Louisiana Tech outside a few annoying alums. So let's get to know the team and their fair university a little better through the magic of factoids and childish jokes, shall we? It's time to know your enemy!
Ten things Bronco fans probably didn't know about Louisiana Tech or their Creole crib
10) Louisiana Tech University was created and founded as the Industrial Institute and College of Louisiana by Act 68 of the Acts of the State of Louisiana of 1894. The Act established the school "for the education of the white children of the State of Louisiana in the arts and sciences" (finally...a break for the white kids), and was to provide "academic and literary education, together with a knowledge of telegraphy, stenography, and phonography and also a knowledge of fancy, practical and general needlework"
Now you know where the "tech" part comes from. Needlework.
9) Legend has it that the Louisiana Tech mascot, the stately bulldog, was chosen because of a chance encounter with a stray pooch. In 1899, five Tech students on their way home found a stray bulldog sitting quietly under a tree on the edge of campus. The students fed the dog with what they had on them (Rootmarm, perhaps) and went on their merry way. Upon arriving at their boarding house, the students discovered that the dog had followed them home and made arrangements with the owner to allow the dog to sleep in the kitchen for the night. Later that night, when all in the house were asleep, a fire broke out in the boarding house and the dog went from room to room tugging on the students' bedsheets alerted them to the blaze. When the students fled the blaze, they realized one of their roommates was still inside the house...well, you can guess what happened next—the bulldog, in true Spiderman form, ran back into the house and the student emerged moments later...the bulldog, sadly did not. The students found the heroic dog the next day in an unburned corner of the house—he'd succumbed to the heat and smoke (at least that's what they want you to believe) and had died (don't worry, all dogs go to heaven). The students took the lifeless dog back to the tree that they'd found him under...wrapped him in a blue and red jacket (hey...those are the school colors!) and buried Superdog in that very spot. The following year, when a football team was being formed, Backdraft the Bulldog seemed a fitting mascot for the squad and the rest is history—a history of questionable veracity...but history nonetheless.
The bulldog almost certainly looked like this
8) In 1922, coach William "Lone Star" Dietz' Tech squad opened their season with a 100-0 beatdown of Clarke Memorial College. Not the best way to honor Clarke's memory, but to each his own. Lone Star's squad was pretty good that year, posting 4 more shutouts in the 6-game season and eventually outscoring opponents 290-26 on the season. Dietz was poached by Wyoming after just one more season with the Bulldogs, but never regained his soul-crushing 1922 form. Fun fact about ole Lonestar, though...the Washington Redskins franchise is said to have been named him. Dietz, who was Sioux indian, briefly coached for the franchise when they were located in Boston and known as the Braves and when George Marshall decided to move and rename the club in 1933, he "honored" Dietz by renaming the club "the Redskins"...a moniker beloved by Native Americans to this day.
7) Speaking of coaches—Maxie Lambright led the Bulldogs to the only undefeated season in school history, a 12-0 campaign capped by a victory over Tennessee Tech in the Grantland Rice Bowl. Lambright's squad would lose just two games over the next two seasons, but those were the years that really counted, as the '73 and '74 teams both brought home divisional national championships. Lambright's '73 championship squad nearly didn't make the championship game when they ran into a game Boise State squad in the Pioneer Bowl in Wichita, TX. The Pioneer Bowl that year served as a Division II semi-final game and the Bulldogs squeaked by the Broncos 38-34. Western Kentucky proved a much easier task for La Tech, as they defeated them easily 34-0 in the championship game a week later. Coulda been us, man. Coulda been us.
6) The Bulldogs play their home football games at Joe Aillet Stadium (30,600 capacity) which is known locally as "the Joe". The Stadium is named after legendary Tech football coach and College Football Hall of Famer Joe Aillet (neè Fuourka) who rode the Orphan Train from New York to Opelousas, LA in 1905 and went on to notch 151 career wins at the university in 26 years, along with 12 conference championships. In 1966, Aillet's squad post an uncharacteristic 1-9 record—the worst of his career—and Aillet retired, possibly feeling that his coaching prime had past. Stadium construction began just two years later and Aillet's name was added to the field in 1972. Joe's son Bobby played for his father from 1945 to 1949...he currently is a voter in the Harris Poll, so now you know who to send the gift baskets to.*
"I knew when to quit"
5) Take a look at the Louisiana Tech record books and you'll see that the biggest disparity in coaching records occurred the very same year: 1979. Head Coach Larry Beightol was basically sucking it up in his first season at the helm and had led the Tech squad to a 2-8 record before being canned, so Pat "Gravy" Patterson (formerly "Biscuits" Patterson), the school's baseball coach, became the interim head coach for the final game. Gravy won his lone contest against Louisiana-Monroe before sneaking back to the baseball diamond, where he coached until 1990. But there it is, Gravy's win record for his 1979 coaching job stands at 100%, while Beightol's record for the same year is a sickly 20%. Interim Head Coach: the three sweetest words in the English language. Follow-up with a large helping of sad: coach Pat Patterson killed his Alzheimer's-riddled wife at a Ruston assisted-care facility in 2007 and then turned the gun on himself. Sorry for being a buzzkill.
4) Terry Bradshaw is probably the most famous product of the Tech football program. Bradshaw grew up just up the road from Ruston in Shreveport, Louisiana where he attended Woodlawn High School. While Bradshaw made a name for himself on the gridiron at Woodlawn, it was his national record in the javelin throw that landed him in Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd in 1966. The following year, Bradshaw took his non-javelin skills to Louisiana Tech where he soon led the nation in offensive output...and yadda yadda yadda, he became the pitchman for Aaron's.
Don't let this guy near a javelin.
3) One of the most beloved landmarks at Louisiana Tech is The Lady of the Mist statue that sits in a fountain on the campus quad. The statue symbolizes "Alma Mater" ("nourishing mother" in some long dead language) and represents "a hope that Tech graduates will fulfill their ambitions and their highest callings." It also stands as a reminder to all that the fountain water is very cold, as you can see by viewing the lady below.
Geez lady, this is a place of learning!
2) In 1936, the original building on Louisiana Tech's campus, known as Old Main, burned to the ground. The building had housed eight large classrooms, an auditorium, a chemical laboratory, and two offices and its construction had been the first priority of the university's first president, Colonel Arthur T. Prescott. The same year Old Main burned down, construction began on a new main campus building and it was finished in 1937. The new building was named Leche Hall in honor of the state Governor Richard W. Leche, but later re-named Keeny Hall to honor former university president J.E. Keeny. The renaming of the building might have had something to do with Governor Leche being sent to prison on charges of mail fraud, corruption, embezzling funds, and "illegal production of oil in excess of state quotas". I can excuse the mail fraud and embezzling...but producing oil in excess of state quotas? Have you no shame, sir?
"I'm Governor Richard W. Leche and I approved this haircut."
1) Louisiana Tech has won 2 national titles in football (Division II) and 3 in women's basketball, but the sport that Tech has been most dominant in is men's and women's powerlifting, where the school has brought home a combined 33 national titles since 1978. The powerlifting squads are known as the Irondawgs and take the sport as seriously as they take Judo in San José. One thing is certain when you roll into Ruston: don't challenge any of the women there to a game of basketball or game of "lifting heavy stuff".
You gotta romance gals like this.
*Don't actually send gift baskets. Send money.**
**In lieu of money, send nothing.