College football and politics have long been inseparable in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Huey Long was a fanatical LSU Tiger backer and meddler. He was even known to suggest plays. I have no idea if they were any good but he was the Kingfish so the coaches had to listen.
The intersection between college football and politics continues in the 21st Century. One of the perks of Governor John Bel Edwards’ job is his friendship with Ed Orgeron. When it came time for the state to make a COVID-19 PSA, there was only one choice: Coach O.
My feelings about Coach O are well known. Putting his gravelly voice to use in this way is a masterstroke. He has credibility with the people who think this pandemic is a hoax cooked up by liberals. Will they listen to this Louisiana folk hero? Beats the hell outta me, but it couldn’t hurt. We need all the help we can get in this crisis.
As everyone else read from papers and spoke formally, Orgeron approached the lectern, firmly placed his hands on each side and took control like he was in his own football element. He looked confident. They provided him no script or guidance. He just took over.
“I’m here on behalf of the state of Louisiana,” Orgeron said. “I’m a guy who was born in Louisiana, loves Louisiana and is head coach of the national champion LSU Tigers.”
He told the crowd he just sat in on the briefing and said it was the most organized, most intense, most well-informed meeting he’d ever been in. “I can promise you this, the state of Louisiana is fortunate to have Governor Edwards be our leader,” he continued.
Orgeron urged young people to not be selfish and stay inside. He said there’s no need to be on the streets doing “all kinds of stuff.” He continuously spoke of following the game plan.
Then, after Edwards took questions from reporters for nearly 15 minutes, a question came specifically for Orgeron. Edwards ceded the floor to the coach. “Lots of people are afraid right now,” the reporter asked. “Why is fear not the appropriate response, and what would you tell folks who are afraid?”
“Have faith,” Orgeron said, his hands behind his back calmly. “Have faith in the game plan. We’re gonna get through this. There’s gonna be some rough times, but we can’t give in to it. Fear makes you give in to it. Have faith. Grow strong. Grow as a team. Lean on each other.”
The Athletic’s Brody Miller missed one detail. Coach O closed by saying this:
Yeah, you right, Coach.