Fans support teams, despite conference
This item originally appeared in the May 13, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
After months of speculation and much anticipation, the presidents of Conference USA decided to invite fellow Western Athletic Conference foe UTEP to be its 12th member, instead of Tech on April 30 in what we think was a horrible decision.
Despite the decision, we will continue to hold our heads high in the WAC.
Both Conference USA and Tech missed this opportunity for growth.
Tech desperately desired membership in Conference USA, as it would have given us stronger competition, a potential rival, lesser travel expenses and economic development.
While the WAC is dropping in level of competition, Tech would have played much stronger teams in Conference USA and benefited by identification and recognition in a well-respected conference. Membership would have helped recruiting and attendance because fans want to see the Bulldogs play fierce, quality opponents.
Considering competition, Tech would better suit Conference USA. In the past two years, the UTEP Miners' football team posted a mere 4-25 record against sub-par opponents, but while Tech's 9-15 mark is slightly improved, at least the Bulldogs have played nationally respected programs and pulled off upsets in the process.
In Conference USA, Tech would have finally been able to establish a rivalry with another quality athletic program. Proximity is key to rivalries, and Conference USA offered the potential. So why pick a school on the western side of Texas?
Fewer travel expenses, along with stronger competition, rivalries and proximity, would have boosted economic development because the proximity of Conference USA would allow more fans to travel and become interested in regional schools.
So why add a school with only four men's sports and one of its women's sports is rifling?
The answer is marketing. El Paso's population is 563,662 versus Ruston's 20,546. Money talks, and Conference USA hopes El Paso will somehow fall in love with UTEP and rake in the bills.
UTEP's athletic attendance is less than Tech's, and the Miners do not equal the Bulldogs' offer in competition. But Conference USA is eye-balling monetary potential, and marketing is the No. 1 reason of selection.
Regardless, Tech will continue playing in the WAC, where New Mexico State, Utah State, North Texas and UL-Lafayette will join the party.
We want our athletes, athletic officials, alumni and fans to know that we will always support Tech athletics, and we encourage everyone to rally behind our programs. We aren't picky. We'll play anybody.
Be proud to be in the WAC, which is still a fine conference, and continue rooting for the home team.