Welcome to the unofficial start of football season McNeese fans.
Today is the 2019 Southland Conference Media Day. Depending on when you read this, media day may have not started, just started, just got to the lunch portion (my favorite), or be getting ready to wrap up.
The entire event will be on ESPN3, so make sure your laptop, phone, or tablet is fully charged so you don't miss any of the action.
SLC commissioner Tom Burnett will kick things off from Houston at 9 a.m. and from there, we're off. There's a bit of a break if you're waiting for McNeese head coach Sterlin Gilbert and player representatives Cody Orgeron and Chris Livings to speak; they will hit the main stage at 2:15 p.m.
For anyone that tunes in, or even the ones that don't, I want to give a little primer for what you should expect from media day and some issues that could be brought up during the day:
• Since Commissioner Burnett is the first to speak, if he does take questions, I have one that has sat inside of me since the end of last season: if the team that only plays eight conference games (this year it's Houston Baptist) winds up in the thick of the conference race like Incarnate Word last season, will they also receive an extra win or is there another solution to that?
I don't want to take away from what UIW did last season. But it's bothered me that they were literally just given a win without having earned it on the field. That "win" got them a share of the SLC title with Nicholls – a team by the way, that beat UIW 48-21 last season – and a subsequent playoff berth.
It's not so much UIW's fault as it is the conference's. The Cardinals weren't going to refuse the extra win, it would have been silly for them to do. But they should have never received it. The conference clearly never planned on teams like UIW or HBU being good enough to factor into the conference race at this stage of their time in the SLC.
I don't know what the conference can do for this season to solve the issue (the obvious long-term solution is to add a 12th football team to the SLC). Luckily, it's not my job to figure it out. But make no mistake, that needs to be fixed to avoid another controversy.
• I briefly mentioned it above, but what are the conference's plans as far as expansion? There are rumors, although they don't appear to be strong, that Texas Southern may be unhappy in the SWAC and may want to change conferences. The SLC would be a natural fit from a geography (it gives HBU a crosstown rival) and numbers standpoint. One more SLC team makes 12 for football and 14 for basketball and baseball. I'd presume it makes schedule and tiebreakers a lot easier.
If there are plans for conference expansion, hopefully Burnett has at least a general timeline for making it happen.
• When specifically looking at McNeese, it's hard not to start with the quarterback position. Gilbert didn't let the quarterbacks speak with the media at all in the spring. So him letting Orgeron be the offensive representative for media seems like an about-face. At least Gilbert can control the media access is when we're at practice or games. But at media day, Orgeron will likely face a bigger media scrum than he will the rest of the season. He has some media experience from last season, but still, it was surprising for me to see him be the guy.
What I also take from Orgeron being the media representative is this: he has to be the presumed starting quarterback right? Not only is he the most experienced quarterback on the roster by far, it would also be very strange for Orgeron – barring injury or suspension – to not be the starting signal-caller on Aug. 31 when Southern comes to town.
Orgeron also was a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy earlier this summer. And he'll be going into his first season as a college player without his brother, former wide receiver Parker Orgeron, playing with him; the elder Orgeron retired from football because of repeated concussions, but he will be a student assistant coach for McNeese.
Cody Orgeron will have plenty to answer on Thursday.
Livings is no surprise at all to be the defensive selection for media day. They could have gone with Cody Roscoe or Colby Burton, but Livings is one of the most engaging players on the team. I think he'll be one of the best media day participants.
• For Gilbert, this is another first for him. He completed his first recruiting class, spring practice, and is close to getting through his first summer. Now he's dealing with his first media day as head coach.
With that said, I'm looking forward to the free continental breakfast on Thursday morning. Oh yeah and all the other stuff.
Football is back. Almost.
David Berry covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at email@example.com