Category Archives: LSU Fighting TIgers

The SEC’s toothless tigers

Two of the three Southeastern Conference football teams nicknamed Tigers are finding out the cheap hire is often the wrong hire.

Missouri is a dumpster fire. Barry Odom is in over his head. He might have been a fine coordinator under Gary Pinkel, but as the man in charge, he is trying to navigate the Missouri River in a canoe.

The Tigers looked absolutely pitiful yesterday in a 35-3 loss at home to Purdue. Yes, the Boilermakers have been in the Big Ten since the conference was formed, but when was the last time Purdue was mentioned consistently among college football’s elite? Hmmm….I want to say it was when Jack Mollenkopf was coaching, and last I checked, he retired after the 1969 season, seven years before I was born.

The Boilermakers won the Rose Bowl after the 1966 season, when Bob Griese was a senior. Since then, Purdue has made it to Pasadena ONCE (which is still one more time than Minnesota and the same number of times as Indiana and Northwestern in the last 51 seasons), and that was with Drew Brees.

Purdue plummeted like a rock once Brees departed. The school from West Lafayette has been in the lower division of the Big Ten every year since 2000, and the Boilermakers were absolutely dreadful under Darrell Hazell, who was 9-33 in three and a half seasons before he was fired at the mid-point of the 2016 campaign.

Jeff Brohm, a former standout quarterback at Louisville under Howard Schnellenberger and then a very successful head coach at Western Kentucky, has got Purdue going in the right direction. The Boilermakers gave Louisville a major scare in the season opener, and have now destroyed Ohio (more on the Bobcats later) and Missouri. Purdue isn’t going to be a factor in the Big Ten race this year, but it should be a consistent bowl team under Brohm.

Missouri is going in the opposite direction as Purdue. The Tigers have been a hot mess since racial tension on campus two years ago, which led to Pinkel’s resignation. Odom’s defenses have been nothing short of awful. Rockhurst High in Kansas City has a better defense than Mizzou.

Odom has got to be on the hot seat. If athletic director Jim Sterk is not seriously vetting candidates, then shame on him. The longer Odom lingers at his alma mater, the better the chance Mizzou relapses into pitifulness, which was the state of the program for much of the 1980s and 1990s.

I fear the Tigers will slip to the point where they were under Woody Widenhofer (1985-88) and Bob Stull (1989-93), which was fighting like hell to stay out of the Big Eight cellar. Mizzou teams of that era routinely were destroyed by Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma, were dominated by Oklahoma State (prior to 1989, when the Cowboys were severely sanctioned by the NCAA), and had trouble with Iowa State and Kansas. Kansas State was the one punching bag the Tigers routinely beat, but that all changed under Bill Snyder, who turned the tide completely in favor of the Wildcats in the series by 1991. \

After consistently going to bowl games under Dan Devine (1958-70), and then making semi-regular appearnaces under Al Onofrio (1971-76) and Warren Powers (1977-84), Mizzou went 13 seasons (1984-96) with no bowl games. NONE. Larry Smith, the former Tulane, Arizona and USC coach, took the Tigers to minor bowl games, but Mizzou was back at rock bottom in 1999 and 2000.

It took Pinkel a couple of years to turn Mizzou around, but once he did, the Tigers became bowl fixture. In 2007, the Tigers ascended to number one after beating Kansas in the regular season finale, but they fell to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.

Mizzou is not going to a bowl game this year unless something turns around right now. I can’t see the Tigers winning an SEC game, not with Kentucky and Vanderbilt much improved, and with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee all well above Mizzou. Not happening.

Now on to my alma mater.

There was a team wearing LSU’s uniforms last night in Starkville. The names on the players’ jerseys were the ones which were listed on the roster released by the school.

Yes, the Bayou Bengals were there in body. In spirit? No way.

I expected LSU to have a very difficult time with Mississippi State. I went in feeling the Bulldogs had a great chance to win. The Bayou Bengals went in having won eight consecutive games in Starkville, and I figured the Bulldogs were overdue.

State had a huge advantage at quarterback, where Nick Fitzgerald was an All-SEC selection last year. LSU’s Danny Etling is competent and nothing more. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen is an acclaimed offensive mind, having helped Florida win the 2006 and 2008 national cahmpionshp and molding Tim Tebow into a Heisman Trophy winner. LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been as popular as his boss, Ed Orgeron, since his hiring earlier this year, but I was skeptical. Still am skeptical.

The game which unfolded bore out every point I listed above.

Not only did State win, it embarrassed LSU. Bulldogs 37, Bayou Bengals 7.

How bad was it? State’s largest margin of victory EVER over LSU.

The Bayou Bengals and Bulldogs have been playing each other since 1896, and continuously since 1944. Counting last night’s game, LSU has played Mississippi State–once known as Mississippi A&M–111 times, more than any other opponent.

Last night was State’s 35th win in the series, compared to 73 for LSU, with three ties.

The Bayou Bengals had two touchdowns called back by penalty, although they got one of those back two plays later. In the second half, two defensive players, Donnie Alexander and Neal Farrell, were ejecting for hits to the head of Fitzgerald.

LSU was penalized nine times for 112 yards. It is on pace to commit 120 penalties for over 1,000 yards.

If Orgeron is as committed to discipline, he will suspend Alexander and Farrell for the entire game vs. Syracuse this week, not just for the first half as mandated under NCAA rules.

Regardless of what happens, Orgeron was a very disappointing hire for a team which has one of the largest budgets of any university.

LSU does not want for cash. It doesn’t have as many deep-pocketed donors as some schools, but it is the flagship university, the only one in a Power Five confernece, and there are big fans from every corner of the state. LSU consistently is deep in the black and pays its coaches handsomely.

Orgeron’s hire falls squarely on the shoulders of athletic director Joe Alleva, whom I believe should never have been hired in the first place.

The way Alleva severely mishandled the Duke lacrosse case when he was the Blue Devils’ athletic director should have precluded him from getting any other job as an athletic director, much less at a power school like LSU. I don’t know what LSU saw in him, unless Mike Kryzewzski convinced the administration Alleva was the second coming and was the only person worth hiring.

Alleva hired LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell-Fargas, who I do not like. If Alleva were smart, he would have gone to Waco and had a blank contract for Kim Mulkey, who has been at Baylor for nearly two decades now. Alleva would have asked Mulkey to fill in a dollar amount. LSU could certainly afford it.

LSU women’s basketball was a dominant program in the middle of the last decade, reaching the Final Four five consecutive years (2004-08), although it did not win a single game.

Now, the Bayou Bengals are at best a middling program in the SEC. They have been passed and lapped by Mississippi State and South Carolina, have fallen well behind Kentucky, and are still way behind Tennessee, even though the Lady Volunteers are not the superpower they were under the late, great Pat Summitt. LSU also lags behind the SEC newcomers, Texas A&M and Missouri.

Had Mulkey been hired, I’m certain at least one national championship banner would be hanging from the rafters of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center right now.

As for Pistol Pete’s old program, it is as low as the Marianna Trench right now.

Alleva is on his third men’s basketball coach, Will Wade, who came from VCU, where he succeeded Shaka Smart after he left for Texas. The 35-year old has brought youthful energy to the Bayou Bengals, but will that energy translate into victories? It won’t in 2017-18, but if it doesn’t in 2018-19 and beyond, then it will be another bust, right up there with Wade’s predecessors, Johnny Jones (2012-17) and Trent Johnson (2008-11).

LSU has won ONE NCAA tournament game with Alleva as athletic director. In 2015-16, the Bayou Bengals had Ben Simmons, regarded as the greatest basketball player to step on campus since Shaquille O’Neal. Simmons could not get LSU to the NCAA tournament, then skipped school and became the #1 overall pick of the 76ers in the 2016 NBA draft. Last year, LSU tied Missouri for dead last in the SEC. This year, LSU will likely occupy the cellar by itself, since Missouri has brought in a stellar recruiting class under Cuonzo Martin, who took over for Kim Anderson, who like Odom and Orgeron, was grossly in over his head.

Alleva cannot take credit for baseball coach Paul Maineri, because he was hired by Skip Bertman, Alleva’s predecessor who built LSU baseball into college baseball’s Death Star, winning five championships from 1991-2000 and 870 games in 18 seasons (1984-2001). Maineri led LSU to the 2009 national championship and the College World Series championship series earlier this year.

Orgeron was hired as LSU’s defensive line coach in 2015, and was elevated to interim head coach after four games in 2016 when Les Miles, hired by Bertman to replace Nick Saban in early 2005, was fired. Ironically, Orgeron’s first game in charge at LSU a 42-7 victory over Missouri in Baton Rouge.

Oregeron is not currently in dire straits like Odom (or Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M, Bret Bielema at Arkansas or Butch Jones at Tennessee), but if Orgeron goes 7-5 this season, the grumbling will be heard long and hard in the bayou.

Yes, Orgeron is Louisiana through and through, growing up in Larose, playing for a state championship team at South Lafourche High in 1977 and then playing in college briefly for LSU and more extensively at Northwestern State in Natchitoches. Orgeron was the most popular hire LSU has made in recent memory, much more so than Nick Saban was when he came from Michigan State and Miles when he came from Oklahoma State.

Alleva was ready to hire Tom Herman when Texas moved quickly to fire Charlie Strong. The Longhorns are the one program which can pay a higher wage than LSU, and paid it to swipe Herman from Houston. With Herman out of the picture, Alleva simply waved the white flag and took the “interim” off of Orgeron’s title.

Nobody doubts Orgeron is a great defensive line coach and recruiter. He coached Warren Sapp at Miami. He coached some great players at USC, including two-time All-American Shaun Cody. And he was recruiting very well at

As a head coach, Orgeron just doesn’t cut it. He was brutally bad at Ole Miss, going 10-25 over three seasons, including a pathetic 3-21 mark in the SEC. The Rebels bottomed out under Orgeron after winning 10 games in 2003 under David Cutcliffe. Ole Miss bounced back under Hugh Freeze, but that was because Freeze broke more than a few NCAA rules to build his teams.

Alleva should have hired Brohm or someone proven as a head coach. If Orgeron didn’t like it, he was free to find another job. I’m sure Pete Carroll would have offered Orgeron a position with the Seahawks had Orgeron not been able to find a college job.

There is no excuse for Alleva’s laziness. NONE. LSU should never have hired Alleva in the first place, but the Bayou Bengals have got to get someone new in the athletic director’s chair, or LSU may rot from within.

The Saints are down 20-3 to the Patriots at the end of the first quarter. It’s not a good weekend to be a football fan in Louisiana.

Half-hearted rivalries 

In this morning’s Kansas City Star, there was an article with comments from former University of Missouri president R. Bowen Loftin about the possibility of the Tigers resuming their athletic series with the University of Kansas. 

Kansas and Missouri began their football series in 1891, only 30 years after Kansas became the 34th state. The Tigers and Jayhaks played 120 times, making it the oldest NCAA Division I rivalry west of the Mississippi River. FYI, the oldest NCAA football series is Lehigh vs. Lafayette, which bgan in 1884.

Loftin stated only one reason why Mizzou and Kansas have not played since the Tigers left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2012.

Bill Self.

Loftin blamed Self, the Jayhawks’ men’s basketball coach who will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame later this year, for not wanting to play Mizzou, at least in football and men’s basketball. In recent years, Mizzou has reached out numerous times to Kansas about playing football games at Arrowhead Stadium and basketball games at Sprint Center, but each time, the Jyayhawks have said no way. 

Self, of course, denied Loftin’s premise. He emphatically stated he had nothingt to do with football scheduling. 

Loftin speaks from experience about dormant rivalries. In 2012, he was president at Texas A&M when the Aggies joined Mizzou in leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. A&M wanted to continue its rivalry with Texas, but the Longhorns refused. 

In his comments, Loftin believed the Longhorns and Aggies would continue their rivalry before the Tigers and Jayhawks do. 

I know about in-state rivlaries going dormant, but Louisiana really isn’t comparable to Texas, or to Missouri-Kansas, either. Tulane has never really been at LSU’s level, and the gulf has continually widened since the Green Wave dropped out of the SEC in 1966. LSU discontinued its annual rivalry with Tulane on the gridiron after the 1994 season; the teams played four consecutive years from 2006-2009, but LSU then bought out the remaining six games on the contract. In men’s basketball, Dale Brown dropped Tulane in 1981 because he felt the Greenies were non-competitive. Tulane dropped its program for three years in the 1980s due to a point shaving scandal, but the Tigers refused to play Tulane until 2003, seven seasons after Brown retired. LSU and Tulane only compete in women’s basketball and baseball, as well as a few minor sports. 

As much as I’d like to see LSU and Tulane play every year in football, Tulane must shoulder a lot of the blame. Why not play in Baton Rouge every year, or four out of every five years? The Greenies are going to make far more in Tiger Stadium than they ever will at Tulsa, SMU, East Carolina or another American Athletic Conference school, and certainly much, much more than playing at UL Lafayette or Louisiana Tech. As for LSU, it would be much more financially prudent to play Tulane than to pay Troy or Chattanooga an exorbitant sum to come to Death Valley as it is doing this season. It would have been much better in 2017 becuase LSU has only six home games, since the Florida game was switched to Gainesville after last season’s Hurricane Matthew flap. 

On the flip side, if Tulane wants LSU to come to New Orleans, it is going to (a) have to give LSU a larger cut of the gate and (b) play in the Superdome. Yulman Stadium only seats 30,000. I understand the idea of playing on campus, but in this case, it would be unreasonable for LSU to do so. If Tulane is worried about LSU fans overrunning the Superdome, then that’s too bad.

LSU has tried to make too many other SEC schools their “rival”, but the other school would not reciprocate. The series with Ole Miss has largely been irrelvant since Johnny Vaught retired as Rebel coach in 1970 (save for a brief return in 1973). Alabama could care less about beating LSU unless the Tigers are at or near the top of the polls. As Bear Bryant put it, “I’d rather beat the cow college (Auburn) once than Notre Dame ten times”. Nick Saban has turned this so-called rivalry into a laugher. Auburn and LSU didn’t play every year in football until 1992, and Auburn might be going to the Eastern Division anyway. 

LSU has played Arkansas for the Golden Boot since 1996, but the Tigers resisted it with every fiber of their being until then-SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer finally prevailed upon LSU to play along.  The game has always meant much more in Fayetteville than in Baton Rouge.

Back to the Border War. 
Kansas’ non-conference football schedule this season is an out and out JOKE. Southeast Missouri, Central Michigan, Ohio University. The game vs. the Bobcats is in Athens, Ohio, which is a coup by Ohio coach Frank Solic in getting a Power Five school to travel to Athens and play a Mid-America Conference school. 

The trip to Ohio begs the question: why not play Missouri at Arrowhead and get a huge gate? It would be mutually beneficial. It would allow Mizzou to fulfill the SEC requirement to play a Power Five opponent in non-conference, and Kansas would not have to embarrass itself playing a lower level team like SEMO. 

I cannot say for sure Self is personally responsible for Kansas not wanting to play Mizzou. But the Jayhawks are wrong on this one. Why would Kansas pass up a chance to play in Kansas City, only 45 minutes from its campus, to go to places like Ohio U and Memphis? 

The Texas-Texas A&M series is not something I’m really worried about. Texas has enough in-state rivals (Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU) in the Big 12, and A&M is content making Arkansas and LSU its big rivalry games. 

In the grand scheme, it’s only college sports. It could be worse. The fact the Jets and Giants play only once every four years in the regular season is sad. The NFL is missing the boat. 

Feeling stronger (apologies to Chicago the band)

I was in no mood to post for most of the previous week. Thankfully I am this morning. Time and a change of scenery helped.

I’m in another hotel in Kansas City, this time in Clay County. The hotel is on the dividing line between Kansas City proper and Liberty, the largest suburb of KC in Missouri. It’s about 20 minutes to Zona Rosa, not bad, especially at night, when the traffic is lighter. It’s not as far as Overland Park, but nowhere near as close as the hotels on I-29 in Platte County.

Last Saturday and Sunday, I was an angry person. Very angry. And not for a good reason.

Alabama beat LSU 10-0 last Saturday in Baton Rouge. The Bayou Bengals held the Crimson Tide scoreless for three quarters, but in the fourth quarter, LSU’s exhausted defense finally gave way, yielding a 21-yard touchdown run to Jalen Hurts and then a field goal. LSU gained just 125 yards against Alabama’s defense, which may be better than half the defenses in the NFL, and were shut out at home for the first time in 14 years.

I was pissed. REALLY PISSED. I tweeted and posted on Facebook that (a) LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron should be fired, (b) Alabama was a horrible place and (c) losing 10-0 was much, much, much worse than Nebraska losing 62-3 to Ohio State.

None of the above was really true.

First, Orgeron can’t do anything right now. He’s playing the hand dealt him by Les Miles, who was fired Sept. 25 after LSU lost to Auburn. Who knows, maybe he could remake the offense with a recruiting class under his belt and a full season to work with the team as head coach. Orgeron wanted so badly to end LSU’s drought vs. Alabama. He was pretty emotional all night. I could tell it mattered a great deal to him.

Second, I can’t generalize all of Alabama just because I don’t care for one of the state’s flagship universities. I’ve enjoyed my time in Hoover for the SEC Baseball Tournament, and I’m sure Huntsville is a great place to visit, especially the Marshall Space Center.

Third, LSU gave it all they had. But it’s hard to defeat the top-ranked team when your offense just doesn’t have the talent to compete with the best defense in college football, designed by the best coach in the game today, Nick Saban.

I was still very upset Sunday and Monday morning. I got so despondent Monday I called and made an appointment with Dr. Custer. She had an opening that afternoon. I told her my blood pressure was running way high, my blood sugars were sky high, and my bowels were obstructed.

Only the last one was true, and not entirely.

Later that evening, I met Peggy at Walmart in Hays. I’m not a Walmart fan, but I agreed to help her shop. She was there not only to shop for her family, but for the student council at Norton Junior High, where she teaches. She stopped at Walmart on her way to Plainville for  a Mid-Continent League meeting. It was out of her way, but it was easier than driving the other way to Colby, or north to Lexington, Nebraska.

I did not watch election returns Tuesday evening. It wasn’t until 7 a.m. Wednesday I found out Donald Trump would be the 45th President of the United States. I certainly did not comment on social media like I did in 2012, when I made a complete imbecile of myself with lots of cursing and hatred.

I left for Kansas City at noon yesterday. No stops, not even for the restroom. I was at the hotel by 3:35. Pretty good, considering I had to go into downtown KCMO and then drive north on I-35 for 17 miles.

Buffalo Wild Wings went well. I saw Tori and Dana behind the bar, and played good trivia. Hopefully Robb and Dawn will be back soon. They took the election very hard.

Time to leave. Got a few errands to run before heading west.

 

 

Goalposts stay upright

The goalposts at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence are intact.

TCU rallied to defeat Kansas 24-23. The Jayhawks missed three field goals in the fourth quater, although to be fair, the last one of those was from 54 yards, which is difficult for a pro kicker to make, much less a college kicker. 

The Horned Frogs are 5-0 vs. the Jayhawks since joining the Big 12, but the last three of those wins have come by a combined 11 points. What is it about Kansas which gives TCU fits? Maybe Gary Patterson needs a few tips from his mentor, Bill Snyder, whose K-State teams always seem to beat Kansas by wide margins. 

Florida continues to look mighty stupid for calling off its game with LSU.

The Notre Dame-North Carolina State game in Raleigh was played as Matthew was paralleling the coasts of South and North Carolina. The field at Carter-Finley Stadium was flooded, and wind gusts at close to hurricane force were  felt throughout the stadium at times. The Wolfpack won 10-3, dropping the Fighting Irish to 2-4.

The game in Raleigh won’t be the only one today played in horrendous conditions. 

NC State’s Golden Triangle rivals, North Carolina and Duke, are home as well, vs. Virginia Tech and Army, respectively. Those games will also be negatively impacted. Wake Forest hosts Syracuse, too, and although Winston-Salem is farther west than Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, it won’t be much better. 

Currently in Gainesville, it’s sunny and 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). A little too warm for football for my taste, but in Florida, it’s as good as it’s going to get for October 8. Yet Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is deathly silent. Crickets are chirping. 

Nice work, Jeremy Foley. You suckered SEC commissioner Greg Sankey into postponing the game at the behest of your football coach, Jim McElwain, who was deathly afraid of facing LSU without a few starters. 

If Sankey forces LSU and Florida to play Nov. 19, the SEC should reimburse LSU $6 million–$1.5 million to buy out South Alabama, $3.5 million in lost ticket revenue, and another $1 million for expenses to travel to Gainesville. 

Even the money won’t help LSU on the field. if the game is rescheduled to Nov. 19, LSU will have to play three consecutive road games vs. Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M, which all come after a home game vs. Alabama. Nice job, SEC. 

LSU fans don’t need much of a reason, if any, to hate Florida. Foley gave even the most mild-mannered Bayou Bengals fan a reason to loathe the Gators. 

Les Miles was dead on. It is high time the SEC eliminate permanent cross-division opponents. It is time the LSU-Florida series take a scheduled break. I’m sure the Bayou Bengals would not complain if Florida was replaced with Kentucky and/or Vanderbilt every so often, or the Gators would feel the same way if LSU was traded out for Auburn and/or Mississippi State. 

At least Missouri has an open date today, too, so it doesn’t have a disadvantage when traveling to Gainesville next week. The Tigers need all the help they can get after last week’s meltdown in Baton Rouge. 

Hurricane Matthew has also affected the MLB playoffs, Game 2 of the NL Dvision series between the Dodgers and Nationals in Washington was rained out. The game is now set for 1 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, and then the teams must fly to Los Angeles for Game 3 Monday. If the teams were flying commerical, yikes. But they fly on spacious chartered planes, so it isn’t nearly as bad. 

Jeremy Foley & Mother Nature KO LSU

LSU will not be playing football tomorrow.

The Bayou Bengals’ game at Florida, which was supposed to kick off at 11 a.m. Central, was called off due to the threat of Hurricane Mathew, which is currently paralleling Florida’s east coast about 80 miles (130 kilometers) offshore. Gainesville is receiving heavy rain now and will continue to have rain the rest of the evening.

LSU offered to move the game to Baton Rouge, and play Saturday, Sunday or Monday. LSU went so far as to procure hotel rooms in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and offered to pay for all of Florida’s expenses, including the charter flight.

Florida flat out refused. The Gators also refused the idea of a neutral site, such as Birmingham, Nashville or even Atlanta. Florida was bound and determined to play the game in Gainesville, even though as early as Monday night, it appeared the city would receive some significant effects from Matthew.

Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley, who is now in his last month in the position, dithered and farted around until it was too late to do anything but call off the game. I’m sure his football coach, Jim McElwain, told him to stall as long as he could. Florida currently has many players injured, including several defensive linemen and starting quarterback Luke Del Rio.

Foley and McElwain got their true wish: no game this Saturday. Even though LSU is now led by interim coach Ed Orgeron, the Gators were well aware facing the Bayou Bengals would be a difficult task fully healthy, even more so without the injured players, although the Bayou Bengals were going to be without All-American running back Leonard Fournette, who missed last week’s game vs. Missouri with an ankle injury.

Florida wants to play the game Nov. 19. The Gators and Bayou Bengals both have non-conference home games that day. LSU would have to pay South Alabama a $1.5 million buyout if cancels, and would lose over $3 million in ticket revenue, not to mention parking, concessions and gift shop sales. LSU has every right to want to honor the contract with the Jaguars. It is not at fault here.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey should have stepped in. He should have done something Tuesday, or at the latest, Wednesday by noon. He should have told Florida in no uncertain terms the game would be played in Baton Rouge Saturday, or in Gainesville Sunday or Monday. In the professional sports leagues, the commissioner has the power to change the site and/or date of the game if a natural disaster is imminent. It’s too bad the SEC presidents and athletic directors haven’t vested the same power in the commissioner.

On the other hand, Sankey hasn’t been in the job too long. He doesn’t carry the clout of his predecessors, Roy Kramer and Mike Slive, who were among the most powerful people in college sports during their tenures. Kramer nor Slive would have let this drag out. They would have forced Foley’s hand and gotten something done.

I don’t understand why it would be so hard to move the SEC championship game back one week to Dec. 10, then have the College Football Playoff selections made that night or early the next morning. Start the SEC title game at 11 a.m. Central (prior to Army-Navy), then make the CFP selections at 6 p.m. Not hard.

If anyone knows about moving games due to hurricanes, it’s LSU.

The Bayou Bengals postponed their 2005 season opener vs. North Texas to late October. The game was scheduled to be played Sept. 3, which turned into the Saturday following Katrina’s landfall.

The next week, LSU moved its scheduled home game with Arizona State to Tempe. LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center and Carl Maddox Fieldhouse were being used as emergency medical centers, and helicopters were landing on the infield at Bernie Moore Stadium, the track facility across North Stadium Drive from Tiger Stadium. It would have been very easy for LSU to cancel the game. Arizona State would have understood. But the new LSU coach that season, Les Miles, knew playing the game, even if it was in Tempe and kicked off after 9 p.m. Central, would be a unifying influence and a way for refugees to forget about their miserable situations, even if only for three and a half hours.

LSU’s new home opener vs. Tennessee had to be pushed back to a Monday night due to Hurricane Rita, which devastated southwest Louisiana and dropped heavy rain on the rest of the state. College Gameday was supposed to broadcast from Baton Rouge, but moved to Virginia Tech.

Last year, South Carolina moved its scheduled home game with LSU to Baton Rouge when flooding hit the Palmetto State hard. LSU rolled out the red carpet from the Gamecocks, and the Golden Band from Tigerland even played the Carolina fight song.

See, Florida? It’s not that hard. All of the blame for this situation belongs to one man: Jeremy Foley. Hopefully Scott Stricklin, Foley’s predecessor, won’t be so stubborn if this happens again.

LSU returns to the field Oct. 15 at home vs. Southern Mississippi. I hope the Bayou Bengals pour it on. I have never been a USM fan, thanks to Curley Hallman’s disastrous four-year tenure in Baton Rouge after he went 23-11 in three seasons in Hattiesburg (thank you, Brett Favre).

A lot since I last blogged…

There has been a lot of craziness since the last time I posted. I should have posted something Sunday or Monday with all that went on.

The trip home from Kansas City Saturday was uneventful. It was a good two days over there, a good break from the humdrum of Russell, Hays, Norton and other towns.

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez died in the wee hours of Sunday morning in a boating accident, along with two others. It was reported the operator of the boat, which was licensed to Fernandez, was traveling at high speed, much faster than was safe for that time of night. It crashed into a jetty, throwing the occupants around like rag dolls, and killing all three by blunt force trauma.

Arnold Palmer died Sunday evening. It was announced during the Bears-Cowboys game on NBC. Palmer, who was 87, was one of the most popular golfers who ever lived, and one of America’s most iconic athletes, period. His exploits on the course would be surpassed by Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and others, but nobody will ever come close to matching the popularity Arnie enjoyed during his heyday, and well after his retirement. In fact, he had recently been appearing in ads for the blood thinning medication Xarelto with NASCAR driver Brian Vickers and comedian Kevin Nealon, the longtime Saturday Night Live actor. I’ll always remember Palmer in the Pennzoil commercials of the 1980s.

The Arizona Cardinals looked mighty pathetic in Buffalo. The Bills won 33-18, and frankly, it was never that close. Buffalo gashed the Cardinals for over 200 yards rushing, and Carson Palmer looked like he had never seen an NFL defense. Palmer threw four interceptions in the fourth quarter. Let that sink in: four picks in one period. Brutal. I’ve seen this so often from the Cardinals in over three decades of following the NFL, but most of the time, I didn’t expect them to win. Now that the Cardinals are expected to win many of these games, it makes it much more frustrating.

The Cardinals play the Rams Sunday in Glendale. Yes, Arizona has won four of the last five meetings, but the one was last year in Arizona, when the Rams won 24-22, thanks in large part to Todd Gurley. If Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy can have that much success on the ground vs. Arizona, what will Gurley do? Oh boy.

The most important sports news of Sunday, at least to me, came out of my native state.

LSU, my alma mater, fired football coach Les Miles Sunday, 24 hours after the Bayou Bengals lost 18-13 at Auburn. LSU appeared to win the game when Danny Etling hit D.J. Chark along the sideline in the end zone on the last play of the game. I didn’t think LSU got the snap off before time ran out, and indeed, the officials concurred after reviewing it.

The next afternoon, I read on The Advocate website LSU was “considering” major changes to the football program. Then came a rumor Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were going to be fired. Then it was confirmed.

Miles was very close to being fired last November when LSU lost three consecutive games to Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss following a 7-0 start. Miles’ job was saved only after LSU beat Texas A&M 19-7 in Baton Rouge in the regular season finale. The job appeared more secure after a 56-27 victory over Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl, but the 16-14 loss to Wisconsin at Green Bay in this year’s season opener had fans grumbling and only served to turn up the heat on Miles.

Miles was canned despite a 114-34 mark at LSU. He has the highest all-time win percentage in program history (.770), and his 114 wins rank him second only behind the 137 by “Cholly Mac”, Charles McClendon, who coached the Bayou Bengals from 1962-79. Miles won a national championship in 2007 despite triple overtime losses to Kentucky and Arkansas, and in 2011, LSU won its first 13 games against the nation’s most difficult schedule to reach the championship game, but were thoroughly embarrassed by Alabama in New Orleans. The Crimson Tide won 21-0 and held LSU to a meager 92 yards, fewest by any team in a championship game since 1998, the first year of the BCS.

LSU hasn’t won even an SEC West championship since 2012. It hasn’t finished any of the previous four seasons with fewer than three losses. I fear the Bayou Bengals may regress to the point where it falls behind Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M permanently.

Ed Orgeron, LSU’s defensive line coach, was named the interim coach. His first game is Saturday night vs. Missouri in Death Valley. Orgeron was head coach at Ole Miss in 2005, ’06 and ’07 and was a miserable failure, going 10-25 overall and 3-21 in SEC games. He also was arrested for DUI, and committed some recruiting violations, violations which are still casting a shadow over the program even though Orgeron has been gone from Oxford for nine years.

Orgeron was interim coach at USC in 2013 after Lane Kiffin was fired, and went 6-2 with the Trojans. Some felt he should have been given the job permanently, given his ties to Pete Carroll as an assistant on  USC’s back-to-back AP national championships of 2003 and 2004, but the Trojans made the disastrous hire of Steve Sarkisian, who didn’t last two full seasons.

This is Orgeron’s dream job. He grew up in Cut Off, a small town in southern Lafourche Parish, and played at South Lafourche High, where the Trojans won the 1977 Class AAAA state championship (Louisiana’s highest classification at that time). One of Orgeron’s high school teammates was Bobby Hebert, who went on to play quarterback for the Saints and Falcons. Orgeron briefly attended LSU, but transferred to Nicholls State in Thibodaux and played football there.

Orgeron was hired in 2015 by Miles as defensive line coach. “Coach O” is known as a fantastic recruiter, and he was elevated by LSU athletic director Joe Alleva to help keep recruits from wavering in their commitment to the Bayou Bengals.

If Orgeron helps LSU win its next eight games, he could very well stay on permanently. Alleva will only consider people with previous college head coaching experience, and even though Orgeron’s career record is 16-27, he qualifies.

Miles’ firing is the earliest in LSU’s history. Now what if a previous athletic director had the guts to pull the trigger on another LSU coach after a stupefying loss at Auburn? I’ll discuss in another post.

As for me, it’s volleyball in Hays for the second time in three days. Norton lost to TMP and Plainville Tuesday. Today is no easier, since the Bluejays play three larger schools: Salina South, Hays and Abilene. I’m going back to Norton Monday, because it’s the last home matches this season, which means it’s senior night for Caitlyn. She’d never forgive me if I missed it.

This week is the first time I haven’t had an appointment with Crista since the week of July 18. I had been going weekly since the last week of July, but she wanted to try to go back to every two weeks, which was the schedule until the change. I was feeling a little bit anxious Tuesday in TMP’s fieldhouse before the matches. I was about to call her and leave a message saying it was a huge mistake to cancel. Lucky for me, I snapped out of it and didn’t need to call.

I can’t believe it will be October Saturday, but time flies sometimes.

Thoughts from a barstool

Back at Buffalo Wild Wings this afternoon. Been here since 12:35. I saw my buddy Larry for the first time in a long time. Trey, whom I’ve seen here since I first came here in May 2013, is bartending. I’m sure I’ll see a few more people I know before I leave.

I had to get work done on my car this morning in Overland Park. Didn’t have to wait at Morse-McCarthy Chevrolet this time nearly as long as I did the last two times, when I had new tires put on. Stopped at Staples and Bed, Bath & Beyond before heading north. 

I was thinking about coming back tomorrow and leaving Sunday morning, but there is an 80 percent chance of rain for tomorrow night and Sunday, so I’m going to get out of here tomorrow. The cold front will pass through Russell tomrorow night, and hopefully, that will be it for temperatures above 80 Fahrenheit, or 27 Celsius, until at least April. I do not like hot weather. 

I’m probably going to be back to Kansas City sooner rather than later. Maybe I come back next weekend to watch the Missouri-LSU football game. Or maybe I come back for my birthday in less than three weeks. I can’t stay away. Too many people I want to see. 

LSU plays Auburn tomorrow night on the road. The Bayou Bengals have traditionally struggled at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but if they lose tomorrow, LSU may be in the market for a new coach after the season. I could see the season unraveling if Auburn wins tomororw. WIth road games against Florida, Arkansas and Texas A&M, plus home dates with Ole Miss and Alabama, it could get ugly fast in Baton Rouge. 

Kansas does not play tomorrow. Kansas State might as well not play. Another cupcake, Missouri State, visits Manhattan. Bill Snyder can’t get enough cupcakes. Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines could make a killing sponsoring Kansas State football. 

How much does Snyder fear playing strong teams? When he was hired at K-State in 1989, he canceled the second game of a home-and-home series with Tulane. 

Not making it up. I said TULANE.

K-State played in 1980 at LSU. However, that was a one-time deal so the Wildcats could infuse their coffers with much-needed cash. No way LSU was going to play a game in a stadium which seated 42,000, unless it was an SEC game. Certainly not vs. the worst team in the Big Eight. Certainly not when LSU had four games vs. Florida State lined up from 1980-83, four with Notre Dame (1981, 1984-86),  contests with Washington, Arizona and USC, and a home-and-home with Ohio State later in the decade, not to mention the annual game vs. Tulane. 

The Green Wave defeated the Wildcats 20-16 in New Orleans in 1988. Coach Stan Parrish was fired following an 0-11 season, part of a 30-game winless streak. Tulane, which was an independent at the time, was scheduled to make a return visit to Manhattan, but Snyder canceled the game and picked up some team which was weaker than the Greenies, which took a lot of searching. Tulane won all of 23 games between 1988 and 1995. 

I can’t believe MIssissippi State and Oklahoma have agreed to play Tulane in the New Orleans in coming years. I can’t imagine the Bulldogs or Sooners playing at Tulane’s on-campus stadium, which seats only 30,000. I believe the visitors, not to mention television, will insist the games be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the Wave played from 1975 through 2013, save for 2005, when the Dome was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. 

Tulane cut its own throat when it foolishly voted to leave the SEC in 1966. The Green Wave might have been at or near the bottom of the conference in football every single year, but it would have made money hand over fist. 

Vanderbilt, a private school in a large city like Tulane, chose to stay and take their punishment from Tennessee, Alabama and others. But the money the Commodores have raked in from the SEC have made sure the school’s academic mission continues to be funded at the highest possible level, while athletes get to compete against elite institutions. 

Bayou Bengals busted

LSU’s College Football Playoff hopes are not dead. However, they are certainly in critical condition.

The Bayou Bengals did absolutely nothing to justify their No. 5 ranking in the Associated Press preseason poll, turning in a stinker–save for a brief period in the third quarter–in losing 16-14 to Wisconsin at Lambeau Field.

I had a terrible feeling about the opener in Green Bay. Wisconsin came in unranked, and was certainly hungry to get even after losing 28-24 to LSU in the 2014 opener at Houston. Officially, Lambeau was considered a ‘neutral site’, but don’t give me that. Last I checked, Green Bay is in Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin is the state’s flagship university. The Badgers are the only team playing in a major conference. Therefore, it was a home game for Wisconsin, only it was played 135 miles northeast of Madison. It would be the same thing if LSU played anyone in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at New Orleans, and yes, I am including Tulane. Almost every LSU-Tulane game played there had an overwhelming majority of purple and gold in the stands. The only exception may have been 1979, when the Wave went 9-2.

If LSU somehow would run the table and then win the SEC championship, yes, they would be in the playoff.

However, with one of the worst quarterback situations among Power 5 conference teams, how can one have any faith of LSU running the table against a schedule which includes trips to Auburn, Florida, Arkansas and Texas A&M, plus a home game with Ole Miss? Oh yeah, there’s also the small matter of the Nov. 5 game with Alabama. And don’t forget South Alabama went into Starkville and beat Mississippi State. The Jaguars visit Baton Rouge in November.

In 1989, LSU entered the season opener at Texas A&M ranked No. 7. The Aggies returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and the Bayou Bengals went on to lose 28-16. LSU lost two weeks later at home to Florida State, and then lost five straight in the SEC on its way to 4-7, the first of six consecutive losing seasons and eight losing seasons out of 11.

I don’t believe LSU will have a losing season, but making the playoff? Not unless LSU somehow solves its quarterback situation. Otherwise, the Bayou Bengals will have to win every game 10-7 or 14-10, and that’s no way to go through the SEC. Heck, the offense scored ONCE today, and that was after a fumble recovery set up a short field.

I saw enough bad football in Tiger Stadium during my days in Baton Rouge to be cynical about the program. Yes, LSU has won two national championships during my lifetime, but there’s also been more than enough madness to give me permanent indigestion.

Give Wisconsin credit. The Badgers won with a quarterback making his first start as a fifth-year senior. They won because they were able to stuff Fournette throughout the first half, and contain him when they needed to in the second. Wisconsin’s defense put pressure time after time after time on Brandon Harris, and he wilted. Don’t forget Dave Aranda, Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator the previous three years, is now at LSU.

It’s not the end of the world. I’m almost 1,100 miles away from Baton Rouge. Very few other people care, although some I’m sure will take glee in LSU’s loss, not because they dislike me, but because they root for the underdog.

Barring the unforeseen, Kansas is finally going to win. The Jayhawks lead Rhode Island 26-6 late in the second quarter. KU fans will be able to gloat at least for one week, since K-State and Mizzou both lost. Then again, the Wildcats played at No. 8 Stanford, and the Tigers had a difficult road opener with West Virginia. BIG DIFFERENCE.

If KU students tear down a goalpost, then shame on them. I understand the Jayhawks haven’t won a game in almost 22 months, but to do it after beating Rhode Island????!!!

Enough ranting about college football. It’s a nice diversion, but it isn’t going to affect my quality of life, good or bad.

Brett Favre and LSU’s deep football depression

The Pro Football Hall of FAme induction ceremonies will be starting in Canton in a couple of hours.

The biggest name of this year’s inductees is Brett Favre, who set many NFL passing records during his career, mostly with the Packers (1992-2007). 

Favre’s biggest game as a pro came in New Orleans, when the Packers defeated the Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI. He also defeated Tulane twice in the Superdome as the starting quarterback for the University of Southern Mississippi. 

I have never cared for Southern Miss. What use does it have? With all of the junior colleges across the state, with THREE historically black colleges, plus Ole Miss and Mississippi State, why is Southern Miss even there? I understand it’s close to the Gulf Coast, but it wouldn’t be that hard to drive to Mobile and South Alabama, or to New Orleans. 

Another reason I can’t stand Southern Miss is because it foisted a man who dragged LSU into its deepest football abyss. 

Hudson Hallman. Better known as Curley Hallman, who was Favre’s coach in Hattiesburg. 

If not for Brett Favre, Curley Hallman doesn’t go 23-11 in three seasons at USM, the Golden Eagles don’t beat Florida State in 1989, or Alabama and Auburn in 1990, and he never, ever sniffs the LSU coaching job. 

Brett Favre was the reason why LSU football collapsed. 

What I don’t understand is how Ole Miss and Mississippi State whiffed on Favre. 

The Rebels and Bulldogs were constantly near the bottom of the SEC in the 1980s. Certainly Favre could have done wonders for either team. 

The biggest problem for Ole MIss was it was on probation when Favre was being recruited by then-coach Billy Brewer, who himself would become ethically challenged later in his tenure. In 1987, the Rebels were banned from television and bowls, so maybe the idea didn’t appeal to Favre.

Brewer and his assistants committed egregious recruiting violations in the early 1990s. In November 1994, the NCAA came awfully close to giving Ole Miss the death penalty. The Rebels were very lucky to get away with a one-year TV ban, two years without postseason play, and the loss of 25 scholarships for 1995 and 1996. 

As for Mississippi State, its coach at the time, former Bulldog quarterback Rockey Felker, wanted to keep running the option, which had been the bread-and-butter of his predecessor, Emory Bellard, the father of the Wishbone formation. Favre running the option? No way. Felker had a sentimental attachment to the option, having run the Veer at MSU under Bob Tyler, who was as ethically challenged as Brewer. 

Mississippi State has historically been a terrible passing team. Their recently departed quarterback, Dak Prescott, throws the ball well, but he made much more happen with his legs with the Bulldogs. 

LSU was set at quarterback with Tommy Hodson. No way Favre was beating out a Louisiana native who led the Bayou Bengals to the 1986 SEC championship, their first since Bert Jones played in Baton Rouge in 1970. Then again, Jones was NOT the full-time starter in either of his first two years. Maybe a Hodson/Favre rotation would have worked wonders. Or maybe not. 

For some reason, Bill Curry, the new coach at Alabama in early 1987, didn’t see fit to drive down Interstate 59 a couple of hours.  If Curry had taken the time to look at Favre, maybe he doesn’t get a brick thrown through his window at home, and maybe he doesn’t bolt for Kentucky after three seasons. 

Actually, Hallman lucked into Favre. Jim Carmody, his predecessor at USM, recruited the kid from Kiln to Hattiesburg. Hallman was an assistant at his alma mater, Texas A&M, in 1987 before succeeding Carmody in 1988. 

Curley Hallman had no business as the head coach of an SEC football team. He made it worse on himself by hiring bad assistant coaches. His running backs coach, Steve Buckley, played as many downs of college football as me. ZERO. He was a cheerleader in college. 

Of all of Hallman’s assistants, only one, Phil Bennett, found work in a major conference after leaving LSU. Bennett went on to be the defensive coordinator at Kansas State, head coach at SMU, and then defensive coordinator at Baylor, where he is still employed. 

It wasn’t until Nick Saban came from East Lansing to Baton Rouge in 2000 that LSU finally pulled itself out of the swamp and into the elite echelon of college football.

I contend it would have been much better had Favre gone to Ole Miss or Mississippi State. Sure, he may have beaten LSU four times the way John Bond did for State from 1980-83. But at least Curley Hallman would never have led a team out of the tunnel at the north end of Tiger Stadium. 

LSU rallies

Maybe I spoke too soon. LSU has cut Fullerton’s lead to 3-2, and it has two on with nobody out. The Titans are going to make a pitching change, pulling starter Kyle Seabolt.

Even if the Bayou Bengals win, it’s still a long way back. They would have to defeat Vanderbilt or TCU Thursday, and then hve to beat the other Friday and Saturday to reach the final. But a victory today would at least allow LSU to finally get the TD Ameritrade monkey off its back, where it has yet to win.

Lot of baseball left.