SLC breakup could be McNeese’s breakout
Story written by Jim Gazzolo
Written by Jim Gazzolo
On paper it looks like a complete loss.
Quickly being known as the Texas exudes, the Southland Conference appears to be imploding. Four teams from Texas are looking to leave the league for the Western Athletic Conference.
Add Central Arkansas being rumored to make its own move out and suddenly the big names are jumping ship.
College sports is quickly becoming a game of tag, and McNeese is it.
This is not the old WAC that produced some great teams and players. Now it’s just another Football Championship Subdivision conference. You know, the old Division 1-AA.
But as Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Lamar and Abilene Christian move out, McNeese could benefit. Think big picture here.
Nobody knows what college sports will look like next fall or even next week. Yet think of what an opportunity this could become for the Cowboys.
Let’s say the Southland gets a couple of decent programs in and the Cowboys get seven solid league games a year in football. Now comes the fun part. They could also get some decent nonconference games as well.
That is something that has been hard to do of late, but travel costs might make this a good thing. Games against Lamar would make both dollars and sense.
Toss in a game with Grambling or Southern, good for 22,000 or so. Then there is Sam Houston or maybe Louisiana-Lafayette.
McNeese could have three interesting local games outside of conference without getting far off the 10 freeway. Add a money game and it sure beats some of the clubs that have come to town in the past.
See, there is always an opportunity in every mess. More fans means more money which also means more interest. A move up could follow.
You can’t tell me that a year playing ULL and LSU on the road and Lamar and Grambling at home would not be something McNeese fans would enjoy. It would be perfect and make a lot of sense for all.
Of course this means the Power 5 guys are still playing such money games but even if they aren’t, Houston, Rice and Tulane would need games.
This also plays for McNeese’s other sports too. Imagine a basketball schedule with three or four mid-major teams coming to Lake Charles. It beats Dallas Christian at Arlington, or whomever that was this year and the city could use the excitement.
“If you are going to take the next step then you have to have a schedule that fits that,” said McNeese Athletic Director and head basketball coach Heath Schroyer. “It is the next step for all of our programs, to schedule games that fans want to see.”
This year that has been tough for Schroyer’s crew, who with one final game before league starts Saturday stands at 5-3. Schroyer said nine games against Division 1 opponents have been cancelled during this season of Covid.
This season the Cowboys have beaten their opponents over the first five home games by 314 points for an average of 62.8. Hardly must see basketball.
None of this is a given, but rather food for thought during a time when all seems to be crumbling. Maybe this is just looking to find the silver lining in the darkest of clouds, but there seems to be hope here of better opportunities.
At least it’s a plan moving forward and that is a start.
* Jim Gazzolo is the host of Eye on Sports for CBS-Lake Charles