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Lost That Tiger: ATVS Investigates Dysfunction on the Football Team

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NCAA Football: Alabama at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt that the LSU football team has fallen rough times, arguably the roughest in history. Especially concerning where the program was at the start of the 2020 calendar year. Of course, Rome was not built in a day nor did it fall in a day. After our groundbreaking work earlier in the year on Ryan Clark’s involvement in the football program, we have spent the past weeks combing through FOIA requests, terabytes of #BigData, and talking to many SAWCES, we now have a clear picture of why LSU has struggled so mightily in the season.

Our investigation traces back to January just after the National Championship game. LSU’s staff was moving on to bigger and better things. Ed Orgeron tapped former LSU-DC Bo Peilini to lead the defense following the departure of Dave Aranda. It was a head scratching move at the time but bigger issue were afoot. Upon signing the contract it was understood that, Bo would no longer go by “Bo” and instead go by “Beaux.” Key members of the LSU administration lobbied for the change but ultimately Orgeron let his new DC join without the name change. In speaking to the Louisiana Football Gods, this caused a great disruption in the multiverse.

“It’s really not that big of an ask,” one god said. “Joe (Burrow..ahem Burreaux) did it, wasn’t that hard. Heck he even could have worn it during the game.”

As a result of this indiscretion, the Football Gods casted numerous spells on the program which could only be lifted if Bo changes his name or moves on from the program.

With Bo’s departure the Football Gods are expected to begin sending good juju to the Tigers.

Of course COVID (not one of the curses be-spelled on the program) threw even more things into a twist. With an absence of structure for a large part of the spring and summer many players had to find unusual methods to workout.

It wasn’t uncommon to see Tiger athletes working out along the levees. Reports indicate many of these players became so enamored with the levees that several switched to water management majors. Many players are seriously considering forgoing any pro football aspirations in favor of fields in water management.

This academic shift was felt beyond just those players. After spending much of the summer working out with logs, the coaching staff had to practically beg Myles Brennan to not pursue a career in forestry. Multiple defensive backs have switched to landscape and turf management majors.

“I think the idea of creating and giving space is so amazing,” one player said. “The idea of just being out there with the next person so far away. It is a special feeling.”

Multiple sources confirm that all players talk about now are the latest growing trends or innovative flood prevention systems, making difficult for coaches to retain players’ attention.

The coaching staff and football administration has also had its challenges since January. As part of his new contract Orgeron was allowed to increase the support staff, which we’ve learned is now roughly over 1,000 people. This has led to organizational chaos. Some of the new positions that have been created include, Purveyor of Eye-black, Trick-Play Coordinator, Director of Off-Planet Recruiting, Analyst - Extra Points, and Special Associate Assistant Athletic Director Coordinator of Operations for Quality Control Recruiting Analyst and Player Development Alumni Relation Video Interns, among others.

“I don’t think coach knows who I am,” one member of the support staff said.

“If I'm being honest, I didnt even know I had a job with the team,” said another. “One day Im walking on campus and (Derek) Ponamsky just hands me a laptop and asks me to reach out to players on an Icelandic touch football team and tell them they have a scholarship to LSU”

With a staff so large, it has been difficult to have any sort of structure when Orgeron is looking to make any kind of changes to the football program.

Furthermore, finances for the football team have come under more scrutiny as the athletic department scrambles to keep itself afloat. One of the biggest revelations came when auditors discovered roughly $10 million dollars was going to have more rings produced for the team.

“It seems that O and the staff got kind of carried away with the three rings to honor last season and wanted to have more rings for more occasion,” one LSU official said.

It was discovered that roughly 600 jewelry design kits had been purchased from WalMart and plans were to have a ring for every regular season win, and every other “Competition Tuesday”

“From what we can tell, it looks like they had placed numerous non-refundable orders before the season,” an unnamed athletic department member said. “To my knowledge there is a room full of rings commemorating the Mississippi State win somewhere in the football ops building.”

“Maybe we can see if the people who donated the Clemson National Championship T-shirts from last year can take the rings too,” they added.

The most recent news in this saga comes from LSU’s one year bowl ban that will take the Tigers out of a bowl game this season, as Orgeron looks to end the 2020 campaign as soon as possible.

Officials from numerous bowl games say prior to announcing the bowl ban LSU reached out to explore post season feasibility. It’s unclear how many total bowl games the Tigers explored but it was clear many bowl games were not interested in extending an invitation.

“LSU is a great program and all, but we just couldn’t say no to Kansas-Akron,” one high ranking official said.

Even with the chaos of this season many around the program still felt there is light at the end of the tunnel. A strong recruiting class and two wins to close out the season are just a just a few indicators that LSU’s future is still trending up.

As one coach said, “at least we aren’t Auburn.”