About ball, fans of local colleges can refer to The Bard

Noted scribe Bill Shakespeare, who some believe covered Man United in the 16th century, wrote it and many of us hacks since have adapted it.

“Now is the winter of our discontent …”

It’s hardly winter in the 318, but compared to the weeks-long oven we’re finally escaping, it’s not far off. My brother Monty, who turned 61 Sunday and presumably is wiser for it, said it feels like fall now. Next Saturday, it will be.

Owner of three degrees from Louisiana Tech, each in a different discipline, he’s smarter than the average bear, or in this case, older brother. Among his many talents – forestry, computer programming, nursing – he evaded exposure to Shakespeare. I did not. Woe is me? Well, that was first biblical. Back to Bill.

Discontent? Plenty to go around checking on the football on display to date at Grambling, Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State.

Not so much for Centenary, but they’re not officially started yet. The fledgling Gents held their own early in scrimmages against established Division III programs Millsaps and East Texas Baptist, and have toyed with a couple of similar start-up programs in full exhibition games over the past couple Saturdays.

It foreshadows a dramatic uptick along Kings Highway next fall when the games count. It’s already a nice enrollment spike for Centenary, which was the real purpose of restarting football for the first time since before any of us knew where Pearl Harbor was.

“The dogs bark at me as I halt before them …”

It feels that way at Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs won their opener in the final minute over Conference USA visitor FIU. But they lost Saturday night, after a thrilling rally in the closing minutes, when the leaky Tech defense could not stop just departed CUSA pal North Texas.

That was the fourth one-possession loss in Sonny Cumbie’s first 15 games in Ruston. Two of them came in overtime.

Oh, I am fortune’s fool!”

That one’s not just for unkind cuts bumming Bulldogs. It’s as grim as the end of Romeo and Juliet along Chaplin’s Lake on the NSU campus.

An 0-3 start was plausible. FCS teams on average win one of every 20 matchups with FBS foes, and the Demons opened at UL-Lafayette and Tech. They were not embarrassed either time. Not particularly close, but far from hopeless or inept.

The home opener against another ancient rival, Stephen F. Austin, looked to be on even footing. It quickly wasn’t. The Lumberjacks looked Paul Bunyan-esque ripping open a 21-0 lead seven minutes in – not that they did a lot on their own to that point, but the Demons made it easy.

This was not the same competitive level that Northwestern carried through its first two games. Not that Brad Laird’s team didn’t play hard, but it performed poorly, and after the 41-7 rotten egg was laid, he tersely sounded just as he did following last year’s 47-21 thrashing from Grambling at Independence Stadium.

In the best-timed open date imaginable, Laird will be taking roll to see who can be counted on.

“Everyone’s got to look in the mirror, coaches included, and make sure everybody’s doing their job. We’ll make sure those who are going to stay doing their job will be with us moving forward,” he said.

The Demons did find their footing last fall, and went into the last two weeks playing for at least a share of the Southland Conference title and a playoff berth. Didn’t get either, but did get hope for 2023. Current status, though:

“Have no delight to pass away the time, unless to spy my shadow in the sun …”

Over at Grambling, throw out the understandable massacre in the visit to pick up $780,000 and showcase the World Famed Tiger Marching Band at LSU. An opening loss against Howard, and Saturday’s less than impressive cruise by designated win Florida Memorial, left Hue Jackson pondering the G-Men’s defense.

“I am determined to prove a villain…”

Grambling gave up 445 yards of offense, 233 rushing, and 22 points to the NAIA’s Lions of Florida Memorial — a program that resumed football after a 64-year hiatus in 2021, going 6-21 since.

“Dive, thoughts, down to my soul …”

The Tigers start Southwestern Athletic Conference play this Saturday. Good news? It’s at home in Eddie Robinson Memorial Stadium. Better? It’s against Texas Southern, 0-3 after a 59-7 beatdown at Rice.

If the G-Men don’t get that one, then Jackson couldn’t be blamed for taking quite a few sips of his own branded tequila, Grand Leyenda – he’s a partner and Chief Strategic Officer. “The tequila takes on golden hue … “ is really, truly a promotional line from the brand’s website. I kid you not.

A parting piece of insight from The Bard, for Bulldogs, Demons and Tigers: 

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”

September games don’t define a season. Hopefully. 

Contact Doug at sbjdoug@gmail.com