The fall of LSU football

No. 22 Auburn rallies for 24-19 comeback win at LSU - Auburn University  Athletics

It was the first time in nearly nine months that I found myself zipping up a light jacket.

I was seven years old and brimming with excitement as I grabbed my favorite ball cap and leather-bound football.

My parents told me I would need some warmer clothes due to the weather, but I didn’t believe them until I was met with a scene out of a New England postcard when I rushed outside.

The leaves had begun to change colors a few weeks prior but were now carried to the earth by a gentle but crisp autumn breeze.

For the first time all year, the pumpkins and scarecrows that lined the sidewalks and decorated the yards of my neighborhood didn’t seem so anachronistic and out of place.

College football would be on television all day, and my dad and I were about to make the trek to Baton Rouge to watch the No. 19 Tigers and defending national champions play host to the mighty Vanderbilt Commodores.

Before we left, my dad promised me a few tosses of the football in our front yard.

Life was undeniably good then, and the many memories I have of family, football, and fall are a source of warmth on the coldest days.

This past Sunday, as I was in my pew waiting for mass to begin, my gaze was locked on one of the fall arrangements the church had used to decorate the altar. The weather that morning was a bit on the muggy side, and I had just arrived home to my hurricane-ravaged town after watching LSU lose in heart-breaking fashion to No. 22 Auburn the night before.

There was little to smile about, or so I thought, until those vibrant autumn leaves caught my eye.

As my mind began to race with the special memories of times long passed, I thought it humorous that so many people I speak with have a similar sense of nostalgia and fondness for the fall season.

Plants are in the process of shedding their leaves and flowers for a more rigid and lifeless winter form, and the animals around us begin to disappear to their places of hibernation or migrate to a more tropical climate to wait out the cold.

Why do we look at this season of dying so fondly?

Sure, there are the holidays and cooler weather that people enjoy. There’s also a plethora of sports available, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Maybe, we’re truly simple creatures and surface level comforts like weather, days off of work, and sports are the only superficial features we enjoy.

But, maybe buried deep in our subconscious, we have a respect for death that we don’t consciously understand. 

We know that the pleasures of the blooming plants and warmer weather characteristic of the spring and summer don’t last forever. Children know that the two month vacation they receive from school each year will eventually end no matter how endless that time off seems in May. Adults know that every Friday is simply one day closer to Monday no matter how exciting the weekend plans may be.

Everything ends, and nothing lasts forever.

Yet, maybe we realize that life follows death. That every fall and winter soon brings spring and summer. That on the most frigid days, warmer ones are on the horizon.

The LSU football team is going through a fairly painful fall, and the team’s next five games may feel like a brutally cold winter. This will, in all likelihood, be Ed Orgeron’s last season as the Tigers’ head coach, and we will watch another era of LSU football come to an unceremonious ending.

I could sit here and rattle off each disastrous assistant coach hire that Orgeron has made in his tenure here, or talk about his 8-7 record since the 2019 national championship season, or his inability to manage the clock.

I could have made this column all about his poor judgment off of the field and his role in LSU’s embarrassing Title IX scandal.

However, focusing on the nature dying around us makes fall noticeably less enjoyable. The “woe is me, glass half-empty, everything will die and nothing matters” mentality does not beget the same fond memories that we prefer to remember.

There will be plenty of other losses this year to discuss the poor coaching, non-existent running game, dropped passes, and missed tackles that the Tigers give an encore presentation of each weekend.

Instead, I’ll give myself one more week of enjoying the return of Tiger Stadium at night with a capacity crowd. I’ll focus on how this team is loaded with talent at every position and will continue to play in close games for the rest of the season in spite of the coaching.

I’ll look at that 2019 flag limply fluttering in the wind and think of the special season it honors, but those memories will quickly be followed with a rush of excitement at the thought of having LSU athletic director Scott Woodward picking the next football coach at the end of the season.

That coach will undoubtedly be qualified and inherit a seriously talented roster in 2022, and, hopefully, have this program live up to the LSU standard of performance again.

That’s where the focus will lie for the rest of the season because it’s always better to look forward rather than backwards, and our memories are best served by adding more fond ones to their company. Remembering the past is nice, but dwelling on it is unbecoming. Living in perpetual autumn is a bland and uncharming thought. 

There are better days around the corner, Tiger fans, even if the 2021 season is shaping up to be as cold as its predecessor. Bundle up and cling to the good times we shared in the past for now.

There will be a new football coach bringing spring and life back to this football program soon.

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