McNeese names Goff coach
By Jim Gazzolo
McNeese State found its man.
Monday Gary Goff was officially introduced the 18th head coach in program history.
Goff, 48, signed a 3-year deal with the Cowboys Sunday evening, just hours after he took Valdosta State to the Division II national championship game. The Blazers lost to Ferris State 58-17 Saturday night.
Sunday he was headed to Lake Charles.
“It has been a whirlwind of emotions,” said Goff. “So many ups and downs.
For McNeese it was the end of a nearly two week national search.
“I cannot be more excited that Coach Goff is our next head football coach,” McNeese State Athletic Director Heath Schroyer said. “He was at the top of my list from the start and he ended up there in the end.
Poke Nation and Southwest Louisiana will fall in love with this guy like I did.”
In just his second season at Valdosta State, Goff led the Blazers to the title game and a 12-3 record. In his two seasons at Valdosta, Goff posted a 22-3 mark, taking over the national power program in 2019.
The Blazers did not play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, his run at the national title delayed McNeese’s announcement as Schroyer had to wait for the Valdosta season to end before finalizing the deal.
Goff becomes the fifth head coach at McNeese since the start of the 2015 season. He replaces Frank Wilson, who resigned on Dec. 7 after just two seasons with the Cowboys, posting a 7-11 record.
Wilson left to become the top recruiter and associate head coach at LSU.
Goff posted a 38-50 record in eight years at Tiffin in Ohio. In his first head coaching spot, Goff took Tiffin from 0-11 in 2011 to 9-2 in his final season in 2018.
Now he takes on a completely different rebuilding program. McNeese is coming off a playoff ban for academics, two hurricanes and its first two losing seasons in 16 years.
Goff beat out a host of other candidates that impressed Schroyer.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the number and the quality of coaches we had show interest in McNeese,” Schroyer said. “It showed me that this is still a top job that people are interested in and an elite program.”
Schroyer said his first priority with this hire was to get a winning head coach who will bring stability to the program.
McNeese has not made the playoffs since 2015 in Matt Viator’s last season. The Pokes have not won a postseason game since 2002, when they advanced to the nation title game in then Division I-AA.
The pressure is also on to build a program that will be attractive enough to have McNeese get invited to a Football Bowl Subdivision conference.
“I’m not worried about that,” said Goff. “I just want to win games and everything else will take care of itself.”
Now a part of that is Goff, who will have the job of turning the Cowboys back into winners.
*Jim Gazzolo is a freelance writer and co-host of Poke Nation on CBS-Lake Charles.