McNeese hires Lance Guidry

LAKE CHARLES — McNeese football coach Matt Viator didn’t have to look far outside of the McNeese family to find a new defensive coordinator as he named former Cowboys standout Lance Guidry to guide his team’s defense as well as be the assistant head coach.

Guidry, a Welsh native, fills the spot vacated when Mike Collins left to become defensive coordinator at Sam Houston State.

This will be the fourth stint for Guidry, a 1995 McNeese graduate, on the Cowboys staff. He served as a graduate assistant in 1994 then returned as the school’s defensive coordinator from 2000-04, and in 2008, coached the defensive backs.

“Coach Guidry has proven himself as a coach and a recruiter,” Viator said. “As a player and coach, his energy, effort and enthusiasm have helped shape the winning tradition we have enjoyed at McNeese.”

In his seven combined years previously on the McNeese coaching staff, the Cowboys have compiled a 60-26 record, including a 31-11 mark in Southland Conference games. McNeese won three conference championships during that span, made five FCS playoff appearances, and played in the 2002 FCS National Championship game.

“I was real excited when Matt (Viator) called to talk about me coming back,” said Guidry who has been on the staff at Stephen F. Austin since early spring. “My loyalty is to coach Viator and to McNeese. It’s like when mama calls you to come back home, you go.”

Guidry will hit the ground running at McNeese with a defense he knows all to well.

“I’m real familiar with the coaches and some of the players,” said Guidry. “First thing is to meet with the coaches and go over all of the terminology. Some things will change but the 4-2-5 defense is in my blood. I’m very excited to be back.”

“It’s a great day for the Cowboy Nation,” said Viator.

Guidry served as defensive coordinator at Western Kentucky the last two seasons and was named interim head coach on December 8 of last year to lead WKU against Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, Mich., on December 26, a game the Hilltoppers dropped 24-21.

Guidry has experience in the role, as the former assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) led the Redhawks to a 35-21 victory over Middle Tennessee as the interim head coach in the 2011 GoDaddy.com Bowl, helping Miami finish off a 10-4 season after going 1-11 the previous year. Miami became the first FBS school to go from double-digit losses to double-digit wins in consecutive seasons.

Guidry helped orchestrate a similar turnaround since arriving on the Hill in 2011, helping WKU to back-to-back winning seasons in 2011 and 2012, including the program’s first-ever bowl bid since joining the FBS.

Guidry’s 2012 Hilltopper defense was a force nationally, ranking in the top 40 in seven different national defensive categories. The Guidry-led defense ranked 23rd nationally in total defense (344.42) and 12th in the nation in tackles for loss per game (7.42).

His squad also ranked at the top of four defensive categories in the Sun Belt Conference, including total defense, pass defense efficiency (128.4), sacks (31) and first down defense (19.3), while ranking second in rushing defense (136.6), scoring defense (25.6), passing defense (206.2) and interceptions (13).

Under Gudiry’s guidance, WKU senior defensive end Quanterus Smith put together a record-breaking 2012 season, accumulating 12.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss on his way to being named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Smith’s sack total in 2012 was just one away from setting a single-season Sun Belt Conference record, and his 24.0 career sacks tied the conference record. In two years under Guidry, Smith racked up 20 of his 24 career sacks.

Guidry’s defense has shown up in big games, including games against the nation’s elite. In a week two matchup against defending nation champion Alabama, the WKU defense held the Crimson Tide to just 103 yards rushing, which was the team’s lowest output of the 2012 season. The 103 rushing yards were more than 120 yards less than the team’s season average, as Alabama went on to finish the season averaging over 224 yards per game on the ground en route to a BCS National Championship. The Crimson Tide averaged just over three yards per carry against WKU in that game.

Guidry, a 1995 graduate of McNeese State (La.), joined the Miami staff after serving as the defensive secondary coach at McNeese State in 2008. A veteran coach in Louisiana football’s high school ranks, Guidry served as secondary coach at Leesville High School in 1995 and 1996, helping lead the Wampus Cats to the state championship game in 1995. He also coached defensive backs at Carencro (La.) High School for three seasons (1997-99), then returned years later to serve as the Golden Bears’ head coach (2005-07).

In between his stints at Carencro, Guidry served as defensive coordinator and coached the secondary at McNeese State (2000-04). The Cowboys reached the Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) playoffs in four consecutive seasons (2000-03), won three straight Southland Conference championships (2001, 2002, 2003) during that stretch, and lost to WKU in the 2002 FCS National Championship Game.

During those years, he helped produce such all-Americans as Joe Judge, Keith Smith and Hadley Prince.

Guidry was also a team captain, four-year letterman (1990-93) and all-conference defensive back at McNeese State and was a part of two conference championship teams (1991, 1993).