I’ve been saying some variation of “it’s finally here” for the past two weeks now, because it is here. Much like the way that with every day driving home from work or school you begin to turn on autopilot a little bit further and further from your home because you’ve made the drive so many times that it’s nearly muscle memory, football season arrives earlier and earlier from when we’re finally watching LSU football.
But now we’re finally home. The car is parked in the driveway. The drive itself is familiar, but it will never be as familiar as our home.
And for many of us, the idea of familiarity has been a foreign concept for the past few weeks. That’s what happens when everything becomes lost, including your routine.
Water claims a lot, more than you think it would. It’s devastating how much a little water can do, let alone three feet of it. It can devastate, uproot, and tear apart entire families effortlessly. I have seen the physical manifestation of 80 years worth of living discarded on the side of a road because water has touched it. And I have seen it at every house in a neighborhood, including mine.
It seems trivial to say, everything is after water reaches heights it’s never reached before, but there’s still football to look forward to. There’s still a routine to be had, familiarity to be found, joy to be absorbed, and yes, beers to be drank. And that’s undeniably important to the state.
Football will not rebuild houses. Football will not replace damaged items. Football will not pay for sheetrock installation. Football will not work from sunup to sundown removing everything you own from your own house because it has to be. Football will not bring back loved ones. In the grand scheme of things, football itself is unimportant.
But what football represents is. In 23 years of living in Louisiana, I have found nothing that united the people of Louisiana more than football. Not Mardi Gras, not food, not even music can give Louisiana the shared sense of identity that football gives us. And we’ve seen it before. Football has galvanized us once already in my lifetime and it will do so once more.
If there is one thing I can say glowingly about my people is that they are resilient. Living here requires us to be. At the bottom of nearly every statistical category there is, the odds are stacked against Louisiana from the jump. Poverty, obesity, lack of education, corruption, if you can think of a negative attribute to give a state outside of culture Louisiana has probably got it. But we carry on regardless. And in the face of one of the most trying summers in it’s capital’s history, we will continue to carry on. Because when we get kicked in the gut we stand right back up and look life back in the eyes. It’s Louisiana against the world.
I’m sure there’s not a soul in this country outside of the state of Wisconsin (and I’m assuming there are a few inside state lines that agree with me) who would want nothing more than for this game to be played in Death Valley at night, to give what little familiarity Louisiana has left the full effect, but since when has living here been fair? This game was planned years in advance. So much like Arizona State in 2005, we’re going to have to settle with going on the road and putting the nation on notice.
And the nation will be put on notice. They can wring their hands about quarterback play as much as possible, that won’t change the fact that Brandon Harris has made the jump from sophomore to junior with a year of starting under his belt. They can cite Fournette’s 31 yards as much as possible, that won’t change the fact that he is back with an experienced Derrius Guice to compliment him. They can question the defense all they want, that won’t change the fact that LSU just hired the best defensive coordinator in college football on a production (or lack of) vs. talent basis.
There is nothing stopping us from being great. There are no excuses to be made. Despite everything stacked against us, Louisiana is about to find a way to win. This is the first step in doing so. This is where we put our chips into the pot.