Several college football fans know the hatred between Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. This hatred took centerstage in 2012 when Louisana Tech made it known they would rather miss a bowl game despite going 9-3 than play Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl. In fact, the two schools have not played since 2000.
This happened to be Louisiana Tech’s last year of independence before joining the WAC, which was a huge step for the program at the time, while ULM was headed for the newly-formed Sun Belt, then an afterthought in Division 1-A. Asking whether Louisiana Tech felt they were too good for ULM is a reasonable question to ask with this in mind as Stephen Godfrey did a few years back.
This is why the Bulldogs and Warhawks scheduling one another was so surprising even if they scheduled their home-and-home series nearly a decade from now in 2030 and 2031. The 2030 matchup will mark exactly thirty years or “one score and ten years” since the Bulldogs and Warhawks played one another on the gridiron, an absolutely bogus gap between in-state schools.
Yet, few people know this gap was nearly broken out of necessity in 2020. A world-changing pandemic was nearly the catalyst for a 20-year reunion between the two Pelican State schools. In August of 2020, the Bulldogs and Warhawks scheduled each other for November 21 of that year in Shreveport, the biggest venue in the vicinity of the two schools and one that would optimize gate receipts from a smaller, pandemic crowd. The matchup even received the Stadium Game of the Week treatment, to be aired on Sinclair-owned (now Bally-Owned) regional sports networks.
However, this matchup was not meant to be as COVID protocols forced the cancellation of this reunion. And maybe it was for the better, this rivalry did not deserve to return with a whimper between a ULM team that would finish 0-10 and a Louisiana Tech team that went 5-4 and earned a spot in the New Orleans Bowl.
Looking ahead to when that coveted return matchup kicks off in 2030, it seems like the tables may finally turn in the favor of the Warhawks. Not only is the Sun Belt more stable than Conference USA, it is now a more marketable league as Sun Belt schools earn $1.2 million/year from their TV deal with ESPN while Conference USA will distribute $800,000/year to their schools starting next year. Maybe in 2030, ULM will be the ones turning their noses to Louisiana Tech. College football is funny that way.
2030 and 2031’s games may usher in a new, albeit short era in the ULM-Louisana Tech rivalry’s history. Louisiana Tech’s swallowing of its pride to finally play ULM may be a microcosm of the current and future state of Conference USA and Sun Belt. Whatever it represents or does not represent, I’m pretty sure I can speak for all college football fans when I say it is great to see these two playing each other again.