• LSUBEAT.com • Schedules • Depth Chart • Recruits • LSU in NFL • LSU Gear

Thursday, January 31, 2008

At last, victory

BATON ROUGE - Do not look for a sellout at the next LSU men's basketball game or a parade, but finally the Tigers pulled one out. The 81-80 victory at Auburn Wednesday night was LSU's first win of 2008. And do not be that surprised if LSU's "winning streak" stretches to two.

Alabama, where LSU plays Saturday at 2 p.m., is about as bad as LSU. The Crimson Tide is tied with LSU for last in the SEC West at 1-5. Alabama does not play very good defense and is not a very good rebounding team. LSU plays good defense and is also not a very good rebounding team. Alabama can score. LSU struggles to most of the time, unless guard Marcus Thornton can put up 38. It should be a good game.

Unfortunately, after that game, LSU hosts Tennessee, goes to Florida, hosts Kentucky and goes to Arkansas. Unless it wins Saturday, it might not win a game for some time.

The team at least thinks it has a chance. And though so many people want coach John Brady fired and fired now, he should at least be given the opportunity to finish out this season. At this point, he deserves that much.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What does it mean?

I guess LSU fans should be happy with the Tigers' win over Auburn tonight. I mean, that's what fans do, cheer for their team.

But the more sophisticated fans may be more than a tad bit concerned.

It took a 38-point performance from Marcus Thornton for LSU to get its first win in the SEC.

It took beating a team with all of two SEC wins.

The good side, is it was a win and a road win.

But if it's going to take 38 a night from Thornton, there may not be many more wins left.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Welcome to the Internet age LSU

It began with FireRonZook.com and soon every mediocre coach -- football and basketball -- had their own "Fire So-and-So.com''web site.

LSU's success since the turn of the century had kept the school immune from such sites.

Until now.

Yes, Virginia, at least enough people care about LSU basketball to start the Web site FireJohnBrady.net. So welcome to the Internet age LSU.

For better or worse, your fans can debate a coach's future.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Remembering Hill

You'll read plenty of stories about Tom Brady and Eli Manning this Super Bowl week. You may even read a few stories about Kevin Faulk.

What will likely be missing is the stories remembering former LSU star Marquise Hill who died in a water-related accident on Memorial Day weekend last year.

There is a good read in Newsday that recounts some of things former LSU teammate and current New England Patriot Jarvis Green did for Hill's girlfriend and son.

It's good to see that Hill hasn't been forgotten.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Remember me?

I had flipped on the TV and on the satellite dish today was the Big East game of the week.

It was halftime and the announcers were discussing some of the top big men in the conference. I wasn't really paying that much attention when I heard the announcers discuss South Florida's Kentrell Gransberry.

Kentrell Gransberry?

Wasn't that the guy from Baton Rouge who signed with LSU?

Turns out it was. Gransberry is now the nation's seventh-leading rebounder with 10.8 per game. He is eighth in the Big East in scoring at 17.1 points per game.

Think John Brady could use him about now?

But really, that's the story of LSU basketball at the moment - players who were at LSU (Gransberry, Ross Neltner) and players who could have been at LSU (D.J. Augustin) and players who probably should have been at LSU (Shan Foster).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Holding serve

LSU has picked up a commitment from Lavar Edwards of Desire Street Academy.

Most are pegging the 6-4, 300-pound Edwards for the defensive line. I know of at least one college coach who has seen Edwards play and says, yes, he could indeed be a tight end.

But let's figure on Edwards staying on defense.

This is a good get for LSU. For one thing, he was really considering Oklahoma hard. Rufus Alexander went from Baton Rouge to Oklahoma and had a good career with the Sooners. LSU didn't need to have any more players leaving Baton Rouge for OU.

So consider landing Edwards as holding serve since he's a hometown kid. But don't discount the importance of his commitment.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Calm before the firestorm?

Beware the word "evaluation" if you're a coach. It often comes not long before the word "fired" or "resigned."

The end could be near for LSU men's basketball coach John Brady. He is no longer on inherited probation and has failed to follow his Final Four appearance of 2006 strongly. The Tigers were 17-15 and 5-11 in the SEC last season. At 7-11 this season, they have the fewest wins of an SEC team and are tied for last in league play at 0-4 going into an 8 p.m. ESPN home game Saturday against Arkansas. Yes, they have had injuries to key players, but better recruiting could have avoided the disaster of last season and the disaster so far this season.

There is so much unrest and such a dark cloud over the program as well as one of those fire-the-coach websites that LSU athletic director Skip Bertman felt he had to do something. He addressed the issue on one of his cyberside chats this week.

"It’s no secret that right now our men’s basketball team is going through difficult times," Bertman said. "With several key players sidelined with injuries, the Tigers are undermanned but working hard each and every game. I hope you will support your basketball Tigers through this difficult stretch with the same passion and dedication that you did for your football team as they fought game by game for a national championship. Consistent winning produces great pleasure for Tiger fans.

But losing brings speculation and disenchantment among fans that can create an environment that is detrimental to a team’s performance."

Then Bertman used that word.

"An EVALUATION of the men’s basketball program will come at the appropriate time, so any speculation now about the future of the program is mere conjecture," he said.
This was a good move by Bertman. He's not just leaving Brady out there hanging. He's also showing concern for the players. He is also saying that a decision will be made about Brady's future at the end of season. Bertman has not done this in any other season, and Brady has had his share of bad ones.

"I am also very aware of the disappointment, criticism and where our team finds itself," Brady said at a rare in-season press conference Thursday. Such a press conference was not called during any other bad season under Brady.

LSU has 12 games left this season and the SEC Tournament. Brady has turned around things before. Following a 13-16 and 2-14 season in 2000-01, he got off to a 12-11 and 2-8 start in the SEC. Then he won six of eight in the SEC to finish 19-15 and 6-10 and advanced in the NIT. He deserves a chance to try to finish strong this season.

If he doesn't, though, he will likely be out of chances. And Brady, who is in his 11th season and headed to his sixth losing SEC season, has had many chances.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Doucet going to Disney World

MOBILE, Ala. - Former LSU wide receiver Early Doucet was in Orlando, Fla., Thursday to rehabilitate his pulled hamstring under the watchful eye of former New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints strength Tom Shaw, who founded Tom Shaw Performance Enhancment.

Shaw readies NFL prospects - injured an non-injured - for the draft and is already working with two other 2007 LSU seniors - quarterback Matt Flynn and strong safety Craig Steltz. Doucet has considered returning to Mobile for the Senior Bowl game Saturday, but that is unlikely. Steltz was also a Senior Bowl invitee but canceled plans to come because of the shoulder injury he suffered in the BCS national championship game.

Among the players Shaw has helped reach stardom is New England quarterback Tom Brady.

Doucet injured his hamstring at a South team practice on Tuesday, but he was still able to make a good impression with his two days of workouts.

"He was having some really good practices," said NFL draft expert Mike Detillier. "He was running very good routes and catching everything. He showed that he is a first-class receiver, and I still think he is a late first-round pick. The injury situation will come into play because he's had two now."

Doucet missed several games early in the 2007 season because of a groin pull. He had not been at 100 percent long before the hamstring problem occurred.

"How he runs in his pro day will be very important," Detillier said.

LSU will hold a pro day for its NFL prospects in March.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Doucet leaves Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. - LSU receiver Early Doucet has had a change of heart and has left the Senior Bowl to rehabilitate his hamstring injury.

Doucet said Wednesday morning the hamstring he "tweaked" on Tuesday at a South team practice was fine and he was OK for practice and the game. Later in the day, though, he changed his mind and returned to Baton Rouge to rehab the hamstring, said LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette, who attended Wednesday's South practice along with LSU coach Les Miles.

South coach Mike Nolan of the San Francisco 49ers said Doucet planned to come back on Saturday for the game, which kicks off at 3 p.m. on the NFL Network
"He's going to try to work it out," Nolan said. "He told me he plans to come back for the game, but I don't know if he will be able to play."

In general, Senior Bowl invitees who suffer an injury in game week do not play.

Doucet, a St. Martinville native who is expected to be a late first round pick, had turned in an impressive pair of practices on Monday and Tuesday, and Nolan planned to use him on kick returns.

Doucet is the second LSU player to have an injury affect his Senior Bowl appearance.

Strong safety Craig Steltz chose not to come to Senior Bowl practices or the game after injuring his shoulder in LSU's win over Ohio State in the BCS national championship game.

LSU tailback Jacob Hester, who has been working more at fullback, outside linebacker Ali Highsmith and cornerback Chevis Jackson remain healthy and ready to play Saturday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

If there was a change ...

OK, so let's play this game:"If there was a change in men's basketball coaches...''

I say that because one name mentioned as a possibility if such a thing happened signed a contract extension today -- Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg.

But who would LSU people want?

John Brady can X and O with other coaches. He has a Final Four on his resume'.

Judging by fan interest in Brady and his team right now, maybe someone other than an X and O guy?

People want a Bruce Pearl type, but there are some who wonder if Pearl is a guy who can get Tennessee beyond the Sweet 16/Elite Eight round and into the Final Four.

Certainly if a change is made a new coach would need to be a cross between Dale Brown and Brady. A guy who can make people sit up and take notice and also coach while he's in a game.

Of course, none of this matters if Brady can pull his rabbit out of the hat --- again.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Understanding the recruiting world

I'm not one of those people who discount recruiting rankings. Not when I've seen teams that have been consistently ranked in the top five win national championships -- one being a team close to home.

So with that as a background, I have been a little dumbfounded by a couple of things I've seen here in the last couple of weeks.

I expected Jordan Jefferson to move from a three-star recruit to a four-star recruit. I didn't expect Tyler Edwards to drop from a four-star to a three-star on rivals.com. I know at least one college coach in the state who maintains Edwards is the best player at his position in Louisiana.

Then, there is this team ranking thing. LSU has dropped from 7 to 11 in Rivals.com's ranking. LSU is behind Texas despite LSU having one more five-star recruit, only two less four-star recruits, and five-more three-star recruits. My math skills aren't great, but it looks to me like LSU has more three-star and up players.

Again, it's no big deal. But you have to be hanging around the top 10 if you want to hold up the crystal ball. If you're satisfied with the Chick-Fil-A Bowl then don't sweat the rankings at all.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

LSU turmoil meaningless to football

BATON ROUGE - LSU obviously needs to get its act together for the sake of university, which in the end is more important than football in all areas other than money.

But as far as football - the largest window to LSU - is concerned, the recent shakeup among the brass at LSU is meaningless.

When a football program like LSU's is thriving the way it is as much now as when Nick Saban was the coach, it doesn't really matter who is working as athletic director, chancellor or president. As long as those folks realize the monetary and unifying importance of football, strive to stay within NCAA rules or close to it and stay out of the way, the program will continue to thrive.

When a football program needs an athletic director or chancellor to step in is when it's in terrible shape, which was the situation at LSU when Mark Emmert became chancellor in the spring of 1999. He realized changes had to be made, and he realized the athletic director at the time - Joe Dean - was not very good at football decisions and at hiring football coaches. So the chancellor took over, and the rest is history. LSU is the football program of the decade thanks to Emmert, Saban and current athletic director Skip Bertman, who hired current football coach Les Miles.

LSU athletics will not miss chancellor Sean O'Keefe, who was allowed to resign on Wednesday after being fired. O'Keefe was a rookie with regard to athletics, though he sure liked to hang around it. O'Keefe was also a rookie as far as leading a university. He was a bad hire to begin with. He's an extremely smart individual with excellent contacts in Washington D.C., but that's not a chancellor. He's not an educator. One of the reasons LSU hired the former secretary of the Navy and head of NASA back in 2004 was for the headlines. One of the reasons O'Keefe said he took the job - when cornered by reporters at his hiring - was the significant pay raise.

Former LSU president William Jenkins, who was mistakenly forced out by silly Louisiana politics, is now the acting chancellor. He should remain there. Or perhaps he could return to president and let current president John Lombardi become chancellor, a position with which he has more experience. Either way, Jenkins and Lombardi are two quality educators and university leaders in the class of Emmert.

Meanwhile, LSU is still looking for a new athletic director. That was one of O'Keefe's jobs. Lombardi said Wednesday that search will go on. However, an incoming athletic director may think twice about coming to LSU amid all this business. LSU is also looking for a new chancellor.

Perhaps, LSU should hold off on the athletic director search and allow Bertman to remain another year while it gets its house in order. He's been the best athletic director LSU has had since Carl Maddox.

As far as Miles is concerned, he could care less. Any new or old hire at LSU should have enough brains to leave a good thing alone.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Couple of thoughts

Noticed this one yesterday, but got behind and couldn't mention it. But how about Curley Hallman resigning from a high school head coaching job after, you guessed it, four consecutive losing seasons.

I'm not going to bash on Hallman. History does that pretty well. But what in the world was Joe Dean thinking when he hired Curley?

Not as bad as Curley but this LSU basketball team may make a run at some dubious marks this season.

A home loss to Auburn?

Zero SEC wins looks like a possibility now.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Recruiting update

If Michgan fans felt spurned by Les Miles last December, imagine what they would feel if he can pull this one off.

Terrelle Pryor, the nation's No. 1-ranked prep quarterback, is apparently interested in LSU.

Granted, LSU is a long shot at the moment. For the most part, Pryor has been talking Ohio State and recently Michigan.

But Pryor's sudden interest in LSU is proof that the Tigers football program has indeed stepped up to a national elite level.A quarterback from Pennsylvania wouldn't have given LSU the time of day even five or six years ago, much less 10.

While it is a long shot, could you imagine the agony Miles could cause Michigan if he pulled this off?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Smart moves

LSU linebacker Darry Beckwith and defensive end Tyson Jackson are coming back to school next season, Tigers coach Les Miles announced today.

Those are good decisions by both players.

Jackson only had to look at Glenn Dorsey to see that coming back can help your stock, particularly as a defensive lineman. If he has the kind of year many expect, Jackson will do nothing but improve his stock.

Beckwith can do the same just by having a healthy season.

Besides improving their draft stock, the return of those two players helps a defense that figured to be in transition after the loss of several key players.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Will LSU fans care?

LSU's basketball team (the men, not the women) made a take-notice statement, sort of, by whittling a 20-point second-half deficit to a three-point loss at nationally ranked Ole Miss on Saturday.

So will LSU fans care?

Here's guessing that the only passion regarding LSU fans and the basketball team will be related to John Brady's future.

Sorry, to say. But attendance hasn't been good since, oh when Dale Brown was there. And now football is a major monster on campus.

But an upset win or a streak of wins and maybe that will change. As it is, the biggest stories for this team won't likely come until March.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Recruiting talk

I had my concerns about the quality of this recruiting class last summer. It was and is a down year in the state of Louisiana.

In years without great talent in the state, LSU has to go out of state to supplement its class. That's never an easy task for any school as the farther away from your base you get the harder it generally is to get players.

But after looking at what Les Miles and his staff have done this year those concerns aren't valid anymore. LSU is ranked in the top 10 in both Scout.com and Rivals.com's ratings.

Don't tell me they don't matter. LSU didn't start playing for national titles until they started competing for titles in February.

After seeing what LSU has done this year don't expect the Tigers to go away anytime soon.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The cost of winning

LSU waited three days before announcing a ticket price hike for season football tickets. (In fairness, they ought to cut men's basketball tickets).

It is understandable that playing at a nationally elite level costs money and that means higher prices for tickets.

My only question is this: Does Louisiana have 92,000 people that can pay that kind of money to go to every home game? And will rising home ticket prices keep people from going on the road? Or will people just keep paying?

My guess is people will keep paying as long as the product is good. But throw a 7-6 clunker and wait for the howls.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A swing and a miss

Now that we've had a day to digest Michael Adams' impassioned playoff plea, here are just a few thoughts.

1) If I'm at Auburn, I'm not real happy that the Georgia president suddenly becomes interested in a college football playoff when he thinks his team got screwed. Where was Adams in 2004 when Aubie got jobbed?

2) If I'm Bernie Machen at Florida I'm not real happy with Adams. Machen stuck his head out for a playoff last year in Destin and nearly got it cut off. If Adams cared so much back then he should have spoke up then.

4) If I'm Sean O'Keefe at LSU (besides trying to keep a job) I wouldn't be happy with Adams either. What, he couldn't wait a day to spill his guts to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

5) If I'm Mark Richt I'm not real happy with Adams either. He probably bought his football team an extra dose of "atmosphere'' for next year's visit to Tiger Stadium.

In all seriousness, I have no problems with playoff proposals. I do have a problem with the timing. It showed a complete lack of class, similar to Alex Rodriguez, and respect for the championship game of college football. Of course, he probably did it for that very reason.

Will he get a playoff? I doubt it. He certainly didn't endear himself to anyong other than Bubba from Waycross who loves those Dogs.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Stunning parallels

They don't have a whole lot in common but look at some of the stunning parallels between the Boston Red Sox and the LSU Tigers football program.

Following the 2003 season, in early January, 2004, LSU won its first football national championship in 45 years. Later that year, the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.

This past October, the Red Sox won the World Series again. This past Monday, LSU won the national championship again.

The Red Sox had their world championship upstaged last fall by Alex Rodriguez's decision to opt of his contract during Game 4 of the World Series. Rodriguez was roundly ripped for a self-serving move.

LSU had its moment upstage on Tuesday when Georgia president Michael Adams unveiled his plan for a college football playoff.

I guess Adams just discovered that college football doesn't have a playoff system. Either that or he just pulled the most self-serving act since, well, Alex Rodriguez.

Just some interesting parallels.

Monday, January 07, 2008

LSU fans flood the dome

While the purple and gold may have been overshadowed by scarlet and grey throughout town this week, make no mistake, LSU will have a home field advantage inside the dome.
It's obvious LSU fans were more willing to spend the incredible dough it took to nab a ducat.
Outside of the two sections dedicated to the schools are, LSU fans dominate.

All things considered, this is best pairing

NEW ORLEANS - I have no problem with split national championships. Considering how silly and arbitrary college football's postseason has always been, sometimes a single champion cannot be fairly crowned. USC clearly deserved a national championship for the 2003 season and got it by the Associated Press. LSU clearly deserved one, too, and got it from the BCS.

Those two teams should have played in the Sugar Bowl that season. That was the mistake - not the dual titles.

This season, regardless of how crazy it has been, will have a solitary champion, and that will be the winner of tonight's LSU-Ohio State game in the BCS title game in the Louisiana Superdome. The USC and Georgia arguments are sophomoric.

Before the bowls, there were other teams with solid arguments for being in this game other than Ohio State and LSU. Virginia Tech, for example, finished the season as strongly as any team. But it just lost its bowl game. Oklahoma also had a very strong argument, but it lost its bowl game and looked bad in the process. Georgia had a decent argument. It finished as one of the hotter teams in the country, but one cannot just excuse that huge blemish of Oct. 6 - a 35-14 loss to Tennessee. The Bulldogs looked great in beating Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl, but c'mon it was Hawail.
(USC finished greatly as well and topped it off with an impressive win over Illinois, which beat Ohio State. But teams that lose to 4-8 teams like Stanford are not even in the conversation unless separated by parentheses.)

Ohio State had a questionable entry into this game. It has only one win over a team ranked in the pre-bowl BCS rankings - No. 18 Wisconsin. LSU had a questionable entry into this game to say the least as the first two-loss team to be in a game like this. It could become the first two-loss national champion since Minnesota in 1960.

In a normal year, LSU is not playing tonight. Usually, you can't lose a late November game and make it. LSU, though, has the best resume of the two-loss teams. It has an impressive list of four victories over teams in the pre-bowl BCS standings (Virginia Tech, Florida, Tennessee and Auburn). That's why it's here. And it was fortunate enough to be in a conference that has a championship game. LSU's win over Tennessee helped erase the loss to Arkansas on Nov. 23, and it erased Georgia, which lost to Tennessee.

It's bad system, but when you really look at it, no one other than Ohio State and LSU should be playing for it all. The way this season played out, though, does call out for a plus-one system and a four-team bracket as much as in any other crazy season. That needs to happen.

Over the next few days, you will hear about how USC or Georgia should be national champions. Don't listen. It's popular in the media to be a contrarian. It's cool to be a contrarian. It's fun, too. But that's not working this year.

Not long before midnight tonight, a single national champion will be crowned. Period.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

DiNardo likes ....

He's the last LSU football coach NOT to play for a national title, so take this for what it's worth, but Gerry DiNardo likes Ohio State in Monday's title game.

In the interest of full disclosure, it must be pointed out that DiNaro now works for the Big Ten Network as an analyst.

DiNardo told the Chicago Tribune he thinks the "psychology of the game'' favors Ohio State.

DiNardo did give the Tribune one caveat.

"But if (Ohio State quarterback Todd) Boeckman doesn't play well it's not enough. And Ohio State didn't do a good enough job of protecting him in their final two games. (His subpar performance) wasn't all his fault.''

DiNardo, though, may have stumbled on to something.

He could see backup quarterback Antonio Henton getting some action.

"Henton was one of the highest-recruited dual quarterbacks in the country. If they don't line up with Henton at some point and run the spread, I will be surprised,'' DiNardo told the Trib.

And if they do, LSU may have a problem on its hands. The Tigers had fits with Brent Schaeffer at Ole Miss and Darren McFadden in Arkansas' Wild Hog formation.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Bourbon Street littered in ... Scarlet and Grey?

I haven't truly made it to Bourbon Street ... I'm sick as a dog, but managed to get to Krystal's at the mouth of Bourbon. But during my walk from near the Convention Center, across Poydras and down Canal, I was overwhelmed by the support for one of the teams in Monday's BCS national championship game.
And it wasn't LSU.
Maybe most of the folks from Baton Rouge were going to make a short weekend of it while the Buckeyes supporters worked this into a vacation, but Ohio State is incredibly well-represented here. I have to hand it to supporters of "The" university, they handled all the heckling in stride. Ohio State fans may rival LSU's in numbers so far, but the Tiger clan is still the most obnoxious.
Is there apathy in Tiger Land? Overconfidence?
I doubt it, but Monday's sea of colors in the Superdome will tell the truth.
What will dominate? Purple and Gold or Scarlet and Grey?

Friday, January 04, 2008

LSU could get first exclusive title

NEW ORLEANS - LSU claims three national championships in football, but not one of them is considered exclusive. That could happen Monday in the BCS national championship game should the No. 2 Tigers (11-2) beat No. 1 Ohio State (11-1).

There is some talk that BCS No. 7 USC (11-2) could capture the Associated Press poll as it may be the hottest team in the nation and looked very good in its Rose Bowl victory, though that was over an Illinois team that looked very average.

USC will get some votes for No. 1, but I do not think it will get the No. 1 position. No team that loses to a 4-8 team during the regular season should even be considered for the national title, and that's what happened. USC fell to Stanford 24-23 at home on Oct. 6, and Stanford finished 4-8.

Georgia (11-2) supposedly has an argument, and it looked very good in beating Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. Unfortunately, Hawaii looked like it could not have won a LHSAA state championship in the dome in its white leotards.

Some ESPN writers think USC may get to No. 1, but remember they work for ESPN, which has had a little trouble with getting things right lately. Whoever wins Monday will get No. 1 in the major polls, bank on it.

And it will be the first unanimous title for the Tigers. LSU claims a 1935 national championship when the Tigers went 9-2. Something called "Williamson" ranked LSU No. 1, while the AP had 8-0 Minnesota No. 1. "Dickinson" had SMU No. 1. This was a time when strange publications and organizations ranked college football teams. Alabama claims some titles from Mad magazine. Just kidding.

In 1958, LSU was No. 1 in APand in United Press International, but it should be noted that the Football Writers Association of America tabbed Iowa No. 1. LSU finished 11-0 with a Sugar Bowl win over No. 12 Clemson, while Iowa was 8-1-1 after a 38-12 win over No. 16 Cal in the Rose Bowl. And the FWAA is and has been respected as a judge of college football much better than "Williamson" or "Dickinson."

It was the FWAA that rightfully judged 10-0-1 Ole Miss No. 1 in 1960, while the AP and UPI picked 8-2 Minnesota No. 1. Minnesota, by the way, is the last two-loss team to win a national championship. It lost the Rose Bowl to Washington, which finished 10-1 and won the title according to the Helms Athletic Foundation, whatever that is.

Ole Miss beat Rice in the Sugar Bowl that year.

Then in the 2003 season, LSU (13-1) won the BCS national title game right here over No. 1 Oklahoma, but USC (12-1) took the AP title after beating No. 4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

So should LSU hold up No. 1 Monday, it could be seen as the first No. 1 across the board.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Finally, it's getting closer

NEW ORLEANS - Is this LSU-Ohio State game ever actually going to happen?

It is at least finally within sight. In just a few days on Monday, the No. 2 LSU Tigers (11-2) and the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1) will kick off already at 7 p.m. on FOX for the BCS national championship.

"It really does seem like we've been practicing forever," LSU wide receiver Early Doucet said, and he missed nearly half the season with an injury.

LSU cannot get any healthier. In the first LSU practice open to media since mid-season on Thursday morning in the Superdome, the Tigers had no players in green jerseys for non-contact other than the quarterbacks, who always wear those. My spies tell me late in the season, LSU had enough guys in green to be Tulane.

The Tigers can also not get any looser. As players warmed up at practice Thursday, defensive linemen Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey were kidding around. Wide receiver Demetrius Byrd was talking about the fun he had Wednesday night in the French Quarter.

The team had a 1 a.m. curfew Wednesday. That will be midnight tonight and get earlier as the game approaches.

"Everyone is so much more relaxed than the last time," a member of LSU's staff said at practice. "I remember four years ago, coach (Nick) Saban was all mad because Oklahoma practiced too long and we were late getting on the field."

That one all worked out too, though.

LSU coach Les Miles appears to have no worries. He's not even concerned over backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux getting into trouble in the town that curfew forgot. He has dispatched a member of his support staff to keep a constant eye on the rascal to make sure he doesn't get into any trouble. Miles did have to suspend a few players last year at the Sugar Bowl for missing curfew.

"This team is very focused, and we can't wait to play," Miles said.

Tell me about it. At least LSU changed venues. Getting into New Orleans Wednesday was a welcome trip. All of LSU's practices in Baton Rouge were in the indoor facility.

"I was getting tired of looking at that place," Doucet said.

"Just getting here certainly increases the stakes to our guys," Miles said.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My new pet peeve

Really, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.But sometimes ....

Like the folks who are saying USC and Georgia can stake claims to No. 1 after their bowl victories.


So USC, a 13 1/2-point favorite -- the biggest favorite of any team in a BCS bowl game -- deserves to be No. 1 because it blasted Illinois. Excuse me, but if you're a 13 1/2-point favorite in a BCS bowl game YOU SHOULD BLAST ILLINOIS.

Georgia was a 7 1/2-point favorite over Hawaii -- that was the second-largest (along with Oklahoma) favorite in a BCS bowl game. Again, Georgia was supposed to win big.

On the other hand, LSU and Ohio State have a four-point line. Meaning Vegas expects a competitive game. Why does Vegas expect a competitive game? Because it's two similar teams playing each other.

Yet, some people are willing to be impressed by playing a JV squad (Hawaii) or the second/third best team in the Big Ten (Illinois).

Sorry, I'm not falling for that one.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

In the rear view mirror

This is a problem Ohio State doesn't have to worry about by virtue of its one-loss season. If Ohio State wins on Monday night, national championships across the board.

LSU, meanwhile, may want to look in the rear view mirror.

Already ABC-TV's talking heads are talking up USC, but I have to believe that ugly loss to Stanford will prevent the Trojans from making a big move in the AP poll.

Georgia is in the process of crushing Hawaii. This was to be expected. Just like I think Oklahoma will crush West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.

The point is this: LSU can't afford to win ugly on Monday. Yes, the Tigers must first win to claim the BCS title. Even a well-played close game shouldn't hurt LSU as the Tigers aren't playing, say, Hawaii. But an ugly win could open the door for an ugly split.