Advocate Photo by JOHN ROWLAND - McNeese coach Lance Guidry watches his team against UL-Lafayette at Cajun Field on Saturday September 10, 2016 in Lafayette, La.

Southeastern Louisiana football coach Frank Scelfo has always admired the way McNeese State played defense. The Lions will soon likely bear a resemblance.

Scelfo announced Monday that former McNeese State football coach, defensive coordinator and player, Lance Guidry, will join the Lions staff as defensive coordinator for the 2019 season.

Guidry will replace Louie Cioffi, who held the job for one season and will move on to become linebackers coach for the Atlanta Legend in the Allied Football League. The new pro league begins play in February.

“You watch them on film and you go, ‘Wow’,” said Scelfo, who went 4-7 in his first season, including a 23-6 win against Guidry and McNeese on Nov. 3. “McNeese has always been known for defense, but Lance took it to a different level as a defensive coordinator and a head coach.”

In 2018, McNeese was second in scoring defense (24.2) and total defense (356.0) and fourth in rush defense (119.5) and pass defense (236.5). The loss to SLU helped precipitate Gudry’s availability. The Cowboys were 6-2 and in first place in the Southland Conference at 5-1, but the SLU loss started a three-game losing streak and Guidry was fired shortly after the season.

Scelfo didn’t hesitate and became the first coach to reach out.

“After they let me go, Frank reached out to me the next day,” Guidry said. “He called me later on in the week and offered me a job. We both wanted to wait a while to announce. After the new year, we got together and I accepted. I’m excited to still be in Louisiana.”

Guidry said he spoke to Memphis about its vacant defensive coordinator job and had a discussion with Abilene Christian among others, but ultimately the SLU offer was too good to pass up.

“I thought it would be a great landing spot,” Guidry said. “He’s building the program the right way with good high school football players. That’s how we built the program at McNeese.

The past three seasons at McNeese, Guidry compiled a 21-12 record, 17-10 in SLC play, including a 9-2 finish in 2017. He was defensive coordinator at McNeese the three seasons before that. As a Cowboys defensive back, he was a four-year starter (1990-93) and two-time All-SLC safety, playing on two conference championship teams.

Guidry is also 1-1 as an interim coach at Miami if Ohio (2010) and Western Kentucky (2012), where he took over teams for bowl games after head coach departures.

“I didn’t know I’d have an opening, but you always prepare,” Scelfo said. “It didn’t cross my mind until Louie told me what was happening with him, so I called (Guidry) up and we talked about it. He wanted to make sure it was the right move for him. He was excited, felt good about getting on board with what we were doing, the changes we were making.”

SLU finished eighth in scoring defense (33.5) and total defense (458.7) last season.

The 2017 season was Guidry’s best. The Cowboys held five teams without an offensive touchdown, including SLU in a 13-3 victory. McNeese was ranked in the top 10 nationally in third-down defense, first downs allowed, defensive touchdowns, total defense, red zone defense, turnovers, interceptions and tackles for loss.

“They have a culture of good defense there,” Scelfo said. “They’re very sound schemewise, but the main thing is the way they play, how competitive their guys are.”