In his first year on campus, LSU wide receiver Jack Bech emerged as a key player for the Tigers. Photo by Kourtney Carroll / Courtesy LSU Athletics.

LSU football season is just kicking off–here’s what to look forward to

There really is no place quite like Louisiana.

Its culture is a unique blend of French, Spanish, African and other global influences, put on full display through extravagant festivals, diverse music and historic architecture. Its food is an even crazier blend of flavors that make for some divine dishes you simply can’t find in most other states.

But its people might be the most dynamic of it all—loud, proud and passionate, particularly when it comes to their sports teams.

So it makes sense that the majority of the state was overly excited when Larose native Ed Orgeron was tasked with taking over the LSU football team back in 2016. He was Louisiana, through and through. He didn’t just live the culture; he embodied it. He was “one of us.” 

But after a rollercoaster ride through the Orgeron era, which saw everything from titles and trophies to accusations and allegations, the state’s flagship university finds itself heading in a new direction under new leadership and with a new, non-Cajun coach at the helm. And the first roster he’ll inherit is loaded with Louisiana talent, headlined in part by a star-studded 2021 recruiting class that ranked as the third best unit in the country.

To some Tiger fans, Brian Kelly’s lack of experience coaching in the SEC was slightly worrisome. In fact, the furthest south he had ever coached was the University of Cincinnati—more than 13 hours and 800 miles away from Tiger Stadium. 

At his introductory press conference, Kelly addressed this concern head-on.

“This is my first day in Louisiana. I didn’t know what this,” he said, making an L-shape with thumb and forefinger, “meant until today.” 

People inevitably had questions.

How would a man from Everett, Massachusetts, connect with kids from Acadiana, New Orleans and Monroe? Would he be able to recruit against Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher and the other powerhouses of the conference? Can he rub elbows with big boosters and Louisiana politicians to win their support and backing? 

Those answers will come with time. But one thing Kelly has made clear early on in his Tiger tenure—he’s not dipping his toe into the water. He’s diving headfirst into the bayou. 

“Our family, we’re going to immerse ourselves into the culture of Louisiana,” Kelly said. “We’re not here to change anything. We’re here to get changed by it, and that’s going to be fun. It will be an experience that we’re looking forward to.”

Keep reading the full article from our sister magazine, 225, here.