836 days ago, LSU hosted Troy and lost a night game to a Sun Belt team. Who among us has not? Even Gods are fallible at times. The Tigers sat at 3-2 on the young season, winless in SEC play after a 37-7 pounding at the hands of Mississippi State a couple of weeks before. They’d just come off another 8-4 season and third place SEC West finish. The “Interim” had been removed from Coach O’s nameplate, and people were beginning to regret it.
The most vociferous fans in modern football constantly demand blood. LSU decided to weather the storm, and last night’s endcap to one of the most impressive and complete seasons in college football history is a tribute to that: to patience, to determination, to hard work, and also to opening up the door to let in plenty of good luck and timing.
LSU finished the 2017 season with four losses again. In May of 2018, Joe Burrow got to campus. That fall, Steve Ensminger took over as offensive coordinator full-time. Things began to change. This 2019 season was the perfect storm on so many fronts: philosophy, personnel, schedule not least among them. When LSU knocked off Texas in what was (at the time) a top-ten matchup at night in Austin, the offense finally garnered national attention. What was this?
LSU has always had the defense to compete for championships. What Alabama and Clemson did that enabled them to dominate the last several years was to finally discover the formula that allowed a team to have an intense, physical defense and a prolific offense. Not many teams can. LSU did it virtually overnight with strategic coaching changes and a transfer QB with a chip on his shoulder, and the results were glorious. They brought a bit of chaos and uncertainty back to college football, and for that we should all be grateful. They did it all while having a great deal of fun, and for that they should be adored.
A few years ago, we all loved Clemson because they were the biggest threat to stop Alabama from being Alabama forever. Then all of a sudden, Clemson had become the new Alabama almost seamlessly. A silent coup. 2019 LSU was the darling of college football because they were the biggest threat to throw a wrench in the complex machinery of the complex workings of college football’s elite powers. They threw in the whole toolbox, and danced as the gears ground to a halt and the smoke billowed. Joe Burrow kicked back with a cigar and watched. He finished the season with sixty touchdown passes, including a cool dozen in two playoff games. That is a school record, of course. The next-highest total is 28.
There are still plenty of people drinking in New Orleans as you read this. Enjoy it, because it’s incredibly well-deserved. What a party it’s been.