The 2019 football season was one for the ages. We all watched our beloved Tigers plow through every opponent – even those who had tripped up the Tigers in years past. As the players and coaches were interviewed after every game, we heard this team of destiny articulate their motivation.
Their motivation was not playing for themselves or for a higher position in the draft. Their motivation was not just their teammates or even LSU itself. As the Tigers coaches and players were interviewed week after week, they each said some form of the same thing in every interview. These LSU Tigers dedicated this season to the whole state of Louisiana. They played with a mission to encourage us and let others know there was something special about being a part of the Louisiana heritage.
There is lots for us to learn from these Bayou Bengals. If we just listen, this team is teaching us how this state can reach its potential.
The LSU Tigers teach us to be confident but not arrogant. Listening to sports announcers who spent time with this team every week, they spoke about the confidence of the coaches and players. There was no intractable problem that could not be solved. Regardless of what it was, this team felt it could overcome any adversity. The Tigers believed in themselves and each other.
The LSU Tigers also teach us the importance of preparation. The wide receivers who broke all the records talked about grueling voluntary workouts that they imposed on themselves. Joe Burrow showed us what can happen if we think it all through first and combine the preparation with a readiness to change when indicated.
What if we truly believed in ourselves and each other? What if we learned from the Tigers and combined preparation and readiness to change in dealing with important public policy issues at the local and state level?
The LSU Tigers teach us what amazing things happen when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. Coach Orgeron, Coach Ensminger and Coach Brady each had a part in the transformation of LSU’s offense. Who was primarily responsible depended on who you were talking to. If you asked Coach Orgeron, it was Coach Ensminger and Coach Brady. If you talked to Coach Ensminger, it was Coach Orgeron or Coach Brady. If you talked to Coach Brady, it was Coach Payton, Coach Orgeron or Coach Ensminger. If pressed hard to take credit, each would point to the players.
The LSU Tigers also teach us that team success is linked closely with individual success. The offensive line was not often mentioned but eventually everyone recognized their efforts as they won the award for the best offensive line in college football this year. This offensive line gave it their all every play to give time for those spectacular pass and run plays.
What if each one of us give some thought to how we contribute to making Louisiana a better place to live and work? What if decisions about the future of our state were made solely on the merits and it didn’t matter who got the credit?
The LSU Tigers teach us that transformation requires putting everything on the table and trying a brand new approach. Joe Burrow talked about the shock of receiving his 2019 playbook and going through 20+ plays before finding one he recognized.
The LSU Tigers teach us to play every play like we have something to prove. In the middle of the season, the LSU defense gained many critics. All the experts were so worried about this perceived weakness. The response was a unit that fought the fight every single play. Look what happened to the high-powered offenses faced by LSU in the playoffs.
And the LSU Tigers also teach us to block out the noise. Plenty of very flattering things were said by many people that could lead to overconfidence. And plenty of very cutting remarks were made by lots of people that could shatter confidence.
What if we realize the same thing the Tigers realized – that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is absurd? Are the Tigers teaching us that taking chances is required for transformational change? What if the state leadership blocked out the noise and concentrated on growing jobs and the people to fill those jobs right here in Louisiana?
The election of the governor and legislature is over and the important 2020 legislative session is before us. The LSU Tigers dedicated this football season to the whole state of Louisiana. Along the way, they also taught us some very important lessons – lessons learned that could help this state blessed with amazing natural resources reach its great potential.
Will we believe in ourselves? Will we combine preparation with readiness to change? Will we work to accomplish great things without regard to who gets the credit? Will team success be more important than individual success? Will we block out the noise and focus on the important? Will we focus on transformation?
There is wisdom in the Irish Proverb that reads “You will never plow a field by turning it over in your mind”. Transforming our state will take work – work done by people who hold themselves responsible for results. Are we up to making our LSU Tigers as proud of us as we are of them?
Dr. Phillip Rozeman is former chairman of Blueprint Louisiana and the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and a current board member of the Committee of 100, CABL, PAR, and LABI.