Saturday night’s Northwestern State-LSU football game is not just one of 12 opportunities for coach Brad Laird’s Demons to play in the 2019 season.
In some ways, it is a referendum on the success of several former Demons, most notably the two head coaches.
Laird, the Demons’ second-year head coach, remains Northwestern State’s career passing yardage leader (6,037) and has made his mark on the university and Natchitoches community during three separate tenures on the NSU coaching staff as well as the time he spent as the executive director of the NSU Foundation and Alumni Association.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron is an N-Club Hall of Famer, earning induction in 2014, and remains a dedicated Northwestern State alumnus. Orgeron has remained in contact with his alma mater, speaking to the 2014 Demons prior to their game at Southeastern Louisiana then headlined NSU’s Legends event in Natchitoches in May 2017.
The pair will square off as head coaches for the first time, but they are far from strangers.
“We’ve had multiple opportunities to speak,” Laird said. “I’ve had multiple opportunities to pick his brain from their fall camp structure to things he’s shared that we’ve implemented here. He knows where he came from. He’s always going to have a passion for Northwestern State and what it did for his career not only as a player but now as a coach. We have those ties as far as what the university means to us. It always helps with the conversations we’ve had.”
Orgeron is not the only former Demon who will be across the field from Laird and his Demons on Saturday night.
Bill Johnson is another N-Club Hall of Famer on No. 4 LSU’s staff. Johnson joined the Tigers in mid-August, not long after he stood in front of the Northwestern State team alongside 18 other former Demon football players and imparted his share of wisdom to the 2019 Demons.
Less than three weeks later, Johnson joined Orgeron’s coaching cadre.
“The coaching profession has some funny twists and turns you go through,” Laird said. “Before he spoke to our team, he had been on the sideline for 40 straight years, and he was thinking he wouldn’t be on one for the 2019 season. It’s awesome for him. It shows you the opportunities here at Northwestern State, as a coach and as a player.
“Those guys are both considered defensive line geniuses. For us to be playing them this year is special. It’s awesome. It’s great for Northwestern State and great for those guys, too.”
Hear all the play-by-play action starting Saturday at 5:30pm LIVE on your new Radio home for NSU Demon Football… 94.9 The River.