Jim Gazzolo column: Winning cures loss of patience

Published 11:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2022

For McNeese State and its fans, it’s back to the future.

Saturday night the Cowboys will return to their roots, kicking off the home opener at the traditional 7 p.m. time.

It has been nine years since games started in prime time inside Cowboy Stadium.

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Even worse, it will be 1,050 days since McNeese hosted a night game. The last two seasons the Cowboys have been forced to play at noon after hurricanes Laura and Delta destroyed the lighting system.

That, however, is just the start of the fun.

The athletic department is pulling out all the stops to bring back the historic days of the program. The Cowboy Walk will return as players will once again stroll through tailgating fans on their way into the stadium.

While not all the pregame plans have been revealed, McNeese fans can expect the return of most previous years’ activities. It is all part of the McNeese plan to bring back the football tradition, and with it, winning ways and fans.

There is nothing wrong with pomp and circumstance, nor is a good block party or day of tailgating a bad thing. They add to the entertainment value of the event.

Getting people back on campus and once again interested in the Cowboys is nice.

But nothing, repeat nothing, is going to bring back McNeese’s winning tradition like winning football games. Sounds simple because it is simple.

The only thing that really brings out fans is winning games on the field, and with that, championships. The rest is nice window dressing.

And what we have learned from the first two weeks of this football season is that winning doesn’t come easy.

It will take work, hard work, to turn around the Cowboys football program. That’s work on the practice fields, in the weight room and on the recruiting circuit.

Some of that work has already begun, it just hasn’t played out on the scoreboard yet.

For example, a team that was plagued by penalties over recent seasons had been flagged for four in the opening two weeks.

That is a giant step in the right direction, but it is just a first step.

Fifty-eight new players are on the roster helping to change the culture.

Now the Cowboys must build on their work and find a way to make things better on the field.

Unfortunately that’s not as easy as adding a few events. Improving play will take time. You can’t lose by six touchdowns and think it is progress.

It’s why those who know the program well are preaching patience. It will take more than one night or one offseason to get the Cowboys back among the elite.

While it may be the first year for the new coaching staff, it is the seventh season for a frustrated fan base. They may be willing to wait but there has to be signs of life when the lights are on.

Until then, at least you can enjoy the show.


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