WEEKEND OBLONG SPHEROID REPORT: 2/22 – 2/24: RETURN OF INDOOR FOOTBALL

Deciding to bring this back during baseball season was probably a mistake. Oh well. Quick and dirty again this week.

  • The eternal struggle that is life as a Memphis Express fan continues as the boys head down to UCF’s Bounce House to face probably the best team in the AAF, Steve Spurrier’s Orlando Apollos. Injury reports have our hero Zach Mettenberger out with “illness”. He’s as sick as the rest of us are with seeing Christian Hackenberg CONTINUE TO DESTROY THIS TEAM BENCH HIM SINGLETARY WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!? After Week 1 games on CBS and Week 2 on TNT, the AAF settles into it’s regular TV rotation for the remainder of the season: 1 game on CBS-SN, 1 game on Turner’s B/R Live service, and 2 games on the NFL Network. And please, don’t be fooled by lazy reporting like I was. The AAF is doing just fine.
  • Women’s Aussie Rule continues this weekend, but the AFL has a special event on Friday morning: The AFL-X Tournament. It’s almost impossible to explain in a few words, but imagine if the NFL had an all-star game where the field was shrunk to fit on a playground, scoring rules were exponentially increased, and 4 teams drafted by all-star captains played six 20-minute games and a tournament final over the course of 5 12 hours on one night. Aussie Rules is insane and I love it.
  • A galaxy of Rugby from all 4 corners of the globe, though your LEAGUE LEADING NEW ORLEANS GOLD is on a bye this weekend. The highlight of the weekend has to be the next round of Six Nations Rugby, carried on NBC-SN.
  • Your big story of the weekend is the return of arena football (little a, little f) with Week 1 of the Indoor Football League. If you were unaware, arena football has had a few years of turmoil this last decade that resulted in a geographic split, with the East Coast teams remaining in the Arena Football League (big a, big f) and the teams in the Midwest and Western states, including stalwarts of the sport like the Iowa Barnstormers, breaking off to join the formerly lower-level Indoor Football League. Both leagues are still in the regrowing pains of that split, but seem on stable ground today. AFL doesn’t start play until late spring, but the IFL returns to the indoor gridiron this weekend. All of their games stream free on YouTube.

History Class: Edgar Wingard Era (1907-09)

Doc Fenton, Edgar Wingard, and W Hillman; excerpt from Arkansas vs. Louisiana 1908 football program

LSU’s first great coach recruits LSU’s first great player: Doc Fenton

“I saw Jim Thorpe, but Doc Fenton was better.” – Troy Middleton

LSU fired coach Dan Killian after a dismal 1906 season. It’s not that the team was terrible, LSU was a respectable 2-2-2, but the style of play was dreadful. Still trapped in the thrall of the flying wedge which had killed 20 people in 1905, LSU won by scores of 5-0 and 17-0 and the two ties? Both scoreless draws.

Change came in the form of Edgar Wingard, a “notorious hell raiser”, who quickly installed a fast-paced offense which relied on deception, speed, and the newly invented forward pass. He had his charges play soccer in practice to learn footwork and agility. But for all of his forward-thinking ingenuity as a strategist, LSU truly hired Wingard for his skill as a recruiter.

 Collegiate Images/Getty Images
George “Doc” Fenton of the Louisiana State University Tigers poses for a portrait circa 1908 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Wingard immediately went to work on recruiting his fellow Pennsylvanian, Doc Fenton. In 1904, Fenton starred on the rugby team of St. Michael’s College in Canada. He returned to Pennsylvania in 1906 to play football at Mansfield State Normal School. Fenton was eyeing a move South and had been in contact with Mississippi A&M coach Fred Furman.

Wingard made up for lost time, bringing Doc on a recruiting trip to Baton Rouge, sealing the deal with the promise of nickel beers and a reminder of Starkville’s blue laws. That was enough for Fenton, who signed with LSU and immediately transformed the team.

Furman would take issue with Wingard’s recruiting tactics and fumed about possible payments made to Fenton. However, Fenton kept all of his letters from Furman, which detailed the promises he made for Fenton to attend A&M. The matter was quickly dropped.

The Bacardi Bowl

A team that had scored just 34 points in six games in 1906 scored 28 points in its season opener in 1907. After some midseason struggles, the Tigers finished up their campaign with a 48-0 blowout win over Baylor and an invitation to play the University of Havana in the Bacardi Bowl, becoming the first American college team to play on foreign soil. It was a bold trip, given that nerves in Cuba were still raw over the Spanish-American War.

Fearing the game would be a financial disaster, the promoter tried to back out of the game, but the Havana locals ensured the game would be played. Speculators sold tickets for as high as $10, and nearly 10,000 fans, including Cuban high society and local American servicemen, witnessed Fenton and LSU whip the hometown team 56-0.

 LSU University Archives
1907 LSU Tigers

Havana had recruited a mammoth 300-pounder to play, but Fenton observed the player drinking more than his share of wine before the game. He instructed a teammate to hit him in the stomach on the game’s first play, and according to Fenton, “the big guy spouted wine like an artesian well. We nearly had to swim out of there.” LSU dominated from this point on, and Cuban fans lauded Fenton as “El Rubio Vaselino,” the “Vaselined Redhead” for his amazing play and slippery moves in the open field.

The story of the game is not all rainbows and unicorns, though. The contract LSU signed for the game stipulated that Havana could not field a team with any players of African descent, strictly enforcing the policy of American segregation on foreign soil. Furthermore, the American servicemen raucously cheered on the LSU squad with the cheer of “Lick the Spics! Kill the Spics!”

However, the game was such a success that Cuban officials attempted to schedule a second game before the players returned home. According to Marshall Gandy, the players received $25 to play a second game a few days later, even loaning some players to the Cuban side to even up the rosters. LSU won that game as well, but now, technically, every single player on LSU’s roster was now a professional. This will be important.

Two Seasons: 1908 and Next Year

Only one player graduated from the 1907 team (we’ll get to him later), and Wingard replaced the loss by recruiting the Smith brothers of Tulane protest fame back into the fold. Wingard grabbed another player out of Pennsylvania, Mike Lally, and then moved his star, Doc Fenton, to quarterback so he could handle the ball on nearly every play. The roster moves worked.

LSU became a point-a-minute team. LSU outscored its opponents 442 to 11 on the season. That is not a misprint. Mike Lally scored 14 touchdowns and 81 points. Not to be outdone, Doc Fenton scored 13 touchdowns, 6 field goals, and 125 points. By modern scoring rules, Doc Fenton would have scored 144 points. The National Football Foundation recognized Fenton as the retroactive Heisman winner.

 LSU University Archives
1908 National Champion LSU Tigers

Going back to that Vaselined Redhead nickname, this is because Wingard soaked Fenton’s shirt in a mild acid solution before each game, causing the fabric to weaken and tear when defenders tried to grab a hold of him. Wingard essentially invented the tear-away jersey a half century before its time.

On Halloween, LSU traveled to Drill Field to play SIAA preseason favorites Auburn. Trailing 5-0 in the first half, Auburn blocked an LSU punt, recovered by Doc Fenton in the end zone. A fan then hit Fenton over the head with his cane, knocking Fenton unconscious before he could get out of the end zone. It would be Auburn’s only points of the game, and LSU held on for 10-2 win without the services of Fenton in the second half.

Auburn responded the way you would expect Auburn to respond: the local paper asked “Who are these LSU people?” and steadfastly refused to admit the game was lost, that instead LSU had cheated. It was the same charge they lobbed at Alabama in 1907 without any proof. Auburn would claim their 1908 team went undefeated as Dan Reynolds claimed, “We won every game that fall but LSU. But LSU had a pro team.”

The story picked up steam when famed sportswriter Grantland Rice picked up the mantle, accusing LSU of employing ringers and that he had the proof. Of course, he never produced the proof. It’s also important to note he was a Vanderbilt grad and wrote for The Nashville Tennessean, and Vanderbilt was the southern football power of this era. Its coach, Dan McGugin, wielded considerable power in the SIAA. LSU spent all of 1908 trying to schedule a game with Vanderbilt to no avail. Rice’s article gave McGugin cover to avoid the LSU behemoth. It is also notable that McGugin never publicly accused LSU of cheating.

In Rice’s words:

It all came about this way. The night that Chez Clarke, Rose Poly’s coach, was in The Tennessean office, he offered this statement: “So they say L.S.U. is going to have a crack team. Well, I guess she ought to have.” And then picking up the 1907 guide he picked out at least two men whom he said were playing under assumed names, one of them the team’s captain - adding that he had been offered a good monthly salary to come down this fall - the only requirement being that he switch the title by which he was christened.

If L. S. U. can show that she has been done an injustice we will be more than pleased to present her side of the case.

You can guess correctly if he ever presented LSU’s case. Also, Doc Fenton was the team captain, and charging that he was playing under an assumed name is too ridiculous a claim to even rebut. He was one of the most well-known college players in the country.

However, the charges stuck. Doc Fenton would long tell the story about how Edgard Winard gave him $70 for some new clothes so he would consider changing position to quarterback after the 1907 season. And the players of the 1907 team did receive $25 to play in a second exhibition after the Bacardi Bowl. But this was small potatoes, and not the sums, even back in 1908, that would lure top tier football talent. Walter Camp’s slush fund for “tutoring” was $100,000 per season, to give you an idea. Charging that Doc Fenton should be ineligible over $70 is absurd.

Auburn coach Mike Donahue, committed to “clean sports”, lodged a formal complaint with the SIAA. The charges simply enraged LSU, and they proceeded to take their frustrations out on the competition. LSU beat Mississippi A&M 50-0 and Baylor 89-0 in the next two games. LSU wouldn’t give up another point until its final game, a 36-4 thrashing of Arkansas.

Early smack talk from the 1908 LSU Arkansas football game program

Both Edgar Wingard and Thomas Boyd provided affidavits to the SIAA, swearing to their players’ eligibility, and Fred Furman of Mississippi A&M came to LSU’s defense in The Daily State-Times:

The charges being made against Louisiana are serious indeed, but if they are not better founded than appear on the surface, they are fated to fall flat. Fenton and Lally came to L. S. U. from Mansfield State Normal, Pennsyl­vania, where their strict amateur status was never questioned. Assistant Coach Bobson, of Georgia Tech, is quoted as calling them ex-Peddle Institute [NJ] men. That is a mistake, as I remember Lally was there during the fall of 1906, his second year at Mansfield, for about three days. Fenton never was there. They are playing under their own names, and I don’t think that they receive any remuneration.

The explanation of their presence in the South looks simple to me. They are from the school that sent Davis to Princeton; ... and other stars to other colleges.

Now these boys wanted to play football, too, and probably found that they could enter L. S. U. with less preparation than is required at the great Eastern Universities. At any rate, my knowledge of them is too great to permit me to believe an unsupported charge of professionalism against them.

If Vanderbilt refuses to play them, the South will miss a grand exhibition of the best game ever devised.

But the SIAA refused to honor a team as champions while it was under investigation. The title passed to, shock of all shocks, Auburn. Grantland Rice leveraged his considerable influence to block all LSU players from the postseason All-South team. Walter Camp, hilariously, followed suit, and refused to place any LSU players on the national Walter Camp All-American team. It was an epic screw job, and the SIAA investigation would eventually clear LSU.

Two irregularities were found: Martin Lally took money to play baseball in 1908, so was ruled ineligible, and Charles Bauer was a ringer playing under an assumed name. He was the sole player who graduated in 1907 and wasn’t even on the 1908 team. LSU would still fire Edgard Wingard in the offseason.

To this day, LSU does not claim the 1908 national championship. It absolutely should. The SIAA cleared the team of using ringers and even if they did, so what? Professionalism was so rampant in the 1900s that if we excluded a team from title consideration for it, there literally wouldn’t be any national champions from this era.

The evidence against the team is circumstantial and its primary accusers both reaped benefits by pushing aside LSU’s claims to the title. Auburn got the SIAA title and mythical Champions of the South honor, while Vanderbilt avoided playing the best team in the South. Yes, LSU played a weak schedule, as the South was the weaker region, but they also bludgeoned that schedule by a margin over 400 points. There’s also no undisputed candidate from the North. Think of 1908 LSU like 1983 BYU.

Do it, LSU. Do it for Doc Fenton. Claim the 1908 title.

Before Edgar Wingard and LSU parted ways, Wingard became LSU’s first basketball coach. LSU would win its first hoops game and finish the season 5-2. LSU would bring in Joe Pritchard for Doc Fenton’s senior season. It did not go well. As Fenton would later claim, Pritchard spent the entire year trying to prove he was a better halfback than Fenton, taking away Doc’s touches. Spoiler alert: he wasn’t.

Pritchard wouldn’t even last a season, as John Mayhew took over after LSU lost to Sewanee, the eventual SIAA champion. Things got worse in 1910. Without Doc Fenton or almost any of the players Wingard recruited, LSU would lose its final five games of the year, only scoring a single touchdown in all of the losses combined. The Wingard Era ended almost as suddenly as it had begun.

Program Overview 1907-1909

Athletic Director: Edgar Wingard, sort of

National Titles: Football 1908 (unclaimed)

Conference Titles: Football 1908 (SIAA)

Programs Added: Basketball (1909)

Facilities Added: None

 LSU University Archives
First row: S.A. Larcade, J.Y. Sanders, W.J. Phillips. Back row: Manager, J.C. Pugh, J.R. Keeny, L.R. Lesher, C.B. Johson. Outdoor court on athletic field, with Hill Memorial Library, Garig Hall, Irion Hall, and Alumni Memorial Hall in distance

I don’t want to get bogged down in individual years, as I’m trying to do an overview of the AD’s first and foremost, but the seasons of 1907 and 1908 are too important in Tiger Lore to gloss over. Also, the tumultuous three-year tenure of Edgar Wingard cast a long shadow over the program. The program would spend a long time trying to recapture the lightning he bottled. After the SIAA cleared LSU of wrongdoing, it awarded LSU the conference title, though Grantland Rice and company never got around to amending The Spalding Guide to reflect LSU as Champions of the South. Funny, how that worked out.

Wingard lived to see the 1958 national champions team and legend has it that he was asked whether Billy Cannon was the best player he ever saw play for LSU. He replied that Cannon has to be pretty damn good to be better than Doc Fenton. His 1908 team could play a little, too.

In 1958, Next Year finally came. But there will never be another Doc Fenton.

LSU Takes Over No. 1 Spot In 2020 Recruiting Rankings

LSU’s two most recent commitments have bumped them up to the top of the 247 Sports composite. So what’s next?

Spring is in the air. Well, we’re not officially into Spring until a month from now, but the basketball team is deep into SEC play, the baseball team lit up Alex Box this past weekend and the football team is No. 1 in recruiting for 2020...Wait, what was that? Yes, you read that right: after the commitments of defensive linemen Jordan Berry and Alec Bryant this weekend, LSU vaulted past Alabama to the top spot, both teams with 11 commitments. It’s a nice feeling to have, and while it may not be something that lasts, it shows the momentum is continuing to grow with this team.

The question becomes: Where do the Tigers head? If you read my last article (if not, click right here), I offered up a lot of the big names to watch for in the 2020 class. This time around, I share a couple names that have risen up the board lately.

Xavion Alford

If you had told me LSU was going to get a commit from Shadow Creek High in Texas over this past weekend, the house would have been better on Alford, not Alec Bryant. Alford, who has family in the area, has held LSU in high regard, and if the needle were to move in even more in favor of the Tigers, a commit from a teammate would do it. The top-20 safety in need of a serious rating bump, has been a key target of coach Bill Busch and I would say he could drop a commitment before the summer.

Joshua Eaton

Eaton, a cornerback out of Aldine McArthur in Houston, was another Texas recruit visiting campus on Monday alongside the Shadow Creek trio (Alford, Bryant and Jeremiah Harris) and 2022 wide receiver Bryce Anderson. The 6-2 corner holds offers from LSU and a number of powerhouses, including Oklahoma and Texas, but has yet to receive a ranking. Expect an evaluation on Eaton soon and a strong push from Corey Raymond, who drools over long, athletic corners.

Prince Dorbah

Out of three-time defending state champion Highland Park in Dallas, Texas, Prince Dorbah is a perfect fit as a rush linebacker for a 3-4 defense at 6-4, 210 lbs., a quick first step and a good bend around the corner. Dorbah will need to put some weight on to deal with the SEC grind, but his frame should make that an easy adjustment. Right now, it’s a Texas-Oklahoma battle, but LSU is planning on getting him in during the Spring and expect a strong push.

Like I mentioned in the other article, these are just the names that are making their presence known right now. As the camp season gets going, more names like these could make their way to the forefront, but these three have a good chance at finding their way into this already-special class.

With defensive line a big focus for this cycle, LSU’s weekend also featured a lot of visitors on that front, including Dallas Carter stud Branard Wright — another player many expect may commit sooner rather than later — Alexandria’s Jacobian Guillory, Haynesville’s CamRon Jackson and most interestingly, the nation’s No. 1 D-tackle prospect, Mississippi’s McKinnley Jackson. He was a previous LSU commitment back in 2017, but he’ll be a tough battle against, you guessed it, Alabama. And rumor has it a coach at George County High School in Lucedale, Miss., is very vocal on Crimson Tide message boards about his intentions for Jackson.

Sarah Finnegan: FOUR TIME SEC Gymnast of the Week

LSU’s senior continues to be a baddass.

LSU gymnastics got back to business in a big way this weekend, with huge wins in quad meet and then a season-high in a conference win over Missouri on Sunday.

And it should come as no surprise that senior Sarah Finnegan played a huge role in that success, and that it netted her FOURTH SEC Gymnast of the Week honor:

BATON ROUGE – Following a dominating win that included six event titles and a sweep of the all-around against four ranked teams, senior Sarah Finnegan was announced as the Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Week, the league announced Tuesday.

Finnegan put up to the top all-around score in the league and top-three in the country with a 39.65 against No. 4 Utah, No. 15 Missouri and No. 26 Stanford. The Lee’s Summit, Missouri, native scored a 9.925 on bars and floor for event titles. Finnegan earned a “perfect” 9.95 on her Yurchenko Full that has a 9.95 start value to set a career high and win the title.

Here’s a look at one of those 9.95s on the weekend — her floor exercise from Sunday.

GAME RECAP: Florida 82, No. 13 LSU 77

Florida out-physicals the Tigers in the PMAC

On a cold February night, the Tigers shooting was equally frigid in a 82-77 loss to Florida.

LSU shot 43 percent from the line, 31 from three and an uncharacteristic 16-25 from the free throw line. In a game that constantly bounced back and forth between a one possession or two possession game, the Tigers tempted fate a few too many times with missed freebies and the Gators picked up arguably their biggest win of the 2018-19 season.

“They simply wanted it more,” Naz Reid said after the game. “That’s it.”

Florida came into tonight as a team desperate for a marquee win to resuscitate their NCAA tournament hopes and certainly played the part. Florida, who had the disadvantage in size along the front court, grabbed 15 offensive rebounds on the night. The Gators were able to play the Tiger length and size to a draw and cashed in 34 points in the paint and 17 second chance points.

“We told our guys all week, Florida is going to give us unbelievable resistance,” Will Wade said. “I don’t think some of our guys believed us.”

Tremont Waters had an atypical night from the floor, shooting 3-12 and only making two of four free throws. Waters hit a huge three in overtime to tie the game at 70 but couldn’t duplicate the success. Trailing by three, LSU was able to trap Florida on an inbounds play, the ball slipped out, found its way to Waters, but the shot wouldn’t fall.

Waters wasn’t alone in the shooting woes. Naz Reid needed 12 shots to get 15 points; Skylar Mays was 6-12; Javonte Smart was 2-8, and Emmitt Williams went scoreless.

“We could just never get in rhythm tonight.” Wade said. “The game was played at Florida’s pace and their way the whole night.”

Wednesday night’s loss was full of missed opportunities for the Tigers. LSU had more rebounds than Florida, but it never felt like it. LSU got to the line 12 more times than Florida, in fact Florida only shot four free throws in the entirety of regulation, but LSU had nearly as many misses, nine, as the Gators did makes, 11. And for whatever reason, the Tigers had a miserable night from point-blank range, missing nine of 18 layups. The Tigers were able to break through Florida’s press defense on several occasions, but couldn’t convert at the rim.

“Florida was able to impose their will and their style of play on us,” Wade said.

With around 37 seconds remaining in the game, and defeat looming as a certainty, the Tiger faithful started filing out of the PMAC but nobody on the LSU side could blame the fans for leaving.

“We let them down,” Reid said.

“I would have left too if I could have,” Wade said. “It’s embarrassing we’ve lost two home games, I feel terrible for our fans. People spend their hard earned money to come watch us. It’s absolutely sickening to me.”

LSU returns to the court Saturday morning at 11 to play the No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers.

GAMETHREAD: No. 13 LSU vs. Florida, 6 P.M., ESPN2

Tigers welcome a Gator team desperate to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive

The Tigers are back in the PMAC for the first time in 11 days.

After being away for nearly two weeks, LSU returns to Baton Rouge as conquering heroes over Kentucky and Georgia with a shiny new No. 13 attached to their ranking. All eyes are locked onto LSU’s huge game with Tennessee Saturday morning, but before the Tigers take on the Vols, they have to deal with the Gators.

The 2018-19 Florida team isn’t quite the Gators of recent years. Florida’s 14-11 overall and sitting in the middle of the SEC pack at 6-6 in conference play. The NET is also fan of the Gators despite their middling record and have them ranked 40th.

What’s killed Florida this season is the lack of offense. Florida’s only averaging about 68 points a game and is shooting just under 33 percent from three in league play.

Florida has also battled being undersized all season long. Center Gorjok Gak and forward Keith Stone are a pair of bigs that Florida hasn’t been able to rely on for the season. Gak has missed the entire season and Stone got hurt early on in conference play. The injuries have forced Florida head coach Mike White to play small forwards at power forward, and power forwards at center. The result is a physically mismatched team that’s being out-rebounded on the year.

Rebounding, especially on the offensive end, and points in the paint is a key part in LSU’s 21 wins and that should be an area the Tigers try to exploit Wednesday night. Florida’s likely starting frontcourt will be center Kevarrius Hayes and small forward Keyontae Johnson and the pair stands at 6’9” and 6’5” respectively. Expect Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams to be featured early and often and the plan should definitely include forcing Mike White to dip into his already shorthanded reserves of big men.

With LSU rolling through February, the Tennessee game looms larger and larger as each day passes. Now, with a top-15 battle set to take place Saturday it’s easy to overlook a Florida team with a so-so record. Make no mistake, Florida should not be treated as the undercard for Saturday’s heavyweight bout. LSU’s in the discussion of a potential three-seed for the NCAA tournament and Saturday will undoubtedly be the biggest game in the PMAC in years. But to get to Saturday, the Tigers have to make it through Wednesday.

History Class: The First Decade

The 1895 team

LSU sports is born, and immediately starts fighting with Tulane

On a cold, blustery day in November of 1893, LSU played its first football game. They lost to Tulane 34-0.

For fifty cents, spectators could witness something that was similar to but definitely unlike modern football in scoring (five points for a touchdown, four for a field goal), the field (110 yards long), the players (only one player weighed over 200 pounds), and strategy (the flying wedge).

Honestly, it wasn’t really Tulane. Charles Coates, the school’s chemistry professor, wanted to expand the athletic offerings on LSU’s campus, and brought down the idea of a football team from his time at Johns Hopkins. He rounded up LSU’s team primarily from the student ROTC corps, but the Tulane team was largely composed of alumni and members of the Southern Athletic Club.

From the very first moment, LSU sports had issues with commerce and eligibility.

LSU had no uniforms, and players from both teams showed up in mismatched clothing of every type, so Coates sent his quarterback and future governor of Louisiana, Ruff Pleasant to the store to purchase ribbons. No one knew what LSU’s colors were, but the store stocked purple and gold ribbons for the upcoming Carnival season. By a happy accident, the green ribbons had not yet arrived. Col. David Boyd remarked years later that he chose blue and white as the school colors long before, but by that point, purple and gold had become the school standard.

The football team was far more of a recreational club than the competitive athletic team we have today. It is hard to pin down when the team went from frivolity to something more. LSU claimed its first conference title in 1896, when Allen Jeardeau helmed a 6-0 team to the top of the very loosely organized SIAA. The Tigers shared the title with a 4-0 Georgia team coached by some guy named Pop Warner.

Still, at this time, southern football lagged far behind the rest of the nation. LSU had a rotating cadre of coaches, usually pulled from the faculty. The SIAA itself didn’t hand out a championship trophy and did nothing to regulate schedules or travel. Its constitution banned professionals, required players be students with a maximum eligibility of five years, and tried to create some uniform playing rules.

 LSU University Archives Photographs Collection
LSU Football 1897 Team

Tulane, Professionalism, and Protest

 LSU Libraries Special Collections
LSU Football 1899 Team

LSU wouldn’t have a coach for three consecutive seasons until W.S. Borland coached from 1901-03. He also took over the fledgling baseball program, which played its first game in 1893. From 1902-03, he would be the sole coach of both LSU sports programs, making him the de facto athletic director.

The biggest issue facing college football at the time was that of professionalism. The eastern powers shamelessly hired players. Walter Camp made openly violating the amateurism rules an essential part of his Yale dynasty. Football “tramps” would jump from school to school, looking for a better paycheck or more eligibility by changing their names.

In the SIAA, however, the league cracked down a bit harder on professionalism, probably because the teams weren’t as good. A pro athlete could run roughshod over the fledgling league. Which is how Georgia Tech and Nashville found themselves blacklisted. The loss of Nashville was particularly great, as they were the only team good enough to compete with Vanderbilt at the time (yes, Vanderbilt). Vanderbilt saved the honor of amateurism by defeating Nashville 10-0, despite rumors of professionalism themselves.

 LSU University Archives Photographs Collection
LSU Football 1901 Team

This set the stage for the 1901 Battle for the Rag between LSU and Tulane, both 3-1 teams. After its initial loss to Tulane, LSU had reeled off four straight wins over Tulane, only to drop the 1900 edition. Tulane crushed LSU 22-0, but Borland petitioned the SIAA over Tulane’s use of a professional player. The SIAA agreed, stripped Tulane of the win, ruling the game an 11-0 LSU forfeit victory. Tulane still lists it as a victory in their media guide. In 1893, the teams were openly using non-students and no one cared, but by 1901, they were ratting each other out to the governing authorities. Oh, college football, never change.

 LSU University Archives Photographs Collection
Team photo of 1902 Football players. Handwritten on front- H.E. Landry, Captain. F.M. Edwards. R.M. Hardy. S.A. Sale, A.G. Mundinger. S.A. Bordelon. Z.T. Gallion. H.J. Rhodes. L.E. Sharp. J.W. Guidry. J.M. Fourny. J.H. Sanford. E.D. Klock. L.J. LeSueur. A.J. Gueno. J.J. Coleman, Q.B.

However, the bad blood between the two schools only intensified, bubbling up into LSU’s first bona fide rivalry. Dan Killian replaced WS Borland in 1904 as both football and baseball coach, but added track coach to his duties, as LSU debuted its third varsity sport in 1905. Killian, a Michigan Man, brought two brothers with him from Michigan, Clarence and Bob Smith, to play on the football squad. Let’s be honest, it’s probably why he was hired, to recruit what proved to be the team’s two best players.

 LSU University Archives Photographs Collection
LSU Football 1905 Team; Capt. Alva Read (right), Coach Killiam (left) on steps of old Hill Memorial Library.

LSU played just three games in 1905, all shutout victories. But the charges of professionalism dogged the Smith brothers and after a 5-0 defeat to their rivals, Tulane returned the favor of 1901 and lodged their own complaint with the SIAA against LSU. The complaint was properly referred to the SIAA vice-president in charge of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas… Col. Thomas Boyd, President of LSU.

Boyd denied the protest, ruling in favor of his own school. In response, Tulane boycotted LSU in 1906 and 1907 and quit the SIAA (they would return in 1912), as the dispute wore on. The Smith brothers dropped out of school, missing the 1907 season, but would return the following year, but no longer as the star players. The series would resume in 1908, just in time to face the greatest team in the first half century of LSU football, but that is a story for another day.

Program Overview 1893-1906

Athletic Director: None

National Titles: None

Conference Titles: Football 1896, 1902 (SIAA)

Programs Added: Football (1893), Baseball (1893, 1897), Track (1905)

Facilities Added: State Field

 LSU University Archives Photographs Collection
State Field 1902, Touchdown vs Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn)
 LSU Libraries Special Collections
Baseball Game at State Field, Pentagon Barracks in background, c. 1900

State Field at the turn of the last century was exactly what it sounds like, a field owned by the state. It was located at the old downtown campus and while the school eventually got around to building some bleachers, the crowds primarily stood around the sideline and were expected to not trample onto the field. The early days of LSU sports more closely resembled club sports of today than the big-time college programs they would become.

The title of Athletic Director did not exist yet, but it would be fair to call WS Borland (1901-03) and Dan Killian (1904-06) as our first two AD’s. Borland’s obituary claimed the title. However, given that LSU spots hadn’t yet hit the big time, only twice playing what could be considered a full slate of games, I’ll reserve that honorific for someone else. LSU itself does not recognize an AD from this period.

GAMETHREAD: Southeastern at LSU, 4 P.M., SECN+

Tigers play their first midweek game of the year against the Lions

LSU plays their first midweek game of the 2019 season and, like all midweek games, the result of the game will surely lead to overzealous outrage or confidence from the community.

All-Time Matchup

LSU leads Southeastern 70-18 and has won 24 of the last 26. But LSU and SELU played to a 1-1 split last year, with the Lions winning 5-4 in Hammond and the Tigers returning the favor 4-2 in Baton Rouge.

Pitching Matchups

SELU: So. LH Trey Shaffer (3-1, 3.90 ERA, 30.0 IP, 11 BB, 35 SO in 2018)

LSU: Fr. RH Cole Henry (collegiate debut)

The Tigers opened the 2019 season with a weekend sweep over ULM, Army and Air Force while the Lions went winless against La. Tech. Southeastern got lit up to the tune of 40 runs and 43 hits over the weekend.

Lineups

SELU

LSU

Notable Links

LSU-SLU Baseball Game to Start at 4 P.M. Tuesday - LSUSports.net

Wednesday Baseball Game in Natchitoches Postponed - LSUSports.net

LSU baseball’s freshman impressed during opening weekend; another will start Tuesday- The Advocate

BASEBALL WEEKEND RECAP: Freshmen Arms Have Stellar Debuts

Tiger Tournament Tracker February 18-23

After a week of picking up two road wins, the Tigers are squarely in the top-four seed hunt

Nobody had a better week than LSU.

After putting the entire country on notice with a buzzer-beating win over Kentucky last Tuesday and avoiding a letdown in Athens Saturday, LSU continues its climb up the polls and, more importantly, their projected seeding for the NCAA Tournament.

The national media can’t quite come to an agreement on where to put the Tigers. Some AP votes put LSU as high as No. 4 in the nation, while others mirrored their vote to the KenPom rankings, 21, and put the Tigers at No. 23. After all the votes were tallied, LSU jumped up from No. 19 to 13 in this week’s AP poll, while they are 15th in the USA Today Coaches poll.

From there, however, things get a little more dicey for LSU. The computer’s aren’t quite as impressed with LSU as the human polls are. LSU actually dropped two spots from 14 to 16 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, and like I said in the previous paragraph, the Tigers are outside the top-20 in the KenPom ratings at No. 21.

But, regardless of how impressive the Tigers are in the advanced analytical department, no one can deny the 21 wins and the tie for first place they have in the conference. Whether its eking out a tight game in Rupp or struggling to put away a less talented Georgia team, LSU is getting wins and that’s all that matters as we get closer to March.

On to the projections.

ESPN Projection: Four Seed vs. No. 13 Hofstra in Jacksonville (East Region); Las Week: Five Seed

CBS Projection: Three Seed vs. No. 14 Old Dominion in Jacksonville (West Region); Last Week: Four Seed

USA Today Projection: Three Seed vs. No. 14 Old Dominion in Jacksonville (West Region); Last Week: Five Seed

SB Nation Projection: Three Seed vs. No. 14 South Dakota State in Jacksonville (West Region); Last Week: Five Seed

A couple of thoughts:

  • We’re 27 days from Selection Sunday and the idea of LSU being not only a tournament team, but a highly seeded team, is beginning to look more and more like a reality.
  • I didn’t get a chance to include this last week, but LSU has six Quadrant 1 wins. The Quadrant system is a newer component the Selection Committee looks at, it serves a similar role to the old “wins over top-X RPI” criterion. Quad 1 are home games against teams ranked 1-30, neutral site games against 1-50 opponents, or away contests in the top-75.
  • The wins over UNC-Greensboro and Furman are shaping up to be a little more valuable for LSU than probably initially expected when the schedule first came out.
  • Kentucky lost at the buzzer Tuesday against LSU and proceeded to beat the former No. 1 Vols by 17 in Rupp. The Cats stay at five in the NET, while Tennessee drops just behind them at six.
  • Alabama and Florida’s tournament bid dreams are hanging by a thread. The Tide and Gators show up on various websites “also considered” lists. LSU gets their first of two games against Florida Wednesday night and will have to make the return trips to Tuscaloosa and Gainesville March 2 and 6 respectively.
  • Likely SEC bids for the tournament if the bracket was announced today: LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Auburn, Miss State. Alabama’s a fringe tournament team, while Florida has a lot of work to do to make it back.

LSU Sports History Classes: Enrolling Now

Technically, this is now a historical event

We try to make sense of 125+ years of not making sense

Every football offseason, Paul and I try and give ourselves a research project. It’s fun for us to look back in the past of LSU football, but over the years, you can see that sort of institutional knowledge slowly eroding.

Simply put, we are all forgetting our history, and it seems that the rate of decay is quickening in the internet era. If something happened prior to the world wide web, it might as well not exist. LSU does a fantastic job of preserving team statistics and old box scores back to 1963. Then there’s the yeoman’s work being done at all of the sports-reference sites.

But this goes to the old Bill James adage that the further we get from a player in his playing days, the more he is reduced to simple numbers on a page. There’s nothing we can do about some of this. We’ll never see footage of Doc Fenton or Ken Kavanaugh, LSU greats who played prior to the invention of television.

Hell, regular TV coverage of LSU football is a fairly recent development. I used to listen to games in Maryland on the radio, thanks to the WWL clear channel. During the 1980’s, ABC would only cover a handful of national games, and ESPN slowly filled in the gaps. The first time the entire LSU SEC campaign was televised was in 2000. LSU’s entire slate of games was not available until 2004, and even that required pay-per-view. The first LSU season entirely on cable and network television didn’t occur until 2014.

So instead of one research project, we are devoting this offseason to creating a framework to preserving the history of LSU sports. Part of this means digging through our own archives and making our earlier history work more easily accessible, while also making a home for future research projects.

What we are most interested in preserving is not the numbers and the results. We already have people recording those numbers on a page, and they do fantastic work. Our goal will be to try to tell the stories that used to be told from fathers to sons. Nowadays, if it’s not on the internet, it doesn’t exist, so our goal is to make sure these stories get recorded on the internet.

Our daunting task is to get Tiger fans to care about Doc Fenton and Ken Kavanaugh, even if we can’t show them the video. You think your heroes won’t be forgotten, but they will. This is about trying to preserve the legacies of not just faded pictures on the page, but today’s players. It’s trying to find a place for everyone in this giant narrative of LSU Tiger sports.

We also intend to include not just the football program, but every LSU team. Ever wondered about the 1935 basketball national championship banner? Yeah, me too. Or what about our boxing program? And who the hell are all of these people with their names on the athletics buildings? The Bernie Moore Track Stadium? The Carl Maddox Fieldhouse? And why isn’t it the WT “Dub” Robinson Tennis Complex anymore? I don’t know the answers to all of the questions yet, but we’re going to find it together.

It seems though that the place to start is with the guys who built the LSU sports program into what it is today. This didn’t happen entirely by accident. There was a plan or the very least a vision, and the LSU Athletic Directors have tried to bring that vision into focus and make it a reality.

We’re going to break down LSU’s athletic history into eras, roughly divided into the term of each Athletic Director. AD’s are first and foremost judged on football, so we’ll always look on their impact on the football program, but then we’ll try to tell the stories of the facilities they built, the coaches they hired, the onfield successes of their tenure, and the off the field controversies.

While I take the ATVS time machine back to the origins of LSU sports and slowly travel home, Paul will drop in and start profiling the most important coaches in LSU history who made their marks on their respective programs. I’ll probably start chipping in after I finish my journey through every Athletic Director’s tenure.

If there’s anything you want us to research, we are more than willing to take it under advisement. Drop a line in the comments, or just share your favorite LSU legends. Maybe we’ll try and figure out if they are actually true, though this is the sort of project that will encourage the myths and legends rather than crush them.

So later this week, join me as I start LSU Sports History, starting at the very beginnings of LSU athletics, when a chemistry professor decides he wants to play an exhibition football match against some school from New Orleans in 1893. And how right off the bat, he screwed up the school colors…

Defensive End Alec Bryant Commits

Tigers pick up a four-star defensive end from Texas

In the fallout of LSU’s 2019 Junior Day weekend, the Tigers got a visit from a group of Texas prospects on Monday, and in the process, a new verbal commitment from four-star defensive end Alec Bryant.

A 6-3, 230-pound prospect out of Pearland, Texas, Bryant is a composite four-star prospect and the ninth-rated weakside defensive end in the class — the 157th-rated player overall. Oklahoma was listed as his leader in the 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions.

Bryant broke out as a junior with 16 sacks for Shadow Creek High School.

Bryant looks like more of an edge/outside linebacker type in LSU’s defense, and he shows and impressive get-off from his stance. Also plays with really nice pad level, and shows some nice leverage when rushing inside. He will need some technique work, of course. Definitely seems to favor rushing straight up the field.

BASEBALL WEEKEND RECAP: Freshmen Arms Have Stellar Debut

FRIDAY

Duplantis, Cabrera Lead LSU to 12-7 victory over ULM in opener

SATURDAY

Freshmen Shine In 6-5 Walkoff Of Army

SUNDAY

Not much to write home about in a blowout. 12 Tigers combined for 20 hits and 16 RBIs off of Air Force, the team that had the worst of the three in The Box this weekend. Offensively the only thing concerning was that Bianco had 3Ks. He got the start at 1B specifically to face Air Force’s lefty, but the game got so out of hand so quickly that the Falcons changed pitchers in the 2nd inning, though not before Bianco got in a 2 RBI bomb off of him to left. Like I said, not much to pull from this game. Was nice to see Chris Reid get some time off the bench, and the acknowledgement from the crowd. He even scored a sac fly. We did get to see a great debut from FR RHP Jaden Hill. 8Ks, 1 BB, and 4 hits, 1 ER over 5.0 IP. He was hitting low-mid 90s on the gun and had a great offspeed breaking ball. His outing earned him SEC Freshman of the Week.


Landon Marceaux had a great premier outing as well, even if he called his own 5.2 IP appearance with 5Ks and 2 hits “shaky.” But lets talk about what we all want to argue about. Zach Hess had a bad start on Friday (6 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 2 home runs over just 3.2 IP) and immediately everyone wants to put him back in the bullpen. You could almost see this coming the moment Mainieri started the preseason presser saying there was no chance Hess would be a relief arm this year. With Hilliard unavailable, there’s not yet a standout in the bullpen I would try in Hess’ place. Mainieri will give him plenty of time to right the ship, but he won’t be able to hold on to the Friday gig much longer if Marceaux and Hill are able to be more than opening weekend flashes. In any case, it’s waaaay too early to make a call on any of this and the non-con exists so that these things can be worked out. Let the process work.

Honestly, the worst news from the weekend is that Ma’Khail Hilliard is still down with shoulder soreness. We can only hope it’s not something more serious. FR Easton McMurray, LSU’s only lefty, is also still out and will be seeing a doctor this week.

LSU has 2 in-state mid-week games, including a road trip, and then a home weekend vs Bryant University from Rhode Island. Gotta get those warmup hacks in now before the trip to Austin the following weekend.

EDIT: Tomorrow’s game vs Southeastern has been moved up to 4pm due to a rain threat.

FUN WITH STATS

It’s been 3 games, let’s make sweeping conclusions based on small sample sizes.

  • Welcome back Josh Smith. .667 on the weekend and a pair of doubles.
  • Daniel Cabrera really needs to step it up. His 2 homers and 6 RBI give him a 1.200 slugging percentage, but that’s only good for second place on this team
  • ALL HAIL CADE BELOSO, WALKOFF HERO, SLUGGING 1.250!
  • No true replacement has been found for the Jordan Brothers walking bruise HBP routine. So far Brock Mathis leads the lineup with 2
  • Chasing History: Eddy Furniss 352 Hits, Mississippi St.’s Jake Mangum 279 (+4), Duplantis 273(+5)

OTHER NEWS

  • It’s been a relatively mild winter, and it really helped bring out the fans. LSU’s reporting 35,463 attendance for the weekend, an LSU opening weekend record. As we’ve chronicled before on this website, LSU’s baseball attendance stats are vastly over inflated due to the no-shows in the gold seats and elsewhere, but the park looked full most of the weekend. The Friday paid crowd of 12,404 was the 4th highest ever. A great way to start the 10th year in the New Box
  • To my complete surprise, Moving the student section to the RF bleachers turned out to be a HUGE success. Student attendance at baseball has never really been a thing for LSU baseball outside of a few diehards who end up working for the Tarp Crew, but this could finally be a sign of that turning around.
  • I’ll be checking it out for myself soon enough, but early reports are that the beer tents at the foul polls were a huge success. Unfortunately, they have a big problem with having no view of the field. That’s a problem with the design of Alex Box, but at least they’ve got TVs in there, apparently. In any case, it’s a good stop-gap until the SEC gets it’s head out of it’s ass, and then LSU can just sell beer in the stands, just like every other college baseball team in Louisiana.
  • PRAISE BE! LSU finally practiced restraint and didn’t put static image ads on a new video board.

WORLD OF COLLEGE BASEBALL

  • SEC OOC Blunders: SCar falls 6-5 to Liberty in 11 innings on opening night; Bama drops 1 of 3 to Presbyterian; Ole Miss splits rain shortened weekend vs Wright St.; Mizzou drops 2 of 3 at North Florida;
  • In the only SEC OOC action worth discussing, Florida comfortably swept a home series with perennial power Long Beach St and Vandy took 2 of 3 at a showcase series at Salt River Fields (Diamondbacks and Rockies Spring Training facility), dismantling UVA 15-9 and #24 CS Fullerton 14-9, but getting beat back by #17 TCU in a 10-2 loss
  • The Top 25 is mostly unchanged this week thanks to chalky results. The only upset was Top 5 Louisville dropping a series 1-2 to UConn (who is also ranked in some polls) at a neutral site weekend in Lakeland Fl. (Detroit Tigers Spring Training facility)
  • In-State Action: USL hosted Texas in Lafayette, dropping 2 of 3 to the Longhorns in some very tight games; UNO took 2 of 3 from Michigan St; Northwestern St dropped 2 of 3 at Houston; Southern swept 3 games against other HBCUs at the Andre Dawson Classic in New Orleans, and at Southeastern...
  • Best Unis I Saw this weekend: ULM’s faux-ish throwback, Air Force’s Bomber helmets, Hawai’i’s island helmets

LSU’s Offense Looks to Take the Next Steps This Spring

A look at the LSU offense’s big goals for spring 2019.

In 2018, LSU’s offense managed to hit a perfect sweet spot of “not good enough” and “not as bad as most of its detractors probably think.” The Tigers averaged 32 points per game and finished 49th in Offensive S&P+ under controversial coordinator promotion of Steve Ensminger.

There were some challenges for this group: LSU was replacing virtually all of its 2017 production, with a new quarterback who arrived this summer and an offensive line that struggled to keep a consistent lineup for most of the year due to injuries.

But with as many as eight potential returning starters in 2018, those excuses (barring the injury one) won’t apply. So let’s look at those open spots.

This unit will return some 82 percent of its 2018 production, and improvement will not only be expected, but demanded. That path will center partially on a loaded running back class arriving in the summer, but it will begin in the spring centering on some key areas:

How Does the Offensive Line Reshuffle?

LSU’s principal issue on the offensive line was health; injuries forced six different lineups over the first seven games, and center Lloyd Cushenberry was the only member of the group to start all thirteen games at one position. The upside is that while the group returns four nominal starters in Cushenberry, left tackle Saahdiq Charles, right guard Damien Lewis and right tackle Austin Deculus, there are another four players that saw significant minutes as spot starters or rotational replacements; Chasen Hines, Adrian Magee, Donovaughn Campbell and Badara Traore.

There’s one open spot at left guard, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the overall lineup reshuffles a bit around Cushenberry — who was a fairly consistent starter overall on the year. Lewis will almost certainly lock down one of the open guard spots as well. He showed flashes of the dominance reported of him over the 2018 offseason, but he needs to get more consistent.

For one, redshirt freshmen Dare Rosenthal and Cameron Wire look more like the classic tall, long-armed left tackle prospects. Although Charles does, in my opinion, have the athleticism to play the spot, he has struggled to stay healthy, and the injuries have clearly slowed him down a bit in pass pro. If Rosenthal or Wire assert themselves, he could move to another spot. Likewise, Deculus at tackle, despite his size, struggles on the move.

Hines showed some impressive people-moving skills, but has to improve on assignments. This could also be a spot primed for some attrition — particularly Magee and Campbell — with the freshmen coming in.

Sophomore Ed Ingram is also out there, pending a change to his legal status. He’s certainly considered one of the top talents in this group, but will remain suspended so long as his sexual assault charges are still pending.

THUNDERDOME at the Wide Receiver Spot

LSU’s going to return five receivers who caught at least 20 passes last season, but it wouldn’t shock me if some of the players on that list are knocked down the depth chart or looking for more playing time elsewhere over the summer. Because this group, as much as any area of the team, has to take a big step forward and develop as a group of big-time playmakers.

Junior Justin Jefferson stepped up as the team’s go-to guy with 54 catches for 875 yards, but even he struggled with drops at times. Five-star true freshmen Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall both have the potential to take a big step up in year two but struggled with their own consistency issues at times.

That’s where the competition comes into play. Seniors-to-be Dee Anderson, Stephen Sullivan and Derrick Dillon all had their moments at times last year, but none were reliable and all three could see their minutes cut down by younger players. Chase, Marshall and even Kenan Jones — who was a bulldog on special teams, even if he played little on offense — and Jaray Jenkins.

Ballyhooed transfer Jonathan Giles may have been the offense’s biggest disappointment last season, and will likely be encouraged to move on unless he really shows something between now and the 2019 season. But he may be joined by some of the other vets as well. LSU has two more freshmen coming in this summer, and will need to shed some bodies from the scholarship count in order to get under the 85 limit.

Who Steps Up At Tight End?

Foster Moreau was a rock at this position, but when Jamal Pettigrew was lost to season-ending knee injury in the summer, depth was in such a state that fullback Tory Carter became the defacto backup, with wide receiver Racey McMath converting as well.

Pettigrew is fully recovered and should be the odd-on favorite to step into the lineup this year. He had a strong spring last year, and looked like he primed to contribute before the knee injury.

Behind him. there’s junior college prospect T.K. McClendon, along with elusive transfer Thad Moss, who never seemed to get into the lineup last year with various ailments and eventually had foot surgery. McMath and redshirt freshman Zack Sheffer could also present options as an h-back type. Dantrieze Scott also has the size for the spot, the question is can he translate that into something after moving from outside linebacker. True freshman Charles Turner may work here early on, but his future is likely on the offensive line after a redshirt year.

What is the Ceiling at Quarterback?

Joe Burrow’s first season at LSU had its ups and downs, but ended on a high note, with him completing 63 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns against just two picks in the final four games — including a 394-yard, four-touchdown Fiesta Bowl.

But was that just a product of bad defenses, or Burrow’s evolution and improvement as a player? Is he just a “game manager” or can he add more pop to this passing attack? That remains to be seen.

To my eye, Burrow seemed to be at his best in the old “quarterback as point guard” cliche — he did a good job of keeping the offense in the right play and generally making good decisions with the football. He clearly doesn’t have the biggest arm in the world, but he’s a plus as a runner and definitely had command of the huddle. His teammates took him pretty quickly.

In that mold, as the rest of the offense improves its game, that can still yield pretty damn good results. But if he can take that to another level, that makes things all the more interesting.

Likewise, there’s still more to learn about backup Myles Brennan’s future. He certainly has the arm, but is he still the long-term future beyond Burrow? That question won’t be answered in the spring, but it should offer another data point.

Gym Bounces Back

A huge weekend and the Tigers look like contenders again

What a difference a week makes. Last week, we were talking about how LSU’s season was hanging by a thread and how time was running out on getting things together. Safe to say, the team got the message.

LSU had two of its best performances of the year, both in the same weekend. First, LSU held off a stacked field to win the GymQuarters Mardi Gras Invitation in Missouri. Now, why the Mardi Gras Invitational was in Missouri is anybody’s guess, but the team then returned to Baton Rouge to face off against Missouri in an SEC meet on Sunday. Who says the schedule makers don’t have a sense of humor?

The big thing for the Tigers was that the premier opponent on Friday night was #4 Utah, one of the biggest obstacles to making the finals this postseason. To go out to a neutral gym and get a win over a direct rival for postseason success was a tremendous statement win for a team that was in need of a big statement.

Unfortunately, almost nobody saw it because the event was not televised or even streamed online. Worse yet, the GymQuarters website is almost impenetrably opaque, making following the live stats or even getting a comprehensive match recap nearly impossible.

However, piecing things together, LSU trailed Utah at the halfway point of the match 98.650 – 98.525. The Tigers showed an ability to overcome adversity and rally when things weren’t going their way. This was the moment in the season where DD Breaux flipped the switch on the team. Especially after last weekend’s disastrous meet, LSU needed to show it could finish strong after a slow start.

LSU responded with a season high 49.475 on the floor to take the lead, followed by a 49.25 on the vault to hold on for a 197.250 – 197.075 win over Utah. That score might not be enough to beat the Utes in the postseason, but it was enough on Friday.

Buoyed by the big win, LSU returned home to the friendly confines of the PMAC to face Missouri, and they proceeded to burn the joint to the ground. The rally didn’t end with the final two rotations in the Mardi Gras Invitational, but the good performances continued through the weekend and into the next meet.

LSU jumped out to 49.350 – 48.900 lead after the first rotation. The vault, which has been the source of such inconsistency this season, instead was a rotation in which LSU asserted its authority. Every LSU gymnast scored at least a 9.800, and the top four scorers were exclusively Tigers.

Things would get even worse for Mizzou on the second rotation, as LSU scored a 49.425 on bars. Meanwhile, Missouri struggled to hit their landings, and by the halfway point of the meet, LSU held a near insurmountable 98.775 – 97.325. Somehow, things got even worse for Mizzou in the final two rotations.

By the time the dust settled, LSU again had set a season high on the floor (49.550) and a season high final score of 197.650. LSU won by over two full points. Only one LSU gymnast failed to stick the landing all night long, and that score was thrown out. The lowest score LSU had to carry on any even was a 9.800. LSU won every rotation, and a different LSU Tiger won an individual title and the all-around:

McKenna Kelly (vault), Ruby Harrold (bars), Sami Durante (beam), Kennedi Edney (floor), and finally Sarah Finnegan with the all around title at 39.575. Not only did LSU find its big scoring mojo, they won with a tremendous depth of scoring, with nearly everyone on the roster contributing, evidenced by five different individual title winners in the meet.

LSU isn’t all the way back yet, but this was a tremendous first step to showing this team can compete for a title. Step two? Doing it again.

Tigers Pick Up Three Games at St. Pete Invitational

Shelbi Sunseri

Lineup continues to perform well.

While No.7 LSU’s six dominating wins last weekend at the Tiger Classic served as a strong opening statement, this weekend’s St.Pete/Clearwater Invitational featured four ranked teams, and five games against teams that qualified for the 2018 Women’s College World Series tournament. The Tigers survived the weekend gauntlet, picking up three-of-five games at the weekend tournament with a 3-1 win over No.20 Oklahoma State, 7-1 victory over No.11 Texas, and a 7-2 win against Ohio State while dropping 9-1 by run rule No.1 Florida State and 8-5 to No.19 Oregon.

Building off an explosive opening weekend, the Tiger offense had another strong showing, scoring five or more runs in three of the five games, with production coming from up and down the lineup.

Amanda Sanchez continued her strong start to the season, going 7-of-13 with five RBI and her first home run as an LSU Tiger. She leads the SEC in hitting and on base percentage as of Sunday morning. Shelbi Sunseri also continued her power surge launching two more home runs and driving in eight on the weekend.

Catcher Michaela Schlattman picked up six hits on the weekend, Amber Serrett launched her first home run of the year, and Amanda Doyle had five hits on the weekend.

Through two weeks of play, the Tigers currently lead the SEC in hitting, walks, on base percentage, hits, and doubles, and is second in runs scored, slugging, and RBI.

LSU’s performance in the circle over the weekend was a bit more inconsistent. Walks continue to be an issue, with the Tigers now having walked 27 batters through 63 innings. Maribeth Gorsuch has 12 in 19 innings.

The title of top LSU hurler of 2019 is still very much open. The strongest performance of the weekend went to Maribeth Gorsuch, who pitched nine innings allowing just two runs. Shelby Wickersham tossed a combined 12 innings with 10 hits in the two wins but allowed three runs in 2.2 innings in a 9-1 run rule loss to FSU. Sunseri and Ali Kilponen struggled over the weekend, allowing eight runs in 10 innings and six runs in one inning, respectively. In the loss to Oregon, Sunseri was unable to keep the game tied after the Tigers erased a 4-1 deficit in the fifth.

Ultimately, the Tigers should leave this weekend satisfied with their performance. The offense continued to show it can score runs, even against teams that are solid WCWS contenders. The pitching, which had some question marks entering the year, showed that it is not a finished product, but by no means should it be viewed as a major weakness, at least for now.

Expect Beth Torina’s experimentation to continue, both with the lineup and with the pitching staff.

The Tigers return to Tiger Park for 11-straight home, beginning with the five-game Tiger Invitational which is headlined by two games against No.15 Michigan.

GAMETHREAD: Air Force at LSU, 3pm, SECN+

Saturday SEC Scoreboard

Pitching Matchup

  • LSU – Fr. RH Jaden Hill (making first career collegiate appearance)
  • AFA – Sr. LH Ethan Nichols (0-3, 5.34 ERA, 28.2 IP, 16 BB, 32 SO in 2018)

Starting Lineups when available

Freshman Shine In 6-5 Walkoff Of Army

Landon Marceaux gave LSU a strong start in his debut and Cade Beloso finished it

A pair of freshman bookended LSU’s 6-5 victory over Army Saturday.

It started with freshman phenom Landon Marceaux falling just 13 of an inning shy of a quality start and ended Cade Beloso slamming a three-run home run to erase a 5-3 hole and steal the game.

“It didn’t take long for the new players to find out that there’s something special about playing baseball at LSU,” Mainieri said. “Especially in the Box. These past two nights the atmosphere has been pretty good.”

“These last two nights have been amazing,” Beloso said. “This place is truly special. When these people get rocking...the Box is real. And the energy it brings is electrifying.”

Marceaux pitched excellent in his collegiate debut, throwing 5.2 innings of two hit baseball, allowing one run and three walks while striking out five. Marceaux’s curveball froze a handful of Black Knights and when contact was made, it was usually an easily made ground ball.

Marceaux may have fallen an out shy of a quality start in his first run, but by his standards there was plenty of room for improvement.

“It was a little shaky,” Marceaux said. “My fastball command (was shaky) and I couldn’t find my breaking ball. But I was able to go as deep as I could with what I had. You’re going to have days like that as a pitcher. You have to move on”

In particular, those three walks don’t sit well with him.

“Three walks, that’s unacceptable,” Marceaux said. “Free bases, that’s unacceptable. That’s what really killed us tonight.”

As good as Marceaux was, Army pitcher Daniel Burggraaf was just as resilient. Outside of a throwing error that led to two runs in the first, the senior was excellent. He finished after 6.1 innings with three runs, one earned on four hits and a single walk while striking out five.

“He was outstanding,” Mainieri said. “We’re very fortunate to win the game.”

LSU took the lead in the bottom of the first when Josh Smith led off with a single to the right center gap. Brandt Broussard laid down a bunt to advance him, but the throw from the pitcher was errant and rolled into the bullpen, allowing Smith to score and moving Broussard to third. Antoine Duplantis scored Broussard with a sacrifice fly to center field to give LSU a 2-0 lead out the gate.

Army cut LSU’s lead in half in the 6th inning when Marceaux issued a leadoff walk to Army nine-hole hitter Trey Martin. Martin was sacrificed into scoring position and scored on Drake Titus’ single up the middle.

The Black Knights surged ahead in the top of the 7th with four runs, ignited by Jeremiah Adams’ leadoff single. After a walk to John McKenna, Martin tied the game with a single to right. Another walk to leadoff hitter Hurtubise loaded the bases for Anthony Giachin, who wiped the bases clean with a three-RBI double to put Army ahead 5-2.

“They’re a remarkable group of young men,” Mainieri said, complimenting his opponents. “They played their hearts out and played really well.”

LSU scratched a run across in the bottom half of the inning when Saul Garza was walked with one out. A single from Cade Beloso moved him to second, and both advanced on a wild pitch. A balk brought pinch runner Giovanni DiGiacomo home, but LSU couldn’t score Beloso from third.

Down to their final three outs, LSU opened their final stand with back to back walks to Watson and DiGiacomo against Army closer Sam Messina. During a meeting on the mound, Mainieri told freshman Cade Beloso to let loose and swing hard.

“We recruited Beloso to hit home runs, not to bunt,” Mainieri said. “So I told him to go up there and get his money’s worth. He’s going to challenge you with fastballs, don’t be late.”

Beloso did just that, and delivered a line drive three-run home run to right field to win the game.

“I didn’t even think it was going over,” Beloso said. “I blacked out honestly. I really don’t remember much. I remember seeing the umpire’s hand twirling and I got goosebumps...I was running hard, I thought it was going to be a double off the wall. I was expecting to go to second and pick up the third base coach.”

GAMETHREAD: No. 19 LSU vs. Georgia, 5 P.M., SEC Network

Tigers try to avoid a potential trap in Athens

Coming off the heels of the biggest regular season win in recent program history, LSU is challenged with putting the Kentucky win behind them and turning their attention to trying to beat the Georgia Bulldogs in their building.

LSU and Georgia met once before in January and the Tigers earned a 92-82 win that Wednesday night. But LSU led by as many as seventeen points in the second half before Georgia was able to whittle it down to seven. LSU allowed 46 second half points causing Will Wade to say the Tigers needed to improve their team defense.

Since their first meeting on that Wednesday night in January, the Tigers and Bulldogs have been going in two different directions. LSU’s won five of their last six and worked their way up to No. 19 in the AP poll, while Georgia has dropped five of six and sit in 13th place in the SEC. The results haven’t been particularly close either, only one of those five losses have been within double digits and the past three have been by 16 points on average.

For Georgia, everything starts and stops with sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton. Claxton is one of only four players in Division I basketball to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, and he’s also the SEC leader in rebounding and blocked shots. Standing at 6’11”, Claxton is one of the few opposing players in the league who can match Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams’ height.

In the first contest, Georga was able to keep pace with LSU in rebounding and hit on eight of 17 attempted threes; Claxton and Rayshaun Hammonds, who had a team-best 18 points, combined to shoot five for eight. The Bulldogs also shot 53 percent from the floor and had 13 assists on 30 made shots; LSU on the other hand only had eight assists and had a miserable 5-20 effort from three.

“Our transition defense was awful, our post defense was even worse and our on-ball defense was not very good,” Wade said after first Georgia game.

Athens has not been kind to LSU basketball. Georgia owns a 28-22 record over LSU in Stegeman Coliseum and the Bulldogs have won the last five. The Tigers, however, are unbeaten away from Baton Rouge in conference play.

In some ways, playing against a bad Georgia team four days after beating Kentucky in Rupp might actually be harder than playing Big Blue. The Tigers are the toast of campus right now and an emotional letdown could very much be in play Saturday evening. For LSU today’s goal is simple: get in, exert your dominance, and get back home with a win.

Defensive Lineman Jordan Berry Commits to LSU

Tigers pick up another West Coast prospect.

LSU’s first junior day of the 2020 cycle has yielded its first commitment and the second West Coaster in the Tigers’ class in four-star defensive lineman Jordan Berry.

He is a 6-3, 280-pound prospect from Harbor City, Calif., and a composite four-star prospect.

Berry marks LSU’s second Californian in the class, joining superstar cornerback prospect Elias Ricks. Berry is the second defensive lineman in the class, joining Jacquelin Roy. Expect the defensive line to be a huge focus in this class.

That makes 10 prospects in LSU’s class, which currently ranks second in the country. It would be no surprise to see some more commitments before the end of the Junior Day weekend. We’ll have more as it breaks.

GAMETHREAD: Army at LSU, 2 p.m., SECN+

Tigers start the troop respecting.

All-Time Matchup

LSU leads 4-0 (Last meeting: 2017). If you’ll remember, Jared Poche opened the season with a seven-inning no hitter in game two of a double header against the Black Knights.

Pitching Matchups

Army: Daniel Burggraaf, SR RHP

LSU: Landon Marceaux, FR RHP

HIGHLY touted freshman right Landon Marceaux makes his collegiate debut.

Lineups

Army

Hurtubise - CF

Titus - RF

Giachin - 1B

Walden - LF

White - 2B

Adams - 3B

Macias - DH

Siriana - C

Martin - SS

LSU

Smith - SS

Broussard - 2B

Duplantis - RF

Cabrera - LF

Watson - CF

Garza - DH

Beloso - 1B

Mathis - C

Hughes - 3B

Notable Links

Duplantis, Cabrera Lead LSU to 12-7 victory over ULM in opener

ULM Highlights

Duplantis, Cabrera Lead LSU to 12-7 victory over ULM in opener

Tiger outfielders earn their stripes in game one.

Antoine Duplantis and Daniel Cabrera put forth superhero efforts in LSU’s season-opening 12-7 victory over ULM Friday night.

The duo combined to go 5 for 9 with 11 RBI via five hits, four of which were home runs including Duplantis’ game-sealing grand slam in the bottom of the 8th.

“That was a crazy night,” Duplantis said. “I don’t know how to describe it.”

ULM opened the game by capitalizing on LSU mistakes. Hess lost leadoff batter Ryan Humeniuk on a 3-2 count. A steal assisted by a ball in the dirt lead to a run on Trent Tingelstad’s double over centerfielder Zach Watson’s head. On the next pitch, Chad Bell knocked a two-run home run to left to give the Warhawks a 3-0 lead before LSU even touched their bats.

LSU responded with a three-base error that put Josh Smith at third. The ball was dropped by centerfielder Jake Kaufman, but only after he had to backpedal 20 feet to make a play on the ball. Brandt Broussard was then hit by a pitch, setting up Daniel Cabrera’s two run single smashed to left.

After both teams were silent in the second, Tingelstad crushed a loud no-doubter to right field to add another run for the Warhawks. Josh Smith dropped what would have been the inning-ending pop out, setting up an RBI single from Andrew Beesley to put ULM on top 5-2.

LSU got those two runs back in the bottom half of the inning when Cabrera smoked a two-run line drive home run into the Diamond Deck.

LSU pulled Hess in the 4th, after he allowed six hits and two walks in 3.2 innings and gave up five runs, four earned.

“He just had trouble throwing his slider today,” Mainieri said. “He was throwing hard, but he was just a one-pitch pitcher and they hit them hard because they’re good fastball hitters. He’ll get better, he’s just got to get back to the grind.”

With runners on first and second with two outs, Trent Vietmeier came into the game and gave up a line drive that was somehow snagged by Drew Bianco to keep the game within a run.

“I thought the key play of the game was Bianco making that leaping catch with a runner in scoring position,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “I thought that kept us right there.”

Daniel Cabrera picked up his fifth RBI in his third at-bat when he tied the game with a leadoff opposite field home run to left center.

“I felt good at the plate,” Cabrera said. “I felt good in the field, I think it was a special opening night.”

Eric Walker, making his first appearance for LSU since having Tommy John surgery, relieved Vietmeier and pitched well for a return, throwing 2.1 innings and allowing just two hits and a run with a strikeout.

A big moment in the game came when Cabrera laid out for a line drive in the top of the 8th with ULM threatening. Not only did Cabrera come up with the play, he was able to fire the ball back to Bianco at first to complete the standard F7-3 double play to bail LSU out of a potentially threatening jam.

“Luckily I got the catch, then I heard (Zack) Watson out in center yelling ‘one one one!’ because he was at second so I threw it as hard as I could back to third,” Cabrera said. “I’m just trying to be the best defender I can be because when you have Watson and Antoine you have to work your butt off because those guys are the best defensive players in the country.”

LSU took the lead when Antoine Duplantis smoked a two-run home run 392 feet into right, scoring Smith.

Duplantis isn’t known for his long ball prowess, but ahead of this weekend he decided that he would loosen up the tie and see what happens when he takes more aggressive cuts.

“I’ve made some minor swing adjustments,” Duplantis said. “I was telling my friends before that I was going to let it rip this weekend. I’m not going to feel for anything, I’m just going to let it rip and see what happens. My first couple of at-bats were decent so I stuck with it and it paid off for me.”

ULM immediately responded after the leadoff batter Carson Klepzig reached when neither Devin Fontenot nor Drew Bianco could pick up a slow roller off the ground. A single from Nathan Miranda moved him into the scoring position and the pair tied the game on Humeniuk’s single up the middle.

LSU finally put ULM away for good when a pair of errors and walks allowed LSU to re-tie the game and load the bases for Duplantis, who tied his season high for home runs when he knocked his second career grand slam to give LSU a comfortable 12-7 lead.

“I haven’t hit two in one game since my sophomore year in high school,” Duplantis said. “I’ll probably just hit singles and doubles the rest of the year because I only hit two a year at LSU.”

Opening Night GAMETHREAD: ULM at #1 LSU, 7 p.m., SECN+

Tigers unbox 2019 season against upstate rivals.

It’s Opening Day across college baseball and the Tigers open what should be a manageable weekend with the UL-system school that draws the least heat in Baton Rouge.

Each game this weekend can be viewed only on the internet via SEC Network +. Every game can be heard on Eagle 98.1.

Pitching Matchups

ULM: RHP Jacobs Barton, RS SR

LSU: RHP Zack Hess, JR

You’re not crazy if the Warhawks’ starter sets off some bells. He was transferred to ULM from Mississippi State after the Cannizaro fiasco. He sat out last season, and posted a 6.57 ERA in 2017 with 18 walks and 26 strikeouts in 2017.

Lineups

ULM

Ryan Humeniuk - LF

Trent Tingelstad - RF

Chad Bell - 3B

Cameron Horton - 1B

Braedon Beesley - 2B

Carson Klepzig - C

Jake Kaufman - CF

Nathan Miranda - SS

LSU

Josh Smith - SS

Brandt Broussard - 2B

Antoine Duplantis - RF

Daniel Cabrera - LF

Zach Watson - CF

Saul Garza - DH

Drew Bianco - 1B

Brock Mathis - C

Hal Hughes - 3B

Notable Links

LSU Baseball Preview: Pitchers

LSU Baseball Preview: Hitters

Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride

LSU Walk-Out Songs, Ranked

How loss ignited Josh Smith’s burning desire to be great - Tiger Rag

10 years without a 2nd title, Paul Mainieri obsessed with bringing LSU another College World Series - NOLA.com

WEEKEND GAMETHREAD: Opening Weekend 2019

LSU hosts ULM, Army, and Air Force to open the season

Baseball Opens 2019 Season vs. ULM Friday in ‘The Box’ - LSUsports.net

For Josh Smith and Eric Walker, It’s Good to be Back - LSUsports.net

LSU Ace Zack Hess Eager to Prove Himself on the Mound - LSUsports.net

Peterson Named to Top Reliever Watch List - LSUsports.net

What’s New at Alex Box Stadium? - LSUsports.net

’The Yard’ Opens Friday at Alex Box Stadium - LSUsports.net
All LSU baseball fans over the age of 21 will have access to two new areas at Alex Box Stadium featuring beer and wine sales. Named “The Yard,” the new areas will be located at the outfield corners.

Free Admission to Non-LSU Baseball Games This Weekend - LSUsports.net
Baseball fans will be admitted free to four non-LSU games this weekend in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

Weather

Pitching Matchups

  • Friday, Feb. 15
  • Army West Point vs. Air Force, 12 p.m. CT
  • UL-Monroe at LSU, 7 p.m. CT - SECN+
  • LSU – Jr. RH Zack Hess (7-6, 5.05 ERA, 92.2 IP, 49 BB, 107 SO in 2018)
  • ULM – Sr. RH Jacob Barton (redshirted in 2018 – 2-0, 6.57 ERA, 18 BB, 26 SO at Miss. State in 2017)
  • Saturday, Feb. 16
  • Army West Point at LSU, 2 p.m. CT - SECN+
  • LSU – Fr. RH Landon Marceaux (making first career collegiate appearance)
  • Army – Sr. RH Daniel Burggraaf (7-3, 2.90 ERA, 62.0 IP, 25 BB, 83 SO in 2018)
  • Air Force vs. UL-Monroe, 6 p.m. CT
  • Sunday, Feb. 17
  • UL-Monroe vs. Army West Point, 11 a.m. CT
  • Air Force at LSU, 3 p.m. CT - SECN+
  • LSU – Fr. RH Jaden Hill (making first career collegiate appearance)
  • AFA – Sr. LH Ethan Nichols (0-3, 5.34 ERA, 28.2 IP, 16 BB, 32 SO in 2018)
  • Monday, Feb. 18
  • Southern vs. Air Force, 2 p.m. CT

SEC Slate

  • Kentucky @ Austin Peay
  • Dayton @ (13) Georgia
  • Presbyterian @ Alabama
  • Liberty @ South Carolina
  • Appalachian St @ Tennessee
  • Wright State @ (10) Ole Miss
  • Youngstown St @ (15) Mississippi St
  • Missouri @ North Florida
  • Long Beach St @ (3) Florida
  • Ga Southern @ (20) Auburn
  • Fordham @ Texas A&M
  • UL Monroe, Army, @ LSU
  • E Illinois @ (12) Arkansas
  • (2) Vanderbilt vs Virginia, (24) CSU Fullerton, (17) TCU (MLB4 COLLEGIATE BASEBALL TOURNAMENT, SCOTTSDALE, AZ (MLB NETWORK))

Buy A Ticket, Take The Ride

It’s a long road ahead. Get comfortable.

Paul Mainieri laid down the law on LSU’s Media Day.

He allowed his players to talk about Omaha for that day only, and then issued a gag order on the topic.

This is the right move on a lot of fronts. For one, the logic of “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there” is sound. It’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s a long season and the SEC half of the schedule is it’s own season inside of a season.

Secondly, nobody ever won a championship before March and no team has ever finished the season without a loss. The best teams let the game come to them and take their lumps in the same stride that they take their walk-off winners. The Tigers can still be a top two team and still drop a midweek game to McNeese.

Lastly, the journey is more important than the destination in a way. Depending on what poll you look at, LSU is either the #1 or #2 team in the nation. I get that places a lot of pressure on the program, but if there’s any lesson to be learned from LSU teams of the past it’s that that losses in February doesn’t mean the team is hopeless when the calendar turns to June.

LSU is so highly rated because they have an enviable collection of veteran players along with a plethora of young stars. Antoine Duplantis is gunning for an SEC hit record and Landon Marceaux has dominated against batters in preseason scrimmages. On paper, LSU is stacked top to bottom.

But baseball isn’t played on paper. Saul Garza will miss time behind the plate with a knee injury. Ma’Khail Hilliard is battling shoulder soreness. There’s really no telling how Josh Smith and Eric Walker especially will play coming off Tommy John. TJ is notoriously difficult injury to bounce back from, after all. Maybe Marceaux will understandably lose a step when he plays SEC teams every weekend. Injuries are almost guaranteed to shakeup the roster at some point in the season.

Even if it goes super well, I shouldn’t have to tell how quickly things can turn sour given how we all saw how LSU ruined Oregon State’s run at the best season in college baseball history two years ago. The Beavers finished 56-6 and didn’t lose a single game in March or May. That didn’t matter, because LSU gave them 33% of their losses in Omaha to end their season.

After LSU beat that Oregon State team, surely they could beat Florida for the school’s seventh national championship. I mean come on, that will go down as the best team in the sport’s history.

Nope.

It’s okay to be passionate, I encourage that. But if you live and die with each pitch you will not enjoy your time. If LSU goes down their projected path, a time will come around the end of May where it will be ok to get nervous for every 3-2 pitch. But that time is not now.

Now just enjoy the fact that baseball is back. You have a special opportunity to watch a team with all the pieces required assemble itself in front of you. So long as the Tigers win at least two games every weekend in 23 of their series, then everything will be fine.

Don’t worry with that one-hopper that Bianco misjudges or that that variance in delivery Marceaux shows when his pitch count climbs, or any other perceived problem of the same ilk. I guarantee you that Mainieri is worrying about plenty and will waste no time adjusting it.

Omaha wasn’t built in a day, after all.

WEEKEND OBLONG SPHEROID REPORT: 2/15 – 2/17

A little abbreviated this week due to prep for baseball opening day, let’s hit the highlights

  • AAF Opening weekend was a rousing success....for some teams. We await the benching of the Hackenberg and the return of the #MettShow. This weekend sees the AAF’s only game of the season on TNT, with TurnerSports moving their one game a week from there on onto their BR Live platform. We also learned last weekend that any AAF game not on CBSSN will likely be streamed on the AAF website.
  • There’s more Rugby going on than you can shake a stick at. NRL All-Star games, the Indian Ocean Super Rugby league kicks off, plus PRO14, MLR, and World Club Challenge
  • Women’s Aussie Rules enters Round 3. I hope to go into more detail next week, but my takeaway so far is that the games seem lower scoring than the men’s side. Not sure if that’s because of the league or the new AFL rule set that’s in play.
  • Up Next: Arena football (small f) returns next weekend in the western US when the Indoor Football League kicks off. Arena Football (Big F) wont be back in action until July.

SEC Media Day Lineup Announced

BATON ROUGE – The Southeastern Conference announced the lineup for the league's annual media days, which returns to Birmingham this year and runs from July 15-18 at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-Wynfrey Hotel.

Ferguson Again named SEC Football Leadership Chair

BATON ROUGE – For the second-straight year, LSU long snapper Blake Ferguson has been elected to serve as the chair of the Southeastern Conference Football Leadership council, the league office announced on Thursday.

2019 LSU Baseball Walk-Out Songs, RANKED

It’s time to testify

A SCIENTIFIC breakdown of the tunes selected by the Tigers

Yesterday LSU dropped the best press release of the year: the walk-out songs for the baseball team.

This is a fun little tradition, one we openly embrace. It allows the players to flash some personality in their own way and it allows us a way to connect to them.

In the past we’ve participated in the fun by ranking the walk-out songs, because that’s the knee jerk reflex when it comes to this type of thing. We’re going to do the same this year, but with a twist: by using science.

The choices are based on four categories and scored on a scale of 1-5 for a maximum of 20 points. The categories scored are Fit, Novelty, Quality, and Association.

Fit is how much that song, well, fits the player and how well it translates to the mood in a game. An example of a perfect five in this category would be Matty Ott using Lil Flip’s Game Over or Aaron Nola using Regulate.

Novelty is how off the beaten path or funny a selection is, because that counts for something. This awards props for selecting a deep cut or something hilarious. An example of a five is Zac Person using We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off when he comes in to close or Josh Smith using Pony as a freshman, or it can also be Trey Dawson (boy that’s a name) busting out a tropical house remix of Biggie Smalls’ Old Thing Back.

Quality is how the good the song is, independent of any other variables. This is hard to score a perfect five in, because what is a perfect song anyway? But it only feels right that we give a nod to great music tastes in 18-21 year olds.

Association is the toughest grade on the board. When I hear this song, how quickly do I think of you (and vice versa). Essentially, it is a multiplier for commitment because time and repetition is the only way to score high. Pretty much only returning players using the same song score higher than a 1. That might sound biased, but it means a lot. When Braves fans hear Crazy Train, they think Chipper Jones. When Yankees fans hear Enter Sandman, that means Mariano Rivera. In recent memory, no LSU player has kept the same song for four years in a row, but we have had a number of three year guys that would have scored fives if they came back for one more year: Alex Lange and Call On Me, Tyler Moore and Bailamos, Michael Papierski and The Buzz, Raph Rhymes and Teach Me How To Dougie.

Now that you’re filled in on the juicy deets, here’s how I scored them:

Some superlatives:

Best Choice: Zack Hess: Black Eyes | Bradley Cooper

The Opening Day starter will take the mound and throw out the first pitch with the dirty and raw opener from A Star Is Born. It suits his on-field personality well and it’s...just a badass cut that translates well to the game situation.

Best Freshman Impact: Riggs Threadgill: I Love A Rainy Night | Eddie Rabbit

I’m still not sure “Riggs Threadgill” is a real name for a real person, but him/it walks away with the best novelty cut. I made a joke in the summer about how nobody knows a single line from that song that isn’t “WELL I LOOOOVE A RAINY NIGHT”, and since this list was released I listened to this song about four times. I still don’t know a single line outside of that. This song is an optical illusion and will definitely get the crowd singing along.

Best Taste: Eric Walker: Disciples | Tame Impala.

This is the most subjective award, but I was actually shocked to see a Tame Impala song picked, let alone one that wasn’t really one of the “hits”. It’s a bop.

Pavlov Award: Antoine Duplantis: My Type | Saint Motel

Four years, three positions, one song. I have a special connection to this, but will forever link Twonnie to the song and vice versa.

Clap...clap...clap...CLAP CLAP.

Below is a handy dandy Spotify playlist of every song and some Box standards with a little lagniappe, perfect for your tailgate playlists or to listen to while you sit in Friday Baton
Rouge traffic.

Do Not Wake the Sleeping Tiger

It’s just a dream....

Hoops is having a dream season, so let’s keep dreaming

Two weeks ago, it looked like the alarm was going off, waking LSU from its dream season.

The Tigers had spent weeks walking a high wire, staking teams to huge leads, only to come storming back in the second half to sneak out a victory. It looked like they had pulled the trick one too many times, and somehow LSU lost to Arkansas, one of the worst teams in the SEC this season.

Worse yet, LSU had built its gaudy record against a series of escapes against the lesser half of the conference. The Tigers best win in the computers was over #38 Ole Miss. A murderer’s row of games awaited the team, three top 25 squads, two on the road, and closing out with a game in Rupp, a place where LSU rarely wins.

Only the dream didn’t die. LSU did stake out its opponents to big leads, particularly Auburn, but just like they had all season, they came storming back in the second half. In the span of seven days, LSU notched its three most impressive wins of the season, each bigger than the last.

It almost didn’t happen. We could be having a very different discussion right now or worse yet, not talking about LSU basketball at all. LSU needed a late rally and then overtime to beat Mississippi St. in Starkville. And LSU’s win in Rupp required the officials to ignore offensive goaltending at the buzzer.

Hey, when you’ve only won in Rupp once since Pearl Jam’s debut album, you’ll take the help. Especially when ten seconds earlier it looked like a little home cooking was going to help the Wildcats escape yet again.

But LSU got those twin miracles on the road and now LSU boasts two wins over KenPom top 25 teams on the road. That’s the thin line between a dream season and waking up to a nightmare.

Sure, this thing could still end at any moment. Tennessee still looms on the schedule as do two games against Florida, a program against whom LSU has not exactly excelled. But LSU is through the toughest part of its schedule, and have emerged from it stronger than before. They have transformed from paper tigers to real ones.

They also profile as a team that could do serious damage in the NCAA tournament with a good draw. They rank 13th in Offensive Efficiency and 46th in Defense. Only 25 teams in the country are top 50 in both offense and defense, showing LSU has demonstrable balance.

LSU has a deep frontcourt rotation, they can rebound better than nearly anyone in the country which should mean extra possessions, and they have their not-so-secret weapon: an elite point guard in Tre Waters. When it comes down to crunch time, the ball will be in the hands of their best player and even if, like Kentucky, you double team him to deny him the ball, Skyler Mays can kill you instead.

OK, LSU is a miserable three-point shooting team, but the good news is, they have finally realized it and they don’t try to jack up a ton of threes like they did earlier in the year. LSU knows that while its guards are elite ballhandlers, the team needs to finish around the rim. This team attacks the rim and makes things happen in the lane. They aren’t reliant on a good shooting night from the outside, but instead rely upon the effort of their bigs on the inside. Effort doesn’t have a cold shooting night.

Is this LSU team good enough to win the whole thing? Probably not. LSU has eked out a ton of close victories, and they still have the bad habit of falling behind early, something that will eventually catch up to you. LSU has a talented roster, but it’s not as stacked with future NBA lottery picks as, say, Duke. LSU looks like a good team that’s been playing over its head.

But for right now, why not dream? No one has set an alarm. And sometimes, dreams come true.

Do Not Wake the Sleeping Tiger

It’s just a dream....

Hoops is having a dream season, so let’s keep dreaming

Two weeks ago, it looked like the alarm was going off, waking LSU from its dream season.

The Tigers had spent weeks walking a high wire, staking teams to huge leads, only to come storming back in the second half to sneak out a victory. It looked like they had pulled the trick one too many times, and somehow LSU lost to Arkansas, one of the worst teams in the SEC this season.

Worse yet, LSU had built its gaudy record against a series of escapes against the lesser half of the conference. The Tigers best win in the computers was over #38 Ole Miss. A murderer’s row of games awaited the team, three top 25 squads, two on the road, and closing out with a game in Rupp, a place where LSU rarely wins.

Only the dream didn’t die. LSU did stake out its opponents to big leads, particularly Auburn, but just like they had all season, they came storming back in the second half. In the span of seven days, LSU notched its three most impressive wins of the season, each bigger than the last.

It almost didn’t happen. We could be having a very different discussion right now or worse yet, not talking about LSU basketball at all. LSU needed a late rally and then overtime to beat Mississippi St. in Starkville. And LSU’s win in Rupp required the officials to ignore offensive goaltending at the buzzer.

Hey, when you’ve only won in Rupp once since Pearl Jam’s debut album, you’ll take the help. Especially when ten seconds earlier it looked like a little home cooking was going to help the Wildcats escape yet again.

But LSU got those twin miracles on the road and now LSU boasts two wins over KenPom top 25 teams on the road. That’s the thin line between a dream season and waking up to a nightmare.

Sure, this thing could still end at any moment. Tennessee still looms on the schedule as do two games against Florida, a program against whom LSU has not exactly excelled. But LSU is through the toughest part of its schedule, and have emerged from it stronger than before. They have transformed from paper tigers to real ones.

They also profile as a team that could do serious damage in the NCAA tournament with a good draw. They rank 13th in Offensive Efficiency and 46th in Defense. Only 25 teams in the country are top 50 in both offense and defense, showing LSU has demonstrable balance.

LSU has a deep frontcourt rotation, they can rebound better than nearly anyone in the country which should mean extra possessions, and they have their not-so-secret weapon: an elite point guard in Tre Waters. When it comes down to crunch time, the ball will be in the hands of their best player and even if, like Kentucky, you double team him to deny him the ball, Skyler Mays can kill you instead.

OK, LSU is a miserable three-point shooting team, but the good news is, they have finally realized it and they don’t try to jack up a ton of threes like they did earlier in the year. LSU knows that while its guards are elite ballhandlers, the team needs to finish around the rim. This team attacks the rim and makes things happen in the lane. They aren’t reliant on a good shooting night from the outside, but instead rely upon the effort of their bigs on the inside. Effort doesn’t have a cold shooting night.

Is this LSU team good enough to win the whole thing? Probably not. LSU has eked out a ton of close victories, and they still have the bad habit of falling behind early, something that will eventually catch up to you. LSU has a talented roster, but it’s not as stacked with future NBA lottery picks as, say, Duke. LSU looks like a good team that’s been playing over its head.

But for right now, why not dream? No one has set an alarm. And sometimes, dreams come true.

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