By: Stephen Waguespack
Damn, that was impressive.
LSU just capped the most historic, undefeated season in college football history with a national championship title won in dominant fashion. Numerous individual and team records were broken in the process and countless heart-tugging stories were told along the way about the special group of men that made up that team.
The expertly produced and distributed hype videos by LSU kept fans fired up while the genuine nature of the characters in that locker room kept us all grounded enough to acknowledge one key fact: that team was everything that is right about Louisiana.
Think about it…on our best days, Louisiana is the most special place in the country. Our culture and history are unlike any other and we embody it in all that we do. We respect our fellow man, our traditions and our mommas. More people who grow up here end up staying here compared to any other state because our land and community is as much a part of us as is our flesh and bone. We are often underestimated but, just as often, we rise to the occasion time and time again. We believe in each other much more than the rest of the country believes in what we can accomplish. We relish in that underdog role and wear like a badge of freakin’ honor. Sure, other states mock us from time to time, but we know deep down in a place they don’t want to acknowledge, they desperately wish they had the same joie de vivre in their ho-hum existence that we have every day. We are the butt of the jokes and the coolest kid in the class at the exact same time, a perfectly balanced combination of mixed messages that only we can pull off.
As great as that history is, it is also a good time to take note of the unique, non-Louisiana features that made this LSU team so special. Joe Burrow is a midwestern kid who brought a midwestern toughness and a relentlessly hard-working attitude to our team that brought out the best in everyone else around him. Our own native son from the bayous, the immortal Coach O, brought in new ideas and new coaches from other programs to completely transform the way we have always done things ‘round here. LSU legend Steve “Slinger” Ensminger put aside all pride and fully embraced the outside the box ideas of wonderkid Joe Brady, an infusion of a radically different approach to offense that will now define this program for years to come. The new LSU looks in many ways nothing like the old LSU. But I don’t see anyone complaining one bit.
The big lesson is new ideas that were long resisted made us better than we ever could have imagined. This team embraced and embodied all that is beautiful about the traditional Louisiana way of doing things while also being the boldest team we have ever seen — embracing new ideas to step out of our comfort zones and challenge our old way of thinking. It took both to be the best in college football history.
Louisiana’s elected officials that are about to begin a new term in the State Capitol should take copious notes of how LSU did it.
The same old way of doing things in the Capitol won’t change a thing. We cannot keep legislatively running the ball up the middle in terms of policy and relying on our tired defense of a fun culture to bail us out again. That game is over, and other states have figured out our game plan.
We must be bolder than ever before to reach our potential. We can no longer play it safe. Other states don’t beat us time and time again for jobs and investment with big government, a complicated tax code and a hostile legal system. They beat us by attracting the best recruits in the nation every year with good schools, reliable infrastructure, a fair playing field and a vibrant, diverse offense/economy that recruits want to play in.
What if we made it our relentless mission to change just like Coach O boldly did? What if we decided to take the field against these states with a tax code like Texas, infrastructure like Florida, schools like North Carolina and a legal system like ANY OTHER STATE IN THE COUNTRY. Just think how many recruits/kids we could get to move here with those plays in our playbook. Just imagine how many points/jobs we could score.
This year’s LSU football team taught us so many lessons we should take the time to learn. They were a family first, team second. They worked relentlessly hard. They had an awesome mix of confidence and humility in all they did. They had the heart and character of Louisiana and most importantly, they dared to embrace bold new ingredients from other states we have long needed to awaken that sleeping tiger.
LSU got better with a completely new approach that blended perfectly with our traditional strengths to create a new and improved culture. Now, for this team, the sky is the limit. The only way Louisiana will improve as a state is for our elected leaders to have the courage to do the exact same thing.
One team, one heartbeat. One state, one heartbeat. Let’s get to work. Geaux Louisiana. Cue the hype video…