Mississippi State has to find another non-SEC opponent for the 2012 football season after Louisiana Tech backed out of its game with the Bulldogs earlier this month.
Tech ponied up the $300,000 it took to get out of the game, so that leaves MSU with non-conference games against Jackson State (Sept. 1), at Troy (Sept. 8) and South Alabama (Sept. 22).
Louisiana Tech spokesman Patrick Walsh said the school had a better deal with Virginia, which the Ruston Bulldogs will visit on Sept. 29, 2012. Walsh would not disclose how much Tech will make on that game, but said that "it will be for an amount significantly higher than the $300,000 buyout we paid for Mississippi State." He added that it also allowed Tech to add a sixth home game.
MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said he asked Tech if it could move the 2012 date, and when that didn't work, Tech asked to move the game to the 2013 or '14 season. That didn't work for State.
Louisiana Tech AD Bruce Van De Velde sent out a statement this afternoon explaining things: "A number of factors influenced the decision. Number one was that Mississippi State asked us to move the game to a later date in 2012 due to a request from the SEC involving television scheduling, not for this particular game. We could not fulfill this request so we asked to move the game to a later year, and Mississippi State declined. At that point we elected not to play the game."
Stricklin is hoping to schedule another Division I-A opponent, as it already has one I-AA team (Jackson State) on the schedule that season. (MSU also plays South Alabama in '12, and the Jaguars won't be I-A until '13. But MSU will be allowed to count that as a I-A game because USA is in a transition mode).
"It's late in the game, but we're going to make the best of it," Stricklin said. "I wish we could've just played the game, because it was contracted. That was their decision, and we'll make the best of it and figure out what we're doing going forward."
MSU plays host to Louisiana Tech this fall (Sept. 24), and the 2012 game was going to be the back end of a two-for-one deal (MSU played at Tech in 2008). The teams will meet again in 2015, '16 and '17 in another two-for-one.
As for other future non-SEC scheduling, MSU is still seeking I-AA dates for the 2014, '15 and '16 seasons, but Stricklin said there have been no conversations beyond 2013. Here's how MSU's future non-conference schedules look as of today.
2012: Jackson State, at Troy, FBS home, South Alabama
2013: Mississippi Valley State, at UAB, Troy, Bowling Green
2014: Southern Miss, UAB, at South Alabama, FCS home
2015: at Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, Troy, FCS home
2016: FCS home, South Alabama, at Louisiana Tech, Tulane
2017: Louisiana Tech