One thing that I have never understood about them even though they have always had a very competitive football program and their basketball programs (especially the Lady Techsters) have been amongst the best, is that the football team has never been able to draw a really large following.
Here's a quick lesson in Louisiana and the way that it works: It is like a third world country in that relationships are everything. Talent does not trump connections.
LSU has a law school (the only one is the state, outside of Tulane) and, therefore, has the majority of the big state lawyers, state congressmen and state senators. As a result, anything is done to prop up LSU. Examples:
1) In 1984, the University of Lousiana is forced to change its name back to USL by the state legislature (even though the UL System Board of Regents approved the name change), after LSU raises hell.
2) With schools like ULa and LA Tech gaining respectability nationally and growing in size, the state legislature passes a law saying that no two universities can offer doctoral degrees in the same field. However
, LSU later adds a doctoral degree in Computer Science even though one is already offered by ULa.
Couple with that the fact that there are something like 13 4-year universities for a population of 4.5 million and you have underfunded schools in too many cities, outside of LSU/Baton Rouge. There are three, four year universities with a 60 mile radius in North Louisiana (LA Tech, ULM, Grambling). South Louisiana has four schools within an hour's drive of Lafayette (ULa, LSU-E [JuCo], LSU and McNeese, plus
multiple community colleges).
Then, add to that the fact that everyone likes a winner and you've got the entire state pulling for the Tigers at the expense of local teams like the Cajuns, Indians and Bulldogs.
If the state were to take a tough love approach, they should close or downsize most of the schools and have four large universities: LSU, UNO, LA Tech and ULa. The rest either close or become feeder schools for the aformentioned four. However, anyone that closes the schools will not be re-elected, so it won't ever happen.