Dear LSU fans,
I write this letter to you because it has recently once again come to my attention that many of you are still having trouble getting over losing Nick Saban and subsequently – two years after he left you – seeing him go to Alabama.
The five stages of grief are 1) denial, 2) anger, 3) bargaining, 4) depression and 5) acceptance. It's a process. It's time to move past the anger stage and get on with your life with Les Miles. What I'm seeing from many of you is still a lot of toxic anger towards Saban.
Last night at the sold-out New Orleans Hornets game many of you among the 18,021 in attendance booed loudly when the public address announcer noted the presence of the Alabama and Utah football teams and asked you to welcome them. Then you began chanting "LSU! LSU! LSU!"
As patrons were leaving the game and the Alabama team bus drove past those exiting New Orleans Arena on foot, several of you turned to give the players the middle-finger salute. One of you who was walking just in front of me was so enthralled in saluting the Tide that you stepped on a crack in the sidewalk and stumbled nearly all the way to the ground. That stumble after seeing Alabama seemed to this outsider like a microcosm of your season.
On November 7th of this year, the day before Alabama beat your team 27-21 in overtime, many of you burned Nick Saban in effigy in Baton Rouge. Many of you also followed his bus so you could jeer him at every opportunity while he was in Baton Rouge. Then, the next day, your student section chanted "F---- You, Saban!" after John Parker Wilson threw to Julio Jones on Bama's first offensive play of overtime to set up the winning quarterback sneak for touchdown. One of you bragged to me about how LSU fans had been prank-calling Saban and then gave me Saban's phone number as proof.
Last year, some of the more fortunate of you rented a billboard to taunt Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide for its embarrassing loss to Louisiana-Monroe. I saw the sign while driving from Alabama to Shreveport for the Independence Bowl, and I thought it was amusing. But I worried about you even then.
Before that, I saw personally where some of you who were in Tuscaloosa with a traveling youth baseball team had placed an LSU bumper sticker on Saban's car while it sat in the University of Alabama football complex parking lot.
Alabama fans felt a similar sting when Dennis Franchione left the Crimson Tide for Texas A&M. And though anger or bitterness about Franchione might not have been the sole reason, it probably contributed to many Bama people's overlooking some fundamental deficiencies in the program that have only recently begun to turn around.
What concerns me is that many of you are still palpably angry even four years after Saban left you for the NFL. Saban announced his departure from LSU on Christmas day of 2004. It's been two years since he took over at Alabama.
Since then, Saban has been nothing but diplomatic towards you and his time at LSU. At his introductory press conference at Alabama, when the moderator had called for the final question, Terry Saban spoke up and reminded Nick to extend an olive branch towards you which he promptly did. He has done so repeatedly, up to and including this past Saturday when he was asked if Alabama was "the perfect fit" for him. He responded by basically saying that college football was the perfect fit for him and that Alabama was the job that was open. He did that for you, and he even miffed some Alabama fans in the process.
At some point you must move past the anger with Saban and move on in your affairs with Les Miles. You have a fine program. Miles reportedly have hired John Chavis from Tennessee and, according to the sources of a New Orleans TV station, will hire Ed Orgeron, an excellent recruiter.
I must say, though, not all of you are angry. One of you I talked to earlier this week had released Saban from any hard feelings. He admitted that a lot of you were still bitter simply because Saban went to Alabama of all places. But he had come to accept the perceived slight and was looking forward, not back. Irrespective of the merit of your dislike for Saban, to accept what happened and move on will leave you happier in the long run. I look forward to all of you returning to your more good-natured, less vicious dislike of Alabama.
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