FEINSWOG: Four more years
Nick Saban rallying the troops for a stretch run
Nick Saban rallying the troops for a stretch run
Featured Columnist
Posted Nov 2, 2004


My fellow Americans …

This week as our nation heads to the polls (no, not ones from The AP or ESPN/USA Today), it’s not a bad time to consider where you were four years ago.

 

Especially if you’re an LSU fan.

 

Four years ago. Hmmm ….

 

Four years ago 9/11 was the thing you dialed in an emergency. Four years ago you’d never heard of a hanging chad or a pregnant dimple.

 

Four years ago, the Hornets were living in Charlotte, the Saints were still losing and you never really paid any attention to anything called Zook.

 

And four years ago this week you were still trying to figure out if the first-year football coach at LSU, Nick Saban, the 1.5-million-dollar man (seems like chump change now, doesn’t it?) was the right guy to lead the Tigers into the new millennium.

 

As we headed into November 2000, LSU was coming off a bye week that followed a stunning overtime victory over Mississippi State that left the Tigers 5-3 and looking as if they’d turned the corner.

 

It was a season that followed back-to-back losing finishes under Gerry DiNardo and eight losing seasons in 11 years.

 

Say that to yourself just to reinforce what things were like: Eight losing seasons in 11 years.

Sort of takes your purple-and-gold breath away, doesn’t it?

 

So back to the 2000 season. LSU opened with victories over Western Carolina and Houston before losing at Auburn. And then came low point of the Saban era, just four games in, when the Tigers lost at home to UAB.

 

Stunned fans were seen leaving Tiger Stadium mumbling to themselves about Curley Hallman or some such thing.

 

It was, of course, the turning point, in retrospect a watershed moment for Saban’s program.

LSU bounced back with its overtime upset of Tennessee. A loss to Florida followed, but victories over Kentucky and State put the Tigers into bowl contention.

 

They responded well, as all five of Saban’s LSU teams have to adversity.

 

After that aforementioned bye week, LSU scored an historic home victory over Alabama and beat Ole Miss. The debacle in the rain against Arkansas ruined some folks’ Thanksgiving weekend, but all was probably forgiven when LSU went to the Peach Bowl and beat Georgia Tech to finish 8-4 and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

Southeastern Conference champs in 2001. A step backward in a roller-coaster ride of a 2002 season, and then last year’s run to the national championship.

 

Four winning seasons in four years and some of the greatest moments in the program’s history.

Which brings us up to now, when LSU stands 6-2 after beating Vanderbilt on Saturday night. There are just four teams in the SEC with winning league records, Auburn (6-0), Georgia (5-1), Tennessee (4-1) and LSU (3-2).

 

Was the Oregon State game awful? Yes. Did Auburn and Georgia manhandle the Tigers? Sure did.  Was LSU lackluster at best in beating Troy? You bet. Was the Vandy game boring? Uh-huh.

But are things a heck of a lot better than they were four years ago?

 

If you’re an LSU fan, you know the answer.

 

If you’re an American, you have to ask the same question. Try to remember where we were four years ago and make sure you go to the polls.

 

My fellow Americans, in the words of – can you believe of all things? – rapper P Diddy, “Vote or Die.”

That may be a bit much. Vote or feel really guilty if you don’t.

 

---

 

Lee Feinswog is the author of “Tales From The LSU Sidelines,” a Baton Rouge sportswriter and host of the television show Sports Monday. Reach him at (225) 926-3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com.



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