LSU tough guys show why bowl games still have meaning


ORLANDO, Fla. — There is a line of thinking that many postseason bowl games have lost their appeal in the College Football Playoff era. Some observers might even say many of those games have become meaningless. For those pundits, LSU seniors Christian LaCouture and J.D. Moore are about to set the record straight.

The first Tigers teammates to wear the coveted No. 18 jersey in the same season, LaCouture and Moore are two of the toughest guys in the entire SEC. But LSU’s 21-17 loss to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl rocked them emotionally, reducing them to tears in the aftermath of their final collegiate game.

So for those observers who contend bowl games have become devoid of meaning, maybe you haven’t been watching closely enough.

Moore was in the initial wave of players to exit the field at Camping World Stadium on Monday, but it wasn’t to duck into the locker room and warm up on an unseasonably cold day in central Florida. He stood in the tunnel greeting teammates as they made their way in.

The finality of it all seemed to set in after almost everyone had passed. Moore shuddered, before tight end Foster Moreau enveloped him in a bear hug of consolation.

“A lot of memories are kind of flooding back,” Moore said of that moment. “[It’s] a different experience from last year on the same field, not putting on the champion hat. It’s bittersweet. It’s tough.”

LaCouture had his No. 18 jersey draped over his shoulder as he gave his final postgame interview as a Tiger. Hours earlier it had been spotless and white. But as he spoke, it was dotted with paint stains from the playing field.

“I’m not going to dry clean it. I’m going to keep it just like it is,” he said. “The blood, sweat that goes through it, you want to keep that stuff.”

LaCouture comported himself to speak with media, but his puffy red eyes betrayed him. This wasn’t how he envisioned going out at LSU, and the emotions were understandably overwhelming.

“I’m trying to keep my composure, because this is tough,” he said. “This team, for me personally, whenever I was down and something happened to me, those guys in there were always there for me. When someone on your team is down, they’re really there for you. They support you and really try to make you feel better.”

LaCouture would know.

His 2016 season was a nightmare. In one week, he tore his ACL and saw his family’s home severely damaged by the cataclysmic flood that put Baton Rouge and vicinity underwater. But he got through it, in part, because his teammates were there for him, and that played a factor in his decision to return to LSU for a fifth year of eligibility this season.

Most of Moore’s career was spent as a battering ram opening holes for Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. Earlier this season, attrition forced LaCouture to play every snap at defensive end against Syracuse — all 82 of them. That’s as close as you’ll get to the old two-way iron men in the modern age of football.

Despite their obvious physical toughness, neither of them could hold back the tears after losing to the Fighting Irish. That’s how much it meant to them. In the playoff age, it might be easy to call all the other bowl games meaningless. But that would be way off the mark, according to the men who wore No. 18 this season.

“It’s disrespectful,” LaCouture said.

“At the end of the day, what you do throughout the season, you get rewarded for. A bowl game, especially the magnitude of this, you want to win because it’s a great team you’re going against.

“It just sucks. It really eats at you. … Everything just hurts right now. It sucks, knowing I’m not going to be in that tunnel again. Everybody takes things for granted, until it really hits you.”

The post LSU tough guys show why bowl games still have meaning appeared first on SEC Country.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Football Outsiders: Falcons’ last series in Philly really was awful
Football Outsiders: Falcons’ last series in Philly really was awful
Anyone who frequents this space occasionally – and bless you for so doing – knows that I’m a major fan of Football Outsiders. At the risk of spoiling the ending, here’s what Football Outsiders’ Scott Kacsmar thought of the Atlanta Falcons’ goal-to-go series against Philadelphia:  Not much.  Kacsmar...
Falcons to interview Fisch as QB coach
Falcons to interview Fisch as QB coach

Jedd Fisch will interview for the job as Falcons quarterbacks coach Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the situation. The team is expected to interview several people for the vacant position this week. Fisch last served as offensive coordinator/quarterback coach for UCLA. He also served as interim head coach after Jim Mora was fired, and...
Now, can Bulldogs, Falcons keep pace with escalating expectation?
Now, can Bulldogs, Falcons keep pace with escalating expectation?
It was Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy who first proclaimed the new order of things around here – at least the first I heard it spoken aloud. In the bitter aftermath of Georgia’s overtime college football championship loss to Alabama, just minutes after the diverse freshman connection of Tagovailoa to Smith lifted the Tide to another glorious...
Rookie road finally leads to playing time for Hawks’ Tyler Dorsey
Rookie road finally leads to playing time for Hawks’ Tyler Dorsey

Tyler Dorsey went from being a star for Oregon during its run to the NCAA Final Four to a spot on the end of the Hawks bench with a frequent-flyer card to Erie, Pa. Welcome to the NBA, rook. As has been the Hawks’ way under coach Mike Budenholzer, most rookies have been brought along slowly, with time to learn the NBA game and develop trust....
Notre Dame basketball: Relive the Irish’s 5 OT thriller against Louisville five years later
Notre Dame basketball: Relive the Irish’s 5 OT thriller against Louisville five years later

Call it the luck of the Irish. Tuesday night, when Louisville visits Notre Dame, the Irish will seek their seventh consecutive home win over their conference rival, a streak that dates back to 1994. That streak has contained several memorable matchups, but by far the most magical came in 2013, when Notre Dame defeated Louisville ...
More Stories