On Tuesday night, Louisiana head football coach Mark Hudspeth announced indefinite suspensions for thirteen members of the football team, all arrested and charged with criminally conspiracy to commit felony theft. Among the would-be cast members of the next Ocean’s heist movie are eight potential starters, including Freshman All-American defensive lineman Joe Dillon, who lead the Cajun defense with 6 sacks and 11.5 TFLs.
What the heck is going in in Lafayette?
In November of last year, Hudspeth and athletic director Scott Farmer were compelled to apologize for the team when a raunchy, profanity laced video directed at then President Elect Donald Trump surfaced on the internet. Earlier this year, the team dismissed defensive back Artez Williams for “violations of team rules.” Turns out, Artez is connected to a second-degree rape charge that happened on campus.
When asked about the team’s culture after the
overblown Trump Scandal, Mark Hudspeth said “We have a lot of very high-character young men,” and cited the team’s charitable activities and the program’s relatively crime-free nature since Hudspeth took the helm in 2011. A goofy video taken by excitable 19-year-olds after a big win agains Georgia Southern can be overlooked. But when a whopping thirteen Cajun football players raid a dorm room and steals $2,400 worth of loot, well that borders on organized crime.
The damage to the program’s reputation will be painful and lingering. What it does to the roster is damn near catastrophic. In addition to Dillon, who was shaping to be the Sun Belt’s most promising defender, Hudspeth loses two candidates to replace NFL-bound Elijah McGuire – sophomore running backs Trey Ragas and Jordan Wright. Hudspeth also sacrifices starting senior defensive back Simeon Thomas, who chipped in 40 total tackles in 2016, and senior defensive back Denarius Howard, who totaled 32 tackles and and an INT last season.
Hudspeth arrived to Lafayette in 2011 after a stint as WR coach at Mississippi State. His muscular frame and “Don’t Let Go of the Rope” mantra made an immediate impact on a team who had endured a 3-9 season in 2010. Last year, the Ragin Cajuns finished the season 6-7 after a hard-fought loss to Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl. It was Hudspeth’s second losing season in a row after having executed four consecutive winning campaigns, all ending with New Orleans Bowl wins. Losing is not sitting well in Lafayette, and now the rot appears to be settling in.