As the Louisiana State University football team experienced the euphoria of winning the national championship on Monday night, the members of the press made sure to save a seat for Carley McCord.
The sports reporter for NBC New Orleans affiliate WDSU and the daughter-in-law of LSU co-offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger Sr. was poignantly remembered during the game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. She died at 30 in a plane crash last month while traveling to LSU's semifinal playoff game.
ESPN also released a touching video remembering McCord ahead of undefeated LSU's 42-25 victory over defending champion Clemson.
"She always loved LSU football," her husband, Steven Ensminger Jr., told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi in the video. "The future, it was bright for her for sure."
McCord was one of five people who died on Dec. 28 when a private plane leaving Lafayette, Louisiana, en route to Atlanta crashed less than a mile from the airport.
"You know mom, I love my job. That was one of her last words,'' her mother, Karen McCord, told Rinaldi in the video tribute. "I found comfort in that. She died loving her husband, loving her family and loving what she did."
Ensminger Sr. honored his daughter-in-law by helping direct an LSU offense led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow that rolled up 628 yards in the win over Clemson. Burrow set national title game records for most total touchdowns (six) and total combined yards (521) in the resounding win.
McCord's father-in-law also coached in LSU's 63-28 rout of Oklahoma in the semifinals just hours after learning of her death.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron gave the game ball to Ensminger after the win over the Sooners.
"The only game ball I've ever given since I've been a coach here," Orgeron told ESPN. "And I will never single anything out, but I thought that was something above and beyond anybody would be expected to do."
"Do your job,'' Ensminger Jr. said through tears. "That's what she would've done. She was the most incredible person ever."