Category Archives: College Football

COVID-19 and Kent State: two sad stories of American history

Kansas’ stay-at-home order has expired. Some businesses have reopened, but many have not.

This was evident today when I went to Hays.

The Wendy’s at the corner of Vine and 43rd north of Interstate 70 was doing quite a business. Ten vehicles in the drive-thru, elderly couples sitting at the tables outside, and people inside the restaurant for the first time in seven weeks.

The nearby Applebee’s and Old Chicago were not seating customers, although they were accepting takeout orders.

I haven’t missed sitting in a restaurant. I’ve been able to procure takeout from Chick-Fil-A without difficulty. Unfortunately, Arby’s and Popeye’s don’t have mobile ordering, which stinks, because I could really go for Popeye’s right now. Then again, the chicken would get cold on the 70-minute drive from Salina to Russell.

The three large cities in southwest Kansas–Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal–are all overrun with COVID-19. Each county has more cases than Sedgwick County, where Wichita is located.

Coincidentally, the same thing has happened in Nebraska. The three large cities of south central Nebraska–Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney–have more cases between them than either of the state’s large metropolitan areas, Lincoln and Omaha.

Missouri also lifted its stay-at-home order, although Kansas City and St. Louis are still locked until at least May 15. St. Louis couldn’t care less about lockdown right now; all the Gateway City wants is for the Blues and Cardinals to return.

Today marked the 50th anniversary of the infamous shootings at Kent State University in northeast Ohio. Sandy Scheurer, William Schroeder, Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller were killed, and nine others injured when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire during an anti-Vietnam War protest. Krause and Miller were participating in the protest, but Scheurer and Schroeder were innocent bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Due to COVID-19 and the closure of every college campus in the United Staes, the celebration at Kent State was quite subdued, a far cry from what organizers of the school’s May 4 Committee hoped for. Had campus been open, it’s likely Kent State’s most famous alumnus would have appeared (see below), not to mention Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, and possibly three of the school’s greatest athletes, Jack Lambert, Antonio Gates and Julian Edelman.

One of Krause’s classmates was a freshman from Monagaha, West Virginia named Nicholas Saban, who, of course, would become the most successful college football coach of the last 50 years, leading LSU to a national championship in 2003 and Alabama to titles in 2009, ’11, ’12, ’15 and ’17.

Saban and a classmate were walking to a dining hall and saw the shooting unfold. He rushed back to West Virginia after campus closed to spend time with his longtime girlfriend, Terry Constable, now better known as Miss Terry, Nick’s wife of almost 49 years.

There was another future Southeastern Conference football coach on Kent State’s campus that day.

Gary Pinkel was a tight end for the Golden Flashes who went on to earn All-Mid-America Conference honors. He eventually followed in Saban’s footsteps as head coach at Toledo before going to Missouri in 2001.

When Pinkel arrived in CoMo (to differentiate from the other Columbia in the SEC), Mizzou was in sorry shape. The Tigers were a powerhouse under Dan Devine throughout the 1960s, and even though they fell on hard times after Devine left for the Green Bay Packers in 1971, Mizzou bounced back to respectability under Al Onofrio and Warren Powers.

When Powers was fired after the 1984 season, the Tigers tanked. Woody Widenhofer, Bob Stull and Larry Smith all failed miserably in pulling Mizzou out of its funk. Sadly, the thing Mizzou is best known for during the tenure of those three coaches was the infamous Fifth Down Game vs. Colorado in 1990.

It took Pinkel a few years to get it going, but when he did, Mizzou zoomed to heights it had not seen since Devine’s glory years. The Tigers reached #1 in the polls in 2007 following their victory over Kansas, although their hopes of a date with Ohio State in the BCS championship game ended with a loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. LSU was the beneficiary, ending up as national championship following their victory over the Buckeyes in New Orleans.

Mizzou ended up #5 in the polls following the 2007 season, and repeated it in 2013, the Tigers’ second season in the SEC. The Tigers have struggled since winning the SEC East (why is Mizzou in the SEC East when it is farther west than five of the seven SEC West schools?) in 2013 and ’14, but it hasn’t relapsed into the pitiful form it showed from 1985-2000, when it became roadkill for Colorado, Oklahoma and Nebraska, and later, Kansas State.

Here is an excellent New York Times retrospective of Kent State.

Given the late hour, I’ll end it here.

Vegas’ deadline, David Glass’ two acts, and something else ranch doesn’t go with

CORRECTION from the last post: the next FOUR College Football Playoff national championship game sites have been named. It will be Miami, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Houston, in that order, from January 2021-24.

The 2025 and 2026 games will probably go to two of these three sites: Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Detroit. I blacked out earlier and forgot all about the Raiders’ stadium in Nevada (named Allegiant Stadium), which opens either later this year or in 2021. I’ll take a guess and say 2025 goes to Minneapolis since the NFL will want to host Super Bowl LIX in Las Vegas, and 2026 heads to Nevada.

The construction schedule in Vegas is tighter than a pair of skinny jeans. If the stadium cannot be completed on time for the Raiders, they’re screwed. They have the option to play in Oakland for 2020, but would (a) fans attend and (b) the Athletics acquiesce? It may force the Raiders to become tenants in Santa Clara with the 49ers, or else play as many games as possible on the road early in the season.

The NFL could conceivably schedule the Raiders’ first eight games on the road, a game in London or Mexico City, and their bye week within the first 10 weeks, leaving them to play weeks 11-17 in Vegas. It would be highly unusual, but what else can you do? If the NFL were to schedule it that way and the stadium were ready in September, the game sites with the AFC West teams could be flip-flopped.

The College Football Playoff committee says it will let northern cities without climate-controlled stadiums bid, but how many fans would attend if the game were in New Jersey, which would entail the exorbitant costs of traveling to and from New York? Foxborough, where it’s a nightmare to get to and from the stadium, no matter if you’re flying into Boston or Providence? Seattle? Better hope Oregon or Washington has a magical season like LSU just completed, and I can imagine how many residents of the Pacific Northwest would react to legions of invaders from Alabama, South Carolina or elsewhere in the south.

One city which cannot host: Chicago. Soldier Field’s capacity falls a little more than 3,000 seats short of the minimum of 65,000. However, the CFP committee would be wise to grant a waiver if the nation’s third-largest city wants the game.

As the Chiefs prepare for what they hope will be their biggest victory since 11 January 1970, there was some sad news out of the Truman Sports Complex.

Former Royals owner David Glass passed away last week at 84 due to complications from pneumonia. This came only two months after the sale of the Royals from Glass to John Sherman was approved by the other 29 MLB owners.

Glass was named the Royals’ CEO at the end of the 1993 season, a little less than three months following the death of founder Ewing Kauffman. Glass was the representative of the Kauffman trust which owned the team until he bought the majority stake before the 2000 season.

During the 1994 Major League Baseball players’ strike, Glass was one of the hardest of the hard-liners, demanding a salary cap and pleading poverty, claiming small-market Kansas City could not compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and the other big-market teams. Glass’ biggest allies were the White Sox’ Jerry Reinsdorf and the Brewers’ Bud Selig, who had been acting Commissioner since the ouster of Fay Vincent in September 1992. Selig got the full-time gig in 1998.

While Orioles owner Peter Angelos refused to use replacement players during 1995 spring training, Glass endorsed the idea wholeheartedly. Thankfully for Glass, future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor forced the owners to allow the union players back to work before any regular season games were played with scrubs.

Glass, who was once the CEO of Walmart (then known as Wal-Mart), ran the Royals like the discount giant, slashing salaries to the bone in order to pocket large profits from revenue sharing and MLB television rights.

To be blunt, Glass was probably the most hated man in Kansas City for the first decade of the millennium.

The Royals lost 100 or more games four times in five seasons between 2002-06, bottoming out with a 56-106 disaster in 2005. Somehow, Glass and a dying Lamar Hunt convinced Jackson County, Missouri voters to approve almost $500 million in improvements to Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums in April 2006, although a proposed rolling roof was rejected. Hunt did not live to see the improvements to his baby; he died in December 2006.

In June 2006, Glass revoked the press credentials of two reporters who asked questions he deemed too critical. The Baseball Writers Association of America got involved, and Glass was forced to back down.

The questions were asked at Dayton Moore’s opening press conference as the Royals’ general manager.

Glass owed Moore a debt of gratitude, for if not for him, Glass would be as reviled now as he was then.

Moore took advantage of most of the high draft picks the team received for losing and turned them into future standouts Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Heavy investment in Latin American scouting yielded Salvador Perez, Kelvim Herrera and Yordano Ventura, and a trade with the Brewers sent Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar to Kansas City for Zack Greinke, the 2009 Cy Young Award winner who wore out his welcome one year later.

Glass went from goat to hero in 2014 and 2015.

The 2014 Royals made the franchise’s first postseason appearance since winning the 1985 World Series, sweeping past the Angels and Orioles before losing Game 7 of the World Series to the Giants and Madison Bumgarner’s bionic arm.

One year later, the boastful Royals took advantage of the error-prone Mets and won the World Series in five games. Reportedly more than 800,000 people turned out for the victory celebration two days after the series ended, but I think it was closer to 400,000.

Even though the Royals lost over 100 games in 2018 and ’19, Glass’ legacy was secure. He brought Kansas City from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the mountain in 10 years, allowing Royals fans to look down their noses at title-starved fan bases in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee (UGH), Oakland, Pittsburgh and Queens. Houston and Washington were on that list until the past three seasons.

Glass was Richard Nixon in reverse. Had Nixon announced he would not run for re-election in 1972, he could have gone out a hero for negotiating peace with the Soviet Union, opening trade between the United States and China, and ending the quagmire in Vietnam. Instead, many remember Nixon for one thing only: Watergate.

I’d like to know why Old Chicago serves ranch with its calzones. I noticed this tonight at the Hays restaurant when two ladies ordered them. I was there to play some more trivia. It was packed, as were all other fine dining establishments in Hays.

I don’t like ranch, but people I care about very much (you know who you are) love it. However, it just doesn’t seem right with a dish loaded with pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella cheese and maybe vegetables.

I posted twice today to make up for the previous three days of non-posting. I won’t bore you any further.

Thawed and posting

Sorry I went three days without posting. Not much happened to write home about, save for my session Thursday with Crista. Let’s say I was not in the right frame of mind.

I was going to go to Hays tomorrow for an appointment, but I rescheduled due to icy roads. I’m there today, killing time at Taco Bell and playing trivia on my phone. I am going to need Sudafed when I get back to Russell because my nose is stuffed.

LSU’s football team visited the White House yesterday and was greeted by President Trump, who attended the championship game in New Orleans. Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and future Cincinnati Bengal (barring something out of far left field), said it best that political affiliations didn’t matter; visiting the White House on invitation by the President of the United States is an honor.

Too bad too many athletes are turning this honor into a political statement. The Warriors famously refused to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after their 2017 and 2018 NBA championships because coach Steve Kerr and several players detest Trump. Disgraced ex-Red Sox manager Alex Cora did not accompany the Red Sox after their 2018 World Series championship. Several members of the Patriots and Eagles boycotted following their Super Bowl championships.

The ONLY good thing about the Raptors winning the NBA championship in 2019 is we didn’t have to hear about boycotting Trump. They were warmly received by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Candaian Parliament in Ottawa. Too bad Brian Mulroney was the last Canadian Prime Minister to host a Stanley Cup champion, the Canadiens in 1993.

These teams should be grateful to visit one of the most elegant residences on the planet. It wasn’t always the case.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins, the NFL’s only undefeated and untied champion, didn’t visit the White House until 2012, by which time Richard Nixon, who was in office at the time (and a huge Dolphins fan), had been dead for 18 years, and two of his successors (Ford and Reagan) had also passed on. Three members of the ’72 Dolphins–Jim Langer, Bob Kuechenberg and Manny Fernandez–did not attend because they disagreed vehemently with President Obama. Sadly, Langer and Kuechenberg are no longer with us.

The 1985 Bears were scheduled to visit the White House a few days after winning Super Bowl XX, but the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion less than 48 hours after the victory over the Patriots scuttled that.

Today, there was a short parade on LSU’s campus from the School of Music and Dramatic Arts down Victory Hill to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, where more than 13,000 fanatics stuffed the “Deaf Dome” to greet Burrow, Coach O and all the rest. Two assistants were absent: Joe Brady, now the Panthers’ offensive coordinator, and Dave Aranda, now Baylor’s head coach.

LSU fans should gloat and enjoy it. It may be a long time before another championship.

It’s just coincidence, but LSU has sewn up all four of its national championships in New Orleans, a mere 75 to 80 miles east-southeast of LSU’s campus. If that trend continues, LSU’s next championship won’t come before 2027, since the sites through 2023 have been named, and the college football playoff folks want a large rotation of cities, not a few as used to be the case for the Super Bowl.

Miami , Los Angeles and Houston will host the next three championships. It figures Minneapolis, Detroit and Indianapolis will all host soon, since all those cities have retractable roofs. Charlotte, Nashville, Baltimore and Washington will all want to host, even though the weather is a roll of the dice compared to Florida and California.

A few people posted on social media that LSU clinched its 1958 national championship by defeating Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.

Not true.

However, it was true the Bayou Bengals clinched their championship in the Big Easy, defeating Tulane 62-0 in their regular season finale. LSU did not play the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and thus had to wait out the results from that weekend to find out if they would hold on to the top spot.

When the polls were released 1 December 1958, LSU held a comfortable margin over No. 2 Iowa. That was the final poll for the Associated Press and United Press International. The AP first conducted a post-bowl poll in 1965, went back to ending polling after the regular season in 1966 and ’67, then made the post-bowl poll permanent in 1968. The UPI did not switch to a post-bowl poll until 1974, a move roundly criticized.

The Hawkeyes were awarded the Football Writers Association of American (FWAA) national championship after they defeated California in the Rose Bowl, feeling LSU’s victory over Clemson was unimpressive.

Between 1960 and 1973, Minnesota (1960), Alabama (1964), Michigan State (1965), Texas (1970) and Alabama (1973) all lost their bowl game after finishing first in the UPI poll Minnesota and Alabama in 1964 were also first in the final AP poll. The bowl losses opened the door for Alabama in 1965, Nebraska in 1970 and Notre Dame in 1973 to win the AP poll.

Ole Miss won the FWAA championship in 1960 and Arkansas did so in 1964. Arkansas’ claim is more widely recognized than Ole Miss’, as the Razorbacks were 11-0 after defeating Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl, while Ole Miss tied at home against an LSU team which went 5-4-1. The Rebels also try to claim championships in 1959 and 1962 by retroactive computer polls, but I can count the number of non-Ole Miss fans who count those on one hand. I don’t recognize them.

Notably, LSU was named No. 1 in five other seasons by computer polls or some other methods. The Bayou Bengals don’t recognize those titles. 1958, 2003, 2007 and 2019 count.

The participants for Super Bowl LIV will be determined tomorrow.

I really don’t care for either team in the AFC championship.

I don’t like Nashville, period, and I hated the way the late Bud Adams screwed the good people of Houston by sabotaging the Oilers following their 1993 playoff loss to the Chiefs to ensure fans would stay away from the Astrodome and the NFL would approve the move to Tennessee.

Chiefs fans have become arrogant and entitled the past two seasons. They’re saying it is their right to be in Super Bowl LIV after they were screwed by the officials and the overtime rules in last year’s AFC championship game vs. the Patriots. No, the Chiefs weren’t screwed. Don’t fall behind by an ungodly amount of points on your home field, even if you were playing the Patriots.

If I HAD to pick a side, it would be the Chiefs, since they haven’t been to the Super Bowl since January 1970. Besides, I know a few Chiefs fans, although many have become as cocky as Royals fans were during their glory years of 2014 and ’15.

I don’t like anything about Nashville. NOT A DAMN THING. I hated the place when I visited for LSU baseball games vs. Vanderbilt. Nashville looks down its nose at Memphis as a crime-ridden hellhole whose musical icon could dance and not sing and became a morbidly obese drug addict at the end, and think East Tennessee is nothing but hillbillies riding around with shotguns in the back of pickups. And don’t get me started on how Nashville has an NHL team and Quebec City and Hartford don’t.

Sorry, but I’ll listen to Elvis over any country music which came out after 1989 any time. Last I checked, the University of Tennessee, a nuclear power plant and many hydroelectric plants are in East Tennessee.

As for the NFC, I don’t dislike the Packers, but I would rather not see Aaron Rodgers highlights on NFL Network and ESPN 18 hours a day. Even worse, we’d see more of Danica Patrick than a human should have to. It would be nice for Kyle Shanahan to lead the 49ers to a championship and redeem himself for all the bad calls he made as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator when the Falcons blew that lead to the Patriots three years ago.

Here’s hoping for a lot of red in Miami Gardens. If it is 49ers-Chiefs, I’m wondering if Joe Montana will toss the coin seeing he played for both teams.

It’s been football overload this week. Thankfully after tomorrow night, nothing until 2 February (the Pro Bowl doesn’t count).

LSU completes its mission

The lights were out in the basement at 1224 North Brooks at 20:10 last night. The CPAP mask was on, and I was going to try to get as much sleep as possible.

I woke up at 00:48, went back to bed, then was up for good at 03:50.

I waited a few minutes before venturing to The Advocate website.

The header screamed “THIS IS FOR ALL OF US”.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out LSU defeated Clemson to become the 2019 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision national champion.

The Bayou Bengals fell behind the Tigers from South Carolina 17-7 early in the second quarter, the first time LSU has trailed by more than seven points since losing 29-0 to Alabama in November 2018.

I felt 95 percent sure LSU would not lead wire-to-wire, as it did against Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl and Georgia in the SEC championship game. I figured Dabo’s boys would build a two-score lead at some point, which it did.

By halftime, the tenor of the game changed 180 degrees.

LSU scored three touchdowns to turn that 17-7 deficit into a 28-17 lead.

Clemson scored early in the third quarter and added the conversion to make it 28-25, but Trevor Lawrence and his team did not score again.

Final: LSU 42, Clemson 25. The Bayou Bengals joined the 2018 Clemson Tigers as the only college football teams to finish 15-0 since 1900. The others to win 15 (or 16) without a loss played in the 1890s, before the NCAA was founded.

Ed Orgeron proclaimed his 2019 team the “best ever”.

He has many great points.

LSU, which was ranked #6 in the Associated Press preseason poll, defeated the teams ranked #1 (Clemson), #2 (Alabama), #3 (Georgia) and #4 (Oklahoma) in that poll. That never happened until 2019.

LSU defeated seven top-10 teams: the four aforementioned teams, plus Texas, Florida and Auburn.

Joe Burrow had a season for the ages, throwing 60 touchdown passes (yes, he did so in 15 games, but four TD passes per game is incredible), finishing with 467 yards and five TDs against Clemson.

Burrow is headed to Cincinnati barring something cataclysmic. The Bengals would be asinine not to pick him first overall in the upcoming NFL draft.

LSU fans got a dose of bad news late this afternoon when it was announced Joe Brady, the 31-year old wunderkind who came to Baton Rouge and installed the high-powered passing attack Bayou Bengal fans could only have dreamed about prior 2019, would be going back to the NFL as offensive coordinator for Matt Rhule and the Panthers.

The worry is without Brady, Orgeron and Steve Ensminger will resort to the prehistoric offense which hastened Les Miles’ demise. I don’t think it will happen, but Orgeron needs to move swiftly and decisively to fill this hole.

Coaching turnover is an inevitable part of football. However, Brady is going to the NFL, not to another SEC school. The bad news is he’ll be facing the Saints twice a year.

Many fans would have been mighty disappointed had LSU lost last night, but many might not have been. The Bayou Bengals defeated Alabama two months ago to end an eight-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide, and Nick Saban was sitting next to Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit all night in a suit and tie, which meant he wasn’t on the sideline coaching Alabama.

With that in mind, I hope LSU fans who are 25 and under are grateful for the success the Bayou Bengals have enjoyed since 2000.

LSU’s WORST record since 2000 is 8-5, which occurred in 2008, one year after LSU defeated Ohio State for the BCS national championship.

I’m old enough to remember LSU suffering through six consecutive losing seasons from 1989-94. Two words: CURLEY HALLMAN.

Hallman, who only got the LSU job because Brett Favre was his quarterback at Southern Miss–gifted to him by Jim Carmody–and Joe Dean was too freaking cheap to hire anyone better. Dean got bamboozled by Hallman’s record as a drill sergeant and he was an assistant on national championship teams at Alabama (1973) and Clemson (1981).

Too bad Hallman put together a mostly incompetent staff, save for Phil Bennett. He didn’t recruit all that poorly, because Gerry DiNardo came in and took LSU to three consecutive low-level bowl games from 1995-97.

I’ll never forget just how excited LSU fans were over a 6-4-1 regular season in 1995 which sent the Bayou Bengals to the Independence Bowl to face Michigan State When LSU defeated Nick Saban’s Spartans 45-26, LSU fans reacted like they were well on their way to a national championship.

Yes, there was a national championship coach in the house in Shreveport on 29 December. Only he was wearing green, not purple.

LSU went 10-2 in 1996 and won the Peach Bowl. It was one of the worst 10-2 teams I’ve seen. The Bayou Bengals played a pillow soft schedule, and in the two biggest games, they were routed 56-13 by eventual national champion Florida and 26-0 by Alabama when Shaun Alexander rushed for 291 yards.

Then came the most overrated win in LSU athletic history, the 1997 game vs. then-No. 1 Florida, which it promptly pissed away a week later by losing to Ole Miss.

With mostly his own players, DiNardo had two horrible years in 1998 and ’99, which was a blessing in disguise, because it forced LSU to open its wallets to pay for a quality coach. That quality coach was Nick Saban, a choice which angered many fans who considered him a “Yankee” from Michigan State.

Saban went 48-16 in five seasons in Baton Rouge. Les Miles followed and went 114-34 over the next 11-plus campaigns, combining for 25 more wins than Charles McClendon had in 18 seasons (137-59-7).

It wasn’t all wine and roses for Orgeron, either. LSU fans were up in arms after losses to Alabama and Florida in November 2016, and many hoped Tom Herman would leave Houston to come to Baton Rouge. When it was announced Orgeron would get the job full time two days after LSU defeated Texas A&M to close the 2016 regular season, a collective groan could be heard from Shreveport to Port Sulphur, from Lake Providence to Cameron, and many points in between.

Orgeron’s seat heated up again when LSU lost at home to Troy in 2017, and again when Alabama came to Baton Rouge in 2018 and laid the 29-0 beatdown on the Bayou Bengals.

Today, no coach in college athletics is more beloved by his or her fan base than Ed Orgeron. More so than Nick Saban, Coach K, Bill Self, Geno Auriemma, and Dabo.

Part of me wishes I were in Louisiana to experience the season. The other part says I’m better off from a distance. Regardless, it’s history. Time to let the pros take it from here.

Tuning out the Tigers

You would think I would be watching LSU and Clemson play for college football’s national championship (at least for the highest level).

I’m not.

I am so convinced Clemson will win I am not watching.

The game kicked off at 19:15. I am self-censoring. The TV is off. I have set my devices to do not disturb. I am not checking any sports sites. I think I’ll go to bed really early, considering I rose at 05:00 and have a lot of work to get done tomorrow morning.

The last time I self-censored was the night of the 2016 presidential election. I watched some crap on LMN, then went to bed early. I had no earthly clue who had won what state.

I went to bed convinced Hillary would win, just as almost every major media outlet predicted.

It wasn’t until I came upstairs, where my mother had the TV tuned to Today, when I learned Trump won.

When LSU played Alabama for the BCS national championship in January 2012, I didn’t watch the game, but I made the mistake of looking at Twitter. It was there I learned just how badly LSU was getting its ass kicked by Alabama. Of course, a few jerks had to rub it in.

This season, I purposely did not watch most of the first half in LSU’s game at Alabama and the Peach Bowl vs. Oklahoma. I didn’t see a score until I came upstairs, because my mother was watching. In each of those games, the Bayou Bengals built up a big enough lead, making it okay to watch. Not tonight. It won’t be that easy vs. Clemson.

Tonight, no social media, Nothing. If I want to watch the game, I can watch a replay on ESPN+. Something tells me those wearing orange are going to be much happier tonight than those wearing purple and gold.

More sports woe in Houston.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch for the 2020 season for their roles in Houston’s sign stealing throughout the 2017 postseason, which ended with the Astros defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.

Houston was also fined $5 million, believed to be a record for a major sports league due to an on-field incident. Too bad Roger Goodell doesn’t have the guts to fine the Patriots that much.

Astros owner Jim Crane went one step farther than Manfred, immediately firing Luhnow and Hinch. Houston has a huge hole in the rotation now that Gerrit Cole is in the Bronx, but it still has many strong pieces in Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Corriea and George Springer. The question is who will manage them, and who will step into this mess?

I didn’t mention the Oilers blowing the 35-3 lead in Buffalo in the 1992 playoffs, but I figured you knew about that already. It has been repeated ad nausem following the Texans’ collapse yesterday in Kansas City.

On the other hand, Chiefs fans are convinced more than ever the Super Bowl is their destiny. Mahomes is God. The Titans might as well stay in Nashville. Bring on the 49ers or Packers.

Before the season, a Kansas City Star online poll asked “What would it take for you to consider the Chiefs season a success?”. I don’t remember the exact split, but at least 80 percent said either “get to the Super Bowl” or “win the Super Bowl”. If the Titans win Sunday, mental health professionals will be in high demand in the so-called “Chiefs Kingdom”.

Good night, blogosphere. Hopefully I’m waking up to good news in a few hours…but I have my doubts.

40 years ago: LSU’s tragic night

LSU and Clemson still have approximately 69 more hours of waiting before facing off in New Orleans to crown 2019’s college football champion, at least for the highest level.

Forty years ago, college football was all but wrapped up after New Year’s Day. Alabama’s 24-9 victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, combined with Ohio State’s 17-16 loss to Southern California in the Rose Bowl, ensured Bear Bryant would win his third consensus national championship and sixth overall with the Crimson Tide. Three years and 25 days after defeating Lou Holtz’ Razorbacks, Bryant died of a massive heart attack in Tuscaloosa at age 69.

Sadly, on New Year’s Day 1980, another college football coach–one who recently came to the Southeastern Conference–had less than 10 days remaining on this earth.

Robert “Bo” Rein was named LSU’s coach on November 30, 1979, six days after the Bayou Bengals lost their regular season finale to Tulane in New Orleans. Rein had the unenviable task of filling the shoes which would be vacated by Charles Youmans McClendon, who led the Bayou Bengals from 1962-79, piloting LSU to a 137-59-7 record.

McClendon, who played for Bryant at Kentucky and was an assistant to Paul Dietzel on LSU’s 1958 national championship team, was forced out by LSU’s Board of Supervisors for one major reason: the inability to beat Alabama. Sound familiar? I’m sure a former LSU coach now residing in Lawrence agrees.

McClendon’s teams beat Alabama in 1969 and 1970, when the Crimson Tide suffered its only major downturn in Bryant’s 25 seasons.

Alabama was 6-5 in 1969 and 6-5-1 in 1970, losing to Tennessee and Auburn in both of those seasons as well. The 1969 team lost at Vanderbilt, the last time the Tide has lost in Nashville to the Commodores. The 1970 team lost 42-21 to USC in Birmingham, the game which convinced Bryant and his administration it was time to desegregate.

It didn’t hurt LSU had two of its best teams of the 20th century in 1969 and ’70.

The 1969 team’s lone loss was by three points to Archie Manning’s Ole Miss Rebels in Jackson. Even with the loss, LSU was expecting to receive an invitation to the Cotton Bowl to play the winner of the season-ending showdown between Texas and Arkansas, both of whom were expected to be undefeated heading into the December 6 showdown in Fayetteville. However, Notre Dame opted to end its self-imposed bowl ban which dated to the Four Horsemen and Rockne, and with the Irish now in play, the Cotton Bowl jumped on Ara Parseghian’s team. The Sugar Bowl took Ole Miss instead of LSU, and the Bayou Bengals opted to stay home despite a 9-1 ledger and a No 7 ranking in the final regular season Associated Press poll.

One year later, LSU lost its season opener by two points to Gene Stallings’ Texas A&M Aggies. A&M did not win again in 1970, and by the end of 1971, Stallings was no longer the coach at his alma mater. LSU’s other loss was 3-0 to then-No. 2 Notre Dame in South Bend. When LSU’s plane landed in Baton Rouge the evening of November 21, McClendon learned LSU would be invited to the Orange bowl if and only if the Bayou Bengals defeated Tulane and Ole Miss in their last two games.

No sweat.

LSU took down a strong Tulane club in New Orleans 26-14, then came home and mauled the Rebels 61-17 to win the SEC championship and the date with Nebraska in Miami. The Bayou Bengals fought the Cornhuskers to the wire, but Nebraska prevailed 17-12 for the AP national championship after losses earlier in the day by UPI national champion Texas and Ohio State.

In 1971, Bryant changed Alabama’s offense to the Wishbone, the attack which helped Texas win 30 consecutive games prior to the loss to Notre Dame on New Year’s Day 1971.

LSU played Alabama tough in most years, but the Tide and their attack were simply too much. From 1971-79, Alabama won or shared the SEC championship in every season except 1976, shared two national championships (1973 with Notre Dame, 1978 with USC), and as mentioned before, won the 1979 title outright.

The Bayou Bengals won nine games in 1971, ’72 and ’73, but when LSU went 5-5-1 in 1974 and 4-7 in 1975, LSU fans demanded McClendon’s ouster. It was originally announced McClendon would coach through the 1978 season, but when Dietzel became LSU’s athletic director in early 1978, he extended McClendon for an extra year.

Rein was a popular choice to succeed “Cholly Mac”. He was a standout football and baseball player for Ohio State, helping the Buckeyes win the 1966 College World Series. He was an assistant for Woody Hayes at his alma mater and Holtz at North Carolina State. When Holtz left Raleigh for his disastrous season with the New York Jets, Rein was tapped as his successor.

Strangely enough, Rein left NC State to serve as an assistant to Frank Broyles at Arkansas in 1975. Broyles resigned as coach after the 1976 season, but remained as the Razorbacks’ athletic director for the next 32 years. Broyles the AD named Holtz to succeed Broyles the coach. I’m sure neither dreamed Arkansas would one day be in the SEC.

Led by Rein, All-America offensive lineman Jim Ritcher (who started for the Bills in all four of their Super Bowl appearances) and linebacker Bill Cowher (the future coach of the Steelers), NC State enjoyed great success in Rein’s four seasons, going 27-18-1 with victories in the 1977 Peach Bowl over Iowa State and the 1978 Tangerine (now Citrus) Bowl over Pittsburgh. The 1979 Wolfpack won the 1979 Atlantic Coast Conference championship, but did not go to a bowl game, while rivals Clemson and Wake Forest did.

Ironically, the Deamon Deacons, coached by John Mackovic, lost 34-10 to LSU in McClendon’s last game, the 1979 Tangerine Bowl.

While McClendon got the 1979 Bayou Bengals, led by quarterbacks David Woodley and Steve Ensminger, ready for Wake Forest, Rein and his coaching staff hit the recruiting trail hard in search of new talent.

On January 10, 1980, Rein and an assistant coach drove to Shreveport to visit with a recruit from Fair Park High, long a power in northwest Louisiana. Following the visit, Rein arranged for a private plane owned by a construction company to fly him back to Baton Rouge. The assistant would stay overnight in Shreveport and drive to another visit the next day.

Travel was much different in 1980 than it is in 2020 in two major respects.

First, LSU did not own its own plane as it does today. Ed Orgeron, as well as predecessors Miles and Nick Saban, have enjoyed a plane provided by the Tiger Athletic Foundation, LSU’s athletic booster club, to travel long distances.

Second, driving between Shreveport and Baton Rouge was a lot more arduous.

Interstate 49 had been proposed in the early 1970s by then-Governor Edwin Edwards, but in January 1980, two months before he left office and gave way to Dave Treen, the highway was still only a dream.

Before I-49, it required a very long journey on two-lane highways to make the trek. One option was to take Louisiana Highway 1 through New Roads and Marksville through to Alexandria, Natchitoches and Shreveport. The other was to take US 190 to Krotz Springs, then pick up US 71, which also went through Alexandria, but bypassed Natchitoches and instead went through Coushatta to Bossier City, on the opposite bank of the Red River from Shreveport.

My family made the long and lonely drive up US 71 on trips to Kansas in the 1980s. It took about five hours to get from Baton Rouge to Interstate 20. We’ll never forget the rocks along the highway in Bunkie which cracked the windshield of our old station wagon in 1986.

When I-49 was finally completed in 1996, that trip was cut to under four hours. With the speed limit now at 75 MPH (121 km/h) on I-49 from Shreveport to US 190 at Opelousas, fast drivers can make it in three hours, 25 minutes.

The assistant coach drove Rein to Shreveport Regional Airport, which fronts the eastbound lanes of I-20. Rein climbed aboard the Cessna 441, piloted by 48-year old Lewis F. Benscotter Jr., for what should have been a 50-minute flight to Ryan Field (now Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport).

There was a line of severe thunderstorms over central Louisiana, so the air traffic control tower at SHV instructed Benscotter to fly east into Mississippi, paralleling I-20, then turn south over Vicksburg, which would parallel US 61.

Shortly after takeoff just after 22:00, Rein and Benscotter were incapacitated. The plane kept climbing, all the way to 41,600 feet (12,700 meters), well above its ceiling maximum of 35,000 feet (10, 668 meters). The cabin pressurization malfunctioned, and without oxygen at high altitudes, Rein and Benscotter slipped into unconsciousness.

The doomed plane flew over Tennessee and North Carolina. In a sad twist of irony, the plane passed directly over the NC State campus.

Air Force fighter planes from Norfolk attempted to contact the plane. Nothing. The Cessna finally ran out of fuel off the coast of Virginia and nosedived into the Atlantic shortly after 01:00 Eastern.

Robert “Bo” Rein was 34 years old. He had been LSU’s coach for all of 42 days. His final record: 0-0-0.

Technology in 1980 was primitive. ESPN debuted four months earlier, but it did not have the resources to send someone to Baton Rogue, and besides, most Americans didn’t have cable. Of course, most households didn’t have a computer, and the Internet was for government use only.

Most found out by reading an evening newspaper (Baton Rouge’s evening paper, the State-Times, was still publishing, as was the States-Item in New Orleans; the Russell County News was published four days a week then and delivered in the late afternoon) or watching Roger Mudd (substituting for Walter Cronkite on CBS), John Chancellor (NBC) or Frank Reynolds (ABC) on the evening news. If you had a friend or relative in Louisiana, you found out sooner I’m sure.

Herb Vincent, who was born and raised in Little Rock but grew up an LSU fan, was about to begin his second semester in Baton Rouge when Rein’s plane went down. He may have been the first LSU student to learn of the tragedy from legendary LSU sports information director Paul Manasseh.

Vincent was one of only a handful of students on campus that Friday, because classes for the spring semester were to start the following Monday. The only other students on campus were LSU’s men’s basketball, women’s basketball and wrestling teams, those who had important jobs, and possibly a few football players lifting weights.

Nearly 20 years after Rein’s tragic death, an eerily similar fate befell golfer Payne Stewart four months after his victory in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. A private plane which was scheduled to ferry Stewart, his agent and three others from Orlando to Dallas went well off course. By time it ran out of gas, it crashed into a field in South Dakota.

In 2015, a documentary about Rein was aired by the SEC Network. It was well-produced, thanks in large part to Herb’s guidance.

Jerry Stovall, the 1962 Heisman runner-up and an assistant to McClendon in the late 1970s, was named Rein’s successor less than 48 hours after the plane crash. Stovall did the right thing by keeping all of Rein’s assistants, while also adding Pete Jenkins, in hindsight the best thing he did in his four seasons.

It’s speculated Rein may have led LSU to great glory in the 1980s. Even with Georgia assuming superpower status thanks to Herschel Walker, Florida ascending, Auburn becoming elite again under Pat Dye, and Alabama still competing well under Ray Perkins and Bill Curry, the Bayou Bengals could have ruled the roost under Rein if he had been able to keep the best high school players from Louisiana at home.

It’s also fair to speculate if Rein lived, Bill Arnsparger never leaves the Dolphins and gets another shot at being an NFL head coach; Mike Archer would have coached the Miami Hurricanes at some point, either succeeding Howard Schnellenberger or Jimmy Johnson; Curley Hallman would have still been in Hattiesburg long after Brett Favre departed for the NFL; and Gerry DiNardo would have languished at Vanderbilt a few more years.

Nick Saban stays at Michigan State until he finds more money somewhere else. In fact, he may very well have ended up at Alabama in 2001 after it fired Mike DuBose.

Les Miles coaches three more years in Stillwater before succeeding Lloyd Carr at his alma mater, Michigan.

On the other hand, something tells me Ed Orgeron is coaching the Bayou Bengals right now anyway. Orgeron would have come to LSU right out of college and stayed in Baton Rouge, resisting overtures from Ole Miss and at least 20 other Power Five schools.

Rein retires at 70 after the 2015 season, and Big Ed leads LSU into the 2016 season opener vs. Wisconsin at Lambeau Field. Joe Burrow comes to LSU from Ohio State with Rein’s encouragement, wins the 2019 Heisman, and all is right with the world (unless Clemson wins).

That’s the beauty of what-if. The not so beautiful part? It couldn’t happen, because the man at the center of this what-if left us far too soon. Rest in Peace, coach Rein. You would have been a great one.

Rumblings from Red Stick (too bad I’m not there)

So much for posting every day this year. I missed yesterday. I’m a bad boy. However, given my lack of posts over the last two and a half months of 2019, 9 out of 10 ain’t bad, to paraphrase Mr. Meat Loaf.

If Matt Rhule has his way, Joe Brady will be a one-year wonder with LSU. The new Panthers coach has targeted Brady, the wunderkind who turned Joe Burrow from a former Ohio State backup into this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, to be his offensive coordinator. Ed Orgeron and LSU athletic director Scott Woodward are going to give Brady a significant pay raise if he remains in Baton Rouge, but LSU can’t match the resources of an NFL team, especially considering Rhule will make more than $8 million per season.

LSU plays Clemson for the national championship Monday in New Orleans, and the casinos are worried Burrow, Brady, Orgeron and the team in purple and gold take the golden trophy west on Interstate 10.

Sports books across the nation are reporting heavy action on LSU, by far the most one-sided action for a championship game since the first College Football Playoff in January 2015. For every nine dollars bet on money lines, eight is on LSU, while the spread action is 4-to-1 in favor of the Bayou Bengals.

It’s hard to believe Alabama did not receive anywhere near the action in its three national championship games vs. Clemson, two of which the Crimson Tide lost. However, the public is betting LSU is more battle-tested by playing in the SEC than Clemson is in the ACC, although the South Carolina Tigers had a much tougher semifinal vs. Ohio State than the Bayou Bengals did vs. Oklahoma.

If LSU wins, the casinos will take a bath. If Clemson wins, the bettors will take the bath.

This is a disturbing trend for the Bayou Bengals.

Sports books are reporting they have not seen this much one-sided action on a championship football game since Super Bowl XLVIII, when most of the betting public put their money on the Broncos, believing Peyton Manning would cap a record setting season by winning his second championship.

Instead, the Seahawks demolished Denver 43-8, and the books made almost $20 million, a Super Bowl record.

Yesterday’s Baton Rouge Advocate had a wide-ranging interview with former LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who was forced out of the job last year after 11 years in Baton Rouge. Two things Alleva said were of particular note.

First, Alleva did not want to hire Jimbo Fisher, then at Florida State, to be LSU’s football coach. Alleva, who had ties to the ACC during his days as Duke’s athletic director, did not want to give in to Fisher’s exorbitant demands, demands which were similar to those Nick Saban made at LSU and Alabama before taking each of those jobs. The most exorbitant of which was a fully guaranteed contract, which would have to run at least eight years and pay Fisher at least $7 million per season.

Late in the 2015 season, it was rumored LSU would fire Les Miles, who led the Bayou Bengals to the 2007 national championship but whose teams had slipped following the 2011 BCS championship game loss to Saban’s Crimson Tide. Most thought Fisher would be the successor, but Alleva now says it wasn’t so.

Alleva didn’t want to fire Miles in 2015, and when LSU defeated Texas A&M 19-7 in the regular season finale, Alleva went to the locker room after the game and told the media Miles would be back in 2016.

Four games into 2016, Alleva fired Miles following losses to Wisconsin and Auburn. Orgeron was named interim coach, then got the full-time position two months later, angering many LSU fans at that time. Of course, it has all worked out.

Ironically, Woodward hired Fisher at A&M, giving in to Jimbo’s demands with a 10-year, $75 million contract which is fully guaranteed. Not even Saban had that at LSU, nor does he have that at Alabama. Like Saban, Fisher does not owe a buyout if he leaves College Station.

The second nugget from Alleva’s interview which struck me was regret over hiring men’s basketball coach Will Wade.

Wade came to LSU from VCU after Johnny Jones was fired following a disastrous 2016-17 season. Wade was suspended in March 2019 when the NCAA announced LSU was under investigation for numerous violations, and did not coach the team in its last regular season game or in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, where LSU lost in the Sweet 16 to Michigan State. Wade was reinstated following the season, but the NCAA is still investigating.

Alleva told Advocate sports columnist Scott Rabalais “he got bad information” about Wade. Hmm.

What wasn’t discussed was hiring the awful Nikki Caldwell-Fargas to coach LSU’s women’s basketball team.

LSU went to five consecutive women’s Final Fours between 2004-08, but hasn’t been close since. LSU has slipped to an SEC afterthought under Caldwell-Fargas, while former league doormats Mississippi State and South Carolina have become powerhouses, with the Gamecocks defeating the Bulldogs in the 2017 national championship game after State ended Connecticut’s record 110-game winning streak in the semifinals.

LSU women’s basketball has fallen into gross disrepair since the glory days of Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles. It was never going to eclipse football, baseball or men’s basketball in importance, but now it is far behind gymnastics, softball, and track and field, and even men’s golf has won a national championship recently.

Someone, either the UCLA, where Caldwell-Fargas coached before leaving for LSU, or the late Pat Summitt, who coached Caldwell at Tennessee, sold Alleva a bill of goods. This was a terrible hire, one which Woodward must rectify switfly, or the PMAC will again become a tomb for women’s games the way it was in the mid-1990s before Sue Gunter got it back on track.

Alleva blundered big time by not going after Kim Mulkey when there was a vacancy in 2011. Mulkey, who has coached Baylor to three national championships, grew up 45 minutes from LSU’s campus in Hammond, then went on to become an All-American at Louisiana Tech and a gold medalist on the 1984 United States Olympic team. Alleva should have taken a blank check to Mulkey and asked her to fill it in. Even if she stayed in Waco, Alleva would have won fans for going for it. Instead, he copped out and hired someone who is getting circles run around her by Dawn Staley and Vic Shaffer.

The only good things I can say about Caldwell-Fargas is (a) she’s a woman coaching women’s basketball, and (b) she is nowhere near as inept as the men leading Power Five women’s basketball teams in my current home state. Kansas State hiring Jeff Mittie and Kansas hiring Brandon Schneider were only eclipsed by the Wildcats hiring Ron Prince and the Jayhawks hiring Turner Gill, Charlie Weis and David Beatty.

It’s a good thing I was in Kansas City last weekend. This weekend is promising snow and ice, plus the myriad of travel problems it causes.

Roll Green Wave

It took 126 seasons, but Tulane has won bowl games in consecutive seasons.

The Green Wave dug themselves a 13-0 hole vs. former archrival Southern Miss in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, then reeled off 30 unanswered points, while keeping the Golden Eagles off the board for the final 54 minutes.

Last year, the Wave defeated Louisiana-Lafayette in the Cure Bowl (don’t get me started) in Orlando.

Nearly all college football fans 45 or younger don’t know Tulane was a founding member of the Southeastern Conference in 1933, and played in the SEC until leaving in July 1966.

The Green Wave played in the first Sugar Bowl following the 1934 season, defeating Temple 20-14. That was three years after Tulane lost to Washington State in the Rose Bowl. Wazzu didn’t return to Pasadena until Ryan Leaf led them there in 1997.

If you are (a) younger than 75, and/or (b) not from Louisiana, raise your hand if you knew either of those facts. Put your hand down. You didn’t.

The Rose Bowl appearance is the ONE thing Tulane can claim that its in-state archrival cannot. LSU has never been to Pasadena or any bowl game in California; in fact, last year’s Fiesta Bowl win over UCF was the Bayou Bengals’ first bowl west of Dallas.

LSU thought it would be in the Rose Bowl following the 2006 season, but a series of events gave the Tournament of Roses its desired Pac-10-Big Ten match (USC 32, MIchigan 18), leaving LSU to take out its frustration on a woefully overrated Notre Dame team coached by Charlie Weis and quarterbacked by Brady Quinn in the Sugar.

Tulane won its lone SEC championship in 1949. However, the Sugar Bowl said it would take the winner of the LSU-Tulane game.

LSU went to New Orleans and hammered Tulane 21-0. The Bayou Bengals, in turn, were hammered 35-0 in the Sugar Bowl by Oklahoma, coached by Bud Wilkinson and quarterback by Darrell Royal, who won three national championships and 176 games at Texas from 1957-76.

Following 1949, Tulane became the whipping boy for the SEC’s other 11 schools. The biggest culprit was the university’s decision in 1951 to force athletes to take a full course load in core subjects, not the typical “jock” curriculum. It got so bad LSU beat Tulane 62-0 THREE times between 1958 and 1965. The first of those saw LSU scored 56 points in the second half (eat your heart out, Joe Burrow and Joe Brady) to clinch its first national championship.

Georgia Tech left the SEC after the 1963 football season. The Yellow Jackets were angry after an incident during their 1961 game with Alabama in Birmingham when Crimson Tide guard/linebacker Darwin Holt slammed both of his forearms into the face of Tech’s Chick Graning, breaking Graning’s face and causing a Grade III concussion. Tech also had the same problem of a rigorous academic curriculum (mostly engeineering) which also handicapped Tulane and Vanderbilt.

As LSU prepared to face Syracuse in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day 1965, Tulane announced it was leaving the SEC effective at the end of the 1965-66 school year. The Bayou Bengals’ going away gift to the Green Wave gridders? The third 62-0 beatdown. At least this one (and the one in 1961) were in Baton Rouge, so most Tulane fans didn’t have to sit through it.

The Green Wave played as an independent in football from 1966 through 1995 (all other sports joined the Metropolitan Athletic Conference, or the Metro, in 1975, and again from 1989-95; Tulane was expelled from the Metro in 1985 after it shut down its men’s basketball program in the wake of point shaving). There were a few nibbles of success: 1970, when Jim Pittman led the Wave to a Liberty Bowl win over Colorado to cap a 9-3 season; 1973, when Tulane defeated LSU 14-0 for its first win over the Bayou Bengals since 1948; 1979, when the Wave opened the season by defeating Stanford in John Elway’s first collegiate game, then defeating LSU in Bayou Bengals coach Charlie McClendon’s last regular season game.

Pittman left for TCU in January 1971. Sadly, he dropped dead of a heart attack on the sideline in Waco nine months later during the Horned Frogs’ victory over Baylor.

Bennie Ellender, the coach of the 1973 team, saw his 1974 team start 5-0, only to drop the last six in the last season at Tulane Stadium. It got no better in 1975, the first season in the Superdome, and Ellender was fired following a 42-6 loss to LSU, which experienced a 4-7 season, its worst since 1956.

Larry Smith left Tulane for Arizona in December 1979. Had he stuck around, he might have been LSU’s coach. Bo Rein, hired from North Carolina State to replace McClendon six days after LSU lost to Tulane, died in a plane crash seven weeks later.

Vince Gibson, who coached Lynn Dickey at Kansas State from 1968-70, took Tulane to a bowl in 1980, the first time Tulane went to bowls in consecutive seasons. Gibson went 3-1 vs. LSU, including a 31-28 victory in Baton Rouge in 1982 over a Bayou Bengal team headed to the Orange Bowl, but he was fired.

Tulane came perilously close to shutting down its football program in early 1985. The new Green Wave coach, Mack Brown (yes, that Mack Brown) was forced to take over as athletic director for a brief period in the wake of the point shaving scandal. Brown’s first Wave team went 1-10, but in 1987, Tulane went 6-5 and played in the Independence Bowl. Following the loss to Washington, Brown went to Chapel Hill.

On the other hand, Brown’s second squad lost to Wichita State. The Shockers won only once more, then shuttered their program in January 1987.

The period from 1988-86 was one of the darkest for the Wave. Tulane bottomed out with 1-10 seasons in 1991 and ’94. In both of those seasons, the Wave hosted LSU, which was in the throes of its own woe under Curley Hallman. Neither game drew a paid attendance of 40,000 (30,000 short of capacity in the Superdome), and there may have been 25,000 at most in 1994, which was four days after Hallman was fired (he coached LSU to wins over the Wave and Arkansas after the announcement).

Tommy Bowden, Bobby’s son and Terry’s brother, took over in 1997 and turned the 2-9 of ’96 to 7-4. The next season, Tulane ran the table–admittedly against a weak schedule which did not include LSU–and defeated BYU in the Liberty Bowl to finish 12-0 and No. 7 in the final Associated Press poll. Tulane was hoping for a BCS berth in the first season of the system; however, if Kansas State could not get a BCS bid ranked #4, even after the loss to Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship game, what chance did Tulane have? Under the College Football Playoff system, Tulane would have likely played A&M or Florida as the highest-ranked Group of Five champion.

Bowden accepted the Clemson job before the Liberty Bowl, and he did not coach the Wave in Memphis. Instead, that job fell to incoming coach Chris Scelfo, who was Georgia’s quarterbacks coach under Jim Donnan. Scelfo, a New Iberia native, took Tulane to another bowl in 2002, but the Wave fell off quickly.

Then came 2005. Hurricane Katrina. Tulane was forced to play 11 games at 11 different locations due to the catastrophic damage at the Superdome. Ironically, one of those locales was Tiger Stadium, where the Wave defeated Southeastern Louisiana.

The Wave floundered shortly after returning to the Big Easy, but in 2011, Tulane earned its biggest victory in a long, long, LONG time.

It was announced Tulane would return to campus in 2014 to play in Yulman Stadium, a 30,000-seat facility which would occupy much of the footprint of the old Tulane Stadium.

The Wave needed it worse than an alcoholic needs cheap wine. By the end of their time at the Superdome, most crowds were under 10,000, and some were as low as 3,000, not enough to fill most high school stadiums in the New Orleans area.

Fittingly, Tulane’s first opponent at Yulman was Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were thrown a lifeline in 1979 with membership in the ACC. While Tulane played in Conference USA from 1995-2013 and the American Athletic Conference since 2014, the Wave has been shut out in its attempts to join a power conference.

In 2016, Tulane hired Willie Fritz, who had success at Georgia Southern.He has upgraded the Wave’s recruiting, and while Tulane will never be able to attract as many blue chippers as LSU, it is doing quite well in taking the second and third tier recruits and molding them to Fritz’s triple option offense.

Sadly, LSU and Tulane don’t play any more. Both sides are stubborn, and I see where they are coming from.

LSU’s contention is most, if not all, games should be in Baton Rouge. Tiger Stadium now seats 102,000, and Tulane will net more from a game in Death Valley than they would anywhere else. With no travel expenses, except for gas for the busses, LSU has a point.

Tulane, however, wants the series to resume being a home-and-home, or at least a two-for-one. I don’t see any way LSU would play at Yulman. The games would have to be at the :Superdome, but the Wave has a good point about that becoming a de facto LSU home game.

I find it sad LSU will play the lower level colleges from Louisiana–Southeastern, Northwestern State, McNeese, Nicholls (in 2020) and Southern (2021)–but not Tulane. I would rather LSU play two Power Five teams in non-conference if the SEC is not going to play nine conference games, but Tulane should be on the schedule no matter what.

I’ll root for the Wave, except when they play LSU. I have a soft spot for Tulane, because one of my favorite people on earth, Rebecca Hale, who taught me English during the first semester of my junior year of high school, is a huge Wave supporter and has been all her life.

I hope Rebecca was in Fort Worth today. It had to be a thrill to see the Wave make history and do it against Southern Miss, which gave Tulane so many heartaches throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

I have a strong antipathy for USM, since it was the Golden Eagles’ success under Curley Hallman which prompted then-LSU athletic director Joe Dean to lure Hallman to Baton Rouge. What Dean forgot was a future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback, one which was gifted to Hallman by his predecessor at USM, Jim Carmody, was leading the Golden Eagle offense.

My dissertation on Tulane football began at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek and ended at Minsky’s. In between, the Texans defeated the Bills in overtime to advance in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots are trailing the Titans 7-3 late in the first quarter, but we all know New England isn’t going to lose at home to Tennessee.

The Superdome must be secured!

Donald Trump announced yesterday he would attend the College Football Playoff championship game in New Orleans.

Security was already going to be problematic with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and nearly all 144 members of the Louisiana Legislature making their way down Interstate 10 from the state capitol, where Edwards, other elected officials and legislators will be inaugurated that day.

Adding a visit by POTUS is going to exacerbate the problem exponentially.

Security for the game will be as tight as it was for the two Super Bowls in the Superdome since the September 11 attacks. The Secret Service will take the lead from the Louisiana State Police and New Orleans Police Department for security, and searches will be much longer and more thorough.

The Superdome would be better off asking the Transportation Security Administration to get full body scanners and place them at each of the four main entrances.

I bring this up because 16 years ago tonight, the Sugar Bowl matched LSU and Oklahoma for the BCS national championship. Nearly 80,000 crammed into the Superdome, which was–and still is–a record for a football game in the facility. The record for all events is 87,500 for a 1981 concert by The Rolling Stones, although an estimated 95,000 attended a 1987 youth rally with Pope John Paul II.

Please forgive me as I go off the trail to tell another story about John Paul’s only visit to the Crescent City.

The pontiff hosted an outdoor mass behind the left field fence of the University of New Orleans’ baseball stadium a few hours after the youth rally. It was not the best idea. It poured before the mass, which proved to be the lesser of two meteorological evils for New Orleans in September (at least when there’s not a hurricane bearing down on the Bayou State). Better wet from rain than dripping with sweat.

If the Archdiocese of New Orleans was smart, it would have held the mass on Sunday morning in the Superdome and asked the Saints to play on the road in week one of the 1987 season. Sure, fewer people would have been able to attend, but it would have been much more comfortable for all. John Paul was frail after he was shot in May 1981 in St. Peter’s Square, but had not yet displayed symptoms of the Parkinson’s which would claim him in 2005. He made it through the nearly two-hour service, but Archbishop Philip Hannan breathed a lot easier when the pontiff got into an air-conditioned limousine after the service.

Now, back to LSU and Oklahoma playing for half the 2003 college football national championship.

I say half the national championship, because the media voting in the Associated Press poll had Southern California (DO NOT EVER use Southern Cal) atop its poll following the regular season, and the Trojans figured to stay there after hammering Michigan 28-14 in the Rose Bowl three days prior. The coaches poll was contractually obligated to name the winner of the designated BCS championship game its champion.

Oklahoma stayed No. 1 in the final BCS standings despite a disgustingly ugly 35-7 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game, the Wildcats’ first conference championship since 1934. LSU moved into the No. 2 spot following a 34-13 victory over Georgia in the SEC championship game.

Two weeks prior to the Sugar Bowl, the Department of Homeland Security raised the terror alert threat from “Elevated” (Yellow) to “High” (Orange). Since September 11, 2001, DHS devised a terrorism threat chart with five color-coded levels. The highest was “Extreme” (Red), followed by High, Elevated, “Guarded” (Blue) and “Low” (Green).

For the Sugar Bowl, DHS, LSP and NOPD ordered nearly all of the parking lots attached to the Superdome closed. Only the garage at the southwest corner of the stadium would be opened, and very few permits would be issued.

I was one of the fortunate few. I assisted the media relations staff in the week leading up to the game, and I would be in the press box on game night researching information for the media to use in their stories. The media from out of town had a shuttle running from their designated hotel to the Superdome, so they did not receive parking passes. Some media were staying at the Hyatt Regency attached to the east entrance of the stadium, so all they had to do was walk.

When I arrived at the Superdome, I got out of my car to allow a search of all areas, including the trunk. I was driving the Oldsmobile 88 which I totaled running into a deer in Kansas in October 2005.

I made sure to only take what was essential to the game to make the search easier. I took it in stride. At least my car wasn’t being searched for drugs or other contraband!

The Bayou Bengals defeated the Sooners 21-14, giving LSU its first national championship since 1958. Nick Saban celebrated for all of six minutes, 13 seconds, give or take. There was no Gatorade shower for Saban, which was a good thing for LSU players, given Saban’s anger over his dousing by Alabama players six years later when the Crimson Tide defeated Texas for the first of five titles won by Saban in Tuscaloosa.

Security was a breeze for the 2005 Sugar Bowl, where Auburn completed a 13-0 season by defeating Virginia Tech, but had to settle for No. 2 behind USC.

The 2005 Sugar Bowl marked the last time I have set foot in the Superdome. What I wouldn’t give to set foot in there one more time.

I’m into my last day in Kansas City. Tomorrow morning its back to humdrum Russell. All good things must end.

Michael Bolton and Joe Moorhead go great together (at least in this post)

Yesterday at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek was tremendous. Robb joined me for a couple of hours, and I got to see two of my favorite bartenders in the world, Tina and Nikki, although I was a bit disappointed Sherman, Nikki’s husband, wasn’t there. Sherman told me before the season he was betting big on LSU to win the national championship. Unless Clemson can stop Joe Burrow, Sherman is going to rake in some big time dough the morning of January 14.

The only disappointment was a group of regulars who kept playing horriawful music. (“Horriawful” is a concoction of Shaq, who told the late, great Craig Sager his wild sport jackets were “horriawful”.)

Two of the songs were by Michael Bolton, “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “You Don’t Know What It’s Like”.

Both of those songs are blatant ripoffs, blatant ripoffs which are nowhere near as good as the originals.

“When a Man Loves a Woman” was made famous in 1966 by Percy Sledge, one of the most timeless love songs of the rock era, which dates to 1954.

“You Don’t Know What It’s Like” was a great ballad by the Bee Gees before they went disco and became the biggest recording artists of the late 1970s.

Bolton recorded two other awful ripoffs, “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” (Laura Branigan) and “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding).

One of the songs Bolton didn’t rip off, “Love is a Wonderful Thing”, makes my ears bleed. Awful.

The only Bolton songs I can tolerate are “Soul Provider” and “Time, Love and Tenderness”. That’s it.

This group also angered me by playing Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do (I Do it For You)” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”.

Of all the Bryan Adams songs to play in a sports bar, you pick THAT one? Let’s see…”Run to You”, “This Time”, “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started”, “Summer of ’69” and “I Need Somebody” are all much better choices. And THAT isn’t even Adams’ best ballad. Give me “Heaven” any day over THAT one.

As for Whitney Houston…WOW. I never have been able to tolerate the song from the movie The Bodyguard. Never. My favorite Houston song is “How Will I Know”, and it isn’t close.

“How Will I Know” holds a special place in my heart, because some of my schoolmates from Arabi Park loved it. It played on the radio on a seventh grade field trip to the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Misissippi, and several girls were singing along. A very fond memory.

My adversaries also played a Neil Diamond song. Good. It was “Sweet Caroline”. Bad. VERY bad.

I have blogged about this before, but I will never, EVER play “Sweet Caroline”. I’m angry the jukebox has taken Diamond’s “Desiree” off the list of his songs. I struck back at those people by queuing up “Forever In Blue Jeans” and “Cracklin’ Rosie”.

“Forever In Blue Jeans” and “Cracklin’ Rosie” are the two Diamond songs I have played the most. I played “Desiree” a lot before it was erased. “Song Sung Blue”, “Shiloh”, “Soolaimon”, “Crunchy Granola Suite” and “America” are also heard sometimes when I’m in the building. I played “Heartlight” a couple of times, but I can’t find it anymore.

It could have been much worse. It could have been Rihanna’s “Work”, which was played endlessly by numerous employees at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa for what seemed like forever, or numerous other hip-hop songs which made my ears bleed and my blood pressure rise.

I was ready to queue the 17-minute version of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Vida”, but I didn’t. Pink Floyd’s live version of “Money”, which goes 9:51, is also a choice. I’ve pissed off more than a few by playing Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good”, which lasts a little over nine minutes. That’s one of my four favorite instrumentals to play, along with Booker T. & The MGs “Green Onions”, Giorgio Moroder’s “Chase” (from Midnight Express), and Herb Alpert’s ‘Rise”.

The TouchTunes app lists my favorite plays. Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”, Wham’s “Everything She Wants” and Journey’s “Separate Ways” are the first three songs. Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” are the next two, because I always play them when I see Tori Weber Smith at B-Dubs.

Whenever you play “Everything She Wants”, make sure it is the extended version with the bridge. The version without the bridge is pedestrian at best.

Some of the others: “Spirits in the Material World” (The Police), “Allentown” (Billy Joel), “Somebody’s Baby” (Jackson Browne–thank you Jennifer Jason Leigh), “Hot in the City” and “Eyes Without a Face” (Billy Idol), “Self Control” (RIP, Laura Branigan), “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen–largely played during 2013 and ’14 to placate younger guests at BWW), “Human Touch” (Rick Springfield), “Take a Chance On Me” and “Voulez-Vous” (ABBA, whose songs I have to play whenever I’m at BWW), “Big Log” and “Tall Cool One” (Robert Plant), “Over the Hills and Far Away” and “All My Love” (Led Zeppelin; the Plant and Led Zeppelin songs are because Megan, a longtime BWW Zona employee, loves them).

My dear friend Liz, whose 26th birthday is today, wanted me to play “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell when I saw her at Buffalo Wild Wings. I obliged her most of the time, but I can’t now, since it’s been de-listed by TouchTunes.

Liz’s other favorite song is “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” by Pink Floyd, which was one I played religiously in the early 2000s at Ivar’s in Baton Rouge. That song was playing when Liz introduced herself to me. She loved the music I was playing. Another of her favorites was “Every 1’s a Winner” by Hot Chocolate. She noticed another guest was dancing to it late one Friday night. She was laughing uncontrollably when she told me.

No Debbie Gibson on the jukebox, except “Lost in Your Eyes”. Beautiful song, a fond reminder of Arabi Park, but not appropriate for a sports bar.

In case you don’t know, there is an app where you can play TouchTunes jukeboxes. It’s a heck of a lot easier–use a credit card to buy credits, and you don’t lose credits if you don’t lose them all like if you used cash.

Today I’m at Minsky’s, where there isn’t a jukebox. Not that the music is bad. Before today, I haven’t been to Minsky’s in a very long time–almost a year–and Baylie and Lindsay let me know. Larry now comes here because all Buffalo Wild Wings in Kansas and in Kansas City and St. Joseph don’t have Buzztime anymore. The BWW in the St. Louis area and Columbia do since they have a separate agreement with Buzztime.

This leaves Minsky’s near Zona Rosa, Gators VIII bar off Interstate 29 about two miles south of Barry Road, and four locations of 54th Street Bar and Grill (Liberty, Lee’s Summit, Independence and Blue Springs) as the only Buzztime locations in western Missouri. Wallaby’s in Lenexa and Johnny’s Tavern in Prairie Village have it in Kansas. Thankfully, I still have Golden Q and Old Chicago in Hays.

Mississippi State fired football coach Joe Moorhead today, four days after the Bulldogs from Starkville were embarrassed by Louisville in the Music City Bowl. There is probably a great deal of rejoicing in Starkville, Columbus, West Point and several other locales in the Magnolia State.

Moorhead was a horrible hire. He was Penn State’s offensive coordinator, where his offenses set records in State College. However, he had zero ties to the southern United States, which made the difficult task of recruiting elite players to Starkville much more difficult.

When Nick Saban was hired at LSU in December 1999, he made sure he had assistants who had ties to the south. Jimbo Fisher, who was on Terry Bowden’s staff at Auburn from 1993-98, filled that bill perfectly. Saban did the same thing when he went to Alabama, even after he won the 2003 national championship at LSU and gained more national prominence with his two seasons coaching the Dolphins.

Moorhead was too stubborn to follow Saban’s blueprint, and many Bulldog fans wanted him gone. Beating Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl after a Rebel player’s peeing dog act forced a missed extra point bought Moorhead time.

Not only was State a dud on the field under Moorhead, the Bulldogs had 10 players suspended by the NCAA for academic fraud, and a quarterback was knocked out of the Music City Bowl by getting into a fight with a teammate during practice.

MSU president Mark Keenum and athletic director John Cohen, a former baseball player and coach for the Bulldogs, came to their senses Epton. At least women’s basketball and baseball are still elite.

With Lane Kiffin in charge of the rival in Oxford, State has to get this hire right. I am certain Keenum and Cohen will be calling LSU athletic director Scott Woodward for permission to interview the Joe Brady, the 31-year old assistant who molded Joe Burrow into the 2019 Heisman Trophy recipient. Hopefully, Woodward and Ed Orgeron will tell Keenum and Cohen, “Sorry, not happening”.

If State wants an SEC assistant that badly, it ought to look east on US 82. Butch Jones, the former Tennessee coach, is not in an on-field position with Alabama. He flamed out in 2017 when the Volunteers went 0-8 in SEC games, but he was a big winner at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, and was above .500 in Knoxville.

I’m guessing Keenum and Cohen will not be placing a call to Lawrence. If they do, would Leslie Edwin Miles listen?

Peggy, I’m sorry this is so boring and long. However, I’m on one of those streams where I’m sitting around playing trivia and I just get things in my head.