LAFAYETTE — To see the unseen, the potential power stored in every plot of underdeveloped land or yet-to-be-tapped resource, is to hold the club that wakes a sleeping giant.
What separates the dreamers from the doers is the constitution to crack the giant over the head and ride the ensuing fury, and the man who was mildly annoyed that summer vacation had sapped 25 pounds off his 365-pound bench press keeps his club hand strong.
Mark Hudspeth can’t sit still, never has been able to. He hates the idle time brought on by the offseason, when his normally regimented schedule is instead pocked with a fundraiser here, an interview there. In between, there’s a lot of time for nothing, and Hudspeth doesn’t understand how to do nothing with his time.
Hudspeth couldn’t turn off those visions of grandeur where others only saw the wreckage of a football program. This is both his blessing and his burden to bear. When he arrived at Louisiana-Lafayette nearly five years ago, he saw the daunting mountain in front of him, yes, but he also saw the route over it that had evaded his predecessors.
You see dilapidated facilities in major need of overhaul or replacing; Hudspeth sees a financially stable community hungry to support a winner as the means to that end. You see a team going nowhere, turning in a winning record four times in the two decades prior to his arrival; he sees a clear path to winning through the bountiful resources on the prep fields of Louisiana and Mississippi. The visionary shines light on the specks of gold buried in the pile of muck.
“When I walk around, I don’t see it as it is,” Hudspeth said. “I see it as it’s going to look. I envision everything that I see. When I’m walking down the hallway and it’s all old and nasty, I don’t see that. I see what I’m going to do to it.”
No matter how great the pitch, nobody’s buying anything if the product isn’t right. Hudspeth has been the architect of a football revolution in Lafayette, drawing and then executing a master plan that has reversed the course of a perennially losing program. He’s a muscle-bound and self-assured tour de force equipped with a whistle and a loudspeaker and veins popping in his neck. He demands his players bring the same amount of energy — what he calls “juice” — as he does when he’s leading them from the front at 5 a.m. offseason workouts. And you know what? They return the favor.
“I mess with him all the time and say, ‘Coach, you look dead today. Where’s your juice at?’ ” senior offensive lineman Mykhael Quave said. “He’s like, ‘Mike, I’ve got my juice!’ ”
What’s resulted is success of the like the Cajuns have never seen. Four consecutive nine-win seasons after three in program history before his arrival. Four straight bowl victories for a program that hadn’t enjoyed one. A massive athletic training center and football office space with Hudspeth’s fingerprints all over it that will put the Cajuns, not long ago operating with facilities that Hudspeth pegged as worse than some Division II teams, on par with some power conference schools.
http://theadvocate.com/sports/13344865- ... r-striving