National championship 2020: LSU's win shows program has staying power among college football elite

NEW ORLEANS -- Step aside, Clemson. Take a step back, Alabama. There's a new power ascending, and it's draped in purple and gold. No. 1 LSU's 42-25 dismantling of No. 3 Clemson in Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship was more than the culmination of a perfect season and a storybook ending to one of the best tales in recent college football history. 

It was confirmation that LSU isn't just the "2019 national champion," it's a budding superpower that cemented its foundation throughout a 15-win campaign and topped it off in grand style. Louisiana style.

Quarterback Joe Burrow won't be around next season, but don't be tricked into thinking that this LSU team will regress back to being second-fiddle to Alabama in the SEC West. Passing game coordinator Joe Brady was just locked up to a three-year extension that will keep him at LSU, unless he chooses to jump to the NFL. If he does, no worries. Coach Ed Orgeron swallowed his pride this offseason, recognized that defense doesn't win championships and constructed college football's most lethal offense complete with some of its most talented players.

LSU finished with 729 points on the season -- an FBS single-season record. It finished with the highest scoring average in the nation at 48.6 points per game and is the first SEC team to lead the nation in scoring since Florida in 1996 with 46.6. 

You think Orgeron will change now? Nope. Not after this ride. He already committed to a 180-degree philosophical change, and it paid off with a ring. He did so by becoming a trend-setter in modern football rather than a follower. He has proven that he's a top-tier coach with staying power atop the college football world.

A hidden storyline in this season, though, was LSU's defensive improvement ever since Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee ran for 212 yards and four touchdowns against the Tigers on Oct. 16. It's been lights out over the last few months, including Monday night when LSU held Clemson's vaunted offense to just 394 total yards and 1 of 11 on third down.

Stats and scheme are nice, but the true sign of a program of staying power is if it has the proper personality to fit its personnel. At Alabama, it's all about "The Process." At Clemson, it's more the the Dabo Swinney laid-back culture. At LSU, it's uniquely cajun. Uniquely Orgeron.

The most important piece of this program building puzzle is "pride." Orgeron is from Larose, Louisiana, a small town south of New Orleans near the Gulf of Mexico. Athletic director Scott Woodward is a native of Baton Rouge and an LSU graduate. Fifty-eight players on the 2019 roster are homegrown. Orgeron harnessed the pride that people in this state have and maximized talent that was previously underutilized within the program.

"I remember growing up and losing wasn't an option," Orgeron said as he sat back with a grin in his postgame press conference. "You had to win. You had to win in basketball. You had to win in the backyard. Cajun people took a lot of pride in who they were."

"I get chill bumps and I tear up," Woodward said. "It matters to me."

It matters to everybody in the state of Louisiana. Now, LSU matters on the national college football scene, and it isn't going away anytime soon.

"I want to be here at LSU a long time and win many-a-championships at LSU," Orgeron said. "This is just the beginning."

After 15 straight wins, a national title and the most magical season in program history, who can doubt him?

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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