It’s homecoming weekend in Baton Rouge, a game meant to celebrate the...I don’t actually know what the point of a homecoming game is other than alumni are supposed to come back to campus for some reason. I’ll look it up later.
But I do know that it’s generally expected that you win your homecoming game, and to ensure that you do so a weaker opponent is often scheduled.
But we’re not far removed from the era of LSU football where expecting the Tigers to win didn’t happen much. I was raised during it, and at the time that I began to firmly grasp what was happening on the television screen instead of cheering when the adults did, LSU began to turn around as a program. My first memory of an actual LSU play was LeBrandon Toefield housing a 60 yard run to start the 2001 game against Arkansas. That was a game against a Top 25 opponent, and LSU was not expected to win games like that. It was a big deal. It was LSU’s third win a row, a streak that LSU would ride all the way to six. It was also the first of four straight wins over ranked teams: 24 Arkansas, 23 Auburn in a playoff for the SEC Championship, 2 Tennessee to win the SEC, and 7 Illinois to win the Sugar Bowl.
I personally mark that as the turning point for the LSU football program, and it all started with a 62 yard TD from LeBrandon Toefield.
I know don’t have to tell you about “The Dark Years” of LSU football. Many of you lived through it and remember it much better than I do. 3-8 is all that needs to be said about it.
Fast forward 16 years, and LSU fans are mad that their newly appointed head coach isn’t winning by enough. They just chased the winningest coach in program history because he didn’t win enough.
And I fear that the same will happen again this week. Troy is a well coached team, so well coached that Neil Brown may very soon become very well acquainted with LSU as a rival head coach. The Trojans are dangerous and LSU is held together at some positions by chewed gum and scotch tape. It’s very possible that LSU loses this game, and likely that LSU struggles early.
If and when that happens, I don’t want you to worry or overreact. This team will out-talent Troy eventually, and if you’re at this game I want you to do your part and make Troy wish they had never waltzed into Death Valley and poke the Tiger with a stick. If they want a fight, given them a fight.
Because LSU is not going back. Losing to schools like
Houston and UAB does not happen anymore for LSU. The program has awoken from it’s slumber and is ready to reclaim it’s spot at the top of the pile. But to do that, it needs to remember what it’s like at the bottom and refuse to go back down.