Saturday afternoon, football fans around the country sat down to watch the 2019 Peach Bowl battle between the Oklahoma Sooners and the LSU Tigers. They were instead met with the news that the daughter-in-law of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger had died in a Saturday plane crash. She was one of five individuals that lost their lives during an emergency landing.
Following the news of this tragic incident, the expectation was that Ensminger would not be coaching Joe Burrow and the LSU offense during the College Football Playoffs. However, a team spokesman told Sports Illustrated that the OC would continue with his duties on Saturday.
With this revelation, hundreds of fans reacted with an outpouring of sympathy. They were heartbroken by the news of Carley McCord's death, and they wanted to show Ensminger support any way that they could.
There were many others, however, that were in shock by the latest news. They couldn't believe that Ensminger was continuing to coach during the Peach Bowl, nor could they imagine the pain that he was feeling during this football game.
Carley McCord was a Baton Rouge native who held a close connection with those at #LSU, even before she wed Steven Ensminger Jr.
Many with the program are crushed. There are tears during pregame.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) December 28, 2019
As Baton Rouge native, McCord was known to many in the area, especially after she began working as a sports reporter. Marrying the son of Ensminger certainly brought her closer to the players and the program, but McCord already had an impact prior to her wedding.
According to Sports Illustrated, many members of the team were devastated by the news of this tragic accident. They showed this emotion as the Peach Bowl's kickoff drew near.
No one would fault Ensminger for taking time to go be with his family. He’s a GOOD man. Prayers to coach Ensminger, his son and their entire family.— Brett Duthu (@BDuthu) December 28, 2019
With the news of the plane crash and the lost lives, there were many that couldn't believe that Coach E was on the sidelines for this game. Many viewers fully expected him to walk away from the team to be with his family during this emotional time. However, the OC was on the sidelines for his team during this game against Oklahoma.
In response to this development, the fans reacted by showing support for his decision. They respected Ensminger for staying with his players and fellow coaches. Although they would totally understand if he had to depart the stadium in Atlanta.
Take it from someone who recently suffered the devastating loss of my son. Staying busy & keeping your mind occupied is key. Coach E will have plenty of time to grieve later.— Jerri Ray de Pingre' (@JRaydePingre) December 28, 2019
While many were understanding of Ensminger's decision to remain with the team, others were surprised. They didn't believe that it was the wisest choice for him to be coaching after learning that his daughter-in-law had passed away in this tragic accident. Would he be up for calling plays against Oklahoma's defense?
However, those skeptics were met with explanations from others that had dealt with similar incidents in their lives. As some explained on Twitter, it's often best to keep pushing forward after learning heartbreaking news.
The Oklahoma Sooners entered Saturday's game with the intention of defeating the LSU Tigers and moving on in the College Football Playoffs. Winning the National Championship is the ultimate goal, and this Louisiana-based team was just another obstacle in the path. However, that didn't mean that the fans of the Sooners wouldn't show support after a tragedy.
With the news of McCord passing away on Saturday, fans of Oklahoma headed to social media to express their condolences and say that they would be praying for peace. They knew that life is much more than a simple football game.
😢 coach E is a strong man for staying on that field this games for Carley ❤️❤️🕊🕊— Seth Finney (@SethFinney2) December 28, 2019
As many proclaimed on Twitter, having Coach E on the sidelines following the loss of his daughter-in-law showed his inner strength. There were many that couldn't believe that he was still upright on the sidelines, let alone coaching a game. For that, they wanted to show some respect.
Many users wrote comments that praised Ensminger's inner strength while others mentioned that this game against Oklahoma now had a new meaning. They felt that it was time for the Tigers to take care of business and get this victory.
On behalf of the bama nation, prayers to the families.— Terry Coean (@CoeanTerry) December 28, 2019
There are certainly rivalries in college football, especially in the SEC, but there are times when football is less important than helping out your fellow members of the human race. The Oklahoma fans proved this by sending out their thoughts and prayers to Ensminger and his family, but they were not the only ones.
Following a report by the SEC Network, many fans of rival teams expressed their condolences. Alabama fans weighed in, as did those that root for South Carolina. All of these fanbases don't like LSU during the football season, but they put that aside for the greater good.
Today is so heartbreaking. #LSU OC Steve Ensminger seems to wipe tears away during pregame before the #CFPlayoff semifinal against #Oklahoma and gets a few hugs a little tighter from his players today.#GeauxTigers pic.twitter.com/2zgYOLMop1— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) December 28, 2019
Following the news of the tragic crash, there were many that couldn't believe Coach Ensminger was still leading this offense into battle against Oklahoma. They fully expected him to take time away from the team due to the emotions in play. Although many were shocked by the strength he showed with this decision to coach.
As video showed, however, Coach Ensminger was still dealing with the emotions during the pregame warmups. He was shown embracing multiple players prior to kickoff. It also appeared that he was wiping away tears.
(Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty)