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Nicholls State Says Goodbye to the Paddle
The Nicholls State football team better hope Texas State’s memory isn’t as good as the memory of last week’s opponent Northwestern State.
Last season, the Colonels went to Natchitoches and ruined the Demons’ chances at a possible Southland Conference title with a 37-7 drubbing.
The Demons exacted their revenge last week by blasting the Colonels 34-0 in Thibodaux.
Last season, Nicholls went to San Marcos, Texas, and topped the Bobcats 47-45 in a four-overtime game that some have called one of the most thrilling wins in Nicholls football history. Nicholls scored on the final play of regulation to send the game to overtime and then dropped the Bobcats to 0-2 in the SLC.
Since 1998, the Nicholls/Texas State Southland Conference game has been dubbed the “Battle for the Paddle.”
During that season the contest was rescheduled from October to late November due to floods in the San Marcos, Texas, area which caused damage to property and loss of life.
In memory of those affected, the winner of the game each year has been presented a wooden paddle with the colors of the schools and their initials and results of each game won on each side.
But things are different this season.
Being Texas State is playing as a Football Championship Subdivision Independent and is receiving 11 more scholarships than other FCS teams while making the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision where it will compete in the Western Athletic Conference in 2012, Nicholls athletics officials have decided not to play for the paddle this season.
So don’t expect the paddle to be anywhere close to Jim Wacker Field at Bobcat Stadium on Saturday.
Nicholls Athletic Director Rob Bernardi said Tuesday that it won’t be making the nine-hour road trip with the Colonels.
It instead will stay back home in Thibodaux at the Barker Building, the school’s athletic hall, for the foreseeable future.
“Those types of games are based on conference rivalries,” Bernardi explained. “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. It began as two conference opponents playing each other, and it’s going to end that way. Unfortunately for them, it’s going to stay here at Barker Hall.”
Bernardi said the addition of 11 scholarships this season for Texas State provides an unfair advantage.
“They are transitioning to FBS, which allows them to have more scholarships,” Bernardi said. “I don’t know where they are, but they are certainly above the 63 equivalent we have in FCS. I think it’d be a reach on their part to think this is still an inter-confernce rivalry. It has moved past that.”
Still, this game means a lot for both teams.
Texas State (2-2) wants to prove it belongs on the Football Bowl Subdivision level and is ready for the WAC.
A loss to Nicholls again this year won’t send that message.
For the 1-3 Colonels, they want to prove they are better than that 34-0 loss to Northwestern State last week and that they are moving toward being able to compete for an SLC title in the near future.
This has been a good rivalry over the years, full of close games and exciting endings. The game has been played with lots of passion and purpose. Who knows if these two teams will ever play on the football field again. All I know is that I will miss the “Battle for the Paddle.”
All I can hope for is, with or without the paddle, this rivalry ends with another exciting, competitive game on Saturday.
Kelly McElroy, Houma Today