ETC… For Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Red River Cowboy Church will not have riding this Thursday night and no sorting next Sunday the 28th due to the holiday and Youth event. We will resume on Dec 2nd and Dec 5th. Happy Thanksgiving and God bless!

Northwestern State University’s Department of Engineering Technology will host its Fall Robotics Competition and Smart Structures Show (RC&S3) Dec. 1. All middle schools within a 200-mile radius of Natchitoches city are welcome to participate in the competition. The event will include educational experiences and social activities for the prospective future college students.

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Traffic Flowing on East Carrol Street

The street is open after months of closure due to sewer repairs.  Here is the advisory from the state transportation department.

UPDATE: DOTD advises motorists that the Town of Coushatta has completed repairs to their sewer line and US 84 (East Carroll Street) has been REOPENED.

It was late in May when a sewer leak caused a cave in on East Carroll Street.  Here is the Journal report on the closure.

The street had been closed almost six months.  This caused all the traffic that normally flows through town to be re-routed on Ringgold Avenue. 

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Decorating For Christmas

This week students from Jeff Edwards’ art class at Red River High were busy painting holiday scenes on store windows on Front Street.  It appeared that work would be completed prior to schools letting out for Thanksgiving.

They were not alone.  Many of the businesses in Coushatta are decorating their door or their windows and getting into the holiday spirit.  Businesses are competing for cash and prizes for the best decoration.

The chill in the air is inspiring others to join in and put up their holiday decorations.  Home decorating usually gets underway in earnest right after Thanksgiving.

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Parade Reverts To Traditional Route

The Coushatta Chamber has adjusted the route of the Coushatta Christmas Parade back to the traditional route.  The route had been changed due to the closure of a portion of East Carroll Street.  Now that sewer repairs have been completed, the parade route can move back to the usual route through town.

Line-up for the parade will begin at 3:30 pm on Thursday December 9th.  The parade will form up in the industrial park.  It will roll at 4:30 and end up on Front Street.  The end point will be the parking lot by the railroad in front of First Methodist Church.

After the parade ends and the various groups perform on Front Street, everyone is invited to stick around for a fireworks spectacular.  Fireworks are scheduled for 6:00 pm.

There will be plenty of food vendors and other vendors as well.  To get more information on becoming a vendor, see the flyer at the bottom of this article. 

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Riverdale Rebels Lose Semifinal Heartbreaker to Briarfield

By Molly Seales

You couldn’t have asked any more of them. They lost senior Monroe McCarty to a season ending injury in the October 1st victory vs. Franklin Academy. They regrouped, and they pushed forward. They ran harder-hit harder-fought harder. They were ready to prove themselves on October 15 at senior night. With a little over 2:00 left in the district game vs. WCCA, another senior Jake Messenger went down to a season ending ankle injury. They never gave up and defeated WCCA to clinch the district title. They could have hung their heads. They could have given up. They could have lost hope as they thought about two of their key players being gone, but they didn’t. They got a fire in their eyes that even the strongest critic could not extinguish. Seniors Denver Williams, Ty Jones, Chandler Nettles, Kaden Cason, and Reagan Huddleston wanted a shot at that championship-not only for themselves, but for Jake, Monroe, the coaches, and the rest of the team.

They came out and handily defeated Tensas in the quarterfinal game. That made them want it more. They knew the November 12th game against Briarfield would be a tough one. The Rebels defeated Briarfield early in the season 12-6 in the homecoming game. This time they were the underdog, but you never would have known it when they stepped on the field that night. The fought hard-hit hard-played hard-left everything they had on that football field. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough. At the end of regulation, the game was deadlocked 0-0. In overtime, Riverdale got the ball first at the 10-yard line for four downs and were unable to push the ball into the endzone. Briarfield then had their turn for their four downs. It was on their final down that Briarfield’s quarterback fumbled, and their receiver was able to pick up the ball and barely take it into the endzone. That final play gave Briarfield the 6-0 win, denying the Rebels a second straight shot at a championship.

I was able to catch up with a few of the Riverdale coaches to get their final thoughts on an outstanding season. Head coach Jared Smelser said, “It was the gutsy performance you except from our guys and the type of playoff game that you expect. Both team’s defenses came out with a mission. It was an all-out battle that makes football fun. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out on top. If you told me that the game would end in a 0-0 tie in regulation, I wouldn’t have believed you, but that’s how determined these two teams were to stop each other’s offense. I’ve heard this is the lowest score in 8-man football history. I would have to check the record books to confirm it. I’m extremely proud of my team. I’m sad that it ended this way. I’ll continue to work hard in the off-season to reassess some coaching decisions and look for innovative ways to improve on some things.”

Assistant coaches Jensen Spillum and Cody Hillman expressed similar thoughts. Coach Cody told me, “The Briarfield loss is a tough one. It’s going to take a while to get over. In no way does that mean I am disappointed in this team. I couldn’t be prouder of those boys. Not one time did they give up or quit fighting. They gave every ounce of fight they had in them. The best team doesn’t always win the game, and I believe that to be the case here. Luck was on Briarfield’s side at the end of the game, period. Go Rebels!” Coach Jensen said, “This team had to fight through a lot of adversity, and many times they were counted out. Losing two key seniors in Jake Messenger and Monroe McCarty was quite the setback, but we had a lot of young guys step up when their names were called. This season showed that Riverdale Academy features a team and not just a few players. Every single young man contributed all the way from JV and scout team, to starters on Friday nights. I will always beam with pride when talking about the 2021 Riverdale Rebels. I think we have a great nucleus of talent and skill coming back next season, and I cannot wait to get to work in the offseason with them. Go Rebels!”

On behalf of the cheerleaders, faculty, staff, and fans, I would like to say thank you to the 2021 football team for giving us such a wonderful ride and showing us, as well as so many others, that true Rebels never give up. Your determination has been an inspiration to us all. To our seniors-Denver, Ty, Chandler, Kaden, Jake, Monroe, and Reagan-thank you for your leadership, both on and off of the field. You are all amazing and will never be replaced under the Friday night lights. We wish you all the best of luck in the future! Thanks for the memories! Until next year….once a Rebel, always a Rebel!

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Shoe Boxes For Kids

Operation Christmas Child has been filling shoe boxes with goodies for kids this holiday season.  Many churches and groups in our area have joined the effort. 

There was a very large stack of shoe boxes at Magnolia Baptist Church.  The church said, “Praise the Lord! 136 shoeboxes. Awesome participation and ministry!”

At Riverdale Academy, Brandy Merry posted, “I am beyond proud of these kiddos!  7th and 8th grade donated over 50 shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry. “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  Hebrews 13:16 NIV

We are Riverdale!”

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Culinary Camp

Red River 4-H members are being given an opportunity to sign up for Camp Culinary. 

This could make a great holiday gift!

Camp Culinary will be held on December 17 and 18 at Camp Grant Walker! This Fri-Sat program is open to all youth between 9-13 years old and will feature an introduction to the rich cultural history of Cajun Cuisine.  LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agents and Formally Trained Chefs Quincy Vidrine & Kimberlyn Jones, along with LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agent Breanna Stabb will be conducting the camp.

Campers will have the opportunity to explore the 7 Nations of Cajun and Creole cuisine through the creation of various dishes people commonly associate with Louisiana and Cajun Cooking. With most of our time spent in the kitchen, this program is a sure to be a hit with any youth seeking to build valuable cooking skills and knowledge! Camp cost is $150.

To register your child for this program, please go to this website to the Online Registration Form.

For additional information, call the 4-H office at 932-4342.

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People Who Change Our Lives

By Steve Graf

Today, I’m going to veer from my usual perspective as an angler and go down a different path that has brought me to where I am today. People come and go in our lives, but some people have a bigger impact than others. Now this is not always by chance, but I think it’s all a part of God’s plan for each of us.  Some folks we meet and truly get to know over a long period of time, forming a friendship that leaves a lasting impression on our lives. While there are others who come into our life for a brief moment and change our direction forever. Today I’ll reflect and tell you my story of someone who falls into this latter category.

As an athlete growing up, I was blessed with some great coaches from my Little League days through high school, college and professional…coaches who knew how to push me to be the best I could be, not just as an athlete, but as a person. They taught me that those who work harder than everyone else will be the most successful.  They emphasized how to be a leader on and off the field. My first coach, James Stansell, showed me, at the age of 8 years old,  what it meant to believe in someone. He was a tough old cuss who had a reputation for being too rough with kids; a coach who had you run laps at the next practice if you made a mistake like missing a ground ball, striking out or making a bad throw. But one thing he gave me was confidence. He would tell me every day how much he believed in me as a player, and how I was ‘his” guy and that there was no one better. He taught me to believe in myself more than anyone else would ever believe in me. These lessons continued to be taught by my high school and college coaches…lessons like being responsible, taking pride in who you are, and understanding that you control your own destiny. They stressed that as a player you represent your parents, coaches, community, and school, but more importantly, you represent yourself. You’re truly a reflection on those you’re associated with.

Now, let me introduce you to the man that changed my life forever. As a high school quarterback from Mt. Pleasant, Texas, I played at a school with a reputation for winning. However, in my senior season of 1978, things did not go as planned for us as a team. With a new coaching staff, to say we struggled is an understatement. But it’s funny how things worked out. We were playing the Atlanta Rabbits in East Texas one Friday night and a coach by the name of Al Miller of Northwestern State was there scouting a linebacker from Atlanta. A coach on our staff, Coach Mike Fields, made conversation with Coach Miller at half time and encouraged him to take a closer look at me as a potential college player. I never knew this until months later when Coach Miller came to my house on a cold winter night to visit with my parents and me.

Now after being recruited by several Division 1 schools, I had heard all the BS a player could possibly hear. I thought Coach Miller would be the same, but was I ever wrong. I asked him if he could guarantee that I would be a starter and not be redshirted …. like other schools had promised. Yes, that was an arrogant question, but I wanted to see what he would say. Would Coach Miller be like all the rest? Well, he did not give me the answer I was expecting. He said “Steve, I’m not here to guarantee you anything other than the opportunity. It’s up to you when you get there as to whether those things happen for you or not.” WOW!!! Finally, someone who shot me straight and told the truth! This hit me like a sledgehammer right between the eyes. I knew right then and there that I was headed to Northwestern State to further my education and athletic career and I did not even know where Northwestern State was located! Coach Miller’s attitude and honesty had won me over; he was different. 

I never got to play under Coach Al Miller since he committed to be the strength & conditioning coach for the NFL’s Denver Broncos under Head Coach Dan Reeves in 1979.  His status as the best strength and conditioning coach in the country has made him a legendary Hall of Fame coach that continues to this day. The biggest honor for me was knowing that I was his last recruit to Northwestern State. Coach Miller changed the direction of my life, even though he never coached or spent any substantial amount of time with me…just that hour and a half at my house in the winter of 1978. That was all it took for him to have a lasting impression on my life and become a man who I will forever be grateful to.  He was the catalyst that allowed me to have a great career at NSU, graduate, get drafted, and meet and marry the love of my life, Sherrie. We had three kids and raised them on the banks of Sibley Lake in Natchitoches, watching them grow up and become fine people. To this day, I am aware that my existing life was set into motion because of a coach who saw a young boy from Mt. Pleasant, Texas, that he thought deserved an opportunity. Thank you, Coach Al Miller, for changing my life!!!

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Women’s Conference

The countdown begins! Women of Victory presents-Fall into Jesus V: Strengthened to Stand!

The annual women’s conference begins today and continues all weekend.  See the flyer at the bottom of this article.

The conference asks that you invite any woman who is going through fire or has gone through the fire and has gained an unbreakable Strength!!!

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Gala Returns to Campus

The 33rd annual Christmas Gala, produced by the Mrs. H.D. Dear Sr. and Alice E. Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts at Northwestern State University will return to campus for 2021.  The Gala will be presented Dec. 1-3 in the A.A. Fredericks Auditorium. Performance times are 7 p.m. each evening with a 9 p.m. performance on Dec. 3.

The 2019 Gala was moved off campus due to construction in the auditorium. Last year’s performance was virtual due to the pandemic.

Tickets are $15. NSU, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts students are admitted free with a current student I.D.

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Basketball is Under Way

The 2021-22 basketball season is off and running.  This week Red River High published the schedule for all basketball teams.  And this year Red River Basketball is holding a tournament.  Red River’s tourney is slated for December 2nd

Among the listings are several traditional match-ups.  The Bulldogs are again going to the Doc Edwards Invitational and the Bossier Invitational tournaments.

New tournaments include those at Anacoco, Southwood and Castor.

District play begins with a match at Lakeview January 18th.  The Bulldogs wrap up district play on February 11th when Many comes to town.

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Comedian Dave Chappelle Confronts the Cancel Culture

By Royal Alexander

In the last few weeks comedian Dave Chappelle has been prominently in the news for a stand he has taken regarding the content of his shows, particularly the latest Netflix special that debuted on Oct. 5th.  He was, as he always is, acutely anti-woke and generally offensive and insulting toward numerous groups, races, and ethnicities.  Among many other topics, he regularly targets gender issues with his jokes including the LGBT movement whom he has called “the Alphabet people.”  Right on cue, of course, he has now been attacked by LGBT activists and social media mobs.

What is most interesting to me is how improbable it is that a foul-mouthed comedian would be leading the charge against one of the greatest cultural dangers of our time—the bullying, suppression, and canceling of artistic expression and speech.

What we are really seeing is what many of us always thought was the case: jokes are allowed, and encouraged, if they target the “right” people or groups—or rather the people and beliefs the Left thinks are wrong.  However, the moment the humor and mocking are extended to the Left’s favorite dogma or groups, broad outrage follows.  In other words, freedom of speech is permitted—provided The Mob agrees with it.  Their commitment to inclusion ends with those with whom they disagree— sometimes violently.  These Thought Fascists believe in diversity of all things—except thought.

As the Wall Street Journal has succinctly noted: “… the recent dustup over Mr. Chappelle only further demonstrates the true power of political satire and comedy.  It can shine a light on the unflattering traits of those controlling our cultural institutions.  Funny is funny, even in a time of political polarization and censorship.  Comedy can get people of all stripes laughing and dole out a little truth while their guard is down.  This is why, from woke boardrooms to the White House and elite universities, those wielding cultural power today can’t abide humor that illuminates their moral failures, their hypocrisy and the ultimate bankruptcy of their worldviews.  Jokes intended to provoke a good-natured laugh are now met with calls for censorship, boycotts and even “fact checks.”

The long and short of it is that a joke, by its nature, is made at some person or group’s expense.  That is what makes it funny.  The humor comes from pointing out a quirky or unusual human characteristic; a foible—and every one of us have them—being one of the things that make us human.  It is our very imperfection, the error-filled, mistake-driven way we learn and improve—that is interesting and funny.  And yes, jokes can sting and hurt but that truly is one of the prices we pay for living in a free society that values freedom of expression for everyone.  (Remember, we can always change the channel or avert our eyes).  It is one of America’s greatest promises and virtues.

Otherwise, certain groups—the Thought Police—then take it upon themselves to decide what speech or expression is “hate filled” and “offensive” and that quickly becomes a slippery slope because every single one of us has a different idea about what is offensive and unacceptable.  Soon, comedy would become so bland and boring we would no longer be entertained by it.

However, let’s keep in mind that the Cancel Culture seeks far more than an end to jokes from comedians they don’t like.  As America has witnessed over these past two years, the Cancel Culture seeks, through the use of intimidation, bullying and violence, to “cancel” those with whom they disagree from eating establishments, academic institutions, places of employment and in the most violent examples, to literally ‘cancel’ the lives of those with whom they disagree.

This pushback by Chappelle appears to be the beginning of other artists and entertainers also beginning to say, “enough is enough, you are killing comedy and entertainment.”  Chappelle is an unlikely messenger but the message he brings is critically important to our living in a free society.

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ETC… for Friday, November 19, 2021

School children begin their Thanksgiving break at the end of classes today.  Both Red River and Riverdale will be closed beginning Monday, November 22nd through Friday, November 26th.  Classes resume on November 29th.

The community wide Thanksgiving service is Sunday evening at 6:00 pm.  It will be held at First Methodist on Front Street.  Bro. Nathan Davis of First Baptist will bring the message.  Refreshments will be served following the service.

Northwestern State University announced it will be closed Nov. 22-26 for Thanksgiving break. Classes will resume and administrative offices will reopen Monday, Nov. 29.  Watson Library will close Friday, Nov. 19 at noon and will reopen on Sunday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. 

The Randall J. Webb Wellness, Recreation and Activity Center will have regular hours through Tuesday, Nov. 23 and will be closed on Nov. 24-26. The WRAC will resume regular hours on Saturday, Nov. 27.

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East Carrol Street Reopened

The street is open after months of closure due to sewer repairs.  Here is the advisory from the state transportation department.

UPDATE: DOTD advises motorists that the Town of Coushatta has completed repairs to their sewer line and US 84 (East Carroll Street) has been REOPENED.

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Coushatta Holiday Shopping Event

It starts today, the Coushatta Chamber’s Fill Santa’s Sleigh holiday shopping event.  Shop today (November 17th) and tomorrow at local businesses.  Some lucky shopper could win a basket filled with prizes valued at more than $350.

First stop is to go to any participating merchant on the list below.  Get a “Fill Santa’s Sleigh” card.  That merchant will give you the first business sticker for your card.

The Red River Parish Journal is offering a Secret Santa Word to give you an additional chance to win.  That word is “HIPPO” as in the holiday song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”  Write “HIPPO” in the blank on your card.

Shop 4 or more participating businesses on November 17 & 18.  Make a purchase of at least $20 from one of the merchants.  Fill out the card and take it to Deen & Company at 5012 Cutoff Road by noon on November 19th to enter the prize drawing.

Good luck.  And enjoy the Fill Santa’s Sleigh holiday shopping event.

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Round 1? No Problem!

By Christy Suggs

Friday night the Dawg Pound was alive with excitement as the Bulldogs took on the Rayville Hornets in the 1st round playoff game. The Bulldogs received the ball to start the game. The Dawgs trying to set the tone for the game made a huge error on the second play of the drive with a fumble. This forced the bulldog defense to stop a drive already started in the Dawgs territory. The defense did not fall under the pressure, created a forced fumble that was picked up by Terrell Gary and ran in for touchdown.  Bulldog fans went wild!!! This play made the Top 5 plays of the night on KTBS Friday Night Fever. The Hornet’s next drive ended shortly with another fumble recovered by the Dawgs. The RR Bulldogs ended their offensive drive with a 13 yard jet pass that was run in for a touchdown by Antron Williams. This made the 1st quarter score 14-0 with over 6 and half minutes to still play. Again the Bulldogs defense stopped the Hornets forcing them to punt. The punt being very short gave the Bulldogs field position in the Hornet’s zone. One the first play, D’Evin McDonald ran a 49 yard touchdown off another jet pass, making the score 21-0. The Bulldog’s defense, still hot, got a huge sack on fourth down giving the ball back to the offense on the Hornet’s 47 yard line. A deep bomb from Tre Smith to Antron Williams resulted in a touchdown that was 47 yards. This ended the 1st quarter RR 28 Rayville 0.

The Bulldogs defense forced the Hornets to punt. This punt was a line drive straight to Trent Grigg who ran in for a 32 yard touchdown bringing the score to 35 to 0. The Hornets drive again resulted in a punt. The Bulldogs took full advantage, scoring once more with a 1 yard run from Lenard Mosely. (RR 41-0). Bulldogs scored once more before the half with a 16 yard pass completed for a touchdown by Antron Williams. This left about 1 min before halftime allowing the Hornets to finally score. Teams went to the lock rooms with a score of 48-6.

Starting the half the Bulldogs kicked off to the Hornets. Nearing the end zone the Hornets tried for a pass, this resulted in an INT by Terrell Gary. This interception was caught in the endzone giving the Bulldogs the ball on their 20 yard line from a touchback.  A bad snap on a field goal attempt gave the ball back to the Hornets.  On a fumble by the Hornets the Dawgs are given the ball back on the Hornets 22 yard line.  The Bulldogs turned over the ball via a fumble by freshman Mon’trevieon Smith.  The Hornet’s scored on a 19 yard passing touchdown and a 2 point conversion bringing the score to 48-14.  On fourth down, the Dawgs attempted a field goal but was slightly right and missed. The Hornets were given the ball back but did not score because of time. Final score was RR 48- Rayville 16. 

Head Coach Jeff Harper had the following to say about the game. “I am very proud of how well our team played Friday night. We were physical, forced multiple turnovers, scored in all 3 phases and put Rayville away early with 48 first half points. The fast start allowed our coaches to get the younger guys meaningful playoff experience that will benefit our program moving forward. The atmosphere was great and I’m glad our seniors got one more home game.  This week we play #8 Rosepine (10-1) on the road. We will need another great week of practice to be successful.”

Come join the traveling fan club and join us in Rosepine.

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First Baptist Church Children Choir Program

By Julie Page

On Sunday, December 5 at 6 pm, our children’s choir (FBC) will be presenting a Christmas musical. We would like to invite the community to come out to watch, worship, and fellowship with us.

“Angel” means “messenger,” and what better way to spread the message at Christmas time than with angels! Our entire children’s choir is made up of angels! In fact, they are all waiting to be told when to go to earth and make the grand announcement.

As they wait for the call, they review God’s faithfulness through His promises and some of the prophecies about the Savior’s birth. The musical is full of worship and plenty of celebration, since the angels understand the love God has for His people in sending His Son to earth.

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Southland Conference Stock Makes Historic Rebound, But Still Volatile

By Doug Ireland, Journal Sports

Thanks to a power play by people in Lake Charles, there’s been a big drop in blood pressure for plenty of folks in Natchitoches, Hammond, Thibodaux and a few on the Lakeshore in New Orleans.

A Tuesday afternoon announcement confirmed a swift turnaround toward status quo. McNeese revealed it was staying put in the Southland Conference, renewing longstanding cordial relations with Northwestern, Southeastern, Nicholls and UNO, much to the dismay of former friends in Texas.

It resuscitated the Southland from extinction, while creating at least a big wobble for the Western Athletic Conference, where former Southland members Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, Lamar and Abilene Christian bolted earlier this year.

They tried to entice McNeese to join them. The Cowboys were receptive over the last several months, with McLeaders traveling to Denver a few weeks ago to make a membership presentation to current WAC gurus. The footsies and flirting seemed heading toward a likely engagement.

The Texas Traitors and the Cowboys have the same ultimate destination in mind: moving up from the Southland and Football Championship Subdivision membership (on-field playoffs for the top 24 teams nationally) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (and a chance to play in a low-level bowl game). The incentive$ were the lure of bowl revenue (not a lot for the bottom tier in the FBS), the chance to add another digit to low to mid-six figure paychecks from the biggest schools for football guarantee games (a trip to LSU or Texas might net an extra half-million), and the belief that playing more overly ambitious opponents at home might hike ticket revenues.

Let’s not get logic involved here and overcome ego. Anyone who has tracked attendance figures around the state has to admit the real path to hike home game ticket revenues would be to hire Marty McFly as commissioner, get Doc Brown’s flux capacitor going, and Go Back to The Gulf States Conference. Not exactly the future, but rebuilding a league with in-state schools would boost crowds in all sports, not just football, while cutting travel costs.

That’s not happening. Never mind the millions that would be produced in gate revenue and the millions in state money that would be reduced for travel.  Ambition overrules everything.

Well, actually, in big league college sports, TV money does. It’s the lack of a local TV market of any consequence that left Louisiana Tech behind recently when much of Conference USA bolted for better deals and new territory. CUSA quickly went contraflow and a few days ago invited desolate-in-the-desert New Mexico State (stealing the Aggies from the WAC), deep pocketed and lonely Liberty, and two FCS stalwarts, Jacksonville State and Sam Houston (twice divorced, split from the Southland last year and now, the WAC; although there’s some chatter that the $2 million CUSA entry fee might sour Sam’s shift).

Where there are entry fees, there logically are exit fees. When the Texas schools bolted the Southland this spring, they each paid a relatively paltry $300,000 – as much as Sam Houston pays its baseball coach. Not exactly a tall hurdle to clear, so the remaining Southland membership agreed to hike their exit penalty rate.

Except in case McNeese makes a future move to FBS. The pile of concessions granted by the Southland Conference (with approval of its university presidents) was recited in a joint announcement Tuesday by the league and McNeese, with one exception. They didn’t mention McNeese staying is an engagement, not a remarriage. The door is left wide open for the Cowboys to climb up, at no cost. Nada. No toll booth to pass.

That’s a victory in Cowboy country, but a hollow plank elsewhere. McNeese going FBS is unlikely to occur any time soon. The only nearby FBS conferences, the Sun Belt and CUSA, aren’t interested or it would have already happened. For better (Sun Belt) and worse (CUSA), their membership shuffling is over for at least the next little bit, until the next seismic activity rolls downhill from the Power 5 leagues. When that happens, and it’s coming, it may very well knock the NCAA into oblivion.

In real time, McNeese recognized that losing New Mexico State and Sam Houston not only dashed the WACky dreams of upsizing to FBS status, but also suddenly greatly expanded an already frightful travel budget. The idea of a southern division was shot for a conference that stretches out to LA, up to Seattle, and into Arizona and Utah.

But keeping that option on the table presented a do-or-die decision to the Southland. Losing McNeese  would have collapsed the league because it would have fallen below minimum membership requirements to maintain automatic NCAA postseason qualification for its championship teams in all sports, not just football. NSU, Nicholls, SLU and UNO were already hurriedly considering unappealing fallback affiliations with the Ohio Valley Conference or the Atlantic Sun, both requiring leapfrogging states to get to conference contests.

So, the Cowboys got everything they asked for to stay put. From 2023-26, McNeese will host the conference basketball, baseball and softball tournaments, a decision that raised the ire of many coaches and fans around the Southland. The annual conference preseason football media event will be in Lake Charles. Don’t rule out the conference opening a satellite office there, hinting at moving its headquarters to SWLA.

My lunch bunch pals are wondering if we have to go to the Lake City for all future eatin’ meetin’s, or at least for four years.

Will the Southland sponsor a championship in duck calling and stage it in Cameron Parish?

Hmmmm, could be. The marsh people, who up until a couple of weeks felt like McLeast, too long taken for granted in the Texas-heavy Southland pecking order, are suddenly McAlmighty.

“A school that was desperate to get out of the league now becomes its biggest player,” wrote Lake Charles American Press columnist Jim Gazzolo.

The Southland sunshine dimmed a bit Friday when it lost the Alamo City’s Incarnate Word in a move that illustrates the desperation of the WAC. Stephen F. Austin 1) reluctantly accepted UIW into the Southland several years ago; 2) left the Southland citing substandard facilities and a lack of commitment to athletics by some league members, a clear diss aimed at UIW and Houston Baptist; and 3) now has kissed the pig and rolled out the WACky welcome mat.

But while amusing from that angle, UIW’s move does heighten the Southland’s urgency to recruit a couple more Division II football-playing members. Schools like Arkansas Tech, West Texas A&M, Central Oklahoma, even Delta State and West Florida could be receptive to an upgrade.

Some better be. You have to wonder, will Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (a non-football Southland member) look at a suddenly Louisiana-heavy league, and have a WAC-waiver? Will UL System czar Jim Henderson do what he didn’t earlier this fall regarding the McMove Mistake, and ensure that the inquiries by SLU and Nicholls toward possible ASUN affiliation are 86’d?

Time to update that #SouthlandStrong hashtag. It hasn’t fit all year. Truly, it was #SouthlandShaky, and for the time being, it’s #SouthlandSaved. For now.

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