While some of the key functions of a video board include replays, promotions, and fan interaction, it is a key fundraiser. Deputy Athletic Director/Chief Operating Officer Bruce Van De Velde talked about the different functions of the board. "We'll have a lot of in-game features like "Greatest Moments in Tech History," he said. "There will be plenty of opportunities for our corporate sponsors and other sponsorships and promotions."
Division One football games average between 80 and 110 replays a game. Replays will help keep the fans' attention between the plays. Other fan interaction features will help with the atmosphere before kickoff, at halftime, and at other game stoppages.
The new board, which hasn't been fully named, will be ready to go for the home opener against Nicholls State on September 19. Along with the new turf, the new chair back seating, and the Argent Alumni Pavilion, the board really helps improve the facilities for football. "We are focused on strengthening our budget and improving our facilities," explained Van De Velde. "Our priority is to strengthen and grow the department."
Van De Velde also talked about football scheduling. The 2010 schedule includes home games against Navy on September 18 and Southern Miss on September 25. Tech will travel to Texas A&M on September 11. Navy and USM give Tech six home games in 2010 and Van De Velde said he is still working on the September 4th date. "We're looking for an opponent to come to Shreveport on September 4th," he explained. "We're in negotiations with a team that will bring a lot of interest and excitement for our fans."
While Texas A&M is still on the 2010 schedule for Tech, Cal does not appear on any future schedules. The only other teams on future schedules are Army (who comes to Ruston in 2013), Houston, and Mississippi State. At a recent LTAC function in Ruston, Athletic Director Derek Dooley joked that we had our one shot at Mississippi State in Ruston and we took advantage of it. Now it appears Tech could get another chance. "We are working with Mississippi State to extend the contract," added Van De Velde.
Louisiana Tech signed a four-year deal with both Houston and Southern Miss. The two schools will also appear on future basketball schedules. "We are playing both Houston and Southern Miss in women's basketball and the men are going to play Houston," said Van De Velde. "We are also working on deals with Southern Miss and Tulane for men's basketball."
With so many Conference USA school on the schedules, is Tech looking to work their way into the 12-team league? "We are not looking to move," said Van De Velde. "The WAC is a good conference that brings Tech great exposure through the TV contract with ESPN and the bowl games."
The scheduling is more out of necessity because of the current economy. "We are talking to all of them," added Van De Velde, when asked if more CUSA teams could appear on the football schedule. "You save $100,000 for a charter flight any time you can bus to a game. Eight CUSA schools are within a five- or six-hour drive for us."
Despite the regional plus that CUSA would provide Tech, Van De Velde has his focus elsewhere. "We are concentrating on improving," he said. "We need to be ready. If there is any movement, it will be for economic reasons. Travel costs will be a key issue."
A CUSA member institutional representative concerned about rising travel costs does see where Louisiana Tech would fit in the league. "It would make so much sense for the WAC to trade Tech for UTEP," he said. "That is the simplest and most straightforward approach."
The official said it's a travel cost issue that would be an alternative route for Louisiana Tech if expansion is not likely to occur. "There are a number of institutions who would consider such a trade to be good for UTEP, La Tech, and every member of both conferences," he added.
Van De Velde does not see expansion in the near future. "I can't predict the future," he said. "Something could happen in the next five years, but it's hard to tell. We want to be in a conference with academic values consistent with ours. We want to excel both academically and athletically."