Ah the best laid plans of football coaches.
When the schedule for this spring came out, Frank Wilson was happy to see a bye after the first game. That would give him and his staff an extra week to correct any mistakes.
However, Mother Nature once again said not so fast. She had her own idea. She put the deep freeze on the plans of the McNeese State head football coach with a record-setting cold spell.
"The hits just keep on coming," Wilson said. "Here we are with a freeze and without water. It was hard to get our guys to even travel on the roads."
It was the third weather disaster to hit the area in a six-month period. But for a team having lived through two hurricanes a week of chilly temperatures, freezing rain and even some snot was just another bump in the road.
It did, however, lead to more challenges as no running water for a portion of the town, along with frozen roads made things tough on the Cowboys.
"We only got to have one day of practice," said Wilson. "We had to bring out bottled water for drinking, but we have been through a lot already. This was just the latest."
Much better weather is expected this week, as the Cowboys get ready for a spring home opener on Saturday against Incarnate Word. The Cardinals had their own struggles with the weather, as their season opener last week against Sam Houston State was postponed because of the cold and issues related to it.
Incarnate Word did play one fall game in 2020, taking on Arkansas State on December 12.
"We haven't seen them on tape, but we know the things they like to do," said Wilson. "It will be a challenge for us."
The game will also be the next step in the recovery of Lake Charles, which was devastated by those two storms in August and October, and then again last week.
"This is for the City," said Wilson.
He does hope that what the players and coaches learned from the opener will give them a jump on a club making its season debut. So Wilson doesn't think the bye week was a total loss.
"We got a chance to lick our wounds," he said. "We played in a very physical game and that gave us a time to recover."
He did say the staff took the week to prepare for Incarnate Word and the rest of the season. One area the coach wants to see cleaned up is in the number of penalties McNeese had in its double-overtime win at Tarleton State.
"Too many penalties, self inflicted ones, correctable," said Wilson. "So many teachable moments."
One thing hanging over the head of the program is the postseason ban by the NCAA over academic issues dating back to 2018-2019 seasons. The school has asked the NCAA to reconsider after showing improvement in that area. A final decision has not come back.
"I don't worry about that," said Wilson. "It is important to play this season to pay our debt so we can start clean in the fall. If we get a chance to play (in the playoffs) this year that is great. As we say in Louisiana, that's just lagniappe."
The Cowboys will be looking to build on how they ended their opener, rallying from 14 points down in the final three minutes just to reach overtime. McNeese outscored the Texans 23-6 over the game's final 2:46 and the two overtimes.
"We played better later," said Wilson. "We got our stride going and got on the same page."
Saturday they open up a new chapter in the program's history, and the town's as well.
NOTES: McNeese is one of four Southland Conference teams earning a spot in the STATs Top 25 poll, as the Cowboys check in this week at No. 19…McNeese quarterback Cody Orgeron and kicker Jacob Abel earned Southland Conference Player of the Week honors for their play against Tarleton. Orgeron was selected as the top offensive player of the opening week while Abel claimed the special teams honor. Orgeron led a late comeback and scored the winning touchdown in double overtime to beat Tarleton 40-37. Abel, a transfer from Butler Community College, hit a pair of 21-yard field goals and all four of his kicks after touchdowns in his first game as a Cowboy. . .This week's game against Incarnate Word will be broadcast on ESPN-Plus. There was some question of that earlier but ESPN has said it can handle all the changes and restrictions do to reconstruction of the stadium after the storm.