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Monday, April 30, 2007

Texas ammo

You can be sure some crack assistant in the LSU football office has unearthed this little nugget for the coaching staff when it is recruiting Texas this year.

How many first-round draft picks did the Big 12 produce in 2007? Four.

How many first-round draft picks did LSU produce in 2007? Four.

That's right, LSU had as many first-round picks as the entire Big 12. Granted, it was a big year for LSU and a down year for the Big 12, but facts are facts.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Painful loss

LSU's 10-9 loss to Tennessee today in 10 innings is a painful one for the Tigers.

Not only did the Tigers blow a chance to move up in the SEC standings, but they wasted one of their best offensive performances of the year.

Five errors and eight walks will usually spell defeat and that is what happened to the Tigers.

That is what happens when you don't have much margin for error. LSU had been finding ways to win those games that could go either way. Today the Tigers didn't.

With a good recruiting class, Mainieri will likely be able to move away from these days of living on the edge.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Great White Drop

Brady Quinn has left the room.

Brady Quinn's girlfriend is wondering what's going on. Why is it well past lunch time and her beau has not been picked yet? This was not how life was going to be.

Did she just slip her ring off? (Just kidding.) Did she just glance over toward JaMarcus Russell? (Just kidding.) Will the couple be going to Gulf Shores on vacation instead of Ireland?

Russell has been in the clubhouse counting his money since 11:15 a.m. Saturday when he became the first pick of the 2007 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Quinn was still "on the course" after 3 p.m. with the other also-rans far behind the leaders. That's more than four hours. That's a whole football game. A football game similar to the last Sugar Bowl, which Quinn sort of missed out on, too. Russell was in the clubhouse of that one pretty early, too.

Russell is Tiger Woods to Quinn's Phil Mickelson ... if Quinn is lucky.

Why do they keep showing that little snap shot of Quinn as a boy in a Cleveland Browns' uniform? It's so cute, but Brady's girlfriend wants to see a picture of Quinn next to the NFL commissioner like the one JaMarcus got. And just yesterday Quinn was atop Radio City Music Hall with Russell. That's the closest Quinn has ever been to Russell. Russell could've thrown Quinn to the Empire State Building. Quinn should have realized then what it must have been like to be Matt Flynn.

And another selection goes by. And another. And suddenly Quinn's not so cool anymore. Neither is Notre Dame. Neither is coach Charlie Weis, whom we were told was personally preparing Quinn for the NFL. Apparently the NFL didn't believe that. Could the only thing Brady have in common with Tom Brady be a name?

Are NFL teams suddenly growing wary of white quarterbacks in the early rounds because of so many duds in recent years like Ryan Leaf, Cade McNown, Heath Shuler, Rick Mirer and David Klingler, among several others? Is Eli Manning the next dud? Or will it be Matt Leinart, who is still trying to catch up with Vince Young?

Suddenly, another smart move by this smart new NFL commissioner. Roger Goodell politely has Dr. Quinn, who is starting to look like he needs a medicine woman, escorted to a private room to weep away from the ESPN cameras and all the laughing.

And finally, in round 22 at 3:18 p.m., Brady Quinn's name is finally called. But he has to walk back into the room. He has to put his coat back on. I didn't see his girlfriend. Then he starts strutting again like he did before the Sugar Bowl. He starts strutting like he was the No. 1 pick. But it's not working again.

Russell's the King of New York, Quinn. You're an afterthought. But, hey you went to Notre Dame!

The 22nd pick? Russell would've stayed at LSU had he known he would've gone that low.
Russell had long left the room by then. He was outside throwing passes to the Statue of Liberty.

Russell vs. Quinn

If the NFL Draft is evidence, there really never was much debate over which quarterback to take.

JaMarcus Russell went No. 1 to the Oakland Raiders because he fits what the Raiders want to do from a philosophical standpoint. Brady Quinn went to the Cleveland Browns at No. 22 because, well, the Browns had already filled a need at offensive tackle with Wisconsin's Joe Thomas and Quinn became something of a bargain at No. 22.

Who knows which quarterback will be better in the future? But on this day, Russell clearly had the upper hand.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pitching plans

LSU's pitching for the weekend is as mysterious as this team.

About the only thing we know is Charlie Furbush is throwing the Friday game. Ryan Byrd may or may not throw the Saturday game. And TBA is the starter on Sunday.

The reason for all of the uncertainty is the way Paul Mainieri uses his pitchers. He's trying to win as many games as he can. And that means using Jared Bradford in as many ways as he can.

Here's how Mainieri would like to see the weekend go.

Furbush go deep into Friday's game with a lead, turn it over to Bradford for the save.

Byrd pitch strong on Saturday.

Bradford start on Sunday.

Mainieiri called Braford the key to the team's success today. And Bradford's versatility has allowed LSU to climb back into the race.

The only drawback could be a worn out Bradford when it matters most. But it's a risk Mainieri has to take.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Whole lotta love

It's that time when the preseason rankings start rolling in. Nationalchampsl.net has released its rankings and the site has LSU ranked No. 2 in the country behind USC. The predicted regular season finish for LSU is 11-1.

I can't imagine an LSU fan in the country that would turn down an 11-1 season and No. 2 ranking in the country. Because being No. 2 at the end of the regular season would put the Tigers back in the national championship game -- in New Orleans again.

Wouldn't that be something?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bird dogging

If Melvin Oliver ever needs another career after pro football, then it looks like he might have a future as an NFL scout.

Oliver gives his take on the LSU players in the draft at his team's web site . It's pretty interesting reading leading up to the draft.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Unrealistic expectations

So Alabama had 92,000-plus for its spring game on Saturday.

Looks like there isn't much to do in Alabama.

Supposedly, the reason for the big turnout was to see Nick Saban and how the Crimson Tide would look with him as the head coach.

Look, Nick Saban did a lot of great things at LSU. He even did some good things at Michigan State (he did have that one big year.) But the man is not God.

I see some unrealistic expectations being built up over in Alabama. The logic goes something like this: Saban won a national championship at LSU. Alabama has a better tradition. Bingo, he'll win a national title at Alabama.

It isn't easy to win a national championship. Ask Tommy Tuberville. A lot of it has to do with luck. Saban had a lot of things go right for him in 2003. Urban Meyer had some things go right for him last year. Tuberville had nothing go right for him in Auburn's unbeaten season.

Look, if Alabama was just hiring Saban to get the team back to winning consistently and playing at a high level, then what a great hire. But if he was hired to win a national championship, well, that won't be so easy. No matter how many people are at the spring game.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tip of the hat

LSU has won back-to-back SEC series after winning two of three at Mississippi State this weekend and taking two of three from Ole Miss last weekend.

Say this for LSU coach Paul Mainieri, he's going to get everything out of this team and his pitching staff.

Jared Bradford got the save on Saturday and then threw 102 pitches in his start on Sunday, another win over the Bulldogs.

It's as if Mainieri will do whatever it takes to win these conference series. That didn't always seem like the case last year.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Discipline or posturing?

LSU football coach Les Miles has never been known as a hardened disciplinarian. He seems like too nice a guy. That perception may have played a role in Miles kicking off three members of his football team last week - defensive back Troy Giddens and offensive linemen Zhamal Thomas and Kyle Anderson.

All three had been arrested recently. Giddens and Thomas had more serious charges of theft and identity fraud and bail of more than $8,000 apiece. Anderson got into a fight at a bar near campus.

It was refreshing not to hear a coach say the usual. "We will let justice run its course." Blah, blah, blah.

Miles looked at the situations, considered some problems he had with all three players in the past and made his decision.

Was he sacrificing this trio to better the team? Was he waxing his own image?

You probably had never heard of any of the three. They were not starters. But all three were undergraduate players with futures possibly in the starting lineup. The two offensive linemen were badly needed at a position lacking depth since Miles' second year. They were both within range of the two-deep depth chart. He released them anyway.

If Miles is trying to be seen as a disciplinarian, it may come to pass that he paid a large price. Or this action could convince other players who have been thinking they could skate through with no consequences to think twice.

It may have been a step in the right direction for Miles. It was an impressive move. But we'll see what he does when a starter in the week of a game messes up in similar fashion. Remember, Chase Pittman and Early Doucet were both involved in bar fights under Miles and were not publicly suspended, much less kicked off the team.

Mainieri observation

It may be too early to judge LSU coach Paul Mainieri, but Mainieri has gotten as much out of this baseball team as anyone could have.

Yes, there have been some embarrasing defeats, but those happen in any baseball season. It will be interesting to see how he does next year with a full year of recruiting and a year of experience for some freshmen who have performed well this year.

He wasn't left with a full cupboard of talent. But you have to admire what he has done with what he has.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Down year in Louisiana?

After looking at Scout.com and its top 100 football recruits for the Class of 2008, it doesn't look to be a big year in recruiting here in Louisiana.

Unless I missed someone, only Rayville wide receiver Chris Tolliver is ranked among the nation's top 100 prospects by Scout.

If that is indeed the case, then there will be more pressure than ever on LSU coach Les Miles and his staff to be able to pluck players out of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. That is never easy.

A realistic view of the upcoming recruiting season would lead you to believe that a top-10 class is unlikely this year if only because there is not the base of players in Louisiana from which to build a class.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Could get ugly

Well, we shouldn't have expected Pokey Chatman to go quietly into the night.

Now the pressure on LSU is to settle with Chatman before any lawsuit airs out dirty laundry for the whole world to see.

LSU's handling of the case so far has been, well, rather suspect. So it shouldn't give LSU fans much hope that this is going to be much better.

We'll have to see where this goes.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Broom time?

Looks like if there is going to be a sweep in Baton Rouge this weekend in will be LSU, not Ole Miss, doing the sweeping.

An impressive outing from Ryan Byrd and eight runs of support was good for an 8-2 win today.

You may recall how Ole Miss was coming to Baton Rouge "thinking sweep.''

Well, now they need to win a Sunday game to AVOID a sweep.

I don't know if this is a turning point or just a stretch of good baseball, but it should provide some hope for LSU fans.

Friday, April 13, 2007

How 'bout that sweep?

Ole Miss shortstop Zach Cozart may watch his words a little more carefully in the future.

Prior to Friday's game at LSU, Cozart told the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger: "We've had opportunities the past two weeks to really put a team away and sweep them. It's always tough playing at LSU. To get two out of three would be good, but we're thinking sweep.''

Think again, Zach.

The Rebels lost to the Tigers, 4-3 on Friday night.

You can't get a sweep when you lose the series opener.

And, oh by the way, Ole Miss is 7-6 in the SEC.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

National love

I got my copy of The Sporting News this week and it has its spring football coverage in the magazine.

Of interest to LSU fans will be two things.

One, the magazine has a story about former LSU coach Nick Saban and the moster of fans/boosters at Alabama. It isn't a particularly flattering story for Bama fans.

Two, LSU fans will like what they see from the magazine's mid-spring top 15.

The No. 1 team is USC. The No. 2 team is LSU.

I imagine LSU fans would take their chances in early January with those rankings prior to the BCS title game.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Short-term hire, but a good one

LSU's chances of winning its first basketball national championship ever just went up. The hiring of four-time WNBA champion coach Van Chancellor on Wednesday gives the Lady Tigers their best chance available at going one game deeper into the NCAA Tournament than they have the last four years with opening losses in the last four Final Fours.

That's a lot of fours, and Chancellor was hired to get to another Final Four and then a final two and maybe a number one for LSU.

Chancellor inherits a very talented team and he'll give it a fresh approach. It could happen. It would be a perfect ending for a Hall of Fame career.

At 63, though, how long will Chancellor be at LSU? Maybe not that long. But that doesn't mean it was not a good hire. Texas, Florida and Duke have been among the schools looking for coaches this off-season amid an unprecedented amount of turnover in the women's basketball game.

LSU cannot compete with those schools with regard to facilities and fan base. LSU is also not going to pay a million dollars or anything close to it to a women's basketball coach. Right now, a new baseball stadium is more important.

LSU could not have hired Gail Goestenkors from Duke. LSU wasn't going to pay Kim Mulkey of Baylor.

If Chancellor can recruit for 2009 and 2010, he will win big at LSU. Then when he does decide to leave and LSU has a new athletic director and a refurbished Assembly Center with new practice courts, then that long term coach can be hired.

A young, rising coach could get the job then when there will likely not be as many other schools looking. Maybe then LSU could hire Mulkey, and she could come home to her last job the way Chancellor has.

That would be a nice ending.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Moving Van

From the what-it's-worth department: One state women's college basketball coach says Van Chancellor to LSU is a done deal. This coach says look for an announcement on Wednesday or Thursday. Also look for Bob Starkey to stay on staff.

We'll see.

If it happens as he says, then kudos to him. If not, then you'll know why this info was in a blog.

Certainly Chancellor is the only visible candidate and LSU doesn't want this thing to drag on much longer than it has.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Blood from a turnip

Say this for Paul Mainieri, he's trying to squeeze every last victory out of this LSU baseball team.

Mainieri called Sunday's game against Auburn a "must-win'' game after dropping the first two games of the series. So he brings Jared Bradford out of the bullpen to start the Sunday game. Bradford responds with a strong performance and the Tigers win 10-1.

You may recall Mainieri did something similar at Stetson when the Tigers dropped the first two games of that series.

Look, LSU is not an NCAA Tournament team this season. Heck, the Tigers may not be an SEC Tournament team this season.

But one would have to be impressed with the way Mainieri has tried to get the most out of this team.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Earth to Brady Quinn

Notre Dame's Brady Quinn was the subject of a weekly conversation at ESPN.com this week.

Quinn had some interesting observations about two Irish losses. Here is what he told ESPN.com:

"This year, we didn't beat a couple teams that were very good. I think in order to beat those teams we needed to play at a higher level -- it's not as if we were favored in those games. We had some tough games. We were at USC and we were playing LSU in the Sugar Bowl down in New Orleans, which was pretty much a home game for them. Those were some tough games and we knew as a team that we needed to play better. Those are team losses, not individual losses.''

Excuse me, but does he honestly think Notre Dame is winning either or both of those games at different venues?

Look, if you want to go along with the whole "team loss'' thing, that's fine. But I would venture to guess that the vast majority of football folks wouldn't expect the Irish to win either or both of those games regardless of where it was played.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Van Chancellor?

Normally, having the chance to interivew a Hall of Fame basketball coach for a vacant head coaching position would be considered a no-brainer, a slam dunk.

Then again, Van Chancellor is in his 60s.

Which leads to this question, if LSU hires Chancellor would the school be hiring him for a chance to win a national championship next season at the expense of the future. Because you would have to figure that Chancellor doesn't have too many years left in him.

But Chancellor may give LSU its best chance of winning a women's basketball national championship next year.

It presents an interesting dilemma to the LSU administration. Go for the quick fix or go for something less proven and younger?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Top target for Brady

John Brady got a lot of national media love during the Tigers' 2005-06 Final Four season for recruiting the Baton Rouge area in particular and Louisiana in general.

Well, the record also shows the Tigers whiffed on D.J. Augustin, who would have made a difference this season.

Now scout.com has its national top 100 basketball players for the Class of 2008. Atop that list is 6-10 center Greg Monroe from Helen Cox in the New Orleans area.

Some of the state's top players from the New Orleans area (Augustin and Chris Duhon readily come to mind) have skipped out of state in recent years. Brady and his staff would be wise to reverse that trend with Monroe considering the precarious nature of coaching basketball in Baton Rouge.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Class until the end

In today's world of money grabbing professional and college coaches, LSU women's basketball interim coach Bob Starkey stands alone. He was old school before there was old school.

LSU athletic director Skip Bertman would like to hire Starkey for the permanent job, which would raise Starkey's salary from $113,000 to about $400,000. Starkey said no.

Bertman is considering giving Starkey a bonus in addition to the one in Starkey's assistant coach contract because he guided LSU to the Final Four amid the most controversial of times after Pokey Chatman's resignation. Starkey said no.

Starkey likes being an assistant coach, and he wants to remain at LSU doing just that. Bertman knows this and will try to nudge the new coach into keeping Starkey on. Any coach that would not want to keep Starkey should have his or her head examined.

Starkey's magic ran out Sunday night in the Lady Tigers' embarrassing 59-35 loss to Rutgers. After the game, Starkey again did something professional and college coaches rarely if ever do. He admitted he messed up.

"I think that one of the things that got us off to the bad start was our game plan, and I'm responsible for that," Starkey said.

I have NEVER heard a coach say that.

"One of the things we wanted to do is we wanted to play inside out on screens and take the dribble penetration - the paint - away," he said. "So in playing that way we allowed them to get some open looks early that I didn't think were contested and they weren't contested because we weren't trying to contest them."

Most coaches realize that fans and media often do not realize why a team loses. So they just say things like it wasn't our night or they just played great and stay away from the specific.

They're quick to go specific when they win, but not when they lose. Not Starkey.

It's too bad Starkey does not want the LSU head coaching job or another head coaching job. That profession needs someone like Starkey.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Of coaches and men

So Arkansas fires Stan Heath -- after back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips -- so it can hire Dana Altman?

Look, Heath left that team so loaded that Altman will contend for the SEC West title next year the same way Heath would have.

But for the long run, I don't know if that is a big upgrade over Heath. If Arkansas had hired Billy Gillispie, then yeah, I could see it being an upgrade. But Dana Altman, I don't know if I wouldn't have kept Heath.

If LSU is to make a change in its men's basketball program, then this is the problem you get. You're not going to get big name coaches leaving good jobs.

Yes, Roy Williams left Kansas for North Carolina.

But I truly believe Billy Donovan will stay at Florida instead of going to Kentucky. I may be wrong, but I think he'll stay.

Arkansas should be a lesson to LSU. If you're going to fire the coach, then you better have something better in hand.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Wow, that was ugly.

Thirty-five points in a basketball game.

Count me as one who was wrong. I figured this was a game to break the Final Four skid for the LSU Lady Tigers.

Instead, it may have been the most humiliating of the Final Four defeats.

LSU is seemingly getting worse in these games rather than better. The first Final Four loss was just two points to Tennessee.

I realize that none of the current coaches may be in their same jobs next year. But whoever the coach is must seriously look at how this program is approaching everything - including Final Four games.

You shouldn't play your worst game at the most important time.