From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
A Look Back in Time
Kaleb Causey, Tech Talk Sports Editor, recently asked me if I would write an article for the sports page. I was honored that he would ask me to do this. As I thought about what to write, I began to reflect on what athletics has meant to me as student and faculty member over the years. Here’s my story. I must admit that I’m a big fan of Louisiana Tech and Tech athletics and have been for more than 40 years. When I arrived on campus as a freshman in 1972, Terry Bradshaw was already making his mark in Pittsburgh after having been a No. 1 NFL draft choice and “Sports Illustrated” cover boy in 1970. The visibility of Tech football, the availability of Tech’s signature architecture program, and the excellent reputation of Tech’s academics were the key factors that led me to come to Louisiana Tech. And I have never regretted that decision. In that fall of my freshman year, Tech football was entering one of its greatest eras. Under the direction of Coach Maxie Lambright, Tech went 12-0 and won its first national title. In 1973, Tech beat both Boise State and Western Kentucky in the playoffs to finish 12-1 and win its second NCAA Division 2 National Championship. Then, in 1974, Tech went 11-1 and was presented its third national title by UPI. During those years, our roster was full of many NFL-bound stars including Mike Barber, Hall-of-Famer Fred Dean, Roger Carr, Pat Tilley, Roland Harper and Larry Anderson, among others. Also in 1974, Tech introduced women’s basketball under the direction of Coach Sonja Hogg. She was joined in 1977 by Coach Leon Barmore, who happened to have been my high school coach. The Lady Techsters began to win and attract large crowds to Memorial Gym, (now Scotty Robertson Memorial Gymnasium). Their first 20-win season was in 1976, my senior year at Tech. Soon after, they won their first two national championships, first in 1981 as Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) champions, then in 1982 as NCAA champs. Techsters were synonymous with greatness, and major award winners like Pam Kelly, Angela Turner, Janice Lawrence and Teresa Weatherspoon were widely recognized across the land as the faces of women’s college basketball. Men’s basketball also rocked Memorial Gym during my college days. Under legendary Coach Scotty Robertson, Tech earned a No. 1 ranking in the national college division, and All-Americans Mike Green and Mike McConathy provided spectacular play. Karl Malone had a major impact on men’s basketball at Tech after arriving in 1982 and became an NBA Hall-of-Famer, redefining power forward play at Utah and becoming the league’s second leading all-time scorer during his 18 NBA seasons. And, of course, baseball was consistently a winner under legendary coach Pat “Gravy” Patterson. In 1974, Gravy led his team to within one game of the NCAA World Series. Since that time period, our athletics programs have produced many excellent student-athletes, winning records, national awards, and conference titles. More importantly, they have greatly enhanced the college experience of the thousands of students who have attended Louisiana Tech. Over the years, I have met many of our athletes who competed in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Many of these players have become highly successful in their chosen professions. After a conversation or two with them, you can quickly tell that legendary coaches like Joe Aillet, Berry Hinton and Jim Mize had a huge influence on these former student-athletes, helping to shape them as winners on the field and in life. These former players are now part of the Lettermen’s Club and are frequently found on the sidelines at practice or in the stands during games, reflecting a dedication and commitment to their alma mater. I enjoy my conversations with them and the opportunity to learn a little more about the history of Louisiana Tech and Tech athletics each time I do. I know that our strong overall athletics program has done much to elevate the name of Louisiana Tech nationally. I also know that our academic programs have done much to enhance the national stature of our institution. We are blessed to be a part of an institution that has both a rich athletic and academic heritage, one that gives Louisiana Tech and our graduates a distinct competitive advantage. It was a special treat for me recently when Terry Bradshaw returned to campus to meet with former Tech quarterback and teammate Phil Robertson, today the star of the reality television series “Duck Dynasty.” Standing on the sidelines of Aillet Stadium at a Tech football game with those two proud alums and nearly 23,000 other fans, I reflected on what brought me here to begin with. Definitely academics. And definitely some specific programs. But just as much, I remembered in that athletic atmosphere and among those Bulldog greats, I came to Louisiana Tech because of a passion to compete in this special setting, to be pushed and encouraged and inspired by the best to become my best. Those are the reasons I came, and those are the reasons I’m still here. Here is Kaleb’s Tech Talk version. http://www.thetechtalk.org/?p=10047. Thank you, Kaleb, for the opportunity.