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Cajun’s Corner – SEC Needs D1 Lacrosse

C’mon. We’ve all said it at some point or another. Well, maybe just people in the South have said it. But everyone I know has said it at some point…

The SEC needs NCAA Division 1 lacrosse.

At one point, Bleacher Report had written a short post up about how the sport would succeed in the conference, but it appears that article is over two years old now.  If you google “SEC lacrosse”, you get virtually no results, and there is definitely no angry person with a blog just crying for a change, so I’m going to fix that right now!

This whole “Michigan going D1 and getting practice helmets” thing got me thinking as to why major BCS schools like Michigan are growing the game, and why southern schools are not. Lacrosse is erupting in the South at all levels (even college!) unlike our big sister, Hockey, simply because you can’t really play hockey in the South.  It’s just too hot for the sport to be wildly popular.  Today, I want to get you, the readers, to start talking about this…

Just share some input with me!  To get started, I’ll share some with you:

I think we can all agree that the sustainability of the sport in SEC  schools really comes down to whether or not the team would actually be able to win games. In order to win games, you have to start by recruiting the best talent. The ultimate question: Could an SEC school recruit blue chip level players?

Seriously. Why not us?

Fact: For the most part, SEC schools have giant athletic budgets, some of the finest athletic facilities, pretty nice weather year round, and Athletic Departments all have traditions of excellence.

Opinion: SEC fans are some of the most die hard, loyal fans around. Lacrosse should be a great fit for schools in the South (as evidenced by the overall growth of the sport in the region).

I’ll visit these one step at a time…

1) Athletic Budgets – I’ve already touched on this one in ridiculous detail. You can just click the link above if you want to go there again.

2) Athletic and School Facilities – For the most part, you can assume lacrosse would be played in the soccer facility, if the school doesn’t already have a lacrosse facility (Florida and Vandy). It may be a stretch, but you could also assume that if the university wouldn’t build a lacrosse facility in year one, it would be coming within a few years.
Auburn University
Florida (Has a lacrosse facility)
Louisiana State University
South Carolina

All right. I’m a recruit now. And one of the first things I want to know is where we will be practicing, working out, and playing games.  These facilities are all state of the art.  I’m sold there.  I don’t care who you are or where you’re from – Florida’s lacrosse facility is freaking FINE, and you know it. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t love to play a home game there, in front of new lacrosse fans who are as passionate about the sport as you once were.

I've been to LSU women's soccer games. They actually have great turnouts. They're also remodeling the stadium!

3) Weather – Do I really have to prove that weather is, at the very least, decent year round?  In the Deep South (Gulf Coast areas), we don’t even have snow. Indoor practices only come around in the summer, when it’s too hot. Looking at this month’s weather, Baton Rouge is seeing an average high of 85 degrees.

Please compare that with Ann Arbor, MI, the home of the Michigan Wolverines and their practice helmets.

4) SEC Athletic Departments are used to winning. ADs hate losing in any sport. – I’m not even going to write much here.  Just read the below if you don’t believe me.
Take a look at Florida AD, Jeremy Foley’s track record
LSU has 43 national championships and 109 SEC championships
South Carolina has a few championships under their belt
Alabama likes to win

Florida Gators Athletic Director, Jeremy Foley, was brave enough to build a lacrosse facility, and add Division 1 Women’s lacrosse to Florida’s slate of teams in 2010. In their second year of existence, it can be argued that they’re the best team in the land. (Editor’s Note: Right now they’re ranked #2 in the country)

Take a look at their roster. I think that’s proof enough that top tier blue chip recruits will move South for college. Or maybe they’re just enticed by sandy white beaches of the South?  Something tells me a potential men’s lacrosse player would be enticed by the potential women’s lacrosse players on those sandy white beaches…

Jeremy Foley, AD at Florida, added Women's Lax in 2010

Surely with their success on and off the field (winning and recruiting), Jeremy Foley is thinking he could have the same success with men’s lacrosse…..right?

5) SEC fans are rabid and insane, and I think this sport is right up our alley.

The sport isn’t growing in the South because we’re force feeding it to people in the area.

Instead, it’s exploding because southerners can’t get enough of it!  For a lot of us, Lacrosse is football when football isn’t on TV.

In the past 3 years that I’ve been coaching High School lacrosse, I’ve been stunned by the responses I’ve received from people when I tell them I coach lacrosse. About 50-60% of the time, I hear “OH! I’ve seen that on ESPN! It’s a really intense sport,” which is then followed by genuinely inquisitive questions about the rules and the speed of the sport in general. Amazing how ESPN can single handedly change peoples’ outlook on a sport, huh?

Alabama went from 7 high school teams in 2010 to 17 high school teams in 2011. Seriously. In Alabama, you have Alabama football, and Auburn football. That’s it.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise at all that these people are going to get into lacrosse in football’s off season.

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So you tell me! Am I crazy? Is this just nuts to think that maybe just one SEC school should adopt the sport? Or am I on to something? Does it make sense? Tell me the pros and cons in your eyes, and if you can provide some research to back it up, more power to ya!  I can’t wait to see what LAS Nation has to say about this…