Right after Todd Berry was let go from ULM, I put together a list of a few names to look for in the ULM coaching search. I was blindly throwing darts at an imaginary dart board, but Matt Viator, 52, was on there. It just seemed like too obvious of a fit.
Viator has basically spent his whole life in Louisiana, first coaching at a few different prep schools, then returning to his alma mater, McNeese State, as a linebackers coach in 1999. The next season he was promoted to offensive coordinator, and in 2006 got the head job.
The decision for ULM administration reportedly came down to Viator and Arkansas State OC Walt Bell. Bell was rumored to have been offered the job, but turned it down. Personally, I would rather have the proven winner with Louisiana roots (and a head start in building a recruiting base) than the unknown entity of young hotshot OC with no head coaching experience anyway.
Viator was 77-33 in ten years at McNeese State, with four conference championships and five playoff appearances (He's 0-5 in the playoffs). This year he led the Cowboys to an undefeated regular season record before falling to Sam Houston State in the second round of the playoffs, 34-29. Maybe Viator's most memorable game as a head coach to most college football fans came last year, when the Cowboys were on the verge of beating #19 Nebraska before Ameer Abdullah decided to do Ameer Abdullah things.
The Cowboys have been built around a spread rushing attack, averaging 233.3 yards per game on the ground in 2015. McNeese QB Daniel Sams threw for 1675 yards, 13 TD and 9 INT while completing about 50% of his passes. He also carried 193 times for 928 yards and 11 touchdowns. Can Garrett Smith run the offense that Viator wants to implement? Or will the Warhawks have a new QB in 2016?
Viator will be asked to turn around a downtrodden program with little resources and a small fanbase. What should expectations for his first season in Monroe be?