Posted on: Saturday, October 18, 2003
Bicknell feels comfort as LaTech coach
|||Warriors, LaTech expected to air it out|
Warriors' travels long and difficult
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
UH at Louisiana Tech, 9 a.m. today, KFVE
In 1984, Bicknell was Boston College's starting center when eventual Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie threw the Hail Mary pass to defeat Miami in what is regarded as one of college football's most breathtaking finishes.
He also worked for two years for the Boston Red Sox, major league baseball's perpetual also-ran.
With the perspective of both sides of fate and faith Bicknell knows the best moves sometimes are the ones not made. It is why Bicknell, considered to be a fast-rising coach, is content being Doc Hollywood in rustic Ruston.
"I never look at it like, hey, I've got to get another job or I have to move on," said Bicknell, whose team hosts Hawai'i today at Joe Aillet Stadium. "I try to do the best I can at this job. I'm trying not to move on the other way, where they're kicking me out."
It is unlikely Bicknell, who was raised in Boston, will wear out his welcome in the near future. Although he has amassed a 25-28 record in five seasons at Louisiana Tech, he has defeated Alabama, Oklahoma State and, last month, Michigan State. Bicknell led the Bulldogs to the Western Athletic Conference regular-season championship in 2001, their first year of membership.
Bicknell has big dreams he recruits in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas while living a simple life in this three-off-ramp town between Shreveport and Monroe.
"It's a friendly town," said Bicknell, whose home number is listed in the White Pages. "I think everybody knows everybody. There really is something to the Southern hospitality thing, where everybody is very friendly and helpful."
The campus is a collection of brick buildings. In anticipation of today's homecoming game, there are welcoming signs written on bedsheets hanging on the dormitory fences.
Bicknell frequently dines at the area restaurants, like the "Cajun Cafe," where the combo special features fried crawfish, catfish and alligator. Drink refills are free.
"In Boston, you might get dressed up to to out to eat," he said. "Ruston is not anywhere near like that. It's also very inexpensive to live here. It's been a nice change for our family. Basically, we used to have a tiny condo where we used to live. Now we have a big house, and it's not just because I'm the head coach. It's very inexpensive to live here."
Bicknell praised the area as a comfortable environment to raise his three children.
"To me, it's like the old days," he said. "Any night of the week you can go down to the ballfields and everyone is playing. That's kind of the social event for the adults, to watch the kids play. Sunday, everybody is off to church. It really does seem like it's back in time, but in a good way. There are a lot of good values. It's been a great place to bring up kids."
In turn, the WAC has been good for the Bulldogs, Bicknell said. Before gaining membership, the Bulldogs competed as an independent, a status in which 8-3 and 9-2 seasons did not lead to bowl invitations. While the future of the WAC is in question, with the speculated defection of three members, Bicknell said the Bulldogs are enjoying the benefits that come with a league membership.
"There's no question that going to a bowl (in 2001) really helped us," he said. "That was something lacking in our program prior to getting into the conference. Now, with a bowl game and (the WAC's national) television package, we can offer (recruits) basically what everyone else in the country can offer."
Bicknell said he enjoys the WAC's diverse membership, which can match programs as diverse as the ones in Hawai'i and Ruston. This will be the first meeting between the teams since 2000.
"It's fun to have Hawai'i come here, and it will be fun to go to Hawai'i," Bicknell said. "Being in the WAC, you certainly get to experience a lot of different cultures and areas of the country that you normally don't get to see."