Last Modified: Monday, September 02, 2013 9:57 PM
We are in the full throes of McMania.
Unable to contain his excitement, McNeese radio color commentator Johnny Suydam opened Monday’s press conference by telling everyone the local Sam’s Club ran out of McNeese shirts within 90 minutes of opening on Monday morning.
Then there’s the media attention heaped on the Cowboys from their 53-21 season-opening stomp of Bowl Subdivision foe South Florida.
ESPN played McNeese football highlights on SportsCenter. Dick Vitale expressed his astonishment on Twitter. Deadspin.com — the same folks who broke the Manti T’eo girlfriend hoax — featured a picture of Dylan Long celebrating a touchdown on its front page for a story about the banner weekend for FCS teams against their bigger brothers.
Meanwhile, in Tampa they speculated that this was the lowest point in USF history.
Pretty heady stuff.
“It’s a big win for us on a lot of fronts,” said Cowboys coach Matt Viator. “Any time you have an opportunity to beat an FBS team, to beat a BCS-caliber conference football team, and in the process get some national recognition, those things are all good.”
But Viator isn’t getting too caught up in such hoopla, and his message Monday was that there are still 11 games to be played this season.
“Everything I just mentioned is in the short-term,” Viator said. “It’s the here and now (that matter). We have to move forward. I explained that to the players (Sunday) and I think they recognize it. It’s great to get recognition in the first game. But we have 11 more games, starting this week.”
It starts with this weekend’s home opener against defending Southwest Athletic Conference champion Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. to accomodate a Comcast Sports Net Houston telecast.
The Lions did not show much in a 62-11 loss to FBS Arkansas State as 12 players were ruled ineligible before the game. The status of those players for this week is not yet clear, but Viator deeply respects the program coming off a 10-2 season.
“Any opponent gets your attention. Any good opponent gets your respect,” Viator said. “But any opponent that has championship pedigree really gets my respect and really gets my attention. Arkansas-Pine Bluff is the defending champion of a very proud conference, and had to earn it on the field in a championship game. They come back this year as the favorite to win it again.”
Just as last year’s upset win over Middle Tennessee State gave McNeese confidence in this year’s season opener, the aftermath will serve as a template for not overlooking the next opponent.
“The only way I know how is to stay on routine,” Viator said. “Regardless of whether we won or lost, we did the same thing yesterday we would have done. We’ll come out (Tuesday) in practice the same way regardless of opponent. Those actions speak louder than words. You can talk about it all you want, but it’s how you prepare that the players can relate to.
“Trust me, when they come out here for practice, it’ll be business as usual.”