Let’s step into the wayback machine for second. Back in the offseason of 2010, a swirl of negativity surrounded the program. LSU was the consensus No. 18 preseason team in the nation, but the major concern was that LSU was a declining program while Arkansas and Auburn were trending upwards.
Just wondering… how did that turn out for everyone?
In case you forgot, 2008 was the last season in which LSU posted a sub-500 record in conference play. Hell, LSU has only repeated the five-loss season of 2008 once since then (2014).
Arkansas and Auburn, on the other hand… well, the Auburn pick wasn’t completely unreasonable. But if you had to ask anyone who follows college football which has been the better program over the last decade, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would answer Auburn. Even if you took the poll in Opelika.
That’s when one not-so-humble blogger stepped into the breach and declared the LSU was going to, and I quote, “have a win total in the double digits, contend for the West title, and finish in the top ten.”
LSU went 11-2, finished second in the SEC West, and ended the season ranked No. 8.
I mean, if you were keeping score. Which I was. And so was born Delusional Optimism. Which means that this year is the tenth year of Delusional Optimism.
Ten years we’ve been holding the Chicken Littles at bay by pointing out that LSU is a really good football program, and one of the most successful in the country. There’s a shortlist of teams that have won as many games over the past decade.
Now, unfortunately, one of those teams is Alabama, dominating all of college football from our own backyard. And that colors everyone’s perception of this era of consistent winning. It sucks being the fifth-most successful program of the past decade when No. 1 isn’t just in your conference, but your division.
So I get it. I do. I understand why this year, I swear, will be the year it falls apart. I see why people think that everything short of national title after title is a failure. It’s hard to appreciate your mansion when the neighbors have an even bigger one next door.
But at the end of the day, and as Bill C’s historical chart party ably demonstrates: THIS IS WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE.
Alright, let's have a chart party (© @jon_bois) ... will add to this thread in the coming hours/days...— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) August 12, 2019
Mizzou's S&P+ history. Ups and downs and ups and downs and ups and downs and ups and downs and really really bad in the late-1980s and Gary Pinkel is forever underrated. pic.twitter.com/SA5GfMlWSe
LSU has won eight games or better every year since 2000. And in that span, LSU has won 10 or more games ten different times, won two national titles, finished in the top ten eight different times, and has finished sub-500 in SEC play just once. We are enjoying the Golden Age of LSU Football.
So before we talk about the new offense, returning production, or the established stars on defense… let’s take a moment to appreciate the consistent elite level at which this program performs. This is, first and foremost, about having fun. Instead of looking for every cast shadow, let’s enjoy the sunny day causing it.
It’s more dangerous to believe. It’s easier to deny hope, so you can’t be disappointed. But if the strategy is to stave off anger and depression by not enjoying these golden years, well… how’s that working out for you?
Last year, things looked much bleaker. LSU teetered on the verge of complete collapse the season prior, only to somehow make it through (mostly) unscathed. But the team had clearly taken a step back under new management.
Worse yet, almost no one returned last year. Ed Orgeron was left trying to replace virtually his entire offense and a majority of the defense. LSU ranked 122nd in the nation last season in returning production. To top things off, right as the season started, two scholarship quarterbacks transferred out of Baton Rouge.
This year, the team is coming off of a 10-3 season which closed out with a Fiesta Bowl victory and a No. 6 rank in the final AP poll. Better yet, LSU returns boatloads of talent. LSU ranks 15th in the nation in returning production from an already loaded lineup.
And that was a season in which things did go sideways. The offensive line didn’t have a settled starting lineup until November. The team suffered through an injury plague, starting with losing the team’s best pass rusher in the season opener, and the anointed answer at wide receiver and team’s No. 7 never found his footing in the lineup.
LSU played just three games which came down to the final possession, and the Tigers lost two of them. LSU didn’t merely the nose the ball over the line to 10 wins, if anything, this team was far better than its record given the lack of good fortune they had over the course of the season.
Look, I’m not going to sell you on the new offense. I’m with y’all. I’ll believe it when I see it, and I don’t need to hear anyone say anything about it. I want them to show me.
But what I will point out is that LSU returns most of its starting offensive lineup from last season, added a five-star running back as well as some much needed line depth, all to a team that averaged more than 30 points a game last year.
The special teams, as always should be elite. LSU ranked second in punting and first in kickoff average. There should be a return to the usual standards in the return game as well.
The defense might very well be the best defense in LSU history, and that is some stout competition. The competition just to get on the field is so intense that there will most certainly be guys who started multiple games last season sitting on the bench this year. There’s only so many spots, and there’s a seemingly boundless amount of talent.
Last year, I took the stance that this was the Revenge Tour and we were not taking on any new applicants to the LSU bandwagon. 2018 was a big middle finger to everyone who prematurely called the LSU time of death, and I wasn’t in the mood to be nice.
But we are back to our loveable selves this season. Everyone is welcome on the Beat Bama Train, and the media has dutifully returned LSU back to the AP preseason top ten. We can’t even say “no one believes in us” because obviously, they do.
Though we probably have some room to pencil in some revenge games on to our dance cards. I’m looking at you, Florida.
If you’ll notice, I haven’t mentioned any players by name yet. That’s because this is a total team effort right down to the last guy on the roster and the last fan into the stands. We need every single one of you pulling together to finally get through that one obstacle that has stood in the way.
It’s been ten years of good times, but we all know the times could be even better. And if there’s one thing people from Louisiana believe in, it is taking an already great party up to the next level.
Everyone is invited. Somebody make a roux. I’ll get to work on floating this keg.
I know it’s dangerous to believe. I know you don’t want to even think about getting your hopes up because you’ve been hurt before. And nothing hurts more than hope denied. But you know who accepts a loss before it even happens? Losers do.
We’ve got the right team, the right coach, and the right fans. Damn straight we’ve got the best damn place to watch a college football game in the country. So let’s stop with the loser talk and have fun with this thing. We take on all comers this year.
Undefeated, baby. That means you, Bama. Fear is the mind killer. Or maybe it’s the booze talking. Who cares? Let’s keep believing.
After all, it’s more fun that way.