Scooter Hobbs (American Press)

Barring a sudden bayou earthquake or maybe a meteor shower, the McNeese State Cowboys should be able to play Saturday in Cowboy Stadium.

Yes, football, real football, in the not-quite springtime.

Close enough.

Somehow, despite Laura, Delta and high water, it's still there, still nestled down there in what is affectionately known as "The Hole," which not so affectionately turned out to be an excellent reservoir for muddy, murky water during the height of our recent weather travails.

It should even have thawed out after last week's wintry mix, which is another story altogether.

But it's still standing, ready again for football.

No lights, of course. The standards were blown hither an yon during the storms.

Probably over in Hackberry somewhere — or Hackleberry as it was repeatedly referred to during the Weather Channel's reporting of Hurricane Laura.

So it's the oddity of a noon kickoff when Incarnate Word arrives for the home and Southland Conference opener.

Don't be distracted that the Cowboys' baseball team should be warming up next door for its 2 p.m. game right about kickoff.

It's not often the two mix, but ‘tis a season for everything these days, it appears, and most of it for McNeese seems to be happening in the next 15 minutes.

That's the least of the awkwardness.

Did I mention that this is a real football season, that everything counts, that's it all on the up and up?

We still need an NCAA ruling as to whether this is the 2020 football season (starting a little late) or the 2021 season, Part 1, since the current calendar year will have a more or less regular fall football season, probably in the fall … we're hopeful anyway.

But, yes, for now there will be February Football at McNeese.

Embrace it. Enjoy it. Or at least give it a chance.

It's not often that the calendar seasons get so screwed up that you get to have football with a crawfish boil, so …

Wait. Sorry. Scratch that idea.

It's also Pandemic Football, at least at the start, which means no tailgating for a school and fan base that verily revels in the art form — sometimes to the point of flat-out forgetting that there's a game to get to inside.

Which, by the way, there will be Saturday.

Admission with the agreeable ticket price of "free," maybe less on the secondary market, with attendance on a strictly first-come, first-serve basis.

It will be interesting to see how the fan base reacts.

For some games in recent years, the pandemically limited 25-percent capacity for Cowboy Stadium would have been no problem in the fall.

Let's see whether people embrace football in the spring, in broad daylight no less.

But it's not just the spring. As most of the schools playing fall football found out, it's hard to recreate the familiar game-day experience at 25 percent capacity (let alone zero percent as some had to do).

Still, McNeese has a golden opportunity to build on something.

In fact, this will be a very important day for McNeese, one of the biggest games in years for the overall health of the program.

Mainly, this is a big opportunity.

The oft-delayed Frank Wilson Era got off to a rollicking start two weeks ago with one of the most exciting victories in program history, undoubtedly the most unlikely comeback in Cowboys lore before striding out of Tarleton State with a shocking double-overtime victory.

Maybe you're wondering about the street cred of a Tarleton team playing its first season since moving up to FCS. Well, last week Tarleton got a 43-17 victory over FBS opponent New Mexico State — maybe the worst team in FBS, but still …

It gave McNeese's opening victory more props.

It certainly got the attention of the fan base, got them excited about where things could be headed under the likeable Wilson.

Mainly, it made a spring season sound like more fun — particularly if spring ever gets here.

It would have been better for the Cowboys to return home fresh off the victory instead of letting an open date last week dilute the buzz.

But the pressure is on the Cowboys.

They have the chance to reinvigorate a fan base, maybe even pick up new ones and strays that might stick around for the fall.

This is the time.

This is a season without the distractions of Power Five football filling the TV screens all day. No LSU game on TV in the parking lot while the Cowboys are playing. The FCS pretty well has the football landscape to itself for a while.

It's a unique opportunity for McNeese and it all started with the win at Tarleton State.

Now they just need to validate it with the return home.

l

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

athletics. Email him at

shobbs@americanpress.com

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