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Friday, October 24, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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(Rick Hickman/American Press)

(Rick Hickman/American Press)

Snow ball's chance warms ULL-McNeese relationship

Last Modified: Sunday, August 17, 2014 1:07 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

There is a major cold front heading for the deep, deep south.

It is the only explanation.

Some two years ago Louisiana-Lafayette football fanatics were incensed at just the idea of their Ragin’ Cajuns playing a game against McNeese State.

For days after this column said it would be a good thing for both programs if they got together once again on the football field, Cajun followers wrote nasty emails and Internet posts suggesting some not-so-nice things for yours truly.

They had their own ideas about what I could do with my idea, and just where I can put my, as one emailer wrote, “ugly, McNeese-loving face.”

Granted, I’m no George Clooney, but that seemed a little rough.

One even wrote it would be a cold day in you-know-where before the Cajuns would ever stoop so low as to play McNeese.

More than a few suggested, among other things, that I should forget about the past, when the teams played every fall.

They even went so far to mock my words and say it was a “groovy thing” and that I was “lost in the ’70s.”

Well, get those leisure suits out of the attic and light up your disco ball, we are going back to the future.

I can only imagine what those folks in Cajun Nation are thinking now that the two schools are about to play again.

According to multiple sources, only the John Hancock of the ULL president on the dotted line is keeping a 2016 meeting away from being announced.

Everybody involved says it is just a matter of time.

I hope that one special fan is watching the Weather Channel to see if indeed it has gotten cold down below.

There is no question that since the last time the team met, the Cajuns have been ragin’, and not just in football. The school’s athletic department has been on a roll, especially last year.

Football is leading the way in Lafayette with three consecutive wins in the New Orleans Bowl and 27 wins over those seasons.

We should also remember that before head coach Mark Hudspeth came to town the Cajuns were hardly on a roll. The football program struggled more seasons than not.

I could understand why football officials would not have wanted to play a smaller school from down the road that had not only beaten them in the past but would have likely done the same back then. It would have been a black eye to the program.

Now the Cajuns would be favored and the fans and administration likely believe they will win.

In football it appears timing is everything.

For its part McNeese was always willing to play Lafayette. Why not? The Cowboys usually beat them. With wins over Middle Tennessee State and South Florida the last two seasons McNeese is not about to be overwhelmed by an hour or so trip down the highway.

But what really makes this game fun is that the fans will be into it.

ULL followers will want their team to make a point that the school, town and everything associated with the program has fully grown up, that it no longer plays on McNeese’s level.

They will want their team to prove once and for all the move out of the Southland and up a level was the right thing and that the Cowboys and Cajuns will never be equals.

As for McNeese fans, the game will be about putting Cajun Nation back in its place. A Cowboys win will not only give them bragging rights but show they could have moved up if they wanted to, at least when it come to play on the field.

It is that type of passion that makes for a good rivalry.

I get the feeling that the seven years that have passed since the teams last played have only added fuel to the rivalry’s fire.

That should be a good thing because we will need something to warm up that place below now that the two teams are playing again.

l

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


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