As temperatures dipped into the low
40s in the Baton Rouge area, the LSU Tigers enjoyed their final open date of the
2004 season. After eight games in stifling south Louisiana heat and humidity, finally the
weather cooperates and gives Tigertown its first true feeling of fall and Tiger
Stadium is empty on this Saturday.
While it would be a nice afternoon
for football in Death Valley, the downtime is
just as nice freeing up some time to watch some college football on the tube.
While this Arkansas-South Carolina game is teetering on the verge of being an
instant classic, one can only imagine the heartache and frustration on the
Florida Gator sideline as lame duck Ron Zook and his team are squandering away
one of their last chances to pick up a win this season. The Gators are losing to
Vanderbilt (that’s right, Vanderbilt!) 17-14 at the half. Ugh…
A full slate of games on tap for
this evening with Alabama and Mississippi State locking horns tonight in Tuscaloosa. It will be
homecoming for Sly Croom as his upstart Bulldogs will venture into Bryant-Denny
Stadium looking to make it three wins in a row.
This time actually, this writer is
cheering for the Bulldogs.
Before delving into the topic of
LSU football, which has been one roller coaster of a topic this season, there
are some interesting tidbits from around the league.
While many felt as if the SEC was
preparing for the return of the Ole’ Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier let Florida
athletic director Jeremy Foley know on Thursday that he is not interested in
return to Gainesville. At nearly 60 years old, Spurrier said he did not want to
give the Florida program a “quick fix” in terms of coming back for only a couple
The program which Spurrier led to
six SEC titles and the 1996 national championship will never again have the
visor-wearing offensive genius patrolling the sidelines. Rumor has it though
that Spurrier wants to coach again, but maybe not at such a high-profile program
– it might cut into his golf time.
Well, if not Spurrier, then
The names are out there with
Meyer at the top of the list. Also in the running are Cal’s Jeff Tedford, West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz as well as long shots from the
NFL Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden and Cleveland Brown coach (and former Miami
coach) Butch Davis. While Meyer is the odds on favorite to get the job, in this
opinion, the next coach of the Gators won’t come form this list.
Speaking of coaching, a tidbit of
information surfaced last week in terms of who will follow Kevin Gilbertsen as
the next coach at the University of Washington.
Gilbertsen, who replaced Rick
Neuhesial two years ago as the Huskies head man, said he would step down at the
end of the season. Washington football has tumbled to the
doldrums of the Pac-10 and there was little doubt a chance was going to be mad
at season’s end.
With Gilbertsen’s announcement, the
search begins for a new coach of one of the nation’s best football programs –
maybe not the “best” in terms of success or conference affiliation – but best
regarding facilities, fan base and location.
The first grumblings about who will
coach the Huskies back to national prominence began last week and two names that
surfaced were USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow and LSU’s offensive
coordinator Jimbo Fisher. It is no doubt the powers that be at U-Dub will go
after an offensive minded coach. While owning a high-powered offense is a
necessity in the pass-happy Pac-10, Washington currently ranks 105th in
the nation in total offense averaging just over 300 yards per game.
Chow would seem to be the favorite.
Or would he?
Talk is that USC coach Pete Carroll
may leave the Trojans if they win the national championship this season for
another shot at the NFL. That would pave the way for Chow to assume the reigns
of the Southern Cal program.
And don’t forget who is the new
president of the University of Washington – that’s right, former LSU
chancellor Mark Emmert. You can bet Fisher (who has hired Jimmy Sexton as his
agent) would get a heck of a recommendation from LSU coach Nick Saban to be the
next man in charge in Seattle.
And another thing you can “bank”
on, Emmert isn’t too tight with the purse strings so you can guess he will ante
up the cash for whoever is named the next coach.
On the SEC front, the final
ramifications of the Jackie Sherrill era were passed down last week in Starkville. Mississippi State was placed on four years probation
and will face minimal scholarship reductions over the next couple of
It is obvious the NCAA didn’t want
to slam the hammer down on the Bulldog football program. Sherrill and most of
the people surrounding him are no longer with the program and Croom seems to be
doing whatever it takes to clean up a program which had grown into quite a mess.
Now that all the water cooler
gossip is out of the way, we can address LSU football and the Tigers upcoming
matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
It has been awfully quiet around
Tigertown over the last week or so concerning LSU football. Like we discussed
last week about the effects of the national championship hangover, a four week
stretch of Troy and Vanderbilt situated between a pair of open dates didn’t
But hopefully, with briskness in
the air along with a rather exciting three-game stretch to close out the regular
season, Tiger fans will find a renewed interest in a season that has lacked the
luster of a year ago.
While this final stretch includes
three teams which LSU should beat, if the Tigers play the way they did against
Troy and Vanderbilt, one or more of Alabama, Ole Miss or Arkansas could surely come out on the winning
It seems as if Saban will continue
to do the quarterback shuffle throughout the remaining three contests. He has
been quoted that Marcus Randall is the Tigers’ first string quarterback, but not
the team’s starting quarterback. Huh?
It is very simple. While most
critics will debate that Saban is making a mistake with his quarterback
revolution, Saban has said time again it doesn’t matter who starts the game,
just as long as the team wins. So look for JaMarcus Russell to get the start
Saturday and give way to Randall sometime around the middle of the first
quarter. Saban says Randall plays better coming off the bench and is more
comfortable entering the game once it has already gotten started.
As LSU turns down the home stretch
of the 2004 season, the bowl watch begins. While LSU has no shot of going to the
SEC title game, the national championship game or even a BCS bowl, the Tigers
still should be bowling on New Year’s Day for the fourth year in a
Where LSU lands is still up in the
Most folks will say the Tigers will
likely play the Big 12 North champion (possibly Missouri or Iowa State Ugh…) or the Texas Longhorns in the
Cotton Bowl. A rematch with Texas wouldn’t be so bad. But the Capital One
Bowl in Orlando has courted LSU heavily over the
last few weeks and the Tigers could be headed to its first Florida bowl game since the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl in
How attractive is that matchup –
LSU vs. Michigan?
In the history of LSU football, not
Tiger team has ever locked horns with the Wolverines. With Wisconsin seemingly destined for the Rose Bowl as the Big
10 champion, the collapse of Ohio
State and Purdue has all but paved the
way for Michigan to be in Orlando on New Year’s
In closing, we at Tiger Rag would
like to extend a fond farewell to LSU center Ben Wilkerson. The senior from
Hemphill, Texas was injured on the last play of the
Vanderbilt game rupturing his left patella tendon, thus ending his career as a
Tiger. Wilkerson was a favorite of the media and always dealt with the press
with the utmost respect and patience. Ben Wilkerson – a true Tiger – will be
Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger
Rag Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org