Published on November 15th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford0
Marcus Spears Reacts To LSU’s Win Over Alabama, Opens Up About Future Expectations And More!
Former LSU All-American and ESPN/SEC Network analyst, Marcus Spears chimes in on his alma mater’s huge victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide, Saturday afternoon.
In 2000, Marcus Spears was one of the most sort after high school players in the country. The offensive and defensive all-state player wasted no time committing to LSU to continue his academic and football career. Spears would play for legendary coach, Nick Saban 2001-2004. In 2005, he became a first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys where he would go on to have a successful 9-year NFL career. These days, Spears can be seen on ESPN/The SEC Network where his knowledge for football and larger than life personality is making him a fan favorite. Spears brings a sense of humor and a passion for the sport to the big stage. He doesn’t shy away in expressing his love for the purple and gold on air either. In fact, Spears recently silenced the vocal king of verbal sparring, Stephen A. Smith in regard to Smith’s LSU-Bama prediction. Spears is a television gem and continues to get better with time.
In my recent conversation with, Spears, we discuss the LSU-Alabama game in depth, he praises coach Ed Orgeron and staff and explains the dangers of facing a school like Ole Miss after such a huge win.
Have you come down from the high of LSU defeating Alabama yet because I know I haven’t?
Marcus Spears: Yeah. Because I gotta get ready for a week of work, man. I’m not off the high, but I gotta focus in now, which sucks. But it is what it is. It’s my 48-hour rule.
You believed in this team going to Tuscaloosa and beating Alabama from day one. What was it about this team and this staff that made you so confident that this was the year?
Marcus Spears: Obviously how they have played was the biggest factor. The sentiment that, if you give these athletes the correct scheme, then it just becomes a football game, and whoever makes the most plays will win the game. And I think no more than anything, this is what resonated with a lot of people… not only in college football but in Louisiana. Yeah, we’ve had the same kind of talent that they have had, we just haven’t put them in a position to be successful. For me, it was a culmination of that. It was also a culmination of me not thinking Alabama’s defense would be as dominant as it has been because they aren’t. they had given up some stuff that was very unconventional of them giving up against teams as far as plays and allowing things. Like Tennessee was within one score. Early in the season giving up big runs and stuff like that. I just thought the way that LSU was playing that they could take advantage of it.
You alluded to the fact that, Coach O [Ed Orgeron] was a coach that no one wanted, Joe Burrow was the quarterback that no one wanted, and you add a great offensive mind like, Joe Brady. But the most important thing you said was, Coach O is a coach that players respond to. As a former player I understand what that means, but could you elaborate on the importance of players buying in and being willing to run through a wall for a coach.
Marcus Spears: Man, it’s everything when it comes to football because schematically you can find people to put together X’s and O’s. There are enough minds out there to where you could put together a good strategy and allow you the opportunity to have success on the field. But then there’s that hidden element of, I believe every time we step on the field this dude is giving us the best chance to win. He’s speaking our language. “O” allows those guys to be who they are. It’s not so structured and under the fingernail that he doesn’t allow them to have fun. It’s a good time. And I think the fact that he embraces himself, helps those guys embrace themselves. He is Louisiana. He doesn’t talk like everybody else and he embraces it. So, he gives a bunch of 18 and 19-year old’s the freedom to embrace who they are within the structure of what they trying to do. When he took over as interim, they ripped off 7 of 8. And that was the same team that was struggling previous to him becoming interim. That said a lot to me. Prove it on the field, man. We can get into the psychological part of it, and you want a guy that’s called plays before. We can get into all of that, man, but give me the coach that the players going to believe in and play for, and we can get all that other stuff done.
How frustrating was it for you because I know it was very frustrating for me to see so much talent come to LSU and just not be put in a position to excel or maximize their abilities?
Marcus Spears: It pushed me to call for a coach to get fired. So, I think that is as harsh as it gets. Les Miles was wasting talent at LSU. I’ve had conversations with, Les even after I said he needed to go, and I still hadn’t got a good explanation as to why they never morphed into the team that they needed to be in order to compete. Saban did it at Alabama. Saban hired, Lane Kiffin and everybody lost their mind. But he knew he had to be a little bit ahead of the curb or right at the curb in order to win. It was particularly that season when they won a National Championship with, Jake Coker. They had to put up 40-points for a large majority of those games.
So, it just boiled down to the fact that, you had a coach that didn’t want to change his ways. I thought, Les got lazy in recruiting when it came to our defensive side of the ball because for so long, we had defensive lineman being drafted in the first round. We had guys thriving and having success and that kind of fell off. We were never able to figure out this quarterback situation for some odd reason. It was a bunch of fixable things that it looked like he was unwilling to fix. And Les had success, but the success for me bred from the talent. It really told the story of how talented the players there were. Could you imagine Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham in this offense; and Leonard Fournette. That’s the thing that had people so disrupted in Louisiana. It’s like, we’re getting the best of the best and we’re trying to run I-formation through the middle of the line of scrimmage. That just wasn’t the way to go.
You gotta explain this one to me, big man. I’m watching the game, feeling pretty good, we’re up two scores with a little over a minute and a half left and we are in man, bump-and-run coverage with our freshman on an island. Although, Derek Stingley Jr. is phenomenal, I couldn’t understand that one.
Marcus Spears: Percy, I can’t break that down for you. I wanted to fight, Dave Aranda. I have no idea and I’m going to ask that question at some point. I haven’t been able to get on my phone with anybody. I honestly don’t know what he was thinking. I’m hoping he tells me that the secondary lined up wrong. We all know you don’t play bump-and-run in that situation. Stingley had a rough day. So, to put him in that situation on an island, especially when you’re up two scores and all there’s just a minute and forty left on the clock. You just needed to let them run 6 or 7 plays and keep everything in front of you. Man, if I had the answer to that question, I would be a head coach.
I couldn’t have said it better. I think that was the one moment we kind of failed the youngster, Stingley. We put him in a horrible spot.
Marcus Spears: It was terrible. And there wasn’t even a safety over the top. It was super weird.
Okay, we got this huge win, we are back at #1 which we should’ve never been bumped and now we’re playing Ole Miss. A team we are supposed to beat, a team down on their luck. How do you redirect that energy and not have a let down game because we could win and still lose style points?
Marcus Spears: Well, this is where, Ed O makes his money as a head coach. This particular situation right here. You have 18-19-year old’s who are coming off of the biggest win of their career. And now they gotta go play a team that’s not very good, but with a quarterback that’s very dangerous in the open field and has the ability to make plays. So, it’s really about the focus in this game more so the performance. Because the performance comes from the fact that they have been hitting on all cylinders from a mindset standpoint. There was never a time last week where LSU thought they were going to lose to Alabama. For the first time in a long time. So, now you get this and it’s almost like when I was playing for the Cowboys. You have success and Parcels would tell you, “Don’t eat the cheese. It’s a trap.”
Keep your head down, keep muscling through and through. I talk to a bunch of players on the team quite frequently and their mindset is, “The plan wasn’t to beat Alabama, it’s to win a National Championship.” So, if they are thinking like that, then there will be no let down, but until you get to Saturday at Ole Miss, you’re going to find out if they can handle success. That’s the thing that Saban has done so well at Alabama. They handle success. Everybody expects you to bounce back after failure. But it’s the success component now. Where Ed O’s job gets tougher, Joe Brady’s job gets tougher; every position coach. Everybody around the facility, there job gets harder, because now you have to convince these 18 and 19-year old’s, who everybody they come in contact with right now is telling them how great they are and what they have done is monumental to shift that focus and realize, because you beat Alabama, it didn’t win the remaining 3-games on the schedule.
LSU was removed from the #1 spot during a bye week for Ohio State. I think Ohio State is an amazing team, but they just don’t have the resume. It seems to me like the committee is going to have to go to something other than wins and losses as a measure of who belongs in this 4-team playoff. I don’t know what that something is, I don’t have the answer, but it seems like something has to be changed or tweaked.
Marcus Spears: No doubt. It started that way. You remember when TCU didn’t get in and then they went to the Bowl game and drug Ole Miss. The same year Ole Miss beat Alabama and Alabama got in. WE have seen champions not get in. I think a big part of what the committee is doing, and I’ve tried to explain this as simple as I can, they have a set of guidelines that they would love to abide by, but they can’t because human element comes into play. Right! We know when we’re watching a one-loss Alabama team that we would take them over an undefeated Minnesota team. We know that. That line would be big… everything. Until the game is played, which unfortunately in college you don’t get to sort all that out by actually playing games on the field.
The weekly coming out of the rankings is good for college football, it keeps interest, everybody gets excited, everybody gets upset about it, but at the end of the day, man, there is not a criteria. There are simply two teams maybe in this calendar year that they feel are most deserving and then there is a year where they feel, it’s the best two teams. Or it may be a year where they think these are legit the best 4-teams in the country. Michigan State won the Big 10, got drug by Alabama 38-0 in the semifinal game. And everybody knew Michigan State wasn’t one of the four best teams in the country. We knew last year that Georgia was one of the four best teams in the country, but they went with the conference championship opposed to the thought of knowing Georgia would beat whoever they put in the playoffs. I would prefer them to be logical and say, “We don’t have a criteria. We use these guidelines as a way to shift conversation.” And maybe at some point it will change somebody’s mind about certain things, but ultimately every one of those slots in the top four were formulated by a different criteria.
The player that went live in the locker room for LSU, how do you handle that one?
Marcus Spears: There is going to be some kind of discipline. I’m sure it will be no phones being used or something like that. It’s not smart, but that’s the culture we’re in. I’ve been the old guy on set like, “Man, these dudes run to social media.” Talking to a lot of coaches, that’s just what it is now. And when situations like that come up, that’s when you address them, I guess. The only thing that pisses you off is like, “Dude, you know this. You know not to do a live recording while the coach doing a speech.” He obviously heard, Ed O talking. But at the same time, I think you handle it internally. It’s football so yeah, it will linger to fans that are mad about losing. This is what it is, but Ed O said it, it was a family discussion. We can get into semantics if he should have said it or not. I would probably say, no. Anybody in their right mind would say, he shouldn’t say it, but I would challenge anybody to ask if any coach in college or pro football or even high school has not used that type of language or said something about an opponent that’s been beating them for a while. It’s not really a justification thing, it’s just, it is what it is, and you take it how you want to.
You silenced, Stephen A. Smith and many didn’t think that was possible. I don’t know what type of caffeine you had running through you on Monday morning, but you were ready to gloat.
Marcus Spears: Man listen, they just putting me on TV, but I’ve had years of arguing sports. Stephen A. is arguably one of the best to ever do it if not the best to ever do it, but after LSU gives you a W, and last week I had him on tape saying they wouldn’t win… that was a layup. And actually, it was my second time calling him on something because he was killing the Cowboys one day and I told him he was the human embodiment of the Cowboys. People tell you how much they hate you, but every time they are on TV you gotta watch. He ain’t have nothing. But nah, man. Stephen A. is my OG. Charles Barkley is my OG. I’m learning from cats that’s been doing it. I’m one of those type of dudes that, I’m not coming in and coming for nobody job, I ain’t trying to be Stephen A., I ain’t trying to be Charles Barkley or Shaq. They all my big bros. I have access to them, I can talk to them, but at the end of the day, I pay homage. And then when we start talking sports, it’s just like a game. I’m on the court with my team, you on the court with your team and we’re going to see who win the game.
Shout out to my girl, Ashley Smith from GSD Advisory for linking us. You are amazing at what you do, keep making Louisiana proud and keep making every network that they put you on look good. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Marcus Spears: No, that’s it. I appreciate you, bro.