Football is a definitively southern sport, emphasizing the grit it takes to survive in the heat beneath the Mason-Dixon Line. The simulated war that occurs above the line of scrimmage channels the frustrations of both the participating young men and the viewing audience. At full speed, with full effort, it is an experience as furious as no other.
Throughout NFL history, no state has produced more players per capita than Texas. No other state has produced more Hall of Famers. No other state comes close to the amount of games played by the players from the state.
Residents of the state share an intensity and an unabashed pride for where they are from. They live their lives with a certain zeal that shows their need to work and get better at just not what they do but how they live. Football serves as their mirror; it’s their measuring glass to indicate when to speed up and when to slow down.
It comes as no surprise then that Texas is touted as the largest, most talented and most intense high school football competition in the entire country.
“Texas high school football is second to none, best in the country,” LSU junior defensive back and Houston native Kary Vincent, Jr. said, “Wherever the game is, that’s where the city is.”
According to Bleacher Report, Texas is ranked 1st in high school football state rankings. Of the 382 “blue-chip” high school prospects in 2019 (that is, 4 or 5-star recruits), Texas is tied with California for the most with 48.
“High school football, in my opinion, is the best in the country,” junior safety and fellow Houston native Grant Delpit said. “[With] a state so big and full of athletes, they got states like Florida and California too, but I think Texas is the best.”
Louisiana, unlike Texas, is a bit more laid back. Our residents enjoy the finer things in life, preferring to rest and relax, still as murky swamp water on a blazing summer day. Our heat is not a frenzy but a calm that shows itself in each of its residents. The warmth of the friendly, compassionate people fill out the few gaps left in the damp atmosphere. But when it comes to football, that heat turns into a fire.
Louisiana ranks 8th in total pros and 7th in active pros. Only seven states have more Canton inductees and only four have more total touchdowns. Louisiana is ranked 7th in total college football talent by Bleacher Report. For a state so relatively small, the boot packs a punch.
Due to the states’ placid ways, many football fans only know Louisiana football. Sure, we hear about Texas high school football through shows like Friday Night Lights and every Dallas Cowboys broadcast ever, but what we miss is the intensity and truth that the media tries to show.
“I grew up a UT fan as far as just liking the program,” junior pass-rusher K’Lavon Chaisson said. “I used to play with them all the time on NCAA.”
Being raised on football instills a Texan child with a passion for the game that becomes unparalleled. Viewership for University of Texas football games dropped below 1 million just once last year, retaining above 2 million viewers most weeks. The most watched game in the NFL last year was played by the Dallas Cowboys, and five of the top 13 games featured a team from Texas. This inherent passion translates onto the field for the Lone Star State.
“I hate to argue talent level, but it’s a big difference.” Chaisson said. “I argue with [the teammates] about that all the time.”
For the fans not on the field, every football game is just as important.
What happens during and after the games was what most high school students looked forward to throughout the week, and attendance was vital to fit in.
“If you didn’t go to the games, you were not included, and if you didn’t go to stuff after the games you didn’t have anything to talk about for the rest of the week,” says Blakeley Beers a freshman sociology major who attended Claudia Taylor Johnson High School in San Antonio.
This societal pressure to attend games in order to relate to your peers exemplifies how important football is to Texans, especially at a high school level. With a rich history of football excellence at all levels, devotion of fans, and a supportive community, football in Texas has been and will continue to be a source of great football players and powerhouse collegiate programs.
“I would say overall probably in Texas they’re more enthusiastic,” mass communication sophomore Kayla Wilkinson from Texas said. “LSU fans are probably way more enthusiastic than Longhorn fans or Texas A&M fans.”
While Texas has a similar feeling of love for football, LSU fans become more invested in games because people from all over Louisiana, even people out of state, come and support one team.
“I feel like [LSU] is the place to be and just as far as home and comfort level and where I need to be to get to the next level,” Chaisson said. “I felt like this is where I belong just as far as being the man I want to be on and off the field. And I mean that in the most sincere way.”
Louisiana football fanatics may be more lenient on attendance for their high school games then their Texas counterparts, but the pride of the boot is showcased in the LSU football program.
“I'd say LSU fans are probably more enthusiastic than any other school throughout Texas,” Construction management junior Nick Debouchel said who was born and raised in Texas.
In 2010, Bleacher Report ranked LSU as the second best program of the 2000s. In 2019, they ranked the Tigers as the 8th best program since 2010. In total, LSU has spent a total of 619 weeks ranked in the AP Top 25. The program is one of the most storied in the nation, and its legacy rings out with respect and admiration from its followers.
LSU typically boils up feelings of warmth and comfort for players, fans and alumni.
“They recruited me, and I had an offer from Texas,” Delpit said. “I went on a couple visits but I just felt at home at LSU honestly, and I just felt like coming back home, so I knew I was going to LSU.”
LSU’s “homey” feel is not exclusive to the university; it’s indicative of the entire state.
“Not only Coach O, just other coaches and people around the facility and campus just [give] me life lessons and advice on how to handle things,” Chaisson said . “There’s so much that I’ve learned just being out here and I’m grateful that I came out. I don’t regret the decision.”
In 2016, LSU was looking for a new head coach, and most people considered Tom Herman and Ed Orgeron the most likely candidates. The fiery Herman, known more for his explosive offenses and antics, was eventually hired by Texas to lead their football team. Orgeron, who is widely known to be a coach beloved by players, was promoted from interim head coach to lead the Tigers. The coaches seem to reflect their states’ attitudes toward life.
Herman leads as a general, directing with acute accuracy how his men are to be in the program. Orgeron prefers to lead as a mentor and friend. And though he’s not afraid to lay into his guys if they get under his skin, he “basically won [the job] because the players chose him,” Delpit said . “I think they made the right decision.”
Louisiana is a state that prides itself on its carefree nature, but it has the unique ability to flip a switch and prove itself to be as tough and rugged as the next guy. As Delpit said when speaking on LSU, Louisiana “still has that power-I package if we need to bring it up.”