Jim Gazzolo column: Signing day kicks off rebuilding

Published 5:38 pm Thursday, January 27, 2022

For most college football programs next Wednesday’s national signing day is the next piece to the puzzle.

Not so at McNeese State.

For the Cowboys and new head coach Gary Goff, Wednesday is more of a cornerstone to the program’s rebuild.

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Still picking up the pieces from the last few years, Goff has plenty of openings on the roster to fill. McNeese has been forced to play a game of catch-up for a couple of years now.

The results show clearly in the standings.

College football games are won on Saturday’s in the fall, but programs are made on signing days and now through the NCAA transfer portal.

It is not so much the stars who pick a particular school but rather the perception of the program. Championship contenders are made by what teenage players and their high school coaches think of a university and its coaching staff.

The kids, they want glitz, glitter and to make a splash. Tradition is fine but for them newer is better.

Coaches want to establish a relationship so they can trust a school to take care of the players they send them.

As for Goff, who has had to learn on the fly while selling his program, it has been a busy first month. He has had to meet a community, re-recruit his own players and try and keep a class together despite the coaching change.

That’s a lot of selling of his vision.

It is also the first time he has been out making his pitch to a new crowd. He has to convince a recruiting class that McNeese is on the way back.

You don’t win on any level without talent. The lower the level the more important the character of those to whom you offer scholarships.

Goff has to make it clear that McNeese State is still a program that can win and develop talent. Before he can put in place his offense and defense, he has to get players to buy into his vision.

With all that has gone on this is the biggest challenge. Once the players get here he can start the process of teaching them.

Goff and his staff have been out making sure McNeese does not miss out on another recruiting season. That’s not easy to do when none of them have been a part of the program very long themselves.

It is, however, what the program needs the most right now.

Rebuilding is never easy but for Goff and McNeese it really starts on Wednesday.

Jim Gazzolo is a freelance writer who covers McNeese State athletics for the American Press. Email him at jimgazzolo@yahoo.com