Victory for LSU!
Ruminations & Repercussions of the Tigers’ National Championship Victory
Congratulations, LSU Tigers! You are college football’s national champions. It was a magical season that fans will talk about for generations. This squad – that seemingly came out of nowhere – is being called the greatest college football team of all time, and it’s easy to understand why. The Tigers went 15-0, with seven wins – many lopsided – against Top 10 teams, including a 42-25 win over No. 3-ranked Clemson. The team featured multiple national award winners, including Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award winner Ed Orgeron; Broyles Award winner (best assistant coach) Joe Brady, Heisman (top player in college football), Maxwell (player of the year), Davey O’Brien (Best Quarterback) award winner Joe Burrow; Biletnikoff Award winner (best receiver) Ja’Marr Chase; and Jim Thorpe Award winner (best defensive back) Grant Delpit; and the Joe Moore Award (best offensive line). That’s a lot of hardware for the trophy case.
Today, the Tigers will be special guests at the White House, and tomorrow they will ride in a victory parade in Baton Rouge.
It’s been a great season for the Tigers, but within 24-hours of lifting the trophy, the business that is football reared its head and cast a shadow on the celebration. Like vultures circling, professional and college teams began looking at the Tigers to see if they could pick off a piece of LSU’s magic and transfer it to their organizations.
Brady, who is credited with transforming LSU’s offense, was the first to announce he was pursuing a new position. He is headed to the New Orleans Saints NFC South Division rival Carolina Panthers. His schemes helped the Tigers become the best offense in college football. They finished as the top team in average points per game (48.4), touchdowns per game (4.1), pass completion percentage (75.1), and total offense (568.8 yards).
Baylor plucked defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to become their next head coach. While the Tigers didn’t top any defensive categories this year, LSU has been known for its defense. I’m honestly surprised Aranda was mentioned more often this year as a head coaching nominee as teams looked to improve themselves. I thought, surely, an SEC team would do their due diligence by looking at him. Maybe there were some behind the scenes discussions or maybe he didn’t want to stay in the same conference, but I thought he would have had more interest from teams like Ole Miss, Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi State.
Winning teams lose coaches. It’s part of the game, a fact of life. But LSU will be hard pressed to replace these key components of their coaching staff.
As if losing two of the most important members of his staff wasn’t enough, the team is losing a whole lot of talent to the professional ranks.
After having a transformational season, Burrow is anticipated to be the top overall pick in the coming 2020 NFL Draft. As a junior, the quarterback threw for 15 touchdowns. As a senior, he had 60. His leadership and swagger guided the Tigers all season. Even in the chaos that is football, Burrow made the game look easy. There is no doubt in my mind that he will soon have a statue outside of Tiger Stadium to honor his accomplishments.
In addition to Burrow, the team will lose senior cornerback Kristian Fulton, defensive end Rashard Lawrence, outside linebacker Michael Divinity, offensive guards Adrian Magee and Damien Lewis and long snapper Blake Ferguson.
Those were expected departures, but there are many more. Junior wide receiver Justin Jefferson, safety Grant Delpit, linebacker Patrick Queen, center Lloyd Cushenberry, left tackle Saahdiq Charles, and linebacker Jacob Phillips have all announced they are leaving to chase their professional football dreams.
That’s a ton of talent to replace. LSU has had several years of fantastic recruiting classes, and this national championship win will further help Orgeron draw talent to Tiger Town, but it begs the question as to whether LSU will be able to maintain its position in the SEC, much less the national championship race.
LSU’s win Monday night was euphoric for Tiger fans, but celebrations by one of their most highly recognized alumni has cast a pall on the party.
Odell Beckham, Jr., made a fool of himself in the aftermath of the game – not once, not twice, but thrice – that is impacting LSU, his professional team – the Cleveland Browns, and himself.
Granted a sideline pass to watch the game, Beckham climbed into the stands and tried to make his way to the drum major’s stand in an attempt to lead the band immediately after the win. Escorted out of the student section by a Louisiana State Trooper, he was next seen on the field, reaching into his pocket, pulling out a wad of cash, and peeling off bills and giving them to Tiger players. That’s a violation of NCAA rules and could get the program in trouble. If that weren’t enough, he spanked a Superdome police officer, who was trying to get some players to extinguish their victory cigars in the locker room. He now has an arrest warrant out for his arrest for battery on a police officer.
Beckham has amazing talent. He made what is, arguably, the best catch in NFL history when he made a one-handed grab as a New York Giant in a nationally-televised Sunday night game against the Dallas Cowboys. But his antics – both on and off the field – got him shipped to the Cleveland Browns before the 2019 season after the Giants had had enough.
Now many national pundits are saying the Tigers and Browns should distance themselves from the troubled player.
While it’s always great to see former players support their alma maters, Beckham’s behavior was selfish, pure and simple. The stage belonged to LSU, but he tried to steal the spotlight for himself.
While there has been worse behavior from professional players, he, unfortunately, has developed a track record of antics that reflect on him and impact his teams negatively. That’s a shame.
Hopefully someone in his orbit can counsel him to let his play speak for itself. He can be colorful. He can show his unique personality. But there comes a point when team management has had enough. One team has already decided he wasn’t worth the headaches he caused. If another makes the same decision, he might find himself ostracized from the league – at worst – or – at best – find teams won’t offer him premium contracts for fear they’ll need to make a quick separation should his actions be an embarrassment.
C’mon Odell. You’re too talented to have this reputation. Don’t limit your potential with stupid actions. If you want to impress people, make Cleveland a winner. Do that, and you’ll get all the attention you want.