Sports opinion: is Brad Laird in the hot seat?


Chris Reich

Brad Laird has one more year to prove that his late season success was not a fluke before the new athletic director, whoever that may be, has to make a decision.

On Nov. 15, Northwestern State University of Louisiana’s longtime Athletic Director Greg Burke announced his transition to another position at NSU. Less than one week later, Newly-elected University President Marcus Jones announced the return of NSU Demon Head Football Coach Brad Laird.

Junior communications major Matt Courville calls the decision to bring Laird back for another season “questionable at best.”

While this is a popular opinion among Demon fans, as Laird’s tenure as head coach stands at a 12-28 record, there is a very reasonable rationale behind the decision. The university will leave the decision to make head coaching changes to whoever is chosen to fill the position of athletic director.

The Demons have yet to find stability in any sense of the word since the promotion of Laird in 2018. Through years of multiple injuries, a lack of continuity at key positions on offense, issues with the COVID-19 pandemic, and a myriad of other mishaps, Demon football has been nothing short of inconsistent and disappointing.

Laird was given full control of staff decisions as a part of his extension through the 2022 season.
The fifth year head coach will use this newly appointed control over his staff to bring in fresh eyes and differing perspectives to help establish the identity and culture that this Demon football team has been searching for.

While I have been hypercritical and near slanderous in my criticism of most decisions regarding the play calling and personnel decisions in the past, you cannot discredit what Laird has done with this team as they have closed out the season.

Derek Sarvis, junior communications major, is surprised to see Laird returning given the program’s overall lack of success, but notes that many “were encouraged by the team’s 3-4 record on the back half of the season.”

The Demons showed flashes in the last three games of the season under his direction, coming out victorious in two games, one being the first win in Lake Charles in three decades. We are finally starting to see a core of young players like Zach Clement, SirMichael Veasley and Jared Pedraza making huge plays.

The Demons may have a pretty good chance to string together some wins if they can continue to recruit veteran players from different programs, develop the young core that emerged this season, and bring in a new staff that can cover NSU’s weaknesses and capitalize on their strengths.

Laird has one more year to prove that his late-season success was not a fluke before the new athletic director, whoever that may be, has to make a decision. No one is expecting an undefeated season, or even anything close to that, but Laird can make the decision to completely retool the staff a bit harder if the Demons can show steady improvement and a little consistency.