McNeese opts not to renew contract of head football coach

Four paragraphs.

That was all it took to end the Lance Guidry era for McNeese football.

The school announced via email that it would not renew the contract of Guidry following the Cowboys’ late-season collapse in his third year on the job.

When pressed by the American Press, sports information director Matt Bonnette said that the school would have no further comment.

Guidry, a Welsh-native who played at McNeese and was an assistant for the Cowboys prior to becoming the head coach, signed a three-year contract in December 2015 to replace Matt Viator, who left to become the head coach at Louisiana-Monroe. McNeese was Guidry’s first full-time head coaching position, but he did hold the interim title at Miami University (Ohio) and Western Kentucky in 2010 and 2012, respectively. In two games as an interim head coach, he led the teams into bowl games, going 1-1.

In three seasons, Guidry led the Cowboys to a 21-12 record. But he never took McNeese to the playoffs, although the 2017 team was left out of the playoffs in 2017 despite a 9-2 record.

The finish to the 2018 season also did not help Guidry’s case. After starting the season 5-1 overall and 4-0 in Southland Conference play, the Cowboys finished the season losing three-consecutive games and four out of its last five.

While Guidry was McNeese’s head coach, the Cowboys never ranked below second in the SLC in total or scoring defense. In his first season as head coach, he gave up the defensive coordinator role before re-claiming it going into year two.

But while the defense was usually not the issue, the offense deteriorated each season in Guidry’s time as the head coach. In 2016, the Cowboy offense averaged 32 points and 441.3 yards per game; in 2017, it went down to 29.8 points and 408.3 yards per game; in 2018, the numbers dropped to 20.8 points and 290.9 yards per game.

No one in the athletic department was made available for comment beyond what was in the statement, and there will be no press conference about it. A message left for Guidry’s cell phone was not returned.

“I thank Coach Guidry for his service to the university and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Hemphill said in the statement’s only quote.

The statement also said that a national search for the new head coach will begin immediately.

While debate went about on social media for and against Guidry’s ouster, at least one major booster was not happy with the decision to get rid of him.

“Well personally, I think they let the wrong man go,” said John Bruney, the president of the Petrochemical Athletic Association and one of the McNeese athletic department’s major boosters. “He’s only been there three years, he’s got a winning record. And I don’t think he was given the opportunity to fix his problems, which I feel is some of the assistant coaches. I just think he deserved another chance to fix that problem.”

The day before the announcement, Guidry did not seem to have any indication that he would not have his contract renewed. He spoke with boosters prior to his end-of-season press conference with the media. In that press conference, he spoke about recruiting and other possible changes that he would make during the off-season. He was also asked about his contract situation and said that he planned on speaking with Hemphill and McNeese State University president Dr. Daryl Burckel after the Thanksgiving break about it. But the way he spoke to the media made it seem like he would be here next season.

Bruney said he was surprised by the decision as well.

“It really did (surprise),” Bruney said. “I thought he’d get at least another year. But I understand that he and the (athletic director) had butted heads several times during the year over other issues. I was surprised but yet I wasn’t surprised. It was more of a vendetta than an actual firing because of his inability to coach.”””

Cowboys former head coach, Lance Guidry

Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press

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