Party’s over, but don’t turn out the lights
So you really have to wonder when LSU’s NFL draft hangover kicks in.
It could be a doozie.
The Tigers had quite a wild, long weekend, for sure. You could almost call it the socially distanced bachelor party for the national champions, full of Geaux-Tigering and Calling Baton Rouge one more time with one last blowout before leaving the big-man-on-campus life behind and getting betrothed to the pro game, with all the grand paychecks that come with it.
And, oh brother, they pulled out all the stops.
Quarantined. Online. Zoom news conferences for all.
What a night. What a weekend.
Spared no expense figuratively, and, not to worry, they’ll soon be able to afford it.
They toasted long into the night, stretching through the weekend — drinks from Bengals and Jaguars, Vikings and Chiefs and Titans, Seahawks, Broncos and Cardinals and a whole lot of Browns.
No Saints, of course. But it didn’t seem to put much damper on the party.
When the tab finally came due, LSU’s 14 overall picks tied the record set by Ohio State in 2012.
Never mind that quarterback Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner, was the very first pick.
That was inevitable.
And it was no big surprise that five Tigers went in the first round, the most ever — sorry, Bama — by an SEC school. And that was with two guys, Grant Delpit and Kristian Fulton somehow slipping out of the first round.
Bragging rights? Where do you want to start?
No school anywhere had ever had a first-round quarterback, wide receiver (Justin Jefferson) and running back (Clyde Edwards-Helaire) go in the first round until LSU did it Thursday.
Five first-rounders were more than all but two whole conferences — and the Big Ten and Big 12 could only match LSU with five.
Shoot. The Tigers went 15-0 while playing against 17 of the 32 first-round picks — 22, if you count last year’s LSU spring intrasquad game.
But linebacker Patrick Queen, who should have been nabbed by the Saints, was still the life of the party. How perfect was it when ESPN’s online cameras snooped into his family’s living room — only to find a life-size cutout of Ed Orgeron standing paternal watch behind the couch?
But they were just getting warmed up.
By Friday five more joined the festivities, which tied the school record of 10 with a full day and four more rounds to go.
Saturday was almost anti-climatic. Most of the really good LSU stuff was taken.
But when they start drafting your deep-snapper specialist, you know you’re on to something. Maybe you suspect the party has jumped the rails.
Who knew deep snappers got drafted when there figures to be undrafted free agents who can look between their legs upside down?
But of course it would be a Tiger, Blake Ferguson, since LSU is about the only school that gives scholarships for the art.
Ferguson was also the 13th Tiger drafted, setting another — bye-bye, Bama — SEC record for overall picks in one draft.
Record-tying No. 14 came just before the end with tight end Stephen Sullivan, who wasn’t even a starter.
That’s a decade worth of bragging rights, the perfect chest-thumping topping on the national championship.
At some point, however, you wake up from the ruckus, the fans do at least. You start looking around and surveying the post-party debris in the football ops building.
Maybe the realization hits.
The remaining depth chart, too, looks like the morning after.
Plop plop, fizz fizz.
You do realize that all those guys are going to have to be replaced, right?
It’s a sobering thought indeed.
But Coach O spent his first three years unabashedly chasing Nick Saban’s Alabama elephant in the room.
This year he did it. He beat the Tide in Tuscaloosa, kept Bama out of the playoffs, got the trophy to wave at the Tide.
That may have been the easy part.
Now he’s got to keep following the Saban model.
Part of that famed Saban “process” is to yawn and reload after the NFL almost picks you clean.
So it can be done.
And LSU has been all over the NFL draft for most of this century, so it’s not totally uncharted territory.
But it’s worth noting that last year’s three draft picks for the Tigers were the fewest for since the spring of 2005.
Maybe we should have seen 15-0 coming.
Orgeron, speaking on one of those Zoom news conferences earlier in the week, looked on the bright side, even as he was anticipating an LSU-centric draft.
“It means a lot in recruiting,” he said The reason you come to school at LSU is to win the national championship, to graduate and you want to get drafted.
“Now, it’s not like we’re presenting a plan to the parents … this is what we’re going to do. This is the results that are going to happen if we put in the right amount of work.
“I think it adds validity to your program. I think it enables you to recruit across the country. We’re a national brand right now. We want to stay in the state of Louisiana with our great players, and we want to continue to win championships.”
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at email@example.com