The official kickoff to the 2017 football season got underway on Thursday at the Houston Hilton Americas with the annual Southland Conference Football Media Day, and there was no question that McNeese, a traditional powerhouse in the league, stole the show with an impressive and entertaining appearance for the media by head coach Lance Guidry, quarterback James Tabary and defensive end Jammerio Gross-Whitaker.
Earlier in the day, it was revealed the Cowboys were picked for a third place finish in the preseason poll, which this year, combined the votes of both the head coaches and sports information directors instead of posting two separate polls.
“We’re excited about the season,” said Guidry who is entering his second season as the head coach while reassuming defensive coordinator duties. “We set our goals high. Sure you want to win a conference championship, but our goal is to win a national title.”
Guidry was last the team’s DC in 2015 when the Cowboys won the league title with a perfect record while ranking in the top five in the nation in several defensive categories.
“We’re excited to have him back as our DC,” said Gross-Whitaker who is a preseason all-conference selection at defensive end. “We’re going to be really good, especially on the defensive line. We’re going to have to go out and be tenacious. Bow down to nobody.”
Tabary broke several passing records last season as the sophomore quarterback who transferred from Arkansas State. Now with a full spring and offseason under his belt, feels like now is the time to reach the mountaintop.
“I’m not worried about numbers or records,” said Tabary. “I’m more worried about winning a national championship.”
After spending 25 minutes on the main stage for a live ESPN3 broadcast, the group moved to one-on-one media interviews before capping off the day with some live social media events. That’s where Tabary and “Jam” stole the show.
In the first live event for Instagram, the duo had to deep snap plastic toy footballs through hoola-hoops. The number to beat was 21 (Stephen F. Austin). Both Tabary and Jam each soared 13 through the hoops to take the lead at 26. A celebration of chest bumping and high-fives followed.
Then it was on to the Facebook Live set where the two imitated Guidry in describing what his Snap Chat story would be like. Then the two came up with a short rap as Gross-Whitaker hit the mic with a beat box routine while Tabary flowed with a catchy rhyme.
The Southland crew was more than impressed and entertained by the Cowboy standouts as the day came to a close.
Sam Houston State, the defending champion, and Central Arkansas, last year’s runner-up, were picked 1-2 in the preseason poll. McNeese was third followed by Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls, Stephen F. Austin, Lamar, Abilene Christian, Houston Baptist, Northwestern State and Incarnate Word.
McNeese reports for fall camp on Aug. 1 and will hit the field for the first practice on Aug. 2. The first fall scrimmage is set for Saturday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. in Cowboy Stadium.
The Cowboys open up the season on Thursday, Aug. 31, at Nicholls.