The Bottom Line: Time for Lamar football to remove patsies from schedule

Woodard

It’s a pretty common occurrence in college football — schedule teams that you know you can beat. They all do it, year in and year out. But many teams have that luxury.

Take, for instance, Texas A&M. The Aggies play in arguably the toughest conference in all of football — the Southeastern Conference. So their non-conference schedule this season includes Lamar, Rice, SMU and University of Louisiana-Monroe. The reason is because their conference schedule includes LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri and Ole Miss.

Lamar University, competing in its fifth season since the return of football, embarrassed yet another smaller school last week as they beat Texas College, 73-0, and they will do it again this week as they host Mississippi College on Saturday.

Lamar competes in the Southland Conference, a Football Championship Subdivision conference formerly known as NCAA Division I-AA. The pecking order is Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) with teams such as Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, etc. Next comes the FCS, with the likes of Lamar, Sam Houston State, McNeese State and so forth.

Then comes Division II, with schools like Northwest Missouri, Henderson State and Tarleton. Examples of Division III programs are Mary Hardin-Baylor, Mount Union and Texas Lutheran.

After those comes the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, known better as NAIA. NAIA schools are four-year institutions, but at the smallest level.

Let’s not forget the National Junior College Athletic Association, which are two-year colleges, but you should never see FBS or FCS schools playing them in football.

Texas College is a four-year NAIA school in Tyler. Lamar beat them 58-0 in 2011. The game was over at the end of the first quarter. Of their last 108 games, Texas College has won 24. As the young kids say, SMH (shake my head).

Expect the same result this week. The Mississippi College Choctaws of Clinton, Miss., are 0-2 this season and have been outscored by a combined total of 90-14, losing to Belhaven and North Alabama. Let it be known that MC is a Division II school.

Despite winning just one game last year and an 0-3 start this season, Grambling State is a FCS school in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).

So why are they playing these lower level schools? Are they having problems scheduling games? Maybe, but doubtful.

I understand playing these teams like Webber International, Langston, Oklahoma Panhandle State and others in the first few years because it’s hard to compete against established programs with freshmen and junior college transfers, but the Cardinals are no longer a “startup program.” That tag is long gone.

Oct. 15, 2012, Lamar announced it was extending the contract to head football coach Ray Woodard for two more years through the 2014 season, but after a disappointing 5-7 mark in 2013, season ticket holders began to chatter and question if this was the right coach to lead the Cards. At that time, Lamar would have had to pay Woodard his 2014 salary and bring in a new coaching staff and pay those new salaries, something that was highly unlikely. Athletic Director Jason Henderson announced that Woodard would return for 2014.

With an 18-28 record heading into the new season, and his best mark of 5-6 coming in the re-startup year of 2010, the pressure is on Woodard and this team to win this year.

A crowd of 7,226 was announced last Saturday when the Cards played Texas College, 8,141 fewer fans than watched Lamar play Texas College in 2011, and this team is much better than any of the previous four years.

Lamar is 2-1 on the season and will be 3-1 after this weekend. That will put Woodard’s Lamar record at 21-29. Of the 21 wins, 11 have come against schools are lower levels.

After Mississippi College, the Cards have eight Southland Conference games — four at home and four on the road.

Lamar hosts Sam Houston State next week, who over the last few years has been a powerhouse in the FCS, but not this year. The Bearkats were strummed at home by the score of 47-21 by Division II school Colorado State University-Pueblo. SHSU is off this week but at 1-3, probably represents a must-win for Lamar.

Nothing is a given, but Lamar should not lose the upcoming conference games to new members Houston Baptist (0-2) and University of Incarnate Word (0-3). Add those two Ws to the column, and Lamar has five wins. LU also plays Nicholls this year, who is 0-3, but it is a road game.

Eight wins is within reach for Woodard in his fifth season; if that is accomplished, a new contract will likely be awarded.

But no more Division III or NAIA schools, please. They are faux wins.

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