On Saturday, Chris Buchanan will witness his 35th straight McNeese State homecoming football game. It will also be Buchanan's 415th consecutive Cowboy game. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 9:15 PM
Today, Chris Buchanan will be witnessing his 35th straight Homecoming football game for McNeese State University.
But that’s not the kicker.
It will be the 415th consecutive Cowboy game that he has seen.
To paraphrase Bum Phillips, if he’s not the No. 1 Cowboy football fan, it doesn’t take long to call roll for the class he is in.
Not long ago, at the nudging of a relative, Buchanan, who is a native of Lake Charles but now lives in Orange and works in Beaumont, Texas, decided to do some counting.
He went back and came up with the total of consecutive McNeese games that he has seen.
“I missed a game in 1977,” he said, noting that the contest was in Ypslanti and against Eastern Michigan. “I just didn’t have time enough to fly up there.”
Had he not missed that one, the streak would be even longer.
The consecutive run began with the next game, a bout with Louisiana Tech in Cowboy Stadium.
Buchanan grew up a McNeese fan, went to the university and received his degree.
It was his father Buck and mother Frances who pointed the way.
“I saw my very first Cowboy game when they were still playing in Lake Charles’ Wildcat Stadium,” he said, “and when they built Cowboy Stadium, we got our season tickets and have had them since.
“Dad and Mom were big LaGrange High football fans and wouldn’t miss any of their games. We had gone to some McNeese games, but when Jack Doland became head football coach at McNeese (1970), we all became McNeese fans and were at every game,” Buchanan said.
Even before the start of the streak, Buchanan planned each and every McNeese trip as soon as the schedule was out. And he gets the schedule as far in advance as he can.
He said that it has been no problem with his work schedule, when he had his own business and now as the chief informational officer with the Rivercity Hospice in Beaumont.
“It’s only difficult when McNeese plays Thursday night games like they did this year.”
For away games, he’s usually there the day before or at least the morning of the event.
Only once in 416 games has he had a challenge. It was 1994 and the Cowboys were in the 1-AA playoffs, tackling Montana in Missoula.
“LaGrange was playing in the semifinals of the state playoffs and they were playing in Cowboy Stadium (against eventual state champion Hahnville) and lost in overtime 28-27,” he said.
He had his route charted.
“Mom and I left Lake Charles (after the game) and drove to Dallas, getting only a couple of hours sleep in the DFW airport before boarding a 6:30 flight to Minneapolis and then a 9:40 flight to Missoula. We walked into the stadium in Missoula about 10 minutes after kickoff with the score tied 7-7. McNeese lost on a last-second field goal in that quarterfinal game, and that was probably the longest trip home of any of them,” he said.
As for his favorite Cowboy game, he said that it had to be McNeese’s victory over Delaware on the road in a 1-AA semifinal game in 1997 and the next favorite was the team’s last-second victory over Sam Houston in a 1991 game in Huntsville.
“That was Dad’s last game. We had rented a RV to get him there. He passed away two months later.”
The Buchanan family has been much more than just football fans to the university.
Buck, Frances and Chris have all served as president of the McNeese Quarterback Club and Chris, who has also been instrumental in the basketball Tipoff Club, has been on the board of the McNeese athletic foundation. Buck, who had his own construction company, helped build the Cowboy Room, the booster club building located on the south side of Cowboy Stadium.
Frances, who will celebrate her 90th birthday in March, continues to attend as many home games as she can while Chris’ wife, Joyce, will make most of the trips with him but has different projects that she is involved in and cannot make all of them. Son Scott, who is a senior at McNeese, is at most of the games.
The other member of the family, daughter Erin, has degrees from Texas A&M and Texas Tech and is a professor at Missouri State, so she doesn’t have the opportunity to see many games.
Buchanan said he wouldn’t characterize his following of the Cowboys as a hobby. It’s more of a passion that has been part of his life.