Updated: Jul 7, 2021
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
LONN: Austin! I'm so glad you're back at LSU, sir! We needed you.
AUSTIN THOMAS: Glad to be back, my brother, Thank you!
LONN: Culture is everything! I remember a few Tiger moms being very happy when you returned. A lot of the same players from your first geaux-round are now veterans on this team.
AUSTIN THOMAS: We will get it right. Sometimes it’s good for everyone to grow with some separation. I am excited to be back with a lot of these people and players that we had identified before I left.
LONN: You guys are doing something that I've been trying to take note of on my site. I had to cover Title IX fairly, but now the media must cover the positive changes y'all have made, too.
AUSTIN THOMAS: I don’t have all the answers but if there is anything I can do to help you please let me know! Just trying to lead with humility and empathy and make LSU as strong and efficient as we can be as an organization. Not as involved in recruiting anymore as I am running the whole program from an off the field standpoint. Which is long overdue in college. Lots of bright days ahead and I hope to be here for a very long time.
LONN: What was it like to see the 2019 team you helped build fulfill its destiny?
AUSTIN THOMAS: I take a lot of pride in having had the opportunity to watch that 2019 team play. That’s all I need. Much like the success that A&M is having right now…. Those are decisions we made 2-3 years ago to get us where we needed to be and it’s kinda coming to fruition in College Station right now.
LONN: What is it like to come back and kind of take on this mission (keeping LSU as a title contender on the field and helping change the culture off)?
AUSTIN THOMAS: It’s a blessing. It’s not about one person, but about a group of people committed to each other to accomplish a goal. It’s about trust, transparency, humility, shared commitment thru adversity.... I’m so thankful for Coach O and Scott. They are great leaders and I just follow their lead and give my expertise when and where I can to help LSU.
It’s all about a process of managing a program, hiring a staff, making sure we’re all communicating effectively and efficiently to give us the best opportunity at success. It’s not what you do, but HOW you do it that is important, and I am thankful to be here with Coach O and this staff.
It’s been great to help Coach O build a staff on and off the field - we’ve been very forward thinking in our approach and I think we have the most unique personnel and recruiting staff in the country - we’re set up exactly like the NFL.. High school scouting (high school prospect), college scouting (portal and Juco), advance reports on opponents, research and strategy, recruiting, etc. I think you will see other organizations trend this way in the near future.
LONN: You love to innovate college football don't you? Like it's your hobby to take on the challenge of the transfer portal or Title IX. You're fearless and I love it.
AUSTIN THOMAS: Have to stay ahead! I just look at what the NFL is doing and try to emulate that. I have a ton of friends in the NFL that are GMs or run personnel departments, so I am constantly seeking advice from them and picking their brains to make us better and vice versa. They ask me a lot of questions about the college game and the process, so it’s a cool relationship to have with those guys.
LONN: I'm surprised you don't have as much of a role in recruiting as you said, you're so talented there, but your pro connections are so valuable to Coach O and our staff's day to day ops, too.
AUSTIN THOMAS: Don’t get me wrong, I am still involved, but I think managing the program and the business side of running an organization this large and valuable on a day to day basis off the field is what takes the most time.
LONN: At the end of the day, What defines Austin Thomas?
AUSTIN THOMAS: I’m a human, father, husband, Christian first ! If someone sees me as a football GM first, I’m truly failing as a person… football is part of what I do, but I never want it to define WHO I am.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: Thank you for speaking with us, Austin!! I'm really excited by this man's charisma, his humility, his inclusion, he's a purple & golden example of what it means to be a human being and I respect this man a lot.
Special thanks to Cody Worsham for his help & always being an amazing support!
This too shall pass, brother.