Lamar's Underwhelming Start Yields to Season Ticket Success
by, 01-22-2010 at 11:21 PM (1155 Views)
There were some questions as to whether the Beaumont community would be able and willing to support the new Lamar football program. The Cardinal football program went six feet under the last time around due to poor support and as some will attest, poor decision-making.
As the new Lamar program comes into existence, I can tell you that I am amongst the skeptics who have been surprised by the way things have been done in Beaumont.
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For those who have not read some of my writing in the past, let's catch up on the area(s) in which I felt Lamar underwhelmed me.
1) [b]Southland Conference entrance[/b]. Lamar will enter the SLC in their second year of existence, 2011. Other upstart programs, including Southeastern Louisiana and UT-San Antonio waited til their third year of playing a full schedule.
Perhaps it is Lamar's approach at signing a number of JUCO and Football Bowl Subdivision transfers compared to most up-starts that made them feel they can compete at such a high level right away. Maybe it was their desire to play the schools their fans are familiar with and limiting excessive travel costs by doing something else. Either way, this move, when announced was not one that I expected and had a hard time believing.
2) [b]Hiring of Ray Woodard[/b]. Especially in wake of UTSA hiring Larry Coker and some of the remarks coming from the Lamar community after they were to start football, I legitimately thought athletic director Billy Tubbs would make a splash. At the very least, hire someone with some name recognition as a head coach at the Division II level. Ray Woodard caught many by surprise.
Woodard will have a chance to prove the doubters wrong on the field and the one thing that he deserves to his credit, is that he's willing to get out in the community to plug his program. Winning solves all problems and in Beaumont, the "new factor" probably will not stretch as long as elsewhere, so a priority will be on winning.
3) [b]Lack of Promotion[/b]. It seems many things have fallen under the radar. This past fall, the team was practicing and even conducted several scrimmages. There was limited coverage and what coverage came, seemed to hail from the local television station and the Beaumont Enterprise.
If Lamar has interest in recruiting outside of Southeast Texas and even if that is their sole area of focus, they need to publicize their program. There are many ways to do this and I am sure they can do this at minimal cost.
4) [b]UTSA Factor[/b]. It is hard to compare Lamar to programs like Georgia State and South Alabama, who are also starting up football. However, an easy comparison can be made to UTSA. In most every aspect, it seems night and day between these two start-ups. UTSA's operation seems to be at a much higher level, from the coaching staff they have hired, to their efforts in drumming up support from the community.
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While these four main areas have left me scratching my head, we do have to give Lamar time to show us that they can compete on the same playing field as the remainder of the Southland Conference and in particular, their fellow upstart UTSA.
On the eve of tickets going on sale to the public, there is good news to report and in doing so, I hope some of my disbelief turns into a hearty round of applause.
The news? According to a [url=http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/sports/local/82321812.html]Beaumont Enterprise article[/url], Brad McGowan, LU's assistant athletic director for development has stated that over 1,000 season tickets have been purchased by Cardinal Club members.
Congratulations to Lamar on this accomplishment and hopefully, it is the start of something very successful for the Cardinal program.
Many around the league are hoping that Lamar does have success. The rivalries that the Cardinals will have with SLC schools McNeese and Sam Houston State will be good for the league. It will also help improve on the Cardinals' rivalries in other sports while bringing a high level of football to a community that shares a passion for the pigskin.