We won a title. We have a trophy to prove it. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
"Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is." -- The Outlaw Josey Wales
All right, people. Break's over.
The title game sucked, and it was okay to take an appropriate mourning period for the ruination of what was only the greatest regular season in the history of college football. Stuff like that takes time to get over. Well, we've had a month. It's over. Time to get back on that horse and move on.
It's time to stop apologizing for our season. LSU finished #2 in the nation and BEAT three of the four other teams in the top five. Acting like we're some mediocre team that just got lucky all year is a tremendous disservice to this team. This team was awesome. Hell, the team still is awesome, as a lot of the key components are coming back and we should expect radically improved QB play.
Unless you went to Alabama, you could only hope your team had as good of a season as we had. And even Alabama needed a successful public relations campaign to get a second chance to salvage their season. Was it fair? Who cares? My momma told me that fair is just a weather condition. And while LSU fans may have gotten the short end of the BCS stick this year, we also rooted for a two-loss national champion in 2007. The BCS giveth, the BCS taketh away.
More than anything, we need to stop caring what other people think. If you're reading this and you aren't an LSU fan - I do not care what you think of our program. Nothing personal, I don't expect you to care what I think of Random State U, either. But LSU fans need to stop looking outwards and reading every press clipping for even the barest slight.
There's two reasons for this. First, they've been consistently wrong about us. At what point do we stop listening to the people who keep telling us that we're lucky or that Miles isn't very good or that we're trending down? How many completely wrong predictions does it take until we stop listening to the outside naysayers? The program has never been stronger than it is right now - Miles did that. Sure, Saban and Dinardo built a foundation which certainly helped. But no one has brought the programs to the sustained excellence that Miles has. His endless stream of critics are simply wrong, and I'm done arguing with them. Just check the scoreboard.
Secondly, and more importantly, the obsession with every negative story just keeps the story alive. The cycle is predictable by now: Something Bad inevitably happens, the Columnist Who Must Not Be Named rants about it, message board drones whine about it, ESPN and the national media pick up the story, we complain even more, and then the "reasonable fans" bust out the circular firing squad to assign blame for Something Bad happening, without stopping to think that no program in the history of football has ever had precisely 100% of things go their way.
This is where I admire Alabama fans' extreme message discipline. Nick Saban could literally stab a recruit just before he signs his Letter of Intent in order to make the numbers work, and there would be a line of people to defend his actions. Hey, the guy wins. Good for Alabama. Let the losers whine about unfair it is. They will happily count those championship trophies while you busy your time whining instead of getting better to actually beat Alabama (Les Miles: 3-3 vs. Saban).
Meanwhile, LSU fans are jumping on the bandwagon to criticize Miles for getting riled up at a pep rally. Oh, and has anyone noticed that Miles' comments on Gunner Kiel were completely correct? I mean, if you're not going to make it a dinner party you've RSVP'd to, it's only polite to call and say you can't make it. Kiel reneged on a far larger commitment without the courtesy of an email or a phone call. He was too scared to pick up the phone and call Miles, instead just showing up on Notre Dame's campus when he was supposed to be in Baton Rouge. Kiel should absolutely go where he wants to go ... but he should've picked up the phone and told Miles personally.
Miles contrasted the way Kiel broke his commitment, without getting into the messy details, by praising the way Liggins did it. He gave Liggins the chance to commit somewhere a little less pro-Ole Miss than his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. But Liggins wanted to break the bad news to the people he's known his whole life Malcolm Reynolds style. When he kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be armed, and you'll be facing him. None of this sneaking off in the middle of the night stuff. Liggins DOES have chest.
I'm not going to lie and say the recruiting losses didn't hurt at all. I wanted Collins and Davis and Patterson. Especially Patterson. But they all chose to go elsewhere, and that's the way it goes sometimes. And it's not like the guys who are in the class are chopped liver. There's a lot of really good players coming to campus to join the plethora of really good players we already have. No one player is bigger than our whole program. Losing a recruiting target is disappointing, but ultimately not very meaningful. LSU will be fine.
Like Josey Wales tells us, it's time to get mean. It's us against everybody. Let ‘em talk. Let ‘em get in their shots. We can only control our own selves. So let's stop moping around and remember that it's a pretty kick ass time to be a Tiger. This last season was awesome and it was a whole hell of a lot fun. We seem to have collectively forgotten that.
It's time to go out and buy an SEC title t-shirt and go forth and be the loud, obnoxious fans I know we can be. We've got nothing to hang our heads about. And I'll be honest, I haven't gotten mine yet, because I've been busy moping around about the last game. It was just one game, people. We are the defending champions of the toughest conference in America. This is a time to celebrate. I'm damn proud of my damn strong football team.
And if anyone gives you any guff over our team when you're sporting your colors, you need to ask them if they are an Alabama fan. If they say yes, congratulate them on their mulligan. If they say no, tell them that when their team beats three of the top five teams in the country, then we'll compare resumes. Until then, they can have a big old glass of shut the hell up. They wish they had our accomplishments.
These are the best of times. Let's start acting like it again. The time for mourning the greatest regular season in school history is over. It's time to be loud and proud about it. I wouldn't trade my team for anyone else's in the world. I wouldn't trade my coach for anyone else's. I wouldn't trade these fellow fans for any others.
We're the defending champions. Let's start acting like it.