Cajun Life Without Hudspeth At UL?
The Hudspeth givespeth, and the Hudspeth takespeth awayspeth.
It seemed as if the very second the conversation over whether first year head coach Mark Hudspeth was the right man to lead the Cajuns to success ended, the conversation regarding how long before the Hud left for greener pastures began. And though Hud has yet to make any plans to leave, at this point, it seems more likely that he goes than he stays.
For those not paying attention, over the past few months a perfect storm of misfortune has hit the Cajuns in the form of tantalizing and tempting job opportunities for the Cajuns' first year coach. Rumors have swirled connecting Hud as a possible candidate for many jobs across the country, but the rumor most threatening for Cajun fans, is the more than likely possibility that Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen will soon be jumping ship to Penn State, leaving a head coaching vacancy in Hud's former stomping grounds. Although there is no guarantee that Hud would be offered the MSU job, his history with the school combined with his successful, albeit brief, time at UL make him appear to Cajun fans as at least a strong candidate for the position.
Look at it like this, if Hud is offered the position, he would be offered a chance to move back to his home state, where he has all his recruiting ties, he would be offered a chance to lead his school to prominence, and he would be offered a substantial pay increase. A very, very substantial pay increase.
Quite the temptation.
Hud must also weigh his decision with the reality of being a head football coach. Sure, he's hot today, but who is to say he will be hot this time next season. The ball could bounce the wrong way and his flaming stock could cool off. We've seen over the past few years that loyalty does not exist in college football. Sure, Hud has said all the right things about building a program here at UL, but what is he supposed to say? If the person interviewing you for a job asks where you see yourself in five years, do you say, "well I plan on working here till I'm qualified to get the job I really want?" Of course not. Hud knows how it works in college football. Lose and the fans want you out, win, and they sometimes still want you out. Every coach in the country is one losing season away from the hot seat. Nobody is safe.
Although all of this is still speculation and nothing is set in stone, as a long time Cajun/Saints fan, its hard not to be pessimistic, and if the dominoes do end up falling in the way this Cajun fan sees them falling, who could blame the guy for leaving? Who wouldn't do the same thing?
That brings us to the question on everybody's mind, what will life be like without Coach Hud?
The unfortunate truth is that the immediate future will be bleak. If Hud does decide to leave after this season, we will lose many recruits and see many current players transfer. That's just the reality of coaching changes. However, there is a lot for Cajun fans to smile about.
The Hud has made an incredible impact in his short time as head coach and the entirety of that impact will not leave with him. Hud has shown the potential for this program. If Hud does leave for an SEC school, it will show every young and ambitious up-and-coming coach in the country that UL is a place that can make those dreams come true.
Remember, the people that had the wisdom and foresight to hire Hud will be the same people responsible for finding the next guy, and judging by their recent coaching hires, I have full faith in their judgement.
The reality of the situation is that no one wants to lose Hud. His talent as a coach is undeniable and his absence from the program would be a major blow. However, from day one, we knew that Hud would never be here forever. His goals were always the SEC. Whether he truly wants to stay here or not, if the right parties come a calling, it will be hard to justify not leaving to himself, and his family, and if we are honest with ourselves, it will be hard for Cajun fans to begrudge Hud's departure.
That being said, the future is still bright for the Cajuns. If Hud does decide to leave, he will not be able to take the new dorms and athletic facilities built, or in the process of being built. He will not be able to take the funds he helped raise in the RCAF, nor the renewed interest in Cajun football he helped cultivate.
When situations like this arise, there is always bitterness, but you won't find any from me.
Coach Hud, I always wanted to see you achieve your goals of landing that big time coaching job that you deserve. I did however hope that we could get a few more years out of you before you made that move. We don't want to see you go, but if you must move on, thank you for this magical season you've given us, good luck, and God bless.