Will LSU ever land a Manning?
Louisiana is a big exporter.
It has always shipped out of state a lot of stuff like oil and gas, seafood and soybeans.
Then a lot of smart high-school students and college graduates started to see that greener pastures and greener salaries could sometimes be found elsewhere.
Thus brains have become a significant export.
And now quarterbacks – really good quarterbacks, especially ones with the last name of Manning – have become regular exports from the Pelican State.
The latest example arrived Thursday when Arch Manning, a rising senior quarterback at Newman High School in New Orleans and the No. 1 prospect nationally in the Class of 2023, announced he will be crossing the Sabine River and taking his talents to the University of Texas.
Arch’s father Cooper was a highly regarded wide receiver who chose to play at Ole Miss before an injury ended his career, and Cooper’s youngest brother Eli also was a Rebel and became the school’s all-time passing leader, passing family patriarch Archie Manning along the way.
The middle of the Archie Manning’s sons – Peyton – was different, eschewing all the border states and fleeing all the way to Knoxville to play for the Tennessee Volunteers and become the greatest college football player never to win a Heisman Trophy.
When Texas joins the SEC for Arch’s junior season in 2025 (if not before), that will mean all 4 Mannings not only will have spurned LSU but chosen to play for one of the Tigers’ conference rivals.
The biggest question, at least within the leaky Louisiana borders, is why didn’t any of these Manning boys – all born and raised in New Orleans – choose to trek the mere 75 miles or so to play for LSU?
The Tigers have a good football program.
Louisiana sports betting is officially live in much of the state. Whether it is betting on SEC football or LSU football games or the Heisman race each year, if you live in Louisiana, you can now do it from your mobile phone.
Louisiana produces a lot of good football players – just like the oil and gas, seafood, soybeans and other stuff that make it one of the most prolific exporting states in America.
In fact, per capita-wise, Louisiana churns out as many good college football players as pretty much any state.
Every LSU football coach makes it his top priority to get as many top-flight homegrown recruits as he can. You can build a pretty good team that way and a few coaches have.
Nick Saban won a national championship in 2003 with an LSU roster mostly stocked with Louisiana natives.
Les Miles did the same in 2007 and Ed Orgeron did the same in 2019. (Yeah, that Joe Burrow guy was born a Yankee, but Louisiana now claims him and the Ohio native seems comfortable with dual citizenship.)
Brian Kelly hasn’t coached a game yet, but he’s been building his first Tigers team with homegrown talent as well. He recently cited the inherent advantage he has recruiting Louisiana talent to LSU compared to what he had recruiting Indiana talent to Notre Dame.
No offense to Indiana. After all, it’s kind of the Louisiana of basketball.
But Curley Hallman couldn’t get Cooper or Peyton – who were a pitch-and-catch tandem at Newman – to go to Baton Rouge. Gerry DiNardo couldn’t get Eli to join the Tigers, either.
Maybe that’s why neither coach lasted very long.
LSU is the flagship university in Louisiana, but to be fair, other schools in the state have something to offer even though they’re not in the SEC.
The Tulane campus is less than a mile from the Newman campus and even shares the Greenies nickname with Arch’s school. Shaun King led Tulane to a 12-0 record in 1998, setting up a pretty good NFL career as a quarterback.
Louisiana Tech produced Terry Bradshaw, who helped turn around the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise and won 4 Super Bowl rings on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
By the way, you know who Bradshaw succeeded as the Bulldogs’ quarterback? Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Duck Dynasty, so Tech can make a case for its track record at setting guys up pretty well for life after football.
So can Northwestern State, which turned out Bobby Hebert, whose tenure with the New Orleans Saints was the centerpiece of a lengthy and successful professional career. He’s now a popular radio talk show host and restaurateur in the Crescent City.
And there are others.
Of course, realistically, LSU is the only college in Louisiana that can offer elite prospects like the Mannings an attractive opportunity.
But the Tigers are now 0-for-4 in recruiting Mannings.
It’s worth noting that interstate commerce includes imports as well as exports.
So let’s not forget that this whole thing began when Ole Miss alumni Archie and Olivia Manning started the First Football Family of New Orleans after the Saints drafted Archie in 1971.
Archie became the first star player for the fledgling Saints, stayed for 11 seasons and remains one of the most popular players in franchise history.
So it hasn’t been just a one-way road.
As for LSU’s ongoing hopes for landing a Manning, it’s going to be a long wait for another opportunity.
But the Tigers might want to keep an eye on the transfer portal – just in case.