It truly feels like a new chapter of LSU football.
Maybe it would have been nice to close out the last era on the high of 2019, but Coughlin’s Rule applies, things always end badly, or else they wouldn’t end. And the last two years… well, the Orgeron Era ended badly.
2019 was a wonderful, glorious season, the kind of year which leaves one hell of a hangover. Ours happened to last two years, but hey, LSU students know all about hangovers. No big deal. But now that we’ve sobered up and have begin to take stock of things, it’s almost like a different sport.
It’s almost as if 2019 wasn’t just the end of an era for the LSU program, but college football in general. College football in 2022 looks far different than it did just three years ago. The COVID seasons weren’t just a pause button, it was a frustrated kid hitting reset.
I’ll admit that I lost the D.O. I didn’t think we should playing in 2020, and I found the season to be a miserable slog, save one glorious shoe toss. I didn’t even bother to write a Delusional Optimism piece to start 2021, the first year I’ve skipped it since starting this thing in 2010.
It didn’t feel right. There didn’t feel like there was anything to be optimistic about. But that was then, and like I said, we’re now entering a new chapter.
Here’s the good news. Think about how badly last season went. It was pretty much a perfect storm of defections and injuries. Even with all of that, LSU still won 6 games. The worst case scenario for this team was 2021, and it was still good enough to make a bowl. That’s how good this program is.
By the time things came to the end last season, LSU only 38 scholarship players available for the bowl. According to the box score’s participation report, only 46 LSU players appeared in the game. Of those 46 players, only 25 are on this year’s opening roster. Only 17 are in the projected two-deep. Just 9 are projected to start.
When we hit the reset button, we don’t screw around.
For the first time since 2000, LSU enters a college football season unranked. LSU was picked to finish fifth in the SEC West at Media Days, and its overall vote total ranked tenth in the conference. No one thinks this team is going to win much this year. Not with an unsettled quarterback situation. Not with a new coach who knows nothing of our culture. Not with what is essentially a brand new team.
But no one thought we were going to win much in 2000 either. A year later, LSU were the SEC champions. By the time that freshman class were seniors, they were national champions. It happened that quickly.
And we don’t have nearly as high of a mountain to climb as we did in 2000. This program is still the same program only two years removed from a national title. We have the talent, the facilities, the fan support, and yes, the coaching staff to do it all over again.
Now, here’s the part you young’ins don’t know. Those of you who have been blessed to come of age during the Golden Era of LSU Football have never truly known adversity, just wins upon wins upon wins. But you have also known nothing but pressure and the duty of sustaining excellence. A win wasn’t good enough, it had to be an impressive win. Every team was measured against some mythical standard that no one could possible measure up to. Well, until 2019.
Here’s the secret: the come up is a lot more fun.
Yes, winning national titles is a blast. And nothing will ever be as great as getting to watch and enjoy quite literally the greatest college football team of all time. But LSU is a fan base that was always in search of the dark cloud which went with every silver lining.
The old saw that the perfect LSU season is one in which LSU wins the national title but fires the coach was basically made manifest. We were never so happy as when we had something to complain about, worried that somehow ten wins wasn’t good enough.
Now, this season is all gravy. Just show progress, and the nattering nabobs of negativity will likely be satisfied, if only for a year. There is no expectation, thus no pressure. There will be no mourning of wins because every win is precious at this point.
And this team is going to win a lot. Get used to it again.
More importantly, this year gets to be fun again. And there is nothing we do better than fun.
So don’t worry so much, make a roux, crack open a beer or three, and let’s get to enjoy LSU climbing from its first losing season of this century. It won’t take too long until we’re back on top. The climb is the best part, make sure you savor it.
You don’t get a second chance that many times in life. The cup of Delusional Optimism has been refilled. See y’all at the summit. Again.