It's been a week and a half, and it still hurts.
LSU had a historically great season slip through their fingers, capped off by probably the worst game the team has played in two years. It's not like the season wasn't full of accomplishments and triumphs - the SEC title, NICKNAME REDACTED making it to New York for the Heisman presentation, an undefeated regular season against the nation's toughest schedule - but it all pales in comparison to 21-0.
Why does the pain of the way the season ended somehow dwarf the joy of three months of dominant football? Such is the danger of hope. When you have hope, when you believe with every part of your being, it makes the crash that much harder. It's coming down off of the high, and coming down in a bad way.
OK, the almost unending stream of bad news surrounding the program in addition to the big loss hasn't helped. Recruits defecting, players going pro, and rumors of fights flying.* When the Wheel of Fortuna turned, she turned like a bitch. It was like the dam burst.
*ED NOTE - I know we've said this a few times, but stop reading the Columnist Who Must Not Be Named. He's a professional agitator and it's your own fault for getting riled up by the bile he spews. It would also be in your best interest to stop listening to secondhand rumors you got from guy who knows the inside scoop because his best friend's sister is dating the waterboy.
Hope and belief are wonderful things. Delusional Optimism is fun. Believing is more fun than not believing, but the cost is, well, these last two weeks. Losses hurt even more. When hope is crushed, it hurts. It hurts a whole heck of a lot, but you don't need me to tell you that. We all know exactly how much it hurts.
But that's what being a fan is about. The joys and the triumphs are meaningless without the suffering. No one likes losing, but losing is what reminds us how fun it is to win. Our joint suffering is what binds this deranged family we call the LSU fanbase. Well, that and lots of booze.
I can't say this has been fun, but most fan bases would kill to have our problems. Hell, I would've killed to have our problems 20 years ago. I sat in Tiger Stadium in 1993 as my beloved Tigers got beatdown 58-3 by Florida. Know what I felt?
Nothing. I think I went to a party after the game. You know why? Because it didn't matter. I had no hope LSU was going to win, and they certainly delivered. OK, 58-3 was a bit much, but it wasn't a painful loss that sticks with you. I was over it by the time my hangover wore off. And frankly, that sucked.
The absence of pain after a big loss means your program isn't very good. If this didn't hurt, then we didn't expect to win. And we do expect to win. This felt like our year. It felt like LSU was ready to post one of the all time greatest seasons in football history. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
The loss still hurts. But that's the good news.