Jim Gazzolo column: Wade’s capitol reminder

Published 11:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2023

Poking the bear is one thing, but Will Wade has found a way to do it with a subtle sense of humor.

Wade isn’t poking the bear either. It is more like he’s trolling the Tigers, the hand that once fed him.

He claims not to be fully aware of the subject but does admit he has heard from others. And he does seem to be upset with all the fun others are having.

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If you happen to be driving through Baton Rouge recently you might know what we are talking about. That is if you have noticed a few billboards promoting youth basketball camps on a college campus.

It’s that time of year so nothing new there. But the ads aren’t for anything directly concerning LSU.

The billboards, though it’s not clear who paid for them, are up to call attention to Wade’s first camp at McNeese State here in Lake Charles.

To his credit, Wade, the new head coach at McNeese who used to lead the Tigers when they made the NCAA Tournament, kept a straight face when asked about it.

“I honestly didn’t know where they put those up at,” Wade said. “They are all over up and down (Interstate) 10.”

Wade claims he only heard about the signs after they were already in place and turning some heads.

The twinkle in his eyes showed he wasn’t too upset they were out there in the city he used to call home.

Wade’s first camp at McNeese starts Monday, and by all accounts, the response has been good. It seems everything Wade does at McNeese has been a hit.

Then again, the Cowboys haven’t played a game under him yet either.

One thing Wade continues to do is bring attention to McNeese men’s basketball, which has not been the case for some time now. From ticket sales to sponsorships, Wade has become a cash cow for the program and athletic department.

And doing some of his work inside Mike the Tiger’s lair simply adds to the man’s mystique. For now, we will call it a good marketing strategy that is also fun.

Wade has said his goal, besides winning games, is to get the most exposure in the area, state, and nationally for McNeese basketball. No question he has done that and more.

The billboards in Baton Rouge also allow his fans in the state capital to keep a watch on him.

The reaction in the Lafayette area for any such billboards might be a little more heated considering the history Wade has when his LSU team played Louisiana-Lafayette in an NIT game.

But it’s not as much fun to talk about.

It’s not even summer yet and Wade has managed to stack his claim on basketball all up and down the I-10 without even trying.

We may not know how this first season will turn out with Wade leading the Cowboys, but one thing is for sure: it won’t be boring.

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