Possibly the biggest addition to the Texas Tech Football program came before signing day. Jack Bicknell brings eight years of head coaching experience to the South Plains in his first season as offensive line coach for the Red Raiders.
His impact has been felt immediately, as evidenced by perhaps the top offensive line class signed in school history. Bicknell hit the pavement running when hired in early January and landed some of the state's top linemen, including convincing a few to change their commitments from other schools.
Bicknell is regarded by many college football insiders as one of the rising young stars in the coaching profession and earned high marks for his success in luring nationally regarded recruits.
An illustration of that national respect was when he was chosen last year to serve on the NCAA Ethics Committee, which oversees ethical and regulation standards for all NCAA football programs.
One illustration of the benefits of Bicknell is his recruiting prowess, which is evident in his recruiting history, including a 2003 recruiting class which was ranked No. 25 in the nation by Max Emfinger and included the Bulldog's first first-team Parade All-American.
In Bicknell's eight years as head coach, 22 Louisiana Tech players were either drafted into the National Football League or signed free agent contracts with NFL teams, including Tim Rattay (2000 San Francisco 49ers, 7th round), Bobby Gray (2001 Chicago Bears, 5th round), Luke McCown (2004 Cleveland Browns, 5th round), Josh Scobee (2004 Jacksonville Jaguars, 5th round) and Ryan Moats (2005 Philadelphia Eagles, 3rd round).
During his eight years at the helm of Louisiana Tech, Bicknell and his teams faced arguably one of the toughest out-of-conference schedules in the country.
Combine that out-of-conference difficulty with league games against a vastly improved Western Athletic Conference that saw Boise State and Fresno State become household names in college football, and Bicknell's Bulldogs faced some of the best the country has to offer.
During his tenure at the Ruston-based school, Louisiana Tech defeated the likes of No. 18 Alabama (29-28 in 1999), Oklahoma State (39-36 in 2002), Michigan State (20-19 in 2003), No. 17 Fresno State (28-21 in 2004) and No. 23 ranked Fresno State (40-28 in 2005). All five teams went on to participate in post-season bowls, and the 1999 Alabama team captured the SEC title that season.
Louisiana Tech played 25 games against BCS schools (22 of those on the road) under Bicknell, including Florida State, Texas A&M (twice), Alabama, Southern California, Kansas State (twice), Penn State (twice), Auburn (three times), Miami (three times), Oklahoma State (twice), Clemson (twice), Michigan State, Tennessee, LSU and Florida.
Of those games, Florida State was the 1998 defending national champion, Miami was the 2002 defending national runner-up, LSU eventually won the 2003 national championship and Auburn (2004) went undefeated. Florida went on to win the 2006 national championship.
Bicknell was 43-49 as the Louisiana Tech head coach and his 43 wins ties him for third in the Tech record books, trailing only legendary Tech coaches Joe Aillet (152) and Maxie Lambright (95). In games against non-BCS programs, Bicknell was 40-26.
The 2001 season also brought with it membership in the Western Athletic Conference and the 100th season of football at Louisiana Tech.
Few people truly expected Tech to win the Western Athletic Conference Championship title during the first year of membership - but that is exactly what Bicknell and his Bulldogs did as Tech finished the season with a 7-5 mark, including a 7-1 record in conference games.
It was that success that earned Bicknell the title of 2001 WAC Coach of the Year as voted on by the league's head coaches as well as Collegefootballnews.com WAC Coach of the Year honors.
With the conference title in hand, Bicknell and company participated against Clemson in the 2001 Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl, the program's first postseason appearance since 1990.
Bicknell's reign at Tech began in 1999 when he was hired as the 30th head coach in Tech history after former Tech coach Gary Crowton announced his decision to go to the NFL's Chicago Bears as offensive coordinator following the 1998 season. The hiring proved to be a success.
Bicknell led the 1999 Bulldogs to an 8-3 record, the school's first Associated Press Top 25 ranking and a 29-28 upset win over eventual Southeastern Conference champion Alabama.
Bicknell, who was one of the youngest Division I-A head coaches in the collegiate ranks when he started, was voted the Louisiana Sports Writers Association State Coach of the Year in 1999.
Prior to his reign as head coach, Bicknell worked as the offensive line coach at Tech during the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He helped lead the Bulldogs to a 15-8 record during that span, including a 9-2 mark in 1997.
Before coming to Tech, the Orono, Maine, native spent time at both the University of New Hampshire and Boston College. Bicknell began his coaching career at Boston College, his alma mater, in 1985 as a graduate assistant. In 1987 Bicknell headed to the University of New Hampshire as the defensive line coach. While at UNH, he switched sides of the ball and took the helm of the offensive line in 1993.
During Bicknell's tenure at UNH, the Wildcats won the Yankee Conference in 1991 and 1994 and were the New England Division Champions in 1996.
Bicknell comes from a great lineage of coaches as his father, Jack Bicknell II, is the head coach for the Barcelona Dragons of the NFL Europe and is the former coach at BC.
Bicknell received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Boston College, earning a liberal arts degree in 1985 and a master's in secondary education in 1987.
While at BC, Bicknell was a three-year letter winner on the offensive line and was the starting center during Doug Flutie's Heisman Trophy year in 1984. He also played in the 1982 Tangerine Bowl and started in the 1984 Cotton Bowl. Bicknell was the starting center when Flutie threw the Hail Mary to defeat Miami in 1984. As a senior at BC, Bicknell received the Scanlon Award, the Orie T. Scarminach Award for athletic and academic excellence and the Dean's Award in the school of education.
Bicknell is married to Helen Fogarty from Whitinsville, Mass., and the couple has three children: John (15), Katelyn (12) and Alyse (8).
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