By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State is now searching to fill the final non-conference slot in its 2012 football schedule.
Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin confirmed Tuesday that Louisiana Tech paid the MSU athletic department $300,000 “this past spring” to buy its way out of the scheduled game in Starkville.
Louisiana Tech will come to Davis Wade Stadium on Sept. 24, 2011 to play MSU and will have a two-for-one series where Mississippi State hosts the school from the Western Athletic Conference in 2015 and 2017. MSU will travel to Ruston, La., for a contest in 2016.
The last time the two schools met was a 22-14 victory by Louisiana Tech in 2008 but MSU still leads the all-time series 7-2.
Louisiana Tech officials claimed in a statement released through their athletic department that there was numerous reasons for the move starting with a conflict over the date of the 2012 game with the Southeastern Conference television partners.
"Number one was that Mississippi State asked us to move the game to a later date in 2012 due to a request from the SEC involving television scheduling not for this particular game,” Louisiana Tech athletic director Bruce Van De Velde said in the statement. “We could not fulfill this request so we asked to move the game to a later year and Mississippi State declined. At that point, we elected not to play the game. This also allowed us to schedule a sixth home game in 2012."
Louisiana Tech’s non-conference opponents in 2012 are now Lamar, at Houston, Rice, at Illinois, at Virginia and UNLV.
This move leaves Mississippi State with four years of future non-conference slates with one slot open but the dates from 2014-16 are likely to be filled by Football Championship Subdivision opponents, formerly referred to as Division I-AA.
Stricklin went on Twitter Tuesday to discuss the 2012 schedule when asked by a fan about the situation responding to a question saying “Jackson St., S. Alabama, at Troy. Looking for 1 more hm game.”
However, Stricklin has consisted said MSU fans shouldn’t expect an opponent to be filled by a school from a Bowl Championship Series conference.
Stricklin, who traveled this week to the annual College Sports Information Directors of America convention in Marco Island, Fla., this week, responded to a different fan on Twitter Tuesday when asked about a potential high profile opponent saying this “Great idea ... Let's do it every December/January”
This scheduling philosophy is similar to what Stricklin said when he took over the athletics director position and followed through with in future scheduling contracts.
“My hope is we play a really good high-profile non-conference opponent every December or January (in a bowl game)," Stricklin said in May 2010. "I want to schedule in a way that allows us the opportunity to do that.”