Louisiana-Lafayette lost to Akron 35-14 in Lafayette Saturday. After the game, a clearly frustrated Mark Hudspeth blamed the Ragin' Cajuns' loss on his team moving into its new $30 million Athletic Performance Center during the season.
"I told our team this a while ago, I told my wife, I told our director of football operations this earlier in the week: I saw this coming a mile away,” Hudspeth said, via The Advocate. “I was hoping that it wouldn’t happen. I saw it coming a mile away. This was too much of a distraction, too much to do in the middle of the season, bad timing on everybody’s part with moving in or planning to move in during the season."
Hudspeth opened his post-conference with those (clearly premeditated) remarks. He continued.
“We’re over there in the slums, and we move into some shiny new Disney World,” Hudspeth said. “It’s just — these are kids. I saw this coming a mile away. It was like it’s been too much. Too many things to do over here — game room, fancy locker room, fancy weight room, everybody’s thinking now we’ve got this, we’re going to magically win because we’ve got this great facility.”
The facility was scheduled to be complete Sept. 1 but, as major facilities projects are wont to do, construction ran behind schedule. Coaches moved into their offices Sept. 15, and players moved in last Sunday.
Hudspeth said the attention the Athletic Performance Center attracted made it impossible for he and his staff to work, therefore, in his words, making the Cajuns' 21-point loss inevitable.
“While we’re working all week long, there’s 97 tours going through here,” he said. “It’s like the Grand Canyon, when you’ve got tour guides leading people to see everything. We can’t even work. Every time you look up, there’s 19 people walking down our hallway.
“So I’m going to fix that this week. Tours are over. Work is fixin’ to begin. We’re fixin’ to get our edge. I told our team, all the newness, you’ve seen it now, it ain’t new no more. We’re fixin’ to get back to work.”
Unsaid by Hudspeth: Louisiana-Lafayette (1-2) was off on Sept. 19, therefore giving the Cajuns two weeks to prepare for a game in which they were outgained 458-285 and trailed 35-7 midway through the fourth quarter.
In the end, quarterback Jalen Nixon displayed a level of leadership and maturity his head coach could not attain. "It’s football, man. Moving into a new facility, it’s something to be grateful for, Nixon said. "It’s nothing that we look down upon or let distract us. It’s something that we take and want to embrace it. Actually do better things with it. We see us moving into a big-time facility, and that means we must be doing great things to help us get here. So we just want to keep embracing that and keep moving up.”