Anyone that watched Louisiana State University soccer player Mo Isom (birth name Mary Morlan Isom) appear on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show on April 3, 2012, knows that she is an inspiring person. Despite past tragedies in her life, she has had a successful career with the LSU Tigers soccer team, while being the first female athlete named LSU Homecoming Queen.
In soccer, Isom graduated as the Tigers all-time leader in soccer wins (43), shutouts (30), saves (235), and goals against average (0.86). A member of the SEC All-Freshman team, the SEC All-Academic Team, and has been invited to train with the United States Under 23 soccer team. In her earlier life, Isom had to struggle with the loss of her father, an eating disorder, and survived a car accident in which she nearly died. As a freshman, she was featured in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd section (issue dated September 15, 2008) as she became the first goaltender to score a goal in LSU history.
Isom kicked the ball 90 yards for a 4-1 victory over Brigham Young University. In addition, it was only the second game of her NCAA soccer career. With her powerful leg, Isom has attempted to try out for the field goal kicking position with the 2012 LSU Tigers football team.
Although she was cut from Tigers spring training camp in March 2012, Isom has vowed to try again. According to Tigers head football coach Les Miles, his concern with Isom was related to tackling. Of note, Isom would not be the first woman to play football on an NCAA Division I football team. Katie Hnida was a walk-on with the Colorado Buffaloes football team in 1999 but never saw any playing team. Hnida would transfer to New Mexico and made her first apperance for the Lobos at the Las Vegas Bowl on December 25, 2002 (a 27-13 loss to the UCLA Bruins).
If Isom could make the Tigers roster, she would have an opportunity to make history in college football. As LSU was the runner-up in the January 2012 BCS National Championship Game, the Tigers are poised to compete again. If the LSU Tigers win the BCS championship in January 2013 with Isom on their roster, it would mark the first time that a female player was on the roster of a national championship team.
While it would make for one of the greatest sports stories ever, the reality is that it may be too ambitious. In college football, any team that is primed to compete for a national title is under intense pressure. Quite possibly, Isom and the media attention that it would generate could actually be a distraction. While that may be unfair to Isom, if :LSU was simply a two or three win team, this would be a much different situation. In a national championship situation, as the wins mount, so does the pressure. One loss results in the end of that dream. If Isom were to miss a field goal that might cost the Tigers a national championship, not only would there potential for backlash among LSU supporters, but it might hinder the opportunity for another woman to try out for a football team in the future.
There is another university in Louisiana that would benefit greatly from Isom’s presence, Tulane University in New Orleans. The Tulane Green Wave football program was first conceived in 1893, and has a long history in Louisiana sports. As the Green Wave have not had a winning season since 2002, and compete in Conference USA, this would be a much more palatable scenario for Isom.
The last football player to have generated any publicity for the Green Wave was Matt Forté when he logged a 342 rushing yard performance versus Southern Methodist on the 20th of October, 2007. The Green Wave need a player that can attract media attention, while giving long suffering fans a reason to attend games. It would result in a win-win situation, and possibly inspire more football coaches to give female athletes consideration at the field goal position.