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Switch leaves ULM with one little problem: A big gap

By now you've probably figured out that I look for a silver lining most of the time.

It's fun bringing you good news because there is so much out there that is overlooked.

But today in our state's world of athletics something is amiss and it is bothersome. Furthermore, we've let it slide across the board with virtually no honest reaction or conversation.

Locally, we have simply accepted this cruel dagger and moved on. Commendable, perhaps. Fair, no way.

It deals with LSU and ULM. Call it the Big Boy-Little Boy Syndrome. A power surge of fairly large proportions.

Even more precise, call it Louisiana politics ? and as usual there is a nice financial package involved.

I'm talking about LSU's recent schedule change allowing it to move (and save) a home game with North Texas that was postponed from Sept. 3 due to Hurricane Katrina.

Those two teams will now meet in Baton Rouge on Oct. 29.

The sad part is, however, that ULM got dragged into this LSU switch and put at a distinct disadvantage in its own schedule.

You see, ULM was asked (?) to give up its Oct. 29 date with North Texas so that LSU ? which had an open date then ? could play the Mean Green of North Texas on that day.

Unfortunately, this switch could well ruin any chance ULM has of piecing together a respectable season built on a strong showing within the Sun Belt Conference.

And, Lord knows the Indians don't need any more bumps in the road than the ones they create for themselves.

Granted, LSU didn't set out to demolish ULM's season with this schedule alteration. It was nobody's fault that Katrina came calling.

But what is distasteful is that ULM didn't really matter in this scenario. It was all about LSU being able to save a million-dollar payday.

That it happened at ULM's expense apparently didn't enter into the picture at all.

Now LSU will have its lucrative home game, North Texas will gets its near half million-dollar payout and, as far as I know, ULM will get virtually nothing ? except an unfair situation.

Especially worrisome is that ULM's own state management system not only didn't fight for the Indians, its CEO, Sally Clausen, likely brokered the deal for LSU.

The big hurt: Here's what happened to ULM when its own game with North Texas was moved from Oct. 29 to Nov. 19 to satisfy LSU's need.

The Indians will still play Troy for Homecoming on Oct. 15. Originally, ULM then had an open date Oct. 22 to prepare for North Texas on Oct. 29.

However, now ULM faces back-to-back open dates in the middle of its season ? which actually translates into 20 days of idleness before playing Florida International on Nov. 5.

You don't hear of too many teams going three straight weeks without a game in the middle of their season, do you?

How about none! Until now.

Also, instead of facing North Texas after an open date, ULM will now face conference foes Florida International, Middle Tennessee and North Texas on successive weekends ? the last two on the road.

Also, ULM's original final game with Louisiana-Lafayette (set here Nov. 19) has been pushed back to Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday, Nov. 26.

And, that move has seriously jeopardized an ESPN regional telecast of the game.

Also, it presents yet another major hurdle that wasn't there originally.

Not only will there be no students on campus after Thanksgiving, ULM staff members will now have to be here to house and feed the Indians.

That's not only an inconvenience, it is an unbudgeted expense ? not to mention that it means ULM and ULL players will miss being at home with family on Thanksgiving.

So far LSU has said that it will provide $100,000 to be split among the three schools affected (ULM, ULL and North Texas).

As the old Peggy Lee song said, "Is that all there is?"

Who knows?

What we do know is that the Tigers will have their million-dollar weekend and that the Indians have been shoved to the back of the line.

Maybe that's the price you pay for struggling to gain some identity with your football program. But it shouldn't be.

Fair is fair, and this isn't fair.

KEITH PRINCE is a staff writer for The News-Star. Contact him at 362-0235 or at P.O. Box 1502, Monroe, La. 71210.
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UL Monroe Board & Athletic site

I wonder how much of an input did ULM really have in all of this?
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UL Monroe Board & Athletic site

The sad part is this game is an OC and means nothing to LSU. At least draw straws.
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