Love and ULM don’t exactly go hand-in-hand nationally. Heck, you could argue that’s not exclusive to the national scene…
Sure, ULM has had its moments like back in 2012 when the Warhawks knocked off Arkansas and nearly took out Auburn before hosting Baylor in front of packed Malone Stadium. But the Warhawks have amassed a 27-56 record since going 8-5 during that special 2012 season.
To make the situation worse, the Warhawks are coming off of an 0-10 season, where yet another talented coach parted ways with the program. Now Terry Bowden replaces Matt Viator, and so far, so good…
The Warhawks haven’t played a game yet, but despite coming off of a winless season, positivity remains. Thank Bowden for that.
He’s won the offseason battle by first getting folks excited about the hire. Remember there was a sense of disappointment initially before you saw the staff that Bowden brought with him. That’s helped fire up a fan base that’s been reluctant to fill a stadium to watch a .500 (or less) football team.
Donning his “Louisiana By God Monroe” shirt at camps across the south, Bowden is purposefully building a brand that fans can be proud of again. But all is for naught if ULM can’t find more success on the football field. And the coaching staff understands that. ULM strength and conditioning coach Wes Piersall spoke about this on The Morning Drive with Aaron and Jake last week and talked about Bowden’s mission to develop a winning culture. That means going the extra mile.
“He won’t (slow down,” Piersall said. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that hungry. The work ethic is truly motivational. He goes and goes. He sees it, and that’s the first step in it. He understands it and believes in it. It won’t be from a lack of effort if we don’t get this thing turned around. I can promise everyone that. The effort will be there. The passion will be there. We’ve got the right guy leading the way.”
The words “clean slate” have been thrown around often amongst the ULM coaching staff all offseason, which is smart. Giving returning players a fresh start while giving the incoming transfers an equal opportunity to play immediately should encourage some intense position battles this summer and fall.
And whether purposeful or not, saying those two words in multiple interviews is also sending a subliminal message to the fans. This is a fresh start, and you can’t expect perfection from the jump. Starved for success, you can understand why there might not be a ton of patience on the bayou.
But fans have to be realistic too. The Sun Belt Conference is getting better. Heck, Coastal Carolina is one of eight teams that have a double-digit over/under win total from Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. (ULM’s win total is set at 1.5.) Chris Fallica, also known as “The Bear” on ESPN’s College Gameday, predicted ULM to win just one game this fall. So maybe take it one step at a time in setting expectations this season.
With inevitable struggles on the horizon in year one, Bowden deserves to see his vision through. Early losses in the 2021 season shouldn’t erase that excitement that’s been palpable for the last seven months.
But fans want to see results eventually. For the best to truly be on the bayou, the action on the field will have to ultimately match Bowden’s unquestioned ability to generate excitement off of it.