Cowboys move opener for TV

Published 2:22 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2024

McNeese State has changed its football opener for this season.

The Cowboys will begin their 12-game campaign at Tarleton State in Week Zero on one of the ESPN networks. The game will be played on Aug. 24 with the time not yet set.

The game will be just one of seven nationally to take place that week in Division I on both the FBS and FCS levels. The two teams opened the season nationally in 2021 when they met to start the abbreviated spring season.

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The Cowboys won that game in double overtime, 40-37. They are 2-1 all-time against the Texans.

This will be the earliest McNeese has opened a season. It will also be the longest regular season in program history, lasting 91 days.

McNeese had been scheduled to play the Texans in Stephenville, Texas on Sept. 14, which was set to be the Cowboys’ third game of the season and second in a row in that state.

The Cowboys play at Texas A&M on Sept. 7. That likely means they will be on the ESPN family of networks twice in the season’s first three weeks.

“I think it is great for our football team and our university,” said McNeese football coach Gary Goff. “Anytime you can get on national television it is exciting for everybody.”

The schedule could change even more if Stephen F. Austin moves back into the Southland Conference as expected.

It is part of Athletic Director Heath Schroyer’s continued attempt to upgrade the McNeese brand.

“I’m really excited to move our game with Tarleton to Week Zero this season,” said Schroyer. “I want to personally thank Dr. (James) Hurley, Tarleton’s president, for working with me on this and for his leadership during this entire process.

“Having the ability to help kick off the 2024 college football season and play on linear ESPN is a fantastic opportunity for us. Enhancing our brand as an athletic department and as a university has been one of my major objectives, and this move helps us do just that. I couldn’t be more excited.”

McNeese was on national television once last year when they played at Florida. Sept. 14 will now be an open date for the Cowboys, who will begin the home portion of their schedule against Southern on Aug. 31. That had been originally set as the season opener.

It does mean the Cowboys will open fall camp one week earlier than expected.

“That will take a little adjusting but it is not a big deal,” said Goff. “Our team has done a lot of good things this offseason and our coaches and players are excited to start the new year.

“Tarleton is a really good program that I expect could be in the Top 25 when the season opens. It will be a good first test for us. We are excited to be part of kicking off the new season.”

McNeese is coming off a 1-10 year but has made major improvements to its roster, including signing an FCS leading 16 transfers from FBS schools.

Last year the two teams opened the season in Cowboy Stadium with Tarleton winning 52-34.