The subject was supposed to be football.

The talk was hurricane.

All of the Southland Conference football coaches have either lived, coached, recruited on the Gulf Coast or have experienced a hurricane or all of the above.

While the season-openers were on their minds, so was Isaac, especially at Nicholls State and Southeastern Louisiana, which were in the crosshairs of Isaac and were getting pounded Wednesday.

So during each coach’s turn on the conference call, the first thing they talked about was hurricane preparation or experience.

"Having lived in Southeast Louisiana for 20 years, my thoughts and prayers go to friends, family and colleagues in that area; I know what that is like," said UCA coach Clint Conque.

"It’s hard to work on a game plan when you can’t practice," said Nicholls State coach Charley Stubbs, whose team opens at Oregon State but faces the travel logistics of trying to get a team out of southeast Louisiana.

"I’ve been there, done that; I’ve been through it," said McNeese State coach Matt Viator. McNeese State actually had to stay and practice at Southeastern Louisiana’s facilities across state in Hammond after Hurricane Rita a few years ago.

Isaac forced the Cowboys, based in Lake Charles, to change their travel plans to travel to Middle Tennessee State a day early.

"When I first came to here, we had a major hurricane (Rita) passed right over us (in Beaumont, Texas)," said Lamar coach Ray Woodard. "That’s scary. I’m praying for the people in the Gulf, too."

"The first thing is to make sure your kids get to a safe location, whether at home or here, then you play it by ear," said Ron Roberts of Southeastern Louisiana. Hammond was in the main area of Isaac’s sites.

Northwestern State, which is in the Shreveport area, is bussing its team to Lubbock, Texas, for the opener against Texas Tech a day early.

Northwestern State, like every SLC school, recruits in the Gulf Coast area.

"We have a lot of worried young men because of what has happened to their families in the past in hurricanes," said NSU coach Bradley Dale Peveto, who grew up watching potential hurricane tracks in southeast Texas. "It does affect your kids, no doubt about it."

Naturally, the coaches are fierce rivals on the field. But there was a sense of comraderie during the conrference.

Viator, at the close of his turn on the phone, said, "You folks at Southeastern and Nicholls, be safe."

"There’s nothing in the Coaching 101 manual that covers what you do in case that a hurricane hits," said Roberts.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net)