Serious question: where are they surpassing us? Ticket revenue? Sponsor money? Booster donations? merchandise sales?
My guess is all of it. Even though they have Auburn to compete against they still can out-resource us. They don't have a plethora a FBS and FCS programs in LA taking away money and resources from boosters, fans and the state. Every dollar spent on USL, SLU, McNeese, La Tech, NLU, McNeese, Nichols, and so on is less money for LSU. I would hope that Troy and UAB start to gain a following and alumni base that starts to take a trickle away from Alabama.
Plus, they have boosters who are more willing to bend the rules. Plus Alabama more than LSU has its identity tied to football. They spend more and give more resources to football than LSU because they have to.
LSU under the Longs had a great academic reputation. In the South among public universities in the 1940s it was Texas, UNC, UVA, and LSU.
Through the years the State has devoted fewer resources to LSU and there's less money, time and energy for football. If LSU could have kept it's academic reputation it had it would be better able to recruit. LSU could have been like a big ten school with the best academics in the SEC and great football players. It could still have a generous acceptance rate for instate kids and have great graduate programs that would have put LSU on par UNC, Texas, and UVA.