How sports paved the way for UL football coach Michael Desormeaux and his brother Matt

Koki Riley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Matt Desormeaux was surprised when he learned his brother had a new job.

"I'm not going to lie," Desormeaux said.

It wasn't an ordinary job. Michael had just been named football coach at the University of Louisiana. Michael was a former star quarterback for the Ragin' Cajuns and Matt was the fullback for the Ragin' Cajuns. 

So Matt knew it was a special moment when his brother landed the position. He grew up with him, coached with him and learned from him.

"I was really excited for him, really happy," Matt said. "He wanted to be a head college coach and all that kind of stuff."

Michael's love for football goes way back, he'd always been obsessed with sports.

Matt remembers Michael bribing him to throw the football around or shoot hoops with him when they were kids. In exchange, Michael — the elder of the two — would play Legos with Matt.

"He always had a football in his hand," Matt said. "My parents had to throw away one of his pairs of football cleats because they got too small for him. But he loved wearing them all the time."

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Matt eventually got hooked on football — he's now the coach at Ascension Episcopal — but that wasn't the case at the time.

"He knew whatever he ended up being was going to have to do with something around athletics," Matt said. "But that wasn't necessarily always my end goal. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.

"He didn't watch cartoons, he didn't play with toys."

Michael didn't just love sports, he was good at them, too.

At Catholic New Iberia, he earned first-team Class 3A all-state honors and was All-District MVP in 2003. He then became a star quarterback at UL, throwing for over 3,800 yards and running for more than 2,400 while becoming the eighth quarterback in NCAA history to have back-to-back 1,000 plus rushing seasons.

Michael was also the star running back on their  peewee football team.

"He was always really good as far as I could tell," Matt said. "I know my dad felt like he had a chance if he worked hard and all that."

Their father, Bill, played football at LSU and their sister loved sports, playing softball. They even have a distant cousin, jockey Kent Desormeaux, who won the Kentucky Derby.

"From day one we were playing sports," Matt said. "I would say he and my sister were probably the most into it. Obviously, I grew to love it."

A significant aspect of why they love sports comes from their father. Bill was Matt's coach in Little League baseball, peewee football and in high school.

Matt always had his dad as one of his coaches until he got to college. Bill is still coaching, overseeing the middle school program at Ascension Episcopal.

"He was probably a little bit tougher on us than anyone else," Matt said. "We were fortunate that we always had someone who actually played the game and knew what was happening.

"It was really cool to have the opportunity to be around him that much."

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Matt and Michael eventually became coaches themselves. Matt was an assistant at Catholic New Iberia with Michael before transitioning to Ascension Episcopal where he was an assistant under Michael. He became the head coach hen Michael left to become an assistant at UL.

The Blue Gators went from 0-9 in Michael's first year in charge to 11-2 by his third year in 2015. Matt learned a lot about coaching from his brother during their time together on the sidelines.

"I learned a lot of like quarterback reads and what the quarterbacks are looking for working with him, which was very beneficial," Matt said. "(Because) I was more of a middle-skill guy in the position that I played."

Michael was UL's interim coach before Billy Napier was hired in 2017, but had no head coaching experience collegiately outside of that. It's what initially caught Matt off-guard by the news of his brother's hiring.

But he knows his brother was born to do a job like this.

"Whenever an opportunity like this, especially at his alma mater, at UL, that's a big-time opportunity," Matt said. "I know he deserved it, he works hard and I think he'll do a great job with it."