Bradford, La. Tech shunned by bowl officials

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 1999

For the second straight year, Brian Bradford and his Louisiana Tech teammates are spending their holidays at home. Not that Bradford minds spending his vacation back home in Vidalia, La., but he would much rather be preparing for a college bowl game like 40 other teams.

The Bulldogs who finished 6-6 last year, went 8-3 this year, only to be overlooked by the bowls.

&uot;I’m slightly disappointed, but we had a good year,&uot; Bradford said. &uot;I can’t be disappointed about the season. And who knows what the future holds with us joining the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) next year.&uot;

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This year, with highly-touted quarterback Tim Rattay at the helm, the Bulldogs seemed to have a good chance.

A 29-28 win at Alabama put the Bulldogs in even better position. The Bulldogs upset the Tide two years ago also.

But a season-ending 45-19 loss to Southern California probably did as much harm as the win over the Tide did good.

&uot;I think if we would have beaten USC we would have definitely gotten a bid,&uot; Bradford said. &uot;But that’s something that will even out. We just lost to some good teams along the way.&uot;

The Bulldogs lost to Florida State and Texas A&M.

The 6-foot, 212-pound Bradford, who runs a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash, had 39 tackles (25 solo), playing in all 11 games this past season. He had five tackles for losses for 23 yards and two sacks. The former Vidalia standout had three fumble recoveries, two pass break-ups and forced a fumble.

Needless to say, the win over Alabama, in which back-up quarterback Brian Stallworth threw a touchdown pass to Sean Cangelosi with two seconds remaining, was the highlight of the year.

&uot;That was just a great comeback,&uot; Bradford said. &uot;Alabama is just one of those schools you don’t beat twice twice in a row. That should really help our recruiting.&uot;

Bradford tackled all-everything Tide running back Shaun Alexander five times.

&uot;He is a great back,&uot; Bradford said. &uot;He’s not real fast, but he’s got so much strength. He is hard to tackle. He’ll be good in the NFL.&uot;

Bradford said he doesn’t think the Bulldogs got the credit they deserve for what some say was a &uot;fluke&uot; win.

&uot;Alabama has a great team, but I don’t think you can take anything away from us,&uot; he said. &uot;People talk about us like we are a low team on the pole. We have just as many athletes as other teams, but we just aren’t a big school.&uot;

Bradford thinks Tech can be strong next year, even with the loss of Rattay, who led the nation in total offense with 3,922 yards.

&uot;Brian Stallworth brought us back against University of Louisiana, so I think he can do a good job,&uot; Bradford said.

Defensively, Bradford said he will be counted on as a leader.

&uot;I’m going to have to step it up and little more next year,&uot; he said. &uot;I’ll be considered a leader. I really feel we will have a big year.&uot;

Bradford said the past couple of years have flown by.

I thought it would go be a little slower,&uot; Bradford said. &uot;When I first got there I wasn’t getting much playing time, but once I started playing and having fun, it started going by fast.&uot;

Bradford, who is carrying a 3.0 grade point average and majoring in computer science, has been invited to an NFL combine early next year.

&uot;My dream is to play professional football,&uot; he said.

Louisiana Tech plays at Penn State and Miami next year, and ends its regular season at Hawaii.

&uot;I’m excited about that,&uot; Bradford said. &uot;That’s a great way to go out.&uot;

But Bradford is counting on it not being the last game next year.

&uot;I’m not even going to watch the bowl games this year because I know we should be there,&uot; he said. &uot;There will be some teams we beat and some other teams I know we are better than. But I can’t be disappointed with those people. They worked hard to get where they are.&uot;