Preliminary LSU Thoughts
I’m fine with my team not being highly rated to start, but I still question the reasoning.
I guess people are forgetting that despite the #14 ranking to finish last year, LSU was one of the handful of top teams in the country for the third year in a row. The loss to Clemson in the bowl game was a matter of a highly motivated team playing a highly disappointed team. I’m not saying that it wasn’t right for LSU to fall in the polls afterward, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t one of the best teams in the country. If Alabama had been slotted into the Peach Bowl (Chick-fil-A doesn’t send me money, so I’m calling it what I want) against Clemson, that probably would have been a really close game too. When you are the national runner-up one year and you go down to the wire against a team like Alabama for what in all likelihood would have been a chance to repeat as SEC Champions, the Peach Bowl isn’t something you get excited about.
I’m not saying LSU would have necessarily won the SEC (Georgia showed itself to be pretty much equal to LSU and Alabama despite having played none of the top three teams in the West before the SEC Championship game [SECCG]), but only very good SEC teams control their own destiny going into the SECCG. LSU was in that position in neither of its championship years; and of course in 2011, Alabama wasn’t even in the SECCG.
An unfortunate aspect of preseason rankings is many voters (or random people who do preseason rankings) want to envision a team going undefeated. That’s hard to do when you have to play the best four other SEC teams from last year (Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Florida) and TCU.
How many does Alabama have to play? Two. So it’s possible LSU beats Alabama and still doesn’t make the SECCG as a result of the rest of the schedule.
You might vaguely recall the fact that Alabama had an easier slate against the East last year too. The Tide played Missouri and Tennessee while the Tigers played Florida and South Carolina. It seems like the least that could have been done would have been to let LSU play Missouri this year.
LSU also had quite a gauntlet in 2011 and went 13-0 going into the BCS title game. And that was without a reliable quarterback, which LSU finally seems to have going into next year. Zach Mettenberger had some shaky starts early last year, but compared to Jarrett Lee’s growing pains, his first season was a walk in the park. Had LSU not played Florida, the Tigers could have very well gone into the Alabama game (in which Mettenberger would have likely finished leading the team to victory had he been allowed) undefeated.
I honestly don’t know all the nuances of players LSU has lost and is replacing this year, but I have learned that you can’t judge teams like Alabama and LSU based on how good the players they lost were. Often, there was a player with even more ability who will simply get more playing time. I expect at a minimum a very good defenses and a steady, consistent offense. I do like being less worried about the position of QB, but that’s always just a play away from radically changing.
As for 2010, let me just say that LSU finished #8 in the AP poll, behind Auburn (who beat LSU on the Plains by a touchdown for one of the Bayou Bengals’ two losses) and Ohio St. (who would later vacate the wins that season), so even if that’s not one of the 5 best teams, that’s pretty close.
Contrast that with Florida St., who is ahead of LSU in the AP preseason rankings after finishing in the top 15 last year for the first time since 2004. That was way back when you could finish undefeated in the SEC and not even make the BCS Championship.
This will probably be my most lackluster pre-season ranking in a decade, so don’t put too much stock into it. I will try to get it done this weekend, but I might not finish until closer to the start of the season a week from tomorrow.
Dodger Blue Skies
Something that has always annoyed me around here (Southern California) is the fair-weather fans. I first noticed it a while back when the flags people put on their cars would appear or disappear with the Lakers’ fortunes. I first noticed it in regard to baseball a few years ago when the Yankees won. So many Yankees hats appeared on people’s heads. For some reason, basketball fans use flags. I guess because basketball players don’t wear hats when they play. But both flags and hats are removable.
Anyway, the Dodgers won 41 of 50 games recently. Before that happened, I rarely saw a Dodgers hat. This is usually more Angels territory. If there is low traffic (and going to a typical week-night game, there is), it’s perfectly possible to get to Anaheim in around 30 minutes. I have a cousin who lives in Southern Los Angeles County (the general region closest to Anaheim), and even though I live in a completely different area much farther away, it often takes him longer to get to games than it takes me since I come from the opposite direction.
It takes over twice as long to get from where I live to Chavez Ravine. I haven’t actually gone there on a week night, but I have to travel in that direction at times. Anyway, before this, I would see a Dodgers hat or jersey maybe once a week or less. Now, I see what looks like a new Dodgers hat once a day, sometimes many of them in a day. I’ve only seen a couple Angels hats in the last month, and I don’t recall seeing a Yankees hat since the last baseball game I went to in early July (it wasn’t a Yankees game, but there is usually at least one person in a Yankees hat there).
There was even a female DJ on the radio talking about it. She put on her “Dodger blue” because they were finally in first place (this was at the beginning of the streak). She had never mentioned the Dodgers before. I believe it was a station that typically promotes the Angels too. I guess it’s just part of instant-gratification culture out here.
I just don’t see how there is satisfaction in that if you only really identify with a team when it’s doing well. Louisiana is full of LSU and Saints fans even if the Saints only win 3 games or LSU only wins 2 games (yes, I remember such a season). That’s what made it so meaningful when LSU won the national championship and the Saints won the Super Bowl. If I had just decided to be a Florida St. or Nebraska fan in the 1990s and only later decided I liked LSU, I don’t think that would have been very fulfilling. I did cheer for Florida St. at times in the 1990s, but only after I suffered through an LSU loss to Vanderbilt or Colorado St. or a loss to Florida by 8 touchdowns. (My special love for Florida back then is one of the things that led me to cheer for Florida St.)
There are split allegiances with the NBA in Louisiana, but that’s partly because New Orleans has only had a team for just over 10 years (and part of that time, they were primarily in Oklahoma City). People didn’t just stop liking the team they liked in the first place. I’m not saying you have to pick a team at birth and stick with it, but the mid-season conversions are a bit transparent. At least act like they’re your team when the season starts and when they’re .500 or below a few months in.