By JJ MARSHALL
After an up-and-down eight-year tenure as Tech’s head
football coach, Jack Bicknell was fired Monday morning following a
disappointing 3-10 season.
“This was a very difficult decision,” Tech Athletic
Director Jim Oakes said. “Jack Bicknell had led this football program with
class and integrity. He is an
outstanding coach who has achieved success here. Unfortunately, a change has to
be made with the direction of our football program.”
Bicknell’s fate seemed to rest on the outcome of the
final game of the year against New Mexico State, but Bicknell’s Bulldogs fell
50-23 in Las Cruces and the decision was made two days later.
“I just want to appreciate the opportunity Dan Reneau and Jim Oakes gave me,” Bicknell said. “I have strong
feelings about the future of the program and have no bad feelings about the
Though it was a rough season, Bicknell has had success as
the head coach at Tech.
“It was a good ride; I think we did things the right way.
I feel good about where the program is headed,” Bicknell said.
Bicknell led Tech to the program’s
first-ever Associated Press Top 25 ranking in 1999. The Bulldogs went 8-3 that
season and beat No. 18 Alabama, who eventually won the SEC.
Bicknell also led Tech to the 2001 Western Athletic
Conference and an appearance in the Humanitarian Bowl.
He was the head coach in wins over Oklahoma State in
2002, Michigan State in 2003 and Fresno State in 2004 and 2005. Fresno was
ranked in the top 25 both years.
“It’s not all Bicknell’s fault,” Erica Osbourne, a senior kinesiology major, said. “He can only do
so much with what he is given. The president of the university needs to put
more money into the athletic program.”
Other students placed the blame solely on Bicknell.
“He’s been inconsistent,” Kyle Stadtlander,
a freshman marketing major, said. “Last year we were bowl eligible and now
we’re 3-10. He hasn’t done a good job of getting the student body active at
games and attendance has been down.”
The Bulldogs had plenty of off-the-field issues to add to
their problems on the field this year.
“It was amazing,” Bicknell said. “I’ve never had any of
my players quit until this year. I’ve never had to suspend anyone. It just
seemed like everything hit at once.”
SGA President Caleb Smith feels that the decision was
made because organizations’ successes are reflected on the coach.
“It’s been a rough year for athletics,” Smith, a senior
marketing major, said. “I think this shows that Tech is taking athletics as
seriously as academics.”
The search for a new head coach will begin immediately,
led by Chuck Neinas, a national college football
Bicknell said the toughest thing about his departure is
leaving on a sour note competitively.
“This program is who I am,” Bicknell said. “I wanted to
do well for the school, the players and the fans. I feel very close to this
school and it will be hard to leave. Competitively, I don’t want to walk away
like this, but I have no bitterness toward Louisiana Tech.”
Bicknell did not
express any ill-will toward the administration or the school.
“I’ve loved being the head coach here,” he said. “I’ve
loved making decisions and doing things the way I think is the right way.”
When asked what his advice to the next head coach would
be, Bicknell responded, “Stay positive. Don’t let the little things bring you
and your team down.”