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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Perriloux should return, Odom shouldn't

BATON ROUGE - LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is not the smartest kid in the world.

He needs to learn how to avoid potentially bad situations like what happened at the Varsity bar last week. But there is too much evidence out there that he may have been a victim, or at least a partial victim.

Therefore, he should be allowed to return to practice with the team today and join the LSU varsity on its trip to Alabama and dress out and play. Football players start a lot of fights. They also look for fights and will jump at anything someone else does to start a fight. They can go on ego trips, particularly after a lot of big wins, and think that they're a cut above.

Other people start fights, too. Bouncers tend to get in a lot of fights as well.

It's their job to stop fights and remove people from clubs, but they can go on ego trips as well, particularly if they've just watched "Roadhouse." They can also tend to think they're police when it's closing time. It looks like the bouncers at the Varsity may have gone above and beyond with Perrilloux. And there are reports that two bouncers were fired by Varsity management because of this.

We don't know everything that happened at the Varsity. When a fight involves 20 or so people, it can be hard to sort out. Who knows what Perrilloux did to anger the bouncers? He may have been defending himself or he may have been defending his pregnant girlfriend, whom police say the bouncers were handling a little too roughly. Now should a pregnant woman have been at the Varsity? Maybe not. But I've been to the Varsity. It's a nice club. It's about the only place in this one-horse town to see some good music. And think about it, it's not that uncommon to see a pregnant woman out socially.

Perrilloux has some past bad behavior, but remember he has never actually been arrested. He may be mostly innocent in all of this. LSU coach Les Miles should return him to the team and perhaps put a special curfew on him. Miles should also tell him to quit hanging around with teammate Derrick Odom, who has been arrested twice in recent months for violent behavior toward doors and automobiles. Miles should kick Odom off the team now.

Perrilloux may have two strikes on him, but this last one looks more like a foul tip. It's not like he hit a guy at the knees.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why such peril over Perrilloux?

BATON ROUGE - It's funny how the media business works sometimes.

On Monday there was a media feeding frenzy feasting on quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and his latest non-arrest at a bar where there were about 25 of his closest teammates. The story, which was actually first written about in Gannett newspapers on Sunday, was on the front pages of several news sections around the state today and Monday. It was a national story Monday. It's all anyone was talking about.

Meanwhile, Monday night at the LSU football facility, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey openly discussed how he had just practiced that afternoon for the first time since injuring his knee against Auburn on Oct. 20. Representatives from only two major news organizations were there - the Gannett News Service of Louisiana and the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Congratulations Louisiana media, other than Gannett, you got scooped by an out of state paper on your own beat.

Now tell me who is more valuable to the LSU football team - Dorsey or Perrilloux?

Here's a hint. Dorsey may be the best defensive lineman in the nation. At 75 percent because of his knee injury, he's still one of the best defensive linemen in the nation. Perrilloux is a backup who only plays in spots. He's very talented, athletic, has in-game savvy and could be the LSU quarterback in 2008 and 2009. I think he should have been playing much more this season and passing much more. But he's till just a backup who plays in spots. LSU will be just as good without Perrilloux. Starting quarterback Matt Flynn is coming off the best game of his career and can run pretty well, too. LSU doesn't need Perrilloux to win. LSU needs Dorsey to win.

And there Dorsey was talking about how he might play with a knee brace against Alabama and how badly he wants to come back and the two largest newspapers in the state and area television stations were not there.

The Perrilloux story is a big story, but it's getting old. It broke Saturday. He was not arrested, but he was mentioned in a police report. Plus there is his track record of other near arrests and questionable behavior and iffy status on the team.

If Flynn gets hurt and Perrilloux is not available, it's big. It's a legitimate story, but it shouldn't create such a frenzy. He's a backup. There may continue to be developments here and there on it, but whether or not Perrilloux plays or not is not as significant as whether Dorsey plays or not.

Funny. I was on a radio show in Alabama Tuesday and there were a few questions about Perrilloux. Then they asked if linebacker Derrick Odom, who was not arrested but mentioned in a police report along with Perrilloux, was going to play. They didn't know that Odom has not played all season. The only reason they knew about Odom was because of his arrest history. He hasn't made a tackle this season unless you count cars and doors.

Perrilloux could help LSU beat Alabama. His running style could relax some of Alabama's blitzes, but so could Flynn's. Flynn has thrown for 1,266 yards this season and rushed for 138. Perrilloux has run and passed for 606.

Now if Flynn or Dorsey were in a bar fight and almost got arrested. Now that would be a story.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Only things out at 2 a.m.

I once worked with a guy who was famous for saying the only thing out at 2 a.m. is the law and the outlaw.

I bring this up because Ryan Perrilloux and Derrick Odom seem to have a knack for finding trouble.

Here is more proof of bad things happening in the wee hours of the morning.

Look, I realize college students are out at 2 a.m. on a regular basis. Been there myself. But sometimes good judgment is needed.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rough weekend for Tigers fans

Earlier in the week, I had an LSU fan call me and tell me that by Monday morning LSU would be No. 1 in the polls again.

His thought process was that No. 1 Ohio State would lose at Penn State and No. 2 Boston College would lose at Virginia Tech.

Neither happened.

LSU will be ranked No. 3 when the polls come out on Sunday.

Give credit to Ohio State. The Buckeyes did what LSU couldn't do - win on the road as the No. 1-ranked team in the country.

Boston College was a much closer call.

About the only thing to cheer up LSU fans this weekend was the losses of USC and Florida.

USC's loss makes it only remotely possible for the Trojans to reach the title game. And Florida's loss puts a dent in the Gators' hopes of getting to the SEC title game.

The job for LSU is to take care of Alabama next week because, oh by the way, the Crimson Tide is tied for first in the SEC West. And you can't think about the national title game without first getting to the SEC title game.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Inconsistent SEC

BATON ROUGE - Let me get this straight. You can't run onto a football field and celebrate your team's victory without hurting anyone and your school gets fined $50,000 by the high and mighty Southeastern Conference office. This happened to Kentucky after its monumental victory over No. 1 LSU two weeks ago.

But if you stay in the stadium and throw whiskey bottles and red shoes and God knows what else, it's OK. This happened at Ole Miss two weeks ago following the Confederates' loss to Alabama on an officials' reversal after instant replay.

The SEC apparently also thinks it's OK for Auburn offensive guard Chaz Ramsey to illegally chop block LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey at the knees. An SEC official was right in front of that play and did not throw the flag. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville admitted a flag should have been thrown on his team. SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who came into a league known for recruiting scandals several years as the law and order candidate, told LSU coach Les Miles a penalty should have been called.

Yet Tuberville has not disciplined Ramsey, and Slive has not disciplined or fined Ramsey or the Auburn football team or the Auburn athletic department as he has fined various schools for celebrating victories on the field. Slive should have asked Tuberville to sit Ramsey for a quarter in Auburn's next game. That would have made sense.

Being a commissioner and a coach is about sending messages. The message sent this week by Slive and Tuberville is that it's all right to block illegally if you get away with it. This could mean more illegal blocks and more illegal injuries in the future.

In the meantime, a player is not practicing this week and may or may not be ready for his next game.

What about suspending Ramsey without play until Dorsey plays again?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tigers take a hit

Well, if LSU was counting on Virginia Tech to help the Tigers out tonight, it didn't happen.

Virginia Tech could have helped LSU move up in the polls by defeating No. 2 Boston College tonight.

The Hokies had control of the game and a 10-0 lead with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game.

But Matt Ryan led BC to two touchdowns in the final 2:11 and the Eagles remain unbeaten.

Boston College's remaining schedule -- Florida State next week; at Maryland on Nov. 10; Nov. 17 at Clemson; Nov. 24 Miami.

This is the problem with LSU not controlling its own destiny. Now the Tigers need some help, either from other teams or computers and/or pollsters.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What was Tuberville thinking?

BATON ROUGE - Continuing with the "What" game of the colorful LSU-Auburn rivalry, we now turn to the crazy decisions by the losing coach after examining those of the winning coach.

WHAT was Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville thinking, or smoking, when he decided to squib kick to LSU with 3:21 remaining in the game and LSU needing only a field goal to erase a 24-23 Auburn lead? Wes Byrum's kickoff traveled a pitiful 30 yards to the LSU 40-yard line and the Tigers took over on their 42 with 3:13 to play.

"Thanks Tommy," LSU coach Les Miles should have yelled across the sideline. "Hey, go ahead and give Texas A&M my name. I'll give you a good reference. I owe you one."

Had Auburn kicked off like normal teams and LSU would have returned it to its 42, Tiger Stadium would have gone wild. The longest kickoff return this season by LSU is all of 44 yards. LSU came into the game averaging only 22.5 yards a kickoff return for seventh in the SEC. Despite all its talent at the skill positions, LSU's coaches can't seem to devise a blocking plan, and the Tigers are one of the worst return teams in the SEC. And there's Tuberville squib kicking all night.

The field position meant all LSU needed was two or three first downs to get into field goal range, which is exactly what happened. Thanks Tommy.

Saying Tuberville had been kicking off like that all night is no defense. It worked a couple of times well, but there was also a kickoff in the second quarter after Auburn's touchdown for a 14-7 lead that LSU got at its 41. So, there was a trend - a poor kickoff against a poor kickoff returning team. Unbelievably bad decision.

Tuberville also made a major goof during LSU's game-winning drive. On third and three from the Auburn 41, LSU tailback Richard Murphy made a great run with second effort to apparently gain three yards for a first down at the Auburn 38. Replays clearly show, however, that Murphy came up short of the first down and LSU should have been left with a crucial fourth-and-1. Officials gave LSU an extremely generous spot, and Tuberville did not ask for the play to be reviewed.

LSU gained 10 yards on a run by tailback Jacob Hester on the next play and gained three more yards over the next two plays, setting up the game-winning touchdown pass from Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd.

One thing you can say about the LSU-Auburn rivalry, the calls even out. The visiting team basically gets screwed by a call or two every year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Missing 37 seconds

The apologists are back. There is a school of thought and a story that says had LSU receiver Demetrius Byrd dropped the winning touchdown pass against Auburn Saturday with one second left or - heaven forbid - no seconds left, officials would have put time back on the clock. Because replays show Byrd actually making the catch with three seconds to go, and the clock was allowed to run a couple of more seconds.

Maybe LSU would have had an opportunity to kick the field goal anyway.

Uh, NO. This notion is a little too iffy and a little to LSU serving. And it does not lessen the poor time management by the LSU sideline and coaching staff one bit.

Two or three seconds often tick off after a play as officials sort out the play. The official near Byrd's catch looked like he was making sure Byrd had the ball. That's reason enough to keep the clock going.

The coaching issue that Les Miles is dealing with has nothing to do with what happened on the play anyway. It's what happened before the play. The play before Matt Flynn's winning touchdown pass to Byrd ended with 45 seconds to go when tight end Richard Dickson was tackled for a 1-yard gain to the Auburn 22-yard line. (It was not with 25 seconds to go as I originally reported, which would have made Miles and staff look better.)

It was third down. There were 45 seconds with which to work. That's plenty of time to call a play, get it off, call your last timeout and kick the winning field goal.

But no, LSU players were casually walking around. Miles seemed to have no sense of urgency either. And as has happened throughout this season and throughout the Auburn game, LSU's coaches were late getting the play to their players. Flynn also could have hurried a little more. At any rate, he did not get the snap until about eight seconds remained.

Eight seconds! What happened on the play is not the issue. Where LSU's coaching went seriously wrong was from the 45-second mark to the eight-second mark. Miles was asked about that huge time gap Monday in his office. He honestly could not explain it, but it was clear he was setting out to correct it. He mentioned other time and game management issues in the game and throughout the season. This has happened in past seasons under his regime, too. Miles blew an opportunity for a score late in the first half against Tennessee in 2005 with poor clock management. He lost that game in overtime.

He knows he dodged a bullet this time and will try to get it fixed. They have plenty of time to do that. He's got the right idea. He's not trying to justify his questionable actions by saying officials would have put time back on any way. That would be a cop out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

LSU picks up a quarterback

LSU has picked up a verbal commitment from Winter Haven, Fla., quarterback D.C. Jefferson.

I guess this is a good thing for the Tigers.

Jefferson had been considered a soft commitment for Rutgers. Rivals.com has him rated as a three-star quarterback. He is the No. 8-rated dual quarterback by Rivals.

He's no E.J. Manuel. But who knows, maybe Jefferson will turn out to be a player.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lighten up Francis

"Being a part of what we're doing I absolutely love, and I really love who I'm doing it with. But it is a fight sometimes to keep the perspective. I mean, we're sitting at 101 wins, and people don't seem to be very happy very much of the time. So again, that is a little perplexing, but that's the way it is.''
- Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona earlier in the week in the Boston Globe

I mention that Terry Francona quote for a reason. Driving home tonight, listening to a call-in show, an LSU fan was complaining that he thought Charles Scott should be getting more carries and Ryan Perrilloux should be playing less.

Never mind that this LSU team just spent two weeks at No. 1 in the country and is currently sitting at No. 3.

Never mind that LSU pulled out a dramatic last-play win over Auburn on Saturday night.

Those were just a couple of things bothering that caller.

And much like in Boston where 100-plus wins doesn't seem to make people happy, some LSU fans aren't finding much happiness despite a 7-1 record.

There has been much talk about what would have happened with the clock if Demetrius Byrd had dropped the pass in the end zone. How the game would have ended or not ended.

It doesn't matter. He caught the pass.

Yes, there will always be things that can be done better. That's because the games are played by humans.

And while Manny Ramirez probably could have worded it better, he is right. It's not the end of the world what happens in sports events.Sure, there's disappointment when your team loses, but that's about it.

So without trying to sound pious, it certainly wouldn't hurt for LSU fans, and really all fans, to enjoy the journey a little more.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

LSU-Auburn recap

Well, hello Demetrius Byrd.

You may be the answer to who can play wide receiver opposite Early Doucet. It's safe to say Brandon LaFell may be playing his way out of the role.

And welcome back, sort of, LSU defense. Only 7 points allowed in the second half. But those 7 came at a really bad time.

And speaking of time, the open date couldn't come at a better time for LSU. This team is drained emotionally and beat up physically. A week off to get ready for the stretch run could do wonders.


Where are the LSU Tigers from the first month of the season?

It's nearing halftime and 92,000-plus fans haven't seen their team.

Yes, there was the Keiland Williams touchdown.

But the defense doesn't look anything like it did early in the season. Charles Alexander makes that much of a difference in this team?

Early Doucet is back, but his receiver teammates are still dropping the ball.

Granted, it's still early. There's more than a half to go and LSU can still pull this out.

But I'm starting to wonder if this team peaked in Week 2 against Virginia Tech.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another view

This week's Sporting News college insider says LSU's flaw on defense has been exposed the past two games.

That flaw?

Man-to-man coverage.

The magazine says LSU has had trouble defending four- and five-wide receiver sets. Their example is the trouble Craig Steltz had covering tight ends Jacob Tamme of Kentucky and Cornelius Ingram of Florida.

If this is indeed correct, then maybe all of the clamoring for more blitzing isn't the answer since blitzing generally leaves you in more man-to-man situations and not less.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bandwagon emptying?

Just a week ago, everybody and their brother was saying LSU was the best team in the country.

One loss later and you've got people thinking the Tigers will lose against Auburn.

Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was one of those singing the praises last week. Now he is saying Auburn can win in Baton Rouge on Saturday.

That shouldn't be surprising. LSU hasn't played particularly well for about a month.

Still, LSU is at home and the Tigers have been particularly tough in Tiger Stadium.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

In defense of Flynn

BATON ROUGE - First of all, I have to laugh at all you fans and media members who thought Matt Flynn was going to be as good or better than JaMarcus Russell. Ha-Ha-Ha.

Flynn at his best is not in Russell's league, and that's not a shot at Flynn because Russell was the best quarterback in LSU history.

A caller to Jimmy Ott's radio show here Monday said it best. He questioned what game or what substance fans were smoking in past years when they said Flynn should be playing instead of Russell. He then said Louisianians do not know how to judge talent and said such mistakes are often made in the state's political arena. What an excellent point. Only someone who voted for Ray Nagin to be mayor for a second term or someone who voted for Kathleen Blanco over Bobby Jindal could think Flynn could be better than Russell.

Flynn could still become a good quarterback at LSU, though. He's just not going to be great as so many thought and hoped based on one Peach Bowl when everything went right in so many areas of LSU's game.

In Flynn's defense, he is playing without nearly as good a receiving corps as Russell had. If Flynn had a healthy Early Doucet along with Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis, he would be rated much higher than 93rd in the nation in passing efficiency. He would be rated significantly higher this season if Brandon LaFell had just caught half of the passes he dropped.

Without Doucet, LSU's receiving corp is a talented and youthful mess. They line up wrong. They run the wrong routes. And they drop passes. At the same time, Flynn has a much better running game to mix in than Russell ever had. Flynn has played with a hurt ankle, but Russell played half a season in 2005 with torn ligaments in his throwing wrist that were completely stripped by season's end.

Flynn still has plenty of season left to prove himself, particularly with Doucet possibly about to start playing more with this Saturday's game at Auburn. Flynn himself is not long over an ankle injury that hurt his season. He had gotten off to a great start. Then he looked up after game two and he had an ankle injury and Doucet was out.

He still needs to recognize a receiver is about to be open and throw it rather than seeing someone open, thinking about it for a second and then throwing it. He seems to be too careful and nervous back there. At the same time, he has shown flashes of Russell, or brilliance. He just needs to be more consistent. He could keep his head up and look downfield when he scrambles, too. Receivers tend to get open in those situations.

Flynn never said he was better than Russell. In fact, Flynn himself marveled at Russell's talent. It's too bad many fans never realized how great Russell was until he was about done here. Then some still refused to admit it and hoped Flynn would be much better. I even heard some say that Flynn would be more "cerebral" than Russell, who people forget made the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Flynn may speak better than Russell, but as of yet he doesn't play smarter.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Suddenly Saban's not Satan!

BATON ROUGE - I can't believe my own ears.

Suddenly, I'm hearing Nick Saban's name all over the place here, and the words aren't coming out of my mouth. It's amazing how one LSU loss can make people forget about their "evil" former coach and remember the defensive genius. Suddenly, Alabama coach Nick Saban's not Satan anymore.

Two radio show hosts in town, who in recent months have jokingly chided me (I think jokingly) about my admiration and respect for Saban, have miraculously regained some memory. They're remembering how effective Saban's blitz packages were when he was the coach at LSU because they were unexpected and came from every direction. Defensive coordinator Bo Pelini's unit recorded no sacks in a 43-37 loss at Kentucky Saturday, and it often looked like it was reacting rather than attacking.

One host pointed out that Kentucky receiver Keenan Burton could have played Saturday without pads because he was barely touched. Suddenly, callers are talking about Saban again on radio shows and without hate and disdain. No, they're talking about how his cornerbacks played right up on receivers, whereas Pelini's plan is to give receivers five or six yards of breathing room.

"Beat me deep before I do that," caller and host agreed. That was Saban's philosophy.

My goodness, how quickly the hate evaporates when the memory finally returns! LSU will be playing Saban in just a couple of weeks. Is everyone just getting warmed up for a heartfelt reunion? Or does a loss just do crazy things to LSU fans? Does a loss make them realize reality?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

BCS mess

Had LSU won on Saturday, the Bowl Championship Series rankings wouldn't have meant much in Louisiana.

Because had LSU won at Kentucky, the Tigers would have been on top of the BCS rankings. And they would have controlled their own destiny by winning each week.

But they didn't win on Saturday. They lost in triple overtime on the road to a ranked team.

So LSU is No. 4 in this week's - the first of the 2007 season -- BCS rankings.

Ohio State is No. 1 with South Florida No. 2, Boston College No. 3 and LSU No. 4.

Already there is angst in Big 12 land because of LSU and/or any one-loss SEC team lurking.

Consider this: the BCS experts are already saying Oklahoma could be jumped by one-loss SEC team, or even a one-loss USC team.

The key for LSU and the rest of the one-loss teams --- staying at one loss.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

LSU-UK thoughts

First, I'm a big believer in your record being what it ought to be.

So while I was mildly surprised LSU was able to come back against Florida and win last week, I was also mildly surprised to see LSU unable to hold a 13-point lead in the second half against Kentucky.

LSU is 6-1 and you can make the case that the Tigers probably should be 6-1.

Now as for the game:

1) People don't want to hear about it, but injuries are starting to take a toll on this team. And we're not just talking about Charles Alexander and Early Doucet. The loss of Chevis Jackson hurt this team late in the game. The loss of Brett Helms hurt the team on the offensive line. Yes, injuries are part of the game. Yes, that's why you have to have depth. But injuries are a part of the equation.

2) Penalties were a killer. Not one but two pass intereferences on a fourth-down Kentucky scoring drive. That's giving away 30 yards. Tyson Jackson's roughing the passer in overtime was huge. You can't have a dozen penalties and beat a ranked team on the road.

3) People don't want to hear this but the passing game is struggling for a couple of reasons. The wide receiver play hasn't been good and Matt Flynn is an average-at-best SEC quarterback.

It all adds up to a triple-overtime loss to a ranked team on the road.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Everybody loves a winner

Just got off the phone talking with CBS Sports' Tim Brando.

He said the LSU-Florida game last week in prime time got the best ratings for a CBS game in the last five years. The LSU-Florida game also doubled the competition from ABC (Notre Dame-UCLA, Ohio State-Purdue).

Brando said the success of the LSU-Florida game will likely lead to more non-ESPN prime time games from Tiger Stadium.

There's something different about LSU playing at night. This way the Tigers won't be penalized for being successful by having to play in the day time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kiss of death?

This from the Lexington Herald-Leader:

UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart sent a letter to fans on Thursday asking them not to rush the field at Commonwealth Stadium if the Cats knock off top-ranked LSU on Saturday. The SEC fined the school $25,000 after the fans stormed the field following UK’s 40-34 win over Louisville on Sept. 15.
“When fans rush the field it compromises the integrity of that surface and risks the health and safety of the same players that fans are intending to celebrate,” Barnhart said in the letter. “Please continue to enjoy the wins from your seat.”

Wow. Not since the city of Dallas issued the parade route during the middle of the NBA Finals have I seen such brazen confidence.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

LSU could have SEC's longest run at No. 1

BATON ROUGE – Should No. 1 LSU win out through the BCS national championship game on Jan. 7 in New Orleans, the Tigers will go down as the longest No. 1 ranked national champion in Southeastern Conference history.

It would be the closest thing to a wire-to-wire champion that the league will have ever had. Should the Tigers win out to finish 14-0 and thus retain their Associated Press No. 1 ranking as of Sept. 30, it will be the longest consecutive-weeks run at No. 1 of the 16 recognized national champions from the SEC. LSU went to No. 1 in the USA Today coaches and Harris polls on Oct. 7 after beating No. 9 Florida 28-24 on Oct. 6.

There has never been an SEC team No. 1 without interruption in the months of September, October, November, December and January. LSU (6-0) is “just” eight wins away from history.

No, Alabama never was No. 1 that long through a national championship claim. The longest run at No. 1 by a Crimson Tide national championship team was in 1979. Bear Bryant’s team went to No. 1 following a 40-0 win at Florida on Oct. 13 and won its next six regular season games, including a 3-0 win at LSU, to finish 11-0. But it fell to No. 2 in the final regular season poll after a narrow win over Auburn. It then beat No. 6 Arkansas 24-9 in the Sugar Bowl and captured the AP and United Press International (coaches) national championship.

The 1978 Alabama team went into the season at No. 1 and beat No. 10 Nebraska and No. 11 Missouri only to fall to No. 7 USC. The Tide got as high as No. 2 before beating No. 1 Penn State 14-7 in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1979, for the AP national championship.

Alabama’s 1973 UPI national championship team did not get to No. 1 until it beat No. 7 LSU when the Tide was No. 2 by a 21-7 score on Nov. 22, 1973. No. 1 Alabama beat Auburn 35-0 in its next game before falling 24-23 to No. 3 Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. The UPI coaches poll retained Bama No. 1.

Most of the SEC national champions did not get to No. 1 for good until late in the season or until winning the bowl game to claim the national championship and No. 1. Florida, for example, was not No. 1 through all of last season until beating Ohio State in the BCS national championship game.

LSU was not No. 1 in a poll in the 2003 season until winning the BCS national championship over BCS No. 1 Oklahoma on Jan. 4, 2004. Alabama was not No. 1 in the 1992 season until it beat No. 1 Miami in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1993.

In 1998, Tennessee became No. 1 after beating UAB 37-13 on Nov. 7 and stayed there for the rest of the season, wrapping up its BCS national championship with a 23-16 win over Florida State.

In 1996, Florida went to No. 1 after beating No. 2 Tennessee 35-29 on Sept. 21, but the No. 1 Gators lost 24-21 to No. 2 Florida State on Nov. 30 and fell to No. 3. Then the No. 3 Gators beat the No. 1 Seminoles 42-20 in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.

In 1980, Georgia became No. 1 following the 92-yard, “Run Lindsay Run” touchdown by wide receiver Lindsay Scott to beat Florida 26-21 on Nov. 10 and remained through its 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.

Alabama won national championships in 1961, 1964 and 1965 without getting to No. 1 until late or at the end of the season.

Ole Miss was ranked No. 1 following a 42-0 win over Houston on Sept. 17, 1960, and stayed at No. 1 or No. 2 through late October, but a 6-6 tie at unranked LSU on Oct. 29 dropped the Rebels to No. 6. They won their next three and rose to No. 2 before beating Rice 14-6 in the Sugar Bowl and were awarded the Football Writers Association of American national championship.

Auburn won the Associated Press national championship in 1957 after not getting to No. 1 until the last week of the regular season. It was on probation and not eligible for a bowl. Tennessee opened the 1951 season at No. 1 but dropped to No. 3 and No. 2 at various times during the season without losing before staying at No. 1 beginning in late November.

The previous longest No. 1 run by a national champion was by guess who? It was in 1958 by LSU, which moved into the No. 1 position following a 10-7 win over Florida on Oct 25 and stayed there through its 7-0 win over No. 12 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.
LSU opened the 1959 season at No. 1 and stayed there until a 14-13 loss at Tennessee on Nov. 7, 1959. It was never No. 1 again in the regular season until Sept. 30, 2007.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cats could be hurting

Kentucky running back Rafael Little is listed as questionable for Saturday's game with LSU with a thigh bruise.

Don't think this is not a big deal.

Little is the third-leading rusher in the SEC. His ability to keep the Wildcats' offense from being one-dimensional is important. If all LSU has to concern itself with is Andre Woodson, then the Tigers will be right where they want to be.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Don't let the facts get in the way

Usually you don't think of the New York Times when you think of college football coverage.

After reading The Times' coverage of the LSU-Florida game you can see why.

Maybe to someone who doesn't cover the team, it would appear LSU is "ensnared in a quarterback controversy'' because two quarterbacks play. But that would hardly be accurate.

You could also quibble with other aspects of the story, but that's what happens when you have a hit-and-run situation where you have someone fly in for the big game and fly out.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

On to style points

On the day LSU assumed the No. 1 spot in all of the major polls, the Tigers were given notice that now the style points issue of winning comes into play.

The national media have already begun to pick apart flaws in the LSU team.

Reality says the second half of the Tigers' schedule will be as hard to go 6-0 against as the first half. Kentucky has never been a bargain in Lexington for the Tigers.Auburn is playing better. Alabama is Alabama.

Yet for all of that reality can be countered with this bit of reality -- LSU went 6-0 with Matt Flynn missing one game and Early Doucet missing four. How many people in August would have said this team would be 6-0 with those two players missing five games?

Apparently, though, style points are going to be part of the standard of judging LSU now.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

LSU-UF Second Half

I don't know what will happen the rest of the season. But what LSU showed in the second half -- and didn't show in the first -- was the kind of moxie you see in championship teams.

Five for five on fourth down? You've got to be kidding.

Going for the first down deep in Florida territory and making it? Unbelievable.

Like I said, I don't know what will happen. But that kind of mental toughness, to come from behind when down 10 going into the fourth quarter, is impressive.

Even moreso when watching other top-10 teams fall by the wayside.

LSU-UF First half

Let's see, LSU has a missed field goal and an interception. A Tigers defense that couldn't be dented for a month is gashed for a pair of 70-plus yard touchdown drives.

Yep, it's October. It's Florida. And LSU looks like they did last year - and even the year before that when they won despite five turnovers.

LSU still has time to turn this around. But the Tigers don't look particularly sharp and Tim Tebow looks like he can give LSU fits.

We'll see how this one plays out in the final two quarters.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Say it ain't so Joe

As if LSU fans didn't already dislike Joe McKnight enough, along comes Bruce Feldman's book "Meat Market'' to stir the pot even more.

Feldman's book follows college football recruiting from the inside. He spent a year with Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron and his staff during the recruiting process. Since Ole Miss and LSU recruit some of the same players, it's a page-turning book that is a fascinating read regardless of what one thinks of Coach O.

The McKnight parts are especially intriguing and probably will incite the passinons of LSU fans even more.

I admit that I haven't finished the book, yet. I just got it today. But here are some of the McKnight-LSU highlights.

Page 240-241
"Another good sign: Bryan Arceneaux had been telling Orgeron that McKnight didn't want to go to LSU. In fact, after Curtis' 41-7 victory over St. Charles Catholic at the Superdome to win the 2A state title, McKnight had said as much. Actually, he sang it, right there in the locker room during the Patriots' postgame celebration.
"When he spied an LSU recruiter in the distance, McKnight began to say, "Ain't goin' to LSU! Ain't goin' to LSU!''

Page 282
"Before Wilson's lunch was served, he received what he thought was a great sign - a text message from McKnight, ripping on his counterpart, LSU assistant Larry Porter: "YOUR BOY PORTER IS SO FAKE!''

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Switzer thoughts

Barry Switzer was on a national teleconference this week talking about OU-Texas and LSU-Florida.

Switzer's view of LSU should give you an idea of someone outside-the-boot.

On LSU's defense:
"They're great on defense. They can really run big.''

"I think LSU's defense has been dominant. They're so physical. They look like an NFL team.''

On LSU's offense:

"I don't know how good LSU is at just being able to line up and hammer the ball with the 'I' back.

"LSU is not an offensive power to me. I mean ... they've got some great athletes.''

"I think Ryan Perrilloux is going to be a stud but he's not a starter. But he's got the athleticism that jumps out at you and sparks - flashes at you when he's in the game. You say, 'This guy could be special.'

So Switzer likes LSU's defense. Not so high on the offense. And likes Ryan Perrilloux. Little wonder he picks Florida in Saturday's game.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

So what if Florida lost

Just after Florida lost 20-17 to three-touchdown underdog Auburn in the Swamp Saturday, ESPN announcer Mike Patrick sympathized with LSU because now Florida has something to get even about. At least Patrick was talking about the game he was announcing, which is his job, and didn't bring up Britney Spears for no reason as he did just before Georgia's game-winning play that beat Alabama in overtime on Sept. 22. And he does have a point. Florida has never lost two straight games under coach Urban Meyer, who is in his third season.

Then again, it depends on how you look at this. Meyer went into the Auburn game never having lost a home game as the Gators coach. And he lost. And it wasn't like it was a fluke. Late in the game, Florida benefitted from an awful punt catching interference call against Auburn and a subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who had every right to be angry. The two calls gave the Gators excellent field position near midfield, and they couldn't score on Auburn, which did not have star defensive end Quentin Groves as he was on on crutches with dislocated toes.

Meyer also pushed the spirit of the rules a little bit when an official allowed him to call a timeout just before Auburn's Wes Bynum made a 43-yard field to apparently win the game. Bynum had to kick it again. Technically, Meyer was within the rules. But it didn't look good. It looked like Meyer and the official were working together.

Auburn's offense, which looked horrible at times in losses to South Florida and to Mississippi State, outgained Florida 326 yards to 312. Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox looked like a new man as he completed 17 of 26 passes for 227 yards. This was better than the great Tim Tebow, who completed 20 of 27 passes but for just 201 yards and an interception.

The odds were in Auburn's favor. Sooner or later Meyer was going to lose at home.

The odds are in LSU's favor this week. Sooner rather than later Meyer will lose two in a row.

But the most important reason to think LSU is in good shape this week is because the Gators' loss to Auburn proves that Florida probably isn't that good. Don't forget, Florida struggled to beat Ole Miss two weeks ago.

If you follow Patrick's and many others' logic that teams coming off losses are mad and out to get even, then an 0-10 team would really be mad. Maybe it's the other way. Florida losing at home means to me that it could lose again and maybe even again. The Gators did lose nine starters on defense from their national championship of a year ago. Maybe the Gators aren't that good. LSU's games the following weeks at Kentucky and at home against Auburn may be tougher than this week's game.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Time to go Tebow with Perrilloux

BATON ROUGE - It was a good idea to stick with Matt Flynn in LSU's early-ugly, 34-9 win over Tulane Saturday.

Flynn was obviously not performing well in the first half as he completed just 8 of 18 passes.

Counting his game against South Carolina, that made Flynn 16 of 37 for 43 percent with an interception and a touchdown over six quarters.

LSU coach Les Miles, who has often inserted backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux in the first half this season, stuck with Flynn the whole first half despite LSU trailing 9-7 until three seconds remained in the second quarter. He was trying to get Flynn right. He was giving him repetitions against a light opponent that LSU would eventually overwhelm. This made sense. Flynn gathered himself and finished the Tulane game in decent fashion, completing 16 of 29 passes for 258 yards with another interception.

It will not make sense Saturday night against No. 9 Florida should Flynn flounder in the early going. In fact, Perrilloux should enter the game early on regardless of how Flynn is doing. The dual quarterback system has worked well this season. LSU will need it to beat Florida.

Perrilloux is 26 of 31 passing over his last four games for 381 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. Like Flynn, he's missed on a few passes here and there. But he needs to play and he needs to pass. Perrilloux has only thrown four passes since completing 20 of 25 for 298 yards and two touchdowns when he started and played the whole game against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 15 as Flynn nursed his injured ankle.

Miles bristled at a question Monday concerning Perrilloux's lack of passing in the last two games.

"That is enough (passes)," Miles said. "That is what the team needed from him. We need to sharpen the skills of all our players, not only Ryan, but all of our quarterbacks (meaning Flynn since no one else played)."

You don't sharpen guys against teams like Florida, Kentucky and Auburn the next three weeks.

They need to be sharp already, and if they're not find someone who is. That could be Flynn this Saturday. His ankle may be close to 100 percent by then. But it also needs to be Perrilloux, who can pass and throw. Flynn obviously is not the runner he was before the ankle. He still needs to be the starter, though, because he is a strong leader of the team, and a change there could do more harm than good. Just rotate them and stick with the hotter hands and feet.

If Miles was not playing Perrilloux against Tulane to get Flynn right, that was good. If Miles was not playing and passing Perrilloux more to throw off Florida, that was also good.

If you're Florida defensive coordinators Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison this week, you've got to be wondering which Perrilloux LSU will use - the Middle Tennessee Perrilloux or the running Perrilloux. I'd say use both a lot. Use Perrilloux like Florida used Tim Tebow last year only more.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Miles doesn't mind calling big big

BATON ROUGE - Many football coaches try to tell reporters and their players that there's no such thing as a big game. "It only counts as one," they say. Then they stay in their office working on the game plan until dawn.

"If you get too high for a game, you won't play well," they say. "You can't have peaks and valleys."

Actually, you can. That's why teams try to pace their schedule. That's how LSU's schedule is paced. There have been a few easy games before LSU enters the meat of its schedule.

LSU coach Les Miles has a big game coming up Saturday as his No. 1-ranked Tigers (5-0) host No. 9 Florida (4-1) at 7:30 p.m. on CBS in Tiger Stadium. It will be the first televised night game by one of the big-three, non-cable networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) involving LSU since 1981 when No. 4 Alabama and coach Bear Bryant beat LSU 24-7 in the season opener.

This will be LSU's first game as the No. 1 team in the nation since Nov. 7, 1959.

A win will give LSU its first 6-0 start since it went 9-0 to open the 1973 season. A win will strengthen LSU's national championship hopes dramatically.

ESPN's College Game Day will be back in town for the second time in less than a month for the first time in the history of that program.

It's sort of a big game, and Miles doesn't mind saying so. And that is refreshing. It shows he is a human being and not some robot refusing to deviate from the programmed routine. It counts as one win or loss as the Tulane game did last week, but then again it really doesn't.

"I always like big games," Miles said at his press luncheon Monday. "Our guys like big games. They hurry to meetings. They hurry to practice. There's more energy about the building. I understand it only counts as one, but it'll be a lot of fun. It's what football is all about. It's what you come to LSU for."
Thanks Les for telling it like it is.