For the whole weekend prior to last Monday’s National Championship Game, the city of New Orleans was lit up purple and gold. And no, it wasn’t because of Mardi Gras season, it was because the LSU Tigers had the chance to experience the perfect end to the perfect season in the perfect location.
Most teams who win the College Football National Championship can’t say that they did so in their own state much less their own back yard. But LSU did so, and in impressive fashion, knocking off a tough and scrappy Clemson bunch, 42-25.
Congrats to LSU, but I just can’t see the Tigers repeating next year. I believe LSU is losing a significant amount from this year’s team which, I will say, is the best team in college football history.
Gone are a number of key contributors like quarterback Joe Burrow — who in my opinion will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Burrow will have the chance to go home to southern Ohio and play for the Cincinnati Bengals, barring some change in heart or someone makes Cincinnati a monster offer to move up to the No. 1 spot.
Also gone are a number of key players like fellow seniors in cornerback Kristian Fulton, defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence, linebacker Michael Divinity and offensive lineman Adrian Magee, who grew up in nearby Franklinton, La.
In addition, several underclassmen have also announced their intentions to forgo their senior seasons and enter the draft. A few key players from that group include running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, wide receiver Justin Jefferson, tight end Thaddeus Moss, linebackers Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips, edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson and safety Grant Delpit.
Those are just a handful of names representing those groups. Now things could change between now and the draft in April but if the list of underclassmen doesn’t change, then LSU will have some work to do in replacing those players.
And doing so will be harder for head coach Ed Orgeron, as he will now have to replace two coaches as well. Offensive assistant Joe Brady accepted a job as the offensive coordinator for new Carolina head coach Matt Rhule, who left Baylor to lead the Panthers.
Speaking of Baylor, the Bears have already filled that position by scooping up LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Losing both of these coordinators now leaves a huge void in the Tigers’ coaching staff.
Next season should be interesting for the Tigers, who now face a multitude of questions: How will Myles Brennan perform now that he has re-gained the starting quarterback role? Who will step up to replace Edwards-Helaire at running back? And, how can that defense repeat its performance from last year without a coordinator like Aranda and several key pieces?
Expect another strong signing class with National Signing Day quickly approaching on Feb. 5th. And of course, winning the national title will certainly help LSU’s chances of landing some 5-star and 4-star players.
The Tigers now have the target on their backs and it will be interesting to see the level of competition they will face in 2020 — especially here in Mississippi, where they will compete against teams with new coaches and new attitudes.