Rabalais: The ring’s the thing for Southern, which will aim for another

The Southern Jaguars don’t need a target on the back of their powder blues for opponents to aim at.

Just triangulate on the ring.

Southern’s rings from last season’s SWAC championship rank pretty high on the bling meter. They’re so massive that you had to think Jaguars football players Brian McCain and Arthur Miley, who accompanied coach Dawson Odums to SWAC media day here Friday, got in the equivalent of their daily offseason weight work just toting these things around.

Despite the constant silver reminders, the Jaguars are focused — shades on to protect against the sun’s glare off those rings — on the future.

No one is perhaps more focused than McCain. The senior fullback missed all of last season because of a foot injury. He’s still happy he got a ring, but he’s even more eager to win another one — one he can feel he truly earned.

“The ring to me is symbolic of the possibilities of this year,” he said. “This is what we as a team have an opportunity to get if we do the little things right.

“Pennies add up. You get 100 pennies, you have a dollar. If we do the 100 little things we need to do right and don’t point fingers at anyone else but ourselves and hold ourselves accountable, we’re able to do extraordinary things.”

Even a Grambling man would have to grudgingly admit that Southern has one of the most storied football traditions in the SWAC. Not as good Grambling’s, the Grambling man would rationalize, but one of the best.

The question is whether last season’s SWAC championship is a signpost of a renewed dynasty ahead or merely an outlier, a fortunate spin at the football slot machine that came up all touchdowns?

It’s not as though last season’s Southern team was a worst-to-first miracle on grass anomaly. The Jaguars were picked second in the West Division at last year’s SWAC media day and overcame an 0-2 start to win nine of their last 11 games and the title in double overtime against Jackson State.

Whether Southern is on the verge of embarking on another run of tyranny through the SWAC like it had in the days of Pete Richardson in the 1990s or Ace Mumford back in the 1950s or ’60s is too early to say.

But the Jaguars and their current leader don’t lack for confidence.

“We are going to get there,” said Odums, who debated hard whether to return for a second season on the bluff but decided it was worth the chance. “We are one season away from turning Baton Rouge into a dominant Southern University fan base. They’re on the edge of their seats right now. But we’re one season away from getting them to understand what my true vision really is. It starts with the players we have.

“I think we’re getting better, running faster, guys know better what they’re doing because communication is better. We’re excited about the season. We have enough pieces to the puzzle. It’s up to us to put it together.”

Richardson’s Southern teams were dominant not only because they were talented but because of their preparation and attention to detail. Seeing the big picture by focusing on all the tiny little details that football coaches obsess over.

“We want our fans to be excited about what’s going on in the program,” McCain said. “But we can’t get the big head and say we’ve arrived, we’ve won the SWAC. That was 2013. This is 2014. What is our story going to be at the end of this year?

“So we have to do every workout. We have to hold each other accountable. We have to go to school and make APR so we know we did everything we were supposed to do.

“The process will be hard, but it’s toughness. It’s doing what’s necessary when you don’t want to. When everyone has that mindset, we’re able to reap the benefits.”

Benefits that include another huge ring to tote into next year’s SWAC media day.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv