Saturday Was An Era-Defining Game For The LSU Tigers
As LSU and Arkansas took the field on Saturday night in Fayetteville, what was once expected to be a matchup with potential championship implications felt meaningless in some regards. Both of these teams were supposed to contend for the SEC West title and have a say in the College Football Playoff picture, but as the teams met, both were sitting at disappointing spots in the rankings.
But despite that, Saturday’s game was still a heavily anticipated, primetime game. The Arkansas-LSU rivalry is one of the more notable in college football, as the two teams battle for the Golden Boot every year. On top of that, both head coaches are likely coaching for their jobs, so there were several intriguing storylines, even though neither of the teams have a chance to play for any sort of championship.
Lost in all of the hype surrounding the rivalry and the job status of the two coaches was the longterm importance of this game for the LSU Tigers. Obviously, these last few games will have a big say in whether or not the team retains Ed Orgeron or brings in an outside hire, but the significance of the LSU win goes far beyond that.
For years under Les Miles, we saw what became known as the “Alabama Hangover.” Our team was always in the thick of things in both the conference and national standings, and so were the Alabama Crimson Tide every time the teams got together for their annual meeting. The game came to be known as “the SEC West Championship,” as the winner typically made their way to Atlanta for the conference championship.
But over the last few seasons, the Tigers have been on the wrong end of the scoreboard. LSU went into the Alabama game every year with titles on their mind, and left with heartbreak and hopelessness.
After their loss to Nick Saban and the Tide, Les Miles’ teams seemed to pack it up and just go through the motions the rest of the way. No passion, no fire, and no effort down the stretch of the season.
Last week, I wrote on the opportunity interim head coach Ed Orgeron had to do what Miles never could and end the Alabama Hangover once and for all. Many thought that if Coach O could come back from the loss and lead the team to wins in their remaining games, he would still be the likely choice for the LSU head coaching job. While that is true, and Orgeron has set himself up quite nicely to win the gig, the implications of what he has done and is doing extend beyond his job status.
The LSU Tigers desperatly needed a culture change. Les Miles was fired for a lot of reasons, but in my mind that is the biggest. The program had become stagnant under his watch, and it was time to make a change and completely alter the culture and atmosphere around the team.
Ed Orgeron appeared to be doing that before the Alabama game, as the team played as hard as we’ve seen in awhile in his first three games. A lot of people questioned whether that change had actually been made after the shutout loss to the Crimson Tide, but on Saturday night, that thought was put to bed. Not only did LSU avoid the Alabama Hangover and win the game against Arkansas, but they absolutely dismantled the Razorbacks. There are still games to be played, but it is becoming increasingly clear that this program has undergone a culture shift. Saturday’s blowout win signified the official end of the previous era, and now it’s time to move forward and rebuild the Tigers into a consistently dominate contender.
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