This year’s Bayou Classic was one for the books for a myriad of reasons. It was the first BC played in the Spring, it was the first Bayou Classic played outside of the Superdome in decades, and it began in the midst of the global pandemic brought about by COVID-19. When the clock struck zero following the brutal beating of the Grambling Tigers and a new day came on the Bluff, the preceding events would only be an afterthought throughout the SWAC landscape as the news struck.
In many instances, greatness is something that we as individuals take for granted in the mix of daily life and our own personal experiences and struggles. That being said, there’s something to be said for greatness on a consistent basis when compared to your peers and your predecessors, regardless of profession. When it comes to the great ones in the pantheon of SWAC legends however, it’s only now at the end are we faced with something different from the greatness we’ve grown accustomed to with the departure of Coach Odums.
Setting off for Norfolk University following his resignation last week, the reality is that things have changed not only in the football locker room of Southern University, but on the Bluff as a whole. This isn’t to say that our Jaguars will plummet from a nationally ranked top 25 team to conference fodder, but ultimately, coaching does matter, and that coach in particular will be missed.
When Dawson Odums is spoken about at Southern, it’s the SWAC Championship titles and multiple Bayou Classic victories that are remembered first, but if you were to ask his colleagues, players, and people close to him, the first thing that they’d point to is his character.
Throughout my lifetime in Baton Rouge, I’ve seen individuals in numerous positions of power and authority carry the SU name with honor, and without it, with varying results and conclusions to their individual stories. And yet, to have been the face of the university for almost a decade without having your name dragged through the mud once, without a scandal isn’t appreciated enough.
To be a person that could claim such esteem from your peers and contemporaries alike while still completing the mission of winning games consistently is something that very few schools, SWAC or otherwise can lay claim to.
So while it is true that Coach Odums will be missed dearly here on the Bluff as a coach, he will be missed even more as an individual and leader of men to the players that he has helped to develop and grow throughout the years