Rivalry between Lamar, McNeese State called ‘friendly’
Lamar’s rivalry with McNeese State, though not wanting for excitement, lacks the usual antagonism and disdain that characterizes such traditional conflicts as Alabama-LSU, Michigan-Ohio State and, once upon a time, Texas-Texas A&M.
The sides, though separated by 60 miles and competing each year for the same talent, are relatively cordial.
McNeese coach Lance Guidry calls it “a friendly rivalry.” Lamar coach Ray Woodard, who grew up in Lake Charles, says he “has a lot of respect for the McNeese program.”
“It’s a rivalry game and we’re excited to play them,” Woodard said. “But the McNeese rivalry is different. There isn’t any of that other stuff that’s usually involved.”
There are a couple reasons the rivalry has remained polite and not turned poisonous since Lamar’s football revival in 2010.
First, the Cardinals’ 21-year absence forced McNeese to abandon it in favor of other ones, like the Cowboys’ rivalry with Louisiana.
McNeese quarterback James Tabary sparred with Louisiana players on Twitter earlier in the season after the Cowboys’ 30-22 loss.
That won’t happen this week, according to Lamar senior defensive lineman Omar Tebo.
“This is a respectful competition,” Tebo said. “None of those things are going to happen this week. We’re not like that.”
Also, McNeese has dominated the rivalry since 2010, giving Lamar few opportunities for bragging rights.
The Cowboys are 5-1; the Cardinals’ only win was in 2014.
Guidry, in his first season as McNeese’s coach, sees no reason to insert drama into the game because of his side’s dominance.
“I like the rivalry the way is,” Guidry said. “With how close we are, there’s no need to hate each other.”
Don’t be surprised if the competition intensifies in the future.
Woodard said almost every school he recruits at has a piece of McNeese memorabilia.
“I can hardly go into a high school without seeing a framed photo of a player that school sent to McNeese,” Woodard said.
The shift toward a more contentious relationship could even be starting now.
Lamar senior cornerback Brendan Langley said the words ‘friendly’ and ‘rivalry’ don’t go together, earlier in the week said James Tabary wouldn’t get the 268 passing yards he needs to set the school’s single-season record.
Woodard is planning on using Lamar’s victory two years ago as a motivator this week.
“The 2014 win will be mentioned in our locker room all week,” Woodard said.
As for Guidry, he doesn’t plan on starting a rivalry while he’s McNeese’s coachm but isn’t ruling out the possibility of its emergence.
“A lot of time it depends on who is coaching at the certain places,” Guidry said “And if one of the coaches maybe tries to start something it could become more of a hated rivalry like the Hatfields and McCoys.”