Oklahoma football: Should Josh Heupel have gone to Louisiana Tech?
OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel turned down the head coaching job at Louisiana Tech, according to reports, and to each his own. We sometimes analyze these job jumpings based on everything but the human factor. We look at money and history and winability and future job prospects. But sometimes we forget the individuals involved. Sometimes, a guy really wants to leave a place, or sometimes a guy really wants to stay in a place.
So no one can say that Heupel made the right move or the wrong move. But we can analyze the Louisiana Tech job as it relates to other jobs. Especially in a week in which OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken took the head coaching job at Southern Mississippi, which in many ways is similar to Louisiana Tech’s.
And clearly, Louisiana Tech is a launching pad job. The last two La Tech coaches, Derek Dooley and Sonny Dykes, have gone on to solid jobs in major conferences — Dooley to Tennessee (since fired) and Dykes to California. The fact that Dooley and Dykes are sons of iconic coaches (Vince Dooley coached Georgia for 25 years, 1964-88, and Spike Dykes coached Texas Tech for 13 years (1987-99) is interesting but not all that relevant. Dooley and Dykes might have gotten the Louisiana Tech gig with help from their last name, but that shouldn’t have helped Dooley much at Tennessee and didn’t help Dykes at all at Cal. And in the 1980s, Ole Miss hired away Billy Brewer from Louisiana Tech.
One of the downsides to Louisiana Tech has been its conference affiliation — the Bulldogs have been in the Western Athletic Conference, with the likes of New Mexico State and San Jose State. It made no sense at all. The conference realignment anarchy has been good for La Tech — the Bulldogs are moving to Conference USA, which is transitioning into a southern mid-major league.
The WAC was one of the reasons Louisiana Tech was snubbed by the bowl games this season, despite a 9-3 record. Of the 25 mid-majors who were bowl eligible, La Tech easily was among the top five in terms of 2012 performance. The Bulldogs at one point were ranked and threatening to contend for the Orange Bowl bid that Northern Illinois eventually received.
Of course, Louisiana Tech athletic director Bruce Van de Velde, a former assistant at OU, slow-played the Independence Bowl, which took its invitation elsewhere. So there’s plenty of blame to go around. Now Van De Velde is in hot water, and there’s no way to be assured that the man who hires you will be around long, which is never a good thing.
Louisiana Tech is like most mid-majors, Southern Miss included. Money is in short supply. You won’t find the amenities that Heupel is accustomed to in Norman and Monken is accustomed to in Stillwater.
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