Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Game Offers Break for Louisiana Tech

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Game Offers Break for Louisiana Tech

Article excerpt


GAINESVILLE -- Louisiana Tech could lose to Florida by 50 points tonight, and that wouldn't bother Bulldogs football coach Jack Bicknell Jr. too badly.

On the other hand, if they were to somehow upset the No. 10-ranked Gators, Bicknell wouldn't feel much different.

After what the team has been through the past two weeks in Ruston, La., just playing the game is a huge victory.

Consider that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, 16 Louisiana Tech players went days without knowing if they had lost family or friends in the storm and subsequent flooding. Two weeks after the storm made landfall in Southeast Louisiana and Southern Mississippi, players' families still are living in dorm rooms and shelters set up on the Louisiana Tech campus.

Football has become an afterthought.

"It was terrible," Bicknell said. "The problem was you didn't know what was going on, and you couldn't get in contact with anyone, and you're still trying to practice. I ended up calling off two practices, and it was just a very difficult situation. Then we had a lot of evacuees that made it up this way, and we were trying to get them organized.

"First, we put them in the Thomas Assembly Center [the basketball arena], and we moved all kinds of blankets and pillows and mattresses and things in there. Then, the dorm became open, so we had to move everybody out of there over to the dorm. This past weekend, we were carrying box springs and mattresses up to the seventh and eighth floors."

Bicknell said there are 1,500 evacuees in Ruston, with 300 staying in the dorm, 250 in the city's civic center and 250 in various churches. Some evacuees are family members of players.

In the last few days, Bicknell has made sure all the players have accounted for missing family members. Quarterback Donald Allen went nearly a week without knowing if his father and grandfather were alive, but both were found Sunday. …

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