Tech recently announced a deal with Navy that completes the 2009 schedule. Nicholls State will visit Ruston, while Tech travels to Navy, LSU, and Mississippi State. Van De Velde said he would like to have the schedule set for the next three to four years so that they are always scheduling years in advance and not for next year. "It's hard to find games in one year because most schools have filled their schedules," explained Van De Velde.
Louisiana Tech has six home games in 2008, the most home games in a long time. "We would like to have six home games every year," said Van De Velde. "We only have five in 2009 because of the Navy deal but that sets us up for the future. Navy will come to Ruston in 2010 and Army is scheduled to visit in 2013. We are looking to move the Army game up," said van De Velde.
The big news for fans is a four-year deal with Southern Miss. USM is a rival to Tech for recruits and could be a great rival on the field. USM is scheduled to play in Ruston in 2010 and 2013 and the Bulldogs will go to Hattiesburg in 2011 and 2014. Van De Velde says Southern Miss fits Coach Dooley's scheduling philosophy. "We want to have a competitive, but balanced schedule. We need to schedule games that will help us financially, that play in a similar geographic footprint, and that we have a competitive opportunity to beat on the field." Southern Miss fits all three categories.
Van De Velde is looking for a road game in 2010 since Navy and USM are home games that year. The hope is to find a return game in 2011 or 2012 to even out the schedule. "We have had a good response from regional teams, they are facing the same challenges," said Van De Velde. UAB, Memphis, and Tulsa are all possibilities to show up on future schedules.
With a regional rival scheduled to come to Ruston, the atmosphere at Joe Aillet Stadium will continue to get better. A huge part of the equation will be the new video board. Tech is considering a couple of options, but it will be nice. "TCU has a board that is 18x32 and ours will be bigger than that," said Van De Velde. A new video board, new turf, upgraded concessions, and great tailgating are just some of the improvements to Louisiana Tech's game day atmosphere.
Van De Velde said it is critical for Tech fans to buy season tickets in order to grow the program. "We have to double season tickets now – we can't wait," he said. The new improvements will go a long way in attracting more season ticket holders. "We need to sell 10,000 season tickets for football, we need to double LTAC memberships, and we need to triple basketball season tickets," added Van De Velde.
"Join LTAC and buy season tickets," said Van De Velde. "Those are the best things that Tech fans can do to support the program.
Tech fans have wanted their program to move forward for years and now it's moving in that direction. It is our turn to help. Buy season tickets and join LTAC. Change can't happen unless the fans are willing to change with the program.