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Friday, November 28, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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McNeese State University players huddle in April during the spring scrimmage at Cowboy Stadium. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

McNeese State University players huddle in April during the spring scrimmage at Cowboy Stadium. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

McNeese willing to fix what's broken

Last Modified: Thursday, May 15, 2014 11:45 AM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Change can be good, even if it is not appreciated by all.

McNeese State made a simple change to its home football schedule last week.

The Cowboys moved their start time up an hour to 6 p.m.

Early results indicate most fans like the move. A few, however, don’t.

That’s always the case when it comes to change.

Truth is, McNeese officials should be applauded for first asking their fans in a questionnaire their thoughts on the subject and then following through on their findings.

According to the athletic department, about twice as many who responded to the question were in favor of the change.

For those who didn’t respond and are unhappy with the move, blame yourself for not letting your feelings be known.

It’s like many who don’t vote but complain about the government. You can’t change something without trying.

McNeese is trying to fix a problem.

Over the past few years the number of fans attending games has decreased.

There are more than a few reasons for this, but mainly increased competition for the entertainment dollar is a big factor. So too is LSU’s success recently and the number of Division I games on television.

I can hear many complain that the Cowboys haven’t been winning as much over the past few seasons as well.

Those words fall on deaf ears when you consider only 5,000 or so bothered to show up for the first playoff game in Cowboy Stadium in a few years last fall.

It was cold but the lack of fans in the stands was a chilling reminder of how tough it is to sell a football game in the current market.

While neither coach Matt Viator nor the players blamed the small crowd for their poor play that night, it sure didn’t help. And a few of them have said since that they were not only surprised by the lack of fans in the stands but some were even hurt.

While McNeese Athletic Director Bruce Hemphill says the small playoff crowd had nothing to do with trying out the new times; he still says he was “disappointed” in the turnout and still hasn’t figured out all the reasons why it happened.

So instead of seeing if it was a fluke or a real trend, the McNeese brass decided to try and figure out a way to make things better.

For that they should be applauded.

Instead of beating their heads on the same wall, the athletic department simply moved the wall in hopes of giving themselves more head room.

The world of college sports continues to change and it is important for the McNeese program to continue to find its niche in that world.

For now that means tweaking the starting time one hour.

Games will now get over an hour earlier, which seems better for all parties, too.

It helps families who want to get home by 10 p.m. instead of 11. It means students will still have a good portion of their evening left even if they stay for the entire game.

And it also gives the school an extra hour to get the game’s scores out to media outlets, thus giving the program a little extra publicity.

Viator has said in the past he doesn’t see much of a difference in the starting time, so it is hard to find any real negative with the move.

Of course, that doesn’t mean some folks won’t be unhappy.

After all, you can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try.

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

Posted By: Jack Kelly - 1977 MSU graduate On: 5/20/2014

Title: Heat

The one real negative to starting the games at 6pm is that the weather in SW LA is usually insanely hot until at least October. So, the folks on the east side of the stadium are going to have to bake in the sun for an hour longer than usual. I've heard from several fans who say they will not renew their season tickets for exactly this reason. I no longer live in the area, but I am in touch with many fans and I try to visit at least once per season.

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