For many Louisiana football fans, last season could have hardly brought more in high hopes and hurtful endings. LSU, going into the national championship game against Alabama, was being talked about as one of the greatest teams ever. “Greatest ever” teams, however, always cross the goal line. A state was stunned as the Tigers were shut out.
Then there were the Saints, who rallied against the 49ers in the playoffs and seemed headed to the conference championship game, only to let the 49ers have the last rally as time ran out. Back home the mood was as murky as the fog on San Francisco Bay.
There was one happy ending, though. It came in the New Orleans Bowl, and it was a thriller. With time running out, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s kicker, Brett Baer, launched a 50-yard field goal that gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 32-30 upset win over San Diego State. All that the Aztecs could take back with them was a character-building experience, though a trophy would have been more appreciated.
Now a new season begins. The Saints had a brutal off-season filled with scandals, accusations, fines and suspensions, yet they remain as a contender for the Super Bowl, which will be played in New Orleans.
Graduations do a lot to soothe wounds at the college level, especially if it is the other teams that have a lot of them. The Tigers remain remarkably in-tact with the most noticeable change being where it has been hoped for the most: at quarterback.
For the other colleges, there is no more hopeful time than in September. Once again, Louisiana Saturdays will be filled with the echo of fight songs, the grilled fragrances of tailgating and the recollections of seasons past.
For many college seniors, or final-year professionals, this will be their last season seen from the huddle looking out.
As described by the radio announcers’ voices that have reverberated in their minds all their lives, maybe this will be the year of that end-of-the-game moment of glory. That would be the biggest win of all.