November’s turmoil turns into success: Cajuns one win from Bowl eligibility
Despite the cries for change in the front office and coaching staff of the Cajuns’ athletics program and football team, head coach Mark Hudspeth and the Cajuns quietly won two of their last three games, putting the team one win away from bowl eligibility.
It couldn’t have been scripted any better.
The Cajuns had just returned from San Marcos, Texas, and a dominating win over Texas State, snapping a three-game losing streak that included a disappointing double-overtime loss to the New Mexico State Aggies, who are now 3-8.
The Cajuns improved to 3-4 for the season at the time. It was not an ideal record, but it was clear coming into the season that quarterback Anthony Jennings was going to need some time to learn the offense.
Homecoming week against Idaho proved the offense hadn’t quite found its groove.
Since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014, Idaho has been one of the bottom-tier teams, but this season, the Vandals flipped a switch.
Before the homecoming game, the Vandals were 4-4, so it wasn’t clear yet if they were the real deal. (Since their win over the Cajuns, the Vandals have won out and improved to 7-4.)
The 3-5 start to the Cajuns’ season led some fans to begin calling for Hudspeth’s head a bit prematurely.
With four games remaining on the schedule, including Sun Belt-elite Georgia Southern and Arkansas State, and the SEC’s Georgia, going 2-2 in those four games would land the Cajuns with five wins. This would be an improvement from last season, but nowhere near the eight-win bar Hudspeth had silently set for the team, but five wins wouldn’t come easy.
Trump song sparks controversy
About 126 million people returned from the voting polls to await the results of the presidential election on Nov. 8. Late that night, it became clear Donald Trump would be the next U.S. president.
Soon after, a video surfaced of multiple Ragin’ Cajuns football players singing and dancing to “FDT ‘(F*** Donald Trump),’” by YG & Nipsey Hussle.
Two days later, the Cajuns’ victory against Georgia Southern was superseded by comments Hudspeth made to a reporter after the game regarding the video.
“It’s also disappointing that so many people have vilified a few 19-year-olds making some immature decisions,” Hudspeth said to the reporter, “and then they were the same ones that voted for someone that has done much worse, by grabbing a female in the private areas, for the office of the (President of the) United States of America.”
Cajuns fans used social media to express their distaste for Hudspeth’s comments; some fans even vowed to stop supporting the football team.
A day later, Hudspeth apologized for his initial response.
“I apologize to our alumni, fans, supporters and the university, who deserve more responsible behavior from our student-athletes,” Hudspeth said. “I regret my response to a reporter’s question after last night’s game that may have offended some voters in the recent election.”
Even though the Cajuns picked up a win, Hudspeth was in the hot seat.
Farmer resigns, “Louisiana” recognized by Sun Belt
The Cajuns’ “money game” against Georgia on Nov. 10 was sandwiched between two dire conference games against Georgia Southern and Arkansas State. The Cajuns’ loss to Georgia wasn’t much of a surprise and didn’t create too much noise.
The real action began the following Tuesday when Scott Farmer resigned from his post as UL Lafayette athletic director.
University President Joseph Savoie, Ed.D., said the decision had no correlation to the Trump video.
Savoie announced Deputy Director Jessica Leger, Ph.D. would be the interim athletic director. Former Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden, who led a study on UL Lafayette’s athletic department last year, will assist Savoie in his search for the university’s next athletic director.
The very next day, the Sun Belt Conference announced it would recognize the athletic branding efforts made by the Cajuns to be called the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
Cajuns upset Arkansas State
Prior to the win over Arkansas State, the Cajuns were two games away from bowl eligibility with two games remaining on their schedule and winning out would not prove to be an easy feat.
The Cajuns’ opponent, Arkansas State, had won six straight games and were undefeated in the Sun Belt at that point.
The Cajuns were hanging on, though.
With just under three minutes remaining in the game, the Cajuns were up 24-19. Arkansas State started its drive at its own 20-yard line.
After using all but nine seconds of the game clock to drive down the field, the Red Wolves were faced with a 4th-and-10 at UL Lafayette’s 11-yard line.
The next play was called a touchdown run from quarterback Justice Hansen, but after reviewing the play, the touchdown was reversed, and the Cajuns took over with two seconds on the clock. A kneel-down to run out the clock kept the Cajuns’ bowl hopes intact.
The only thing stopping the Cajuns from bowl eligibility now is a three hour trek up I-49 to play their rivals: the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.