, Port Arthur, Texas


November 25, 2013

No word on Woodard’s status at Lamar


  Nobody was saying much of anything about Lamar University football coach Ray Woodard’s job status on Monday, leaving open the possibility that the Cardinal coach will be left twisting in the wind until after the Thanksgiving holidays.

“I’ve haven’t been told anything,” said Woodard. “I’ve asked but I haven’t gotten any answers. I’m not sure what to think.”

Because of the uncertainty about his future at Lamar, Woodard canceled his usual 2 p.m. Monday press conference. He did go through with his final Sunday night television show on KFDM, but his body language during the show suggested the uncertainty of the situation made doing the show difficult for him.

Woodard’s job security was first raised publicly in this writer’s Sunday column. A trusted Port Arthur News source said that the McNeese State game would probably be his last as LU’s coach, that a decision had either been made to replace him, or was close to being made.

A Monday afternoon call to Lamar athletic director Jason Henderson seeking comment has not been returned. Woodard, whose salary is $150,000, is under contract through August of 2015, meaning a payoff would be involved, unless he took another job.

Woodard, who was hired in 2008 to help restart the LU program from scratch, posted an 18-28 record in four seasons. The Cardinals narrowly missed a break-even 2013 when McNeese State scored the winning points with 58 seconds left Saturday night. The Cardinals finished 5-7 overall, including 2-5 in the Southland Conference.

It’s not difficult to argue that what Lamar accomplished in 2013 shows significant progress is being made. Playing in perhaps the toughest of the FCS conferences, one which had three teams — No. 6 McNeese, No. 7 Southeastern Louisiana and No. 14 Sam Houston — ranked in the final poll, and another, Central Arkansas, receiving votes, the Cardinals were in nearly every game until the end.

The SLC is so highly regarded for its toughness and depth, in fact, that McNeese, SLU and Sam Houston are in the FCS playoffs, and two of the three even have byes.

Only one of Lamar’s five SLC losses was anything close to a blowout  — a 56-34 setback at champion Southeastern Louisiana. The Cardinals played Sam Houston State on even terms before dropping a 14-3 decision in Huntsville and went to the wire before falling to Central Arkansas (26-24) and McNeese (42-38). They also beat Stephen F. Austin for the first time since the program restart.

“We were competitive in every conference game,” said Woodard. “In the fourth year of the program, we proved we’re on a level with everybody in our league. If we’d held on against McNeese Saturday night, we’d have been 5-1 at home. That would have been the best in Lamar history. We set numerous offensive records.

“The program is clearly on the upswing. We’ve got eight offensive starters coming back. We’ll have to do some retooling on defense, but we played a lot of young players on that side of the ball this year. I feel confident that we’ll be improved on defense.”

Perhaps the best way to underscore how far Lamar has come in a short time is to look at the beatings the Cardinals took from conference foes in the early years of the restart. They were drubbed 66-0 and 56-7 by Sam Houston in 2011 and 2012, respectively. SFA drowned Lamar 71-3 in 2010 and 69-10 in 2011. As was pointed out above, the Cardinals defeated SFA this season and were in position to upend Sam Houston.

Strongly supporting the notion that Woodard deserves more time is one of the school’s major donors — Beaumont attorney Walter Umprhey.

“I think talking about a change at this time is premature,” said Umphrey, who has donated some $10 million to Lamar, and whose name is on the stadium. “For having started from scratch, and I’m not sure a lot of people understand how difficult that is, I think Ray’s done a great job. Those last two games against Stephen F. Austin and McNeese State show how far the program has come.

“I’ve expressed my admiration for the job Ray has done to the new president (Dr. Kenneth R. Evans) several times.”

The Port Arthur News source said one of the reasons for unhappiness with Woodard was lack of interest in the program, as reflected in average attendance of 8,379. The largest crowd of the season was 10,738 for homecoming against Central  Arkansas. An even bigger concern than overall attendance was said to be student ambivalence toward Lamar football.

How much of that falls on the head coach, of course, is debatable. Some would argue that putting an exciting and successful product on the field is Job. 1. Few would contend that the latest Cardinal team wasn’t exciting. And they were agonizingly close to being successful.

Text Only
  • Trophy stab 1.jpg WEST COLUMN: Bum Phillips trophy an impressive piece of work

    There was lots of excitement around the Port Arthur News this week, with the long-awaited delivery of the magnificent Bum Phillips trophy that will be presented annually to the winner of the Nederland-Port Neches-Groves football game.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ned 13U Babe Ruth wins

    It was a much better day Saturday for the Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team compared to Friday.

    July 26, 2014

  • MOORE COLUMN: Flounder dream started in Bridge City

    The first flounder that grabbed my attention lived in what is now the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area in Bridge City. 

    July 26, 2014

  • ESTRADA COLUMN: PED update /Key injuries with contrasting outcomes

    The results of Saturday night’s UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. Brown event were not available as of the time of this writing. It will be covered in a future column.

    July 26, 2014

  • TODORA COLUMN: Hermsen rattles racks in Monday Seniors League at Max Bowl

    Mondays Seniors League had some nice scores this past week. Rick Hermsen started with a 263, finished with a 270 and fit in a 212 in the middle for a nice 745.

    July 26, 2014

  • Nederland 13U Babe Ruth loses 9-0

    The Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team lost 9-0 Friday to Bryant.

    July 25, 2014

  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

    July 23, 2014

  • Mid County knocked out of tournament

    The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.

    July 22, 2014

  • West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son

    July 22, 2014

  • Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County

    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

    July 21, 2014

From the Fieldhouse blog