Change is exciting, but it is also terrifying. We will cling to the certain known, even if that known isn’t terribly good, just to avoid taking the plunge into the unknown. Because with change, there is risk. And risk gives us heartburn.
If you take a look around the LSU internet, the overriding theme is one of Change. “Everything is different” is the mantra. And not just the roster. Brian Kelly and Scott Woodward took a giant eraser to a lot of the traditional support structures and personnel behind the scenes.
Brody Miller at The Athletic summed it up best:
He won a national title in 2003 and left for the NFL in 2004. But LSU leaned on the bones of Saban’s infrastructure for 22 years, using the same support staffers and policies. From Saban to Les Miles to Ed Orgeron, it never changed drastically.
And to be clear, it worked. Miles won a title in 2007 and went to another title game in 2011. Orgeron put together one of the most dominant championship seasons ever in 2019. But over those 22 years, that strong infrastructure had grown vulnerable. The culture had gone awry. Messages had gone stale. Weeds needed to be rooted out
In short, it was time. In one of the smartest yet dumbest things I have ever written on LSU football, I called the Orgeron hire a “half measure,” touching on this exact issue of a major institutional change.
This was a chance to do something bold, and instead we settled. This was a status quo hire right after the administration made a clear signal the status quo wasn’t good enough. If we were going to do this, why didn’t we spare ourselves the headache and just keep Les Miles? What’s the difference? This is an administration without a plan.
I don’t want to say that Coach O is a guaranteed failure. It’s more that I just don’t understand Alleva’s thinking at all. You can frame this however you want, and Pomansky has proved himself to be a master at PR, but this hire is about minor tweaks, not a major blowup. I felt that once you fired Miles, you were on the path of major blowup and it was time to see it through. Alleva clearly felt that it was just time for minor tweaks and a major messaging overhaul. This is a sequel, not a reboot.
On the one hand, I was right. On the other, I was right in the “other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” sort of way. Without Orgeron, there is no 2019 season, and none of us would trade that memory for anything.
So the final sequel was more Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade rather than Godfather III. The third installment turned out to be worth it, even if it ended in, well, the worst LSU season this century. In a way, that was also a good thing because now there was much less resistance to the reboot. We were ready.
Brian Kelly’s first months haven’t been seamless, but if your biggest scandal is bad dancing videos and a terrible fake accent…. well, you are doing okay. The real test begins now. No one cares about your process or the attitude change or different ways of doing things or anything if you don’t win.
And here we are on, the cusp of the season, and we know almost nothing about the team which is about to take the field.
Kelly hasn’t released an official depth chart, which seems more like an act of gamesmanship than anything else. Again, how this plays depends on how the team performs.
But he also isn’t just being coy. We don’t know our starting quarterback. The running back situation is up in the air. We have no idea how the receivers are going to shake out, but that is more one of those good problems as it seems we might have too many good players there. We don’t know the linebackers past Mike Jones and the secondary is still a question mark. Heck, we don’t even know our kicker and punter.
Sure, Kelly knows these things. Or at least has made a decision for one game, but there is still a lot of mystery surrounding this team going forward, answers we can’t possibly know until we start playing the games. About the only thing we do know is that the defensive line should be awesome. Because some things never change, right?
This isn’t just a new coat of paint on an old building. The roster has almost completely flipped. Do you know how many players in the unofficial two deep (thanks, Dandy Don) started 10+ games last season?
And none of them started all 13 games. The veteran trio are BJ Ojulari (13 GP/12 starts), Jay Ward (11/11), and Micah Baskerville (12/12). And Baskerville is no sure thing to start this season.
Heck, the average player on the LSU two deep started less than 3 games last season for the Tigers, and appeared in just over five. Of the 44 players in the two-deep, 18 of them did not play for the Tigers last season. Only four of those players are true freshman, two of whom will start (Will Campbell and Mason Taylor) and maybe a third (Harold Perkins).
OK, forget about starts. Who merely APPEARED in 10+ games in the purple and gold last year? 15. Of those, only five players appeared in all 13 games last year and now are listed in the unofficial two-deep: BJ Ojulari (12 starts), Jack Bech (seven starts), Jaray Jenkins (six starts), Mike Jones (five starts), and Jaquelin Roy (one start).
If you’ll note, the only two offensive players to play all 13 games last year and appear in the two deep are not listed as starters.
Change has cut through the LSU football program like a scythe. I have no idea what is going to happen this season. Neither do you or anyone else.
How could we? We’ve barely seen these players.
And while change is scary, know what can be great?
New beginnings. On Saturday, the LSU football program gets theirs. I am so excited to meet them.