Dear Mr. Rob Bernardi,
Unlike a football team and its entire fan base, I’m not mad at your decision to not bring the paddle to San Marcos tomorrow, effectively ending the “Battle for the Paddle” series. I’m just trying to understand your reasoning.
You told the Houma Daily, “These types of games are based on conference rivalries. Texas State is no longer in the league and is committed to the Western Athletic Conference, so I think that rivalry has ended. We don’t have them on the schedule from this point forward. Us keeping the paddle is clearly reasonable.”
Yes, the Bobcats are leaving the Southland Conference to join the WAC-Land, but SMU and TCU haven’t played in the same conference since 2005, yet still play in the “Battle of the Iron Skillet” each season, with a traveling trophy going to the winner.
Then you mentioned how Texas State has an unfair advantage due to its 11 extra scholarships this season, coinciding with its move to the Football Bowl Subdivision. How come this disadvantage didn’t keep you from scheduling games with Louisiana-Lafayette and Western Michigan in 2011? It also didn’t stop Sam Houston State from beating New Mexico, Southern Utah from knocking off UNLV, or Appalachian State from taking down Michigan a few years ago.
Also, where do you get the audacity to ruin something much bigger than football?
Let’s put aside that year in and year out it’s your football team’s only shot to play for something meaningful. Nicholls State has been an afterthought in the Football Championship Subdivision, including 19 of the 20 years its competed in the SLC.
The paddle stands for more than just a trophy. For the people of San Marcos, it serves as a memorial to the 31 lives lost in the floods that ravaged Central and South Texas in 1998.
To hold the paddle hostage in Thibodaux, La., and not bring it to San Marcos — where your team can win it outright and then do whatever you please — is downright cowardly and a disservice to your student-athletes.
When the state of Louisiana finally decides to cut funding for many of its state-funded collegiate athletic programs, hope your program is saved. If not, pray Texas State isn’t vindictive following a probable win Saturday night, choosing to wait until the day before you’re let go as athletic director to lay siege to its rightful oar, leaving you up a creek without a paddle.
P.S. — Remember 2003? I guess not. Your record book doesn’t either.*
* Nicholls State vacated every win from 2003 due to NCAA infractions, including a 31-13 win against Texas State. The Bobcats didn’t request the paddle back.