Should LSU retire Joe Burrow's No. 9? It's a no-brainer
It’s a no-brainer really.
LSU should retire the jersey No. 9 that quarterback Joe Burrow wore.
The university puts a lot thought into retiring any athlete’s jersey.
But this one shouldn’t require much thought.
The Tigers’ long and storied football history has produced exactly 3 jersey retirements – the No. 20 worn by Billy Cannon, the No. 37 worn by Tommy Casanova and the No. 21 worn by Jerry Stovall.
That’s some serious LSU football royalty right there.
The No. 9 worn by Burrow should become the 4th.
It’s not going to happen overnight; in fact it can’t happen for 5 years.
According the official LSU athletics website (www.lsu.sports.net), “to have a jersey retired at LSU, an athlete must have completed intercollegiate competition for LSU a minimum of 5 years prior to nomination.”
Consider this an informal nomination.
Start the clock. Set it for Jan. 13, 2025, exactly 5 years after Burrow completed intercollegiate competition for LSU, exactly 5 years after he passed for 463 yards and 5 touchdowns and ran for a touchdown to lead the Tigers to a 42-25 victory over Clemson in the CFP Championship Game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
That near-perfect performance was merely the final entry on a near-perfect resume from Burrow’s senior season.
Now the standards are really high to get your number retired at LSU. Y.A. Tittle’s jersey wasn’t retired, nor Jimmy Taylor’s, nor Kevin Mawae’s or Alan Faneca’s, Bert Jones’, Charles Alexander’s, or Glenn Dorsey’s or those of countless other All-Americans and members of championship teams.
Cannon was the 1st Tiger to meet the standard. He was a key member of the Tigers’ 1st national championship team in 1958 and became the 1st LSU player to win the Heisman Trophy a year later.
Casanova was a 3-time All-American safety, but his number wasn’t retired until 2009, 28 years after his Tigers career ended.
Stovall followed Cannon and played for LSU from 1960-62, finishing 2nd in the Heisman Trophy balloting in his senior season. His number wasn’t retired until 56 years after his career ended.
Cannon, Casanova and Stovall played offense and defense, but Burrow did plenty enough on just one side of the ball to merit inclusion with the other three.
He had the most productive passing season in NCAA history, leading to him joining Cannon as LSU’s only Heisman winners and doing so by a record margin.
By the time Burrow was done with College Football Playoff victories over Oklahoma and Clemson, he had broken the NCAA records for touchdown passes (60) and touchdowns accounted for (65) as LSU went 15-0 for the first time.
Burrow is the 2nd-most prolific career passer in LSU history even though he played just 2 seasons.
The LSU website says that in order for a player’s jersey number to be considered for retirement, “Athletes must have demonstrated truly unusual and outstanding accomplishments, exceeding and in addition to all criteria used for Hall of Fame selection.”
Burrow has met the aforementioned threshold for LSU Hall of Fame eligibility – having earned a degree, lettered at least one season, “gained national distinction through superlative performance as an athlete, and (having) established a personal reputation for character and citizenship which reflects favorably on the University.”
Check, check, check and check.
As for the criteria beyond Hall of Fame eligibility, “the athletic performance must be considered unique, such as winning of a Heisman Trophy or National Player of the Year award, and should be based on the total LSU career. Athletes may also be considered for making dramatic impact on the popularity of his or her sport or for significant participation in positive change in LSU Athletics. Nominees must have a unanimous vote of support from the Hall of Fame committee.”
Even though successful candidates needn’t meet all of those criteria, Burrow does.
He won the Heisman. His career was essentially unprecedented. LSU football was already pretty popular before Burrow showed up, but it’s fair to say he helped enhance it this season.
As for “significant participation change in LSU Athletics,” well, high-school football players all over the country now see LSU as having a 21st Century offense thanks to Burrow’s performance.
Lastly, the bureaucrats on the Hall of Fame committee have 5 years to work on the unanimous vote and support thing.
One final note: The LSU rules say that athletes in the same sport can still wear a jersey number after it has been retired, “subject to the discretion of the head coach.”
It’s pretty clear what Ed Orgeron’s discretion would be about another Tigers football player wearing No. 9. (He has called Burrow the most significant recruit in LSU football history.)
So the last step in properly recognizing Burrow’s career will be for all LSU athletic directors to take an oath and hire only football coaches of a like mind to Orgeron.