March 31, 2004

LSU Fever II: Blanco’s Afflicted

If you’re like me (and who isn’t?), then you think a lot of things just suck. You’ll pay $7.75 for a ticket to a mediocre movie and think, “That really sucks!” Or you could be at a party, talking about things that suck and hear something that makes you want to scream, “Now that just sucks.” It sucks just thinking about it.

Well, just in case you were worried about running out of things that suck, along comes another one. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, USL class of 1964, has endorsed the policy of establishing LSU as the flagship university of Louisiana.

Disclaimer: I voted for Blanco and I don’t regret it. I think she is the right person for the job by a long shot; she has the experience and the brains to do incredible things for the state of Louisiana. But one of the reasons I chose Blanco over Bobby Jindal was the UL-versus-LSU question. Jindal, who attended Brown and Oxford, basically said that LSU worship would be state policy. But I expected better from Blanco.

Can you imagine if the federal government decided that Budweiser really was “The King of Beers?” And every other beer company had to pay Budweiser because of it? That’s kind of like what’s going on here.

Blanco came out for LSU in Baton Rouge on Feb. 4, 2004. “LSU is currently regarded as the flagship university in Louisiana,” Blanco said, as quoted in the LSU Reveille. “It should be encouraged to compete…but what we want to see is LSU being among the highest-ranking academic universities in the nation.”

Naturally, our camp raised the question about what the flagship status will mean for universities such as UL Lafayette. “All the minor universities are able to compete nationally,” Blanco said. That’s right—UL Lafayette is now officially a “minor” university. The next question should have been, “Governor, can you get us some salve? Because our backs really hurt from the stab wound.”

Don’t worry, though, she assured us. “Every big business was once a small business. There should be opportunities to get small businesses started.” Which is a funny thing for her to say, being that the LSU flagship status ensures that schools like UL Lafayette may never get a chance to be competitive.

Blanco’s stand comes hot off the ironic heels of her featured appearance in the Spring 2004 “Alumni Accents” newsletter. It reports on her address at the UL Lafayette Alumni Association’s Spring Gala, where she is quoted as saying, “To be recognized by my university is one of the finest things that can happen to a person.” We would surely appreciate it if you returned the favor, Governor.

Why is Blanco trying so hard to appease LSU when the Baton Rouge contingent booed her so lustily at the Sugar Bowl? In a game that boiled down to Louisiana versus Oklahoma, LSU fans were more receptive to Oklahoma’s governor than to their own governor-elect. Columnist John Hill offered perhaps the best explanation, citing poll numbers that suggested that six out of 10 voters chose Jindal.

Before my LSU friends and family get angry and decide if I literally bleed UL red, I want to say that I have no problem with LSU. But LSU is already the largest school in the state, and it’s just wrong for them to plead for help when everybody in the United States knows who they are.

LSU officials know this, and they hope to pocket those profits for years to come. And that sucks not just for UL, but for the whole state of Louisiana.

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