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Monday, December 31, 2007

Making the most of opportunity

As 2007 comes to a close, here is a reminder for LSU and its fans.

You have to make the most of these opportunities to win national championship football games.

It is hard enough to get to the title game. Winning the title game is even harder.

Oklahoma has one title this decade but missed on two other chances. USC has just BCS title this decade, but missed on another. Ohio Stat has title this decade, but missed on another. Miami has one title this decade, but missed on another.

Nobody has won two BCS titles this decade.

These opportunities don't just come around.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

We interrupt the giddiness ...

To tell you that LSU basketball is in trouble. Deep trouble.

This is a young team that a) doesn't have much of an inside game; b) can't hold a lead; c) is playing a pretty tough schedule and d) doesn't have a lot of confidence.

While most LSU fans are reveling in the football team playing for the national title, the ones who have dared glance at basketball are looking at a program in a precarious position.

This could be a long winter for LSU basketball.

Friday, December 28, 2007


It seems like the possibility of a split national champion (again) is picking up more steam.

Matt Hayes in The Sporting News details all of the possibilities.

This is sort of surprising because after the two teams were named in the BCS game, there seemed to be a consensus among the media types that the BCS had gotten the two best teams.

Instead, now it's looking like 2003-04 all over again.

But instead of having USC staking a claim to the title, now you have any of several teams hoping to do the same.

Of course, if Ohio State wins there should be no argument. If LSU wins, say the way the Tigers did against Notre Dame last year, then there should be no arugment either.

Overtime and get ready for splitsville.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Transfer talk

You know a program is getting to elite status when transfer rumors start popping up.

The latest had Texas A&M running back Mike Goodson transferring to LSU. You can read Goodson's denial here .

The truth of the matter is LSU is pretty well loaded at running back. Although you wouldn't imagine Les Miles turning Goodson down.

Still, in past years, the rumors had the transfers going the other way and not to LSU.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Back to work

LSU gets back to the practice field on Thursday and that's a good thing.

You don't want to lose your edge with the long layoff. But you don't want to get people hurt either.

Amazingly, there's still nearly two weeks before the national championship game.

Terribly long? You bet.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The long layoff

How long is the layoff between the SEC title game and the national title game.

It's so long that LSU won't go to New Orleans for another week to begin practicing at the championship game site.

This is tricky for the coaches. How do you handle this much time off? Les Miles has taken advantage of layoffs before, but this is extremely long. Jim Tressel tried to learn from last year.

Whichever team handles the time off in the most efficient manner may be the one holding the crystal on Jan. 7.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

No respect

I've noticed a couple of newspapers nationally have gone to playing a fake college football playoff tournament.

The San Francisco Chronicle has LSU getting upset by Missouri.

The Kansas City Star has LSU losing to West Virginia.

For a team that won 11 games and was No. 1 in the nation -- twice -- there sure isn't much love for the Tigers.

That's not to say that LSU is going to win on Jan. 7. But losing to some of these teams, geeze.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The next step

I was watching Tom Lemming's recruiting show on CSTV this morning and he had running back Darrell Scott on the show.

Scott is 6-foot-1, 205 pounds from Ventura, Calif., and considered to be the top running back prospect in the country.

His final four are Colorado, Texas, Florida and LSU.

That LSU is in that group says a lot about where the program is right now.

But Scott is a heavy lean to Colorado where he has an uncle on the team. Scott did say he still plans trips to Florida and LSU.

In a year when Louisiana recruiting is down, LSU needs to be able to pull off a national recruit here and there.

So far LSU has been at the table with Scott, Wichita linebacker Arthur Brown and Virginia quarterback E.J. Manuel. Brown committed to Miami this week. Manuel committed to Florida State earlier and Scott appears headed to Colorado.

That next level for LSU will be having the ability to get a national recruit here and there -- like Joseph Barksdale last year -- in those years when you really need it.

That is the next step for the LSU football program if it wants to sustain the high level of play in this decade.

Friday, December 21, 2007

DC update

With new Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson hiring Dave Wommack as his defensive coordinator, it appears the road may be paved for Jon Tenuta to come to LSU as defensive coordinator.

Johnson made the decision to not bring Tenuta back.

That decision wasn't surprising. Tenuta is the interim head coach for the Yellow Jackets' bowl game. And new coaches usually bring in their own people.

LSU coach Les Miles has already said he is on his own timetable in finding a replacement for Bo Pelini. You've got to figure Miles knew this day would come and has a short list of candidates ready to go.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Say it ain't so

Early this morning came a wire report out of Columbus, Ohio-- two Ohio State players, a starting cornerback and a reserve cornerback, were being suspended for the national championship game against LSU.

A TV station and The Columbus Dispatch were cited as the story's source.

It turns out only a backup was suspended.

So what looked like a pretty big story turns out to be not-so-big.

But what in the name of Kirk Herbstreit is going on with some media outlets these days. Has the chase to get it first outweighed the priority of getting it right?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good get

Les Miles scored one on the recruiting trail when Rayville wide receiver Chris Tolliver announced a commitment to the Tigers.

Tolliver is a good get for several reasons. One, he is a talented wide receiver and LSU proved this year you can never have enough players at that position. Two, LSU was able to hold off Nick Saban and Alabama. Keeping the premier players in state is absolutely critical to keeping LSU among college football's elite.

With Tolliver and Terrance Toliver, LSU doesn't look like it can go wrong calling the name or the number of thos players.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why they call them fans

It's interesting reading the reaction of fans after a coaching hire.

In almost every case the previous guy was a bum. The new guy is a god.

Check out these fan comments from the Detroit Free Press after Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez. My comments will be in italics.

"I wonder how Les Miles feels today. (I'm guessing pretty freakin' good since he's getting ready for a national championship game.) His opportunity to coach Michigan has most likely ended forever. (Not if Rich Rodriguez flops.)Plus, Michigan hired, by all accounts, a great coach who will make Michigan a great team once again. (I guess going to the Rose Bowl when Ohio State plays for the title makes you great.) I hope U-M plays LSU in BCS championship game next year. (Keep dreaming. Neither one of those two teams will be there next year.)-- WesternWayne

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's never too early

You know you're a grinder when you're not only worried about the national championship game, but about 2008 as well.

Alas, there is a perfect Web site for you.

NationalChamps.net has its Early Bird 2008 top 25.

Rest easy LSU fans, even with some tough graduation losses, LSU will be the early favorite in the SEC West. NationalChamps.net also has the Tigers ranked seventh.

Other SEC teams in the poll are Florida at No. 3 and Georgia at No. 4.

Ohio State, LSU's opponent on Jan. 7 in the national title game, is ranked No.1.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Revisionist history

I was scanning through the Internet and came across some college football fan comments that seem to carry some revisionist history to them.

Fan of shunned BCS title team suggested that LSU's two losses were to bad teams. Both teams were unranked.

Well, that may be the way they ended up. But Kentucky, you may recall, was ranked No. 17 when the two teams played.

Those ranking reflect how a team was playing (injuries, etc.) when they met.

So while LSU's losses weren't to, say, Florida and Virginia Tech, they weren't to Vanderbilt and Baylor either.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Recruiting talk

I'm hearing some angst among LSU fans after John Curtis defensive back Robby Green committed to Alabama.

Unless Green blossoms in Tuscaloosa, I don't think LSU fans have much reason to worry.

Back in the summer when I was doing some recruiting work, I talked to a college coach in the state (not from LSU) about Green.

This coach said Green wouldn't be a high-profile recruit if his dad hadn't played at LSU. And, he added, “He won’t hit anybody.''

Green still has time to turn around that reputation. He may very well go on to an excellent career at Alabama the same way Tommy Wilcox once did. But right now, I'm not betting on it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

They love him in Boston

It should come as no surprise that Glen "Big Baby''Davis is becoming a fan favorite in Boston.

Heck, Davis is even getting good reviews from the notoriously fickle Boston media.

And there is this from a fan blogger at Boston.com

Later in the game Big Baby took a charge, and he was called for two fouls trying to take other charges. Each time he was given a foul he lay sprawled out on the floor for a few extra seconds. After he fouled out of the game the folks remaining at the Garden gave him a well-deserved standing ovation.

It looks like Boston has the Big Baby from 2005-06. Good for Davis. Good for the Celtics.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Just got my Sporting News in the mail today.

The magazine picks Ohio State to win the national championship game against LSU.

Fair enough, Ohio State has a good team. It could happen.

But one of the sub-headlines says,"Ohio State has the mental and motivational edge against LSU because it's tired of being 'disrespected.'''

Respect, though, is a two-edged sword.

LSU is the team the Sporting News questioned its smarts earlier in the year.

And on the same pages of the same issue, it quotes an anonymous someone saying, "Sometimes I look at LSU and wonder how in the world they win big games. They're predictable on offense and lousy in red zone defense. Yet every time they need a big play, one of those elite athletes sucks it up and carries them.''

That's hardly respect there either.

So the respect card can be played by both teams.

What will really matter is how well the two teams play on Jan. 7.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Can anyone get this right?

BATON ROUGE - I was amazed at the number of mistakes the Miami Herald made and other Miami media members when Nick Saban went from LSU to the Miami Dolphins two years ago.

It's happening again from Detroit to Bristol, Conn.

"LSU head football coach Les Miles appears to be a Michigan coaching candidate again," it was written in the Detroit Free Press recently. "Miles had a phone conversation with Michigan athletic director Bill Martin and school president Mary Sue Coleman, according to several people with knowledge of the call."

The story never fully supported that first sentence, however, and even contradicted that sentence later with this sentence: "The reason for Michigan's reconnection with Miles is uncertain."

Uh, if the reason for Michigan's reconnection with Miles is uncertain, why is the Free Press saying that Miles "appears to be a Michigan coachng candidate again?"

Unbelievable. What a reach. And that's what an editor I know said.

They talked on the phone! Miles is a Michigan alum. He's going to take the call.

That doesn't mean he's a candidate again. Before Miles' statement later Tuesday that said he was talking to Michigan about other candidates, I told a national reporter that could be one of the things they were talking about. It is very common for coaches to tell athletic department officials who might be a good hire. But this national reporter was convinced Miles was throwing his name back in the hat without any evidence. "What else could they be talking about?" he said.

It's amazing how media members are so - to use a Saban phrase - "self absorbed."

Michigan athletic director Bill Martin might have just wanted to clear the air with a rising alum of his school. Maybe he wanted to apologize if people at his school or close to his school caused a distraction for Miles before the SEC title game.

Maybe Miles apologized for not getting to talk to Martin. Miles really did want to sit and talk about the job, even though that doesn't mean he would've taken it.

Maybe Miles said to keep him in mind the next time Michigan hires a coach.

Maybe Martin wanted to apologize for the alleged behavior of former Michigan coach/stick-in-the-mud Lloyd Carr - also known as Johnny Carson's old man character on the Tonight Show. You know, "In my day, we ate dirt and we liked it."

Maybe Martin wanted to know if Miles had been more interested in the Michigan job if Carr wasn't around to perhaps stab him in the back and/or continue stabbing Miles in the back. Maybe Martin wanted to know if the growing number of coaches who are turning down interest from Michigan also don't want to be around a hovering Carr.

The latest was Dolphins' coach and Michigan man Cam Cameron, who was best man at Miles' wedding.

Maybe Martin and Coleman just wanted to hear it person-to-person that Miles was not interested. Maybe Martin and Coleman just wanted to make damn sure that Miles' door was shut. Remember, before they called Miles they had just been turned down by Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Rutgers! I wonder what Schembechler would have thought of that? Somewhere, Woody Hayes is laughing.

Maybe Martin was trying to save face by getting a story out there that Michigan is still trying to get Miles after blowing its chance two weeks ago. Had Michigan waited until the Monday after the SEC title game to ask permission to speak to Miles, it may have had a better chance. It probably would not have gotten Miles. But it may have at least got an interview, and everyone would know Martin did his best instead of his best boating.

Maybe they were just talking. Maybe Michigan wished Miles luck against Ohio State. Maybe Michigan hit Miles up for a donation since he's about to make a lot more money.
Maybe now this story will go away. Maybe one day ESPN will get its facts straight. While discussing the phone call on Tuesday, ESPN's John Saunders said, "He (Miles) has reached out and talked to Michigan."

No, Mr. Saunders. Michigan called Miles. Miles only "reached out" to answer the phone. Again, it's his alma mater. He's going to talk to school officials if they call. That doesn't mean he's up for the job. The guy answered my call on Tuesday.
Later, an ESPN graphic detailed Miles' contract extension and made another mistake.

Saunders said a bonus was added if Miles wins the national championship next month along with other bonus goals. Wrong again. The bonus clauses have not changed. They've been in there since 2006.

It's getting obvious that certain media outlets need Michigan to get a new coach more than Michigan needs to get a new coach.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The never ending story

Let's see, it's Dec. 12, so, yep, time for another Les Miles, "I'm not going to Michigan story.''

Today's installment comes courtesy of a story that ran in this morning's editions of the Detroit Free Press. Being a fellow Gannett company newspaper, we ran the story here on LSUBeat.com and in the local newspaper as well.

Seeing this story, ESPN jumped all over it. You could catch it on "First Take'' or "Around the Horn'', but you could certainly catch it.

So Miles did what coaches do - he put out a statement saying he was staying at LSU.

If not for Nick Saban last year, this would be the end of the story.

But if we learned anything from last season, it's never over until it's over.

We can always hope.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dorsey the real thing

BATON ROUGE - The Dorsey family may not be able to wait until after the NFL Draft this spring for that new house from likely first round pick Glenn Dorsey.

Dorsey, a senior defensive tackle from Gonzales outside Baton Rouge, picked up his fourth large, major trophy in a week's time Sunday. So the Dorseys may need the room now.

Dorsey, a 6-foot-2, 290-pound industrial sized fire plug, won the Lott Trophy Sunday after taking home the Lombardi, Nagurski and Outland last week. Just think if Dorsey had been healthy all year. He played the second half of the season with a right knee sprain and a back injury.

The Lott trophy, named after former San Francisco defensive back Ronnie Lott, judges personal character. By picking Dorsey, they got that right. Dorsey was the victim of an ugly, illegal chop block by Auburn offensive guard Chaz Ramsey this season.

Ramsey apologized, but he should have been suspended. Auburn was not even penalized on the play with a game official in clear view. It was an extremely embarrassing moment for the Southeastern Conference office, which tries to carry itself as this law and order league. The SEC owes Dorsey an apology as well, and it should suspend Ramsey for the next LSU game, perhaps for his own safety.

Dorsey will not be around for the next LSU-Auburn game, but if he was, he would not do anything illegal to Ramsey. That's not Dorsey. Asked about the illegal block a few days after the game, Dorsey took the high road, which is the road he usually takes. Dorsey never took a verbal shot at Ramsey. Dorsey's teammates have something else to say, but not Dorsey.

Without the knee injury, LSU's defense likely would not have had the collapse it did late this season. And who knows, Dorsey could have contended for the Heisman Trophy. Dorsey may already be the most highly decorated defensive player in the history of college football, which now features nearly as many awards as talk shows.

"This is why I came back," Dorsey said last week. He could have been a first round choice in the last draft despite a shin injury late in the season that dropped his stock. But he wasn't talking about all the hardware he was about to get. He was talking about getting the chance to play for the national championship against Ohio State on Jan. 7 in the Louisiana Superdome.

That's the trophy Dorsey really wants.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Good get

LSU received a pretty big commitment over the weekend when E.D. White's Chase Clement picked LSU over Alabama and Tulane.

Clement is one of the better line prospects in the state at 6-5, 240.

The only negative is there have been some rumblings about Clement's intensity on the field.

If those rumblings are correct,you've got to figure that will change soon.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mr. Heisman

Congratulations to Florid quarterback Tim Tebow for winning the Heisman.

My vote went to Arkansas' Darren McFadden with Tebow second. But really, it was hard to go wrong with either one of those guys.

It's kind of funny. When Ryan Perrilloux signed with LSU out of high school he predicted a Heisman Trophy win for himself.

Perrilloux hasn't won one and likely won't win one. But a quarterback with a similar skill set -- run, pass and size -- did in Tebow. So maybe Perrilloux knew more than we gave him credit for at the time.

Friday, December 07, 2007

On hiring a new coach

Here's why LSU fans should be thankful Les Miles decided to stay.

Check out the Michigan and Arkansas coaching searches.

At Arkansas, the power brokers pushed Houston Nutt out the door. The Hogs thought they had Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe lined up to replace Nutt. Turns out, Grobe is staying at Wake.

Michigan talked a lot about Miles, but Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is the latest to say no to the Maize and Blue.

You see, it's not always easy hiring a coach. When Nick Saban left, LSU expected to get a top-of-the-line proven head coach. It settled for Miles who has proven himself with an SEC title and a spot in the BCS title game.

Had Miles left, LSU would probably be scrambling around the way Michigan and Rutgers are.

So if you're an LSU fan, just tell Les thanks.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Enough already

You would think Les Miles signing a contract extension would be enough.

Apparently not so.

The Detroit Free Press has a story headlined, "Miles signs LSU extension, but that still doesn't rule out Michigan.''

Enough already.

Even the story's writer, Mark Snyder, writes, "He still can leave for the same buyout as before if the job is offered, though there are no indications it will be.''

I guess you really can't blame Michigan. It was about this time last year when the Alabama Crimson Tide kept pursuing Nick Saban through every denial/rejection he gave until the Tide finally got its man.

At least on the surface, though, this appears to be near the end.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

LSU should thank Beamer

BATON ROUGE - It's a cliche, but that doesn't mean it's not true. What goes around, comes around.

After Virginia Tech ripped LSU 26-8 to start the 2002 season in Blacksburg, Va., the Hokies were supposed to return the game to Tiger Stadium in 2004. But ESPN, the great schedule maker, set up a game pitting the Hokies and defending Associated Press national champion USC to kick off the 2004 season. For obvious reasons, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer did not want to play the defending APchampions and the defending BCS champions - LSU - early in the same season.

So he got out of the LSU game, delaying his trip to Baton Rouge to Sept. 8, 2007.

Then-LSU coach Nick Saban and LSU fans were very upset.On Sept. 8, 2007, LSU exacted some revenge with a 48-7 victory in Tiger Stadium, thoroughly manhandling the Hokies.

That victory helped mightily in getting the Tigers into the BCS national championship game on Jan. 7, 2008, against Ohio State. LSU had already gone into the season ranked No. 2, but that win on national television really cemented LSU in the minds of virtually everyone that it was the best or one of the best teams in the nation and on its way to the national title game. As other teams fell and LSU kept winning for the most part, the Tigers became a glamour team and the first-ever, two-loss team to reach the national championship game.

Interestingly, had Virginia Tech stuck to its original scheduling of LSU in 2004 or got it in 2005 or 2006, Virginia Tech would be preparing to play Ohio State in the Jan. 7, 2008, BCS national championship game instead of LSU.

Had Tech scheduled some typically easy, early-season opponent instead of LSU, it would be sitting at 12-1 on the season right now with some of the most impressive, late-season victories of any team in the nation.

So thanks, coach Beamer, ESPN and thank you, USC.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Looking ahead

The LSU Tigers will go into the title game as a 6-point favorite according to some Vegas betting lines.

That may be a little high considering the way LSU has played since, oh, about mid-September.

It will be interesting to watch the fluctuation of the line.

I originally though the spread would be about three points. And maybe Vegas is giving LSU three for playing in New Orleans.

We shall see.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Herbstreit should be suspended

BATON ROUGE - I have a question. What is Kirk Herbstreit's job status?

If I had done what he did over the weekend, I would likely not be writing for this company right now.

ESPN's Herbstreit threw the biggest interception of his career last Saturday when he said Les Miles was going to be the next coach at Michigan. He wasn't making a prediction. He reported it.

Almost immediately afterwards, I heard from a well-known sports agent who said the story was not true. Agents talk to one another. Someone from LSU also assured me it was not true and never was true. There was no "dated" aspect to Herbstreit's story. It was never true.

Apparently, Herbstreit went with what one source told him. You can't ever do that unless that one source is someone like Les Miles telling you that Les Miles is going to be the next coach, and even then I would still get another source. Even if your singular source is excellent and proven, as a reporter you have to vet the information with other sources just in case. Because singular sources can lie or stretch to carry out their agenda. This happened when Miami reporters made several mistakes regarding Nick Saban's move from LSU to the Miami Dolphins. A major agent source was putting out bad information for his client's benefit, and Miami reporters went with it.

Herbstreit is a great sports anchor. He knows the game. He's very knowledgeable. He also is such a star that he could probably get just about anyone on the phone.

That's where he blew it. He needed to make more calls.

According to LSU officials, Pat Forde, a real reporter at ESPN and one of the best anywhere, was prepared to go with an accurate story Saturday morning that LSU was in fact about to announce that Miles was staying at LSU and would address it in detail after the game. But for some reason the accurate story did not make it onto ESPN, while the wrong one did.

When Miles said at a press conference before the game Saturday that he was indeed staying, Herbstreit tried to scramble. And he made another mistake. He said LSU suddenly threw together a contract offer to Miles after his "report" aired. WRONG.

As I wrote Friday in my column that appeared Saturday, Miles was speaking to LSU officials on Thursday and Friday nights and had considered saying at a press conference on Friday that he was staying.

Miles spoke with LSU Board of Supervisors member Charles Weems late Friday night, and at that time Miles reached an agreement on new amendments to his existing contract. According to Weems and some LSU players, Miles was never going to Michigan.

He did not make his decision on Saturday. He just announced it.

Herbstreit needs to admit he was wrong about everything concerning his reporting on Miles. And he needs to be off the air for a week or so. Every time his face has been on camera since, it's embarrassing to what is a great network. If he remains on air, he should at least put one of Corso's mascot masks on, because that's about how much credibility he has now.

ESPN has many great reporters. What it needs to do is let its reporters do the reporting and its anchors only anchor.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Back in the title game

Here's a funny story that puts LSU's trip to the national title game in perspective.

A guy calls the office early Saturday afternoon and wants to know how LSU could get in the national championship game.

So I tell him LSU has to beat Tennessee and Missouri has to lose to Oklahoma and West Virginia has to lose to Pittsburgh. And that Pittsburgh is awful.

I tell the guy that he has a better shot at winning the lottery than LSU has of getting in the title game.

He says, "I won the lottery once. It wasn't much. A hundred thousand dollars.''

Wasn't much?

I told the guy maybe Les Miles needs him on the sideline.

Anyway, all of those things happened. And LSU is in the sideline.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What a day

Musings from a crazy day at LSU.

So I wake up to a phone call that ESPN is reporting Les Miles has taken the Michigan job. Man, I tell the guy on the phone, way to take a great season and then run the sword through your own stomach.

Still, something didn't sound right about this. I mean, the guy said he would talk after the game. So I didn't run right into the office.

A few hours later, I was on my way into the office early. Listening to ESPN radio, I hear a report that LSU has called a press conference in 15 minutes.

The talking head on ESPN begins to rip Les Miles. Calls the timing of his departure "disgusting'' and "reprehensible.''

Turns out, the only "disgusting'' and "reprehensible'' acts were ESPN's reporting.

Miles was staying.

Then came the actual game. LSU did what it has done this season - find a way to win.

And then the real fun.

LSU needed a miracle to get into the national title game. Pittsburgh was a 27-point underdog at West Virginia. But Pat White gets hurt and suddenly Pittsburgh is a winner at West Virginia.

Oklahoma rolls as it expected against faux No. 1 Missouri.

So now we have a BCS showdown? Who will be No. 2? LSU? Georgia? Virginia Tech? Kansas?

Stay tuned.