From the Bird’s Nest: GROWING THE FLOCK
Yesterday afternoon just before 6pm, Reverend Mark Hudspeth took to his pulpit at the Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility and preached his latest sermon.
And, he had a big audience to reach.
Yesterday was National Signing Day, and as they have done in the past, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns had their annual Recruiting Bash. The crowd came to eat. To drink. To socialize.
But most importantly, they came to hear the Good News.
Louisiana added 29 players yesterday. Three of them, already enrolled, did not count against the 2011 signing class. And the throng was excited about what they heard and saw. Sixteen offensive players. Twelve on defense, plus a kicking specialist. Hudspeth and his staff appear to have addressed specific needs on the offensive and defense line and at corner. They signed a highly recruited quarterback (transfer). They signed a first team All American running back, who although not yet qualified, is what recruiting coordinator Reed Stringer called a "program-changer." They signed size. They signed speed.
And with every player introduced on video by Reverend Hudspeth, the congregation grew a little more passionate.
Since Hudspeth's hiring on December 14th, not only has the Church of the Ragin' Cajun grown, it has also ponied up and put the tithes and offerings into the collection plate. RCAF membership has grown roughly 13 percent in the last seven weeks, and that doesn't include those who pledged yesterday. Yesterday's crowd at the bash was at least double what the Cajuns had the year previous.
Brother Mark has held fundraisers to help with the remodeling of coaches' offices, construction of a new weight room at the practice facility and transformation of the current weight room to a video room. And, with each impassioned plea, he has gotten the desired response. The coffers have grown.
Interim Bishop Scott Farmer was pleased yesterday, with the crowd and with his young preacher.
"I liked the size of the crowd, but I really liked the composition of the crowd. There were a lot of new faces and just as importantly, a lot of young faces."
As it is said in the Good Book: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he grows old, he will not depart from it. (Prov: 22-6).
The Gospel According to Mark is available to all those who will stop and listen. The message is usually the same:
We're in this together. We need all of you. Administration, fans, the band, cheerleaders, the Jazz. Fly your flag, put the Cajuns on your business marquee, buy tickets, get your friends to buy tickets. Teamwork makes the dream work.
And as the message of each sermon circulates, the congregation grows.
The reality is, of the 29 players signed yesterday, most will not see the field this fall for the Cajuns. There are four junior college players that the Cajuns hope can make an immediate contribution. A few select freshmen may join that group of contributors. But most will redshirt as Hudspeth builds his team to challenge for championships.
But that didn't matter yesterday. The preacher was speaking. The congregation was listening. And when it was over, the masses said "WE BELIEVE!!"
Smart money says Reverend Hudspeth will have infinitely more success than the last time the Cajuns hired a preacher.
Come to think of it, he already has.