Prompts is a joint creative exercise between my friend Matt W. and I. We will choose a different subject at the beginning of each week and post no more than 500 words on said topic on Fridays. Per the usual, I’m a few days late or a few days early with this one, depending on how you look at it. Choosing my favorite job was difficult, very difficult. It’s kind of like my favorite song; it alternates on a frequent basis.
On Sunday morning LSU junior safety Craig Loston requested his Twitter followers stop asking him if he were going pro or staying for his senior season. Loston’s tweet surprised many because he seemed like one of the only draft-eligible juniors not mentioned as an early departure. Instead, LSU could have as many as 10 early entrants into April’s draft – an unprecedented number seven greater than any other season in Tiger football history.
With its underclassman exodus, LSU is positioning itself as the Kentucky of college football, selling recruits an advanced timetable to achieve millions. Kentucky’s basketball team, you might recall, had six players leave early for the NBA draft after it won the NCAA title in April 2012. All college football/basketball teams exist as farm clubs for their respective pro sports but these programs have set themselves apart as Triple A clubs.
While there’s nothing wrong with LSU coaches emphasizing this assembly line approach, the sheer mass of players leaving early in 2012 – both in talent and leadership – will present an interesting test case for college football. There is reloading, which all the great programs do on a yearly basis, and then there is RELOADING, which LSU and Coach Les Miles will attempt in 2013.
Here’s a breakdown of “LSU’s NFL Draft Exodus” and who I think will replace the Tigers departing early:
All praise/blame for this post should go to Jordy Pujol, the anti-Bayless.
ESPN carnival barker/used car salesman/white devil Skip Bayless pissed in the wind Tuesday to the contrived, shit-starting tune of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o for Heisman. Bayless is famous for taking contrarian viewpoints, and generally being a pompous, arrogant, spineless piece of shit. His latest piece, I must admit, floored me. He is capable of talking about someone besides LeBron James or Tim Tebow, I learned.
Other than this revelation, Bayless’s Te’o piece followed the same cookie-cutter theme as all his arguments – a lot of bluster and precious little substance. Bayless proclaimed Te’o a deserving Heisman winner but also anointed himself head of the Johnny Football fan club. Johnny Football, for the uninitiated, is Texas A&M Johnny Manziel, believed to be Teo’s chief competition for the Heisman.
Truth is, talk of a Te’o Heisman is laughable – whether or not it comes from Bayless’s well-manicured fingers or anyone else. Te’o Heisman talk has gathered steam for two reasons: A) Te’o plays for Notre Dame, a traditional power in the midst of a national championship run; and B) Notre Dame is 12-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country. Some would argue the Heisman should be awarded to the best player on the best team. I am not one of those people. If anything, talk of Te’o, as Heisman winner, reflects on the dearth of quality candidates this season, Manziel excluded.
Today on the subway a man in a business suit struck up a conversation with me about something near and dear to my heart. The self-described BYU grad and I did not talk about Mormonism or multiple wives or HBO’s Big Love. We talked LSU football.
The bespectacled man offered his condolences after noticing my LSU beanie. The previous night my home state Tigers lost a 21-17 heartbreaker to Alabama. The ebbs and flows of the game led me to curse the entire state of Alabama, as well as its football team.
My fellow “D” train traveler informed me he was rooting for LSU. Like most college football fans, he is ready for the SEC’s six year BCS title reign to end. An Alabama loss would likely have closed the door on an SEC team making the title game, while opening the door wider for teams in other conferences – Oregon, Kansas State – plus Notre Dame. I don’t care about any of that though. I wanted to see LSU win and Bama lose.
You read the headline. I am not rooting for Alabama. I don’t care if a Crimson Tide loss means the SEC fails to win its seventh straight BCS football title. Damn the Tide!
Below are my thoughts on the four undefeated teams still in the hunt and their odds of making the BCS National Championship Game, given their remaining schedules. All statistics are based on information entering Week 11. You can view BCS rankings here.
Earlier today I wrote about watching LSU’s win over Texas A&M at Legends Sports Bar in Manhattan. It was a pins and needles affair. Then again, that’s the way all the Tigers’ SEC games are this season.
Here are five thoughts on LSU’s win over Texas A&M:
This is the 11th installment of Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100, a daily series chronicling my experiences and observations as a new New Yorker.
Here’s one thing I’ve learned in life: You can take the boy out of south Louisiana but you can’t take the LSU fan out of the boy. That was true in Oregon amid rabid Ducks fans, and it remains so in New York City.
On Saturday afternoon I entered Legends Sports Bar in Manhattan during halftime of LSU’s football contest with Texas A&M. Yes, halftime. I overslept, failing to take into account the subway’s relative weekend sloth. Rookie mistake, I know.
Upon arrival at Legends Sports Bar, I heard Big Tymers’ NOLA rap anthem, “Get Your Roll On”, belting from the venue’s speakers and observed dozens of purple and gold-clad Tigers fans, many of whom were clutching a beer. Behind the bar there were purple and gold signs with the years 1958, 2003, and 2007, representing LSU’s three national championships. It all felt authentic.
And this was just halftime.
This is the 10th installment of Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100, a daily series chronicling my experiences and observations as a new New Yorker. You might have noticed it’s been a few days since I posted one of these. I have been without Internet this week. Translation: Sucks to be me.
Surrounded by the kings, queens, princes, and princesses of New Brunswick Saturday morning in the parking lot outside Rutgers’ football stadium, I did what any self-respecting Cajun would. I declared “Mardi Gras in Jersey” and poured myself a concoction I will call “Cran Drank”. Then I poured myself another.
I arrived at High Point Solution Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey, a stone’s throw from New Brunswick, around an hour before the kickoff of Rutgers’ football contest against Syracuse. My friend, Robert Zullo, a self-proclaimed King of New Brunswick persuaded me earlier in the week via text message to partake in the “full Zullo experience” before the game’s noon kickoff.
Alas, “Mardi Gras in Jersey” and the “full Zullo experience” collided to create a perfect storm.
For two years, Tyrann Mathieu played the game of college football at a kamikaze speed and intensity that recalled a peewee football player instructed to “get the ball” and nothing more. Mathieu’s ability to reek havoc on opponents – whether through his precocious ability to force fumbles or return punts – propelled LSU to a 13-0 regular season record last season and earned him a spot as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
News of Mathieu’s dismissal from LSU on Friday morning came with the same type of full steam, out of nowhere force that he himself had displayed on the field so often. LSU coach Les Miles announced Mathieu had violated team rules – read: Mathieu failed a third drug test – and thus would no longer play in Purple and Gold. Opposing fans cheered with glee while the mood was a bit more subdued, as you would imagine, from Tiger fans.
Mathieu’s departure leaves a massive hole for the Tigers – one I will examine in a moment – but Miles’s teams have performed superbly in the past when faced with adversity. In 2007, LSU won the BCS National Championship after starting QB Ryan Perrilloux’s dismissal before the season. Last season, Mathieu helped the team reach the BCS National Championship despite starting the season without suspended QB Jordan Jefferson.
Mathieu’s departure leaves the Tigers’ corner position lacking in both experience and depth – a surprising development for a team that has earned the nickname Cornerback U with back-to-back Jim Thorpe Award winners recognizing the nation’s top defensive back. Three of LSU’s top four cornerbacks from 2011 are gone, with only junior Tharold Simon remaining.
With this shortage in mind, I used Rivals.com to look at LSU’s cornerback recruits from 2008-2012 to highlight how the program arrived at its current predicament – i.e., needing to rely on freshman cornerbacks to make its second straight BCS National Championship Game appearance.
NOTE: All star and overall position rankings below are from Rivals.
This is my 60th post of 2012. Don’t blow out the candles just yet. I set an unofficial goal for myself to post 365 times this year. I am slightly behind. I am averaging two posts every three days.
I am also averaging more than 100 page views per day this year. Not bad. The redhead in me wants more, more, MORE!!! I’ll lower my voice now.
Here are my five most viewed posts through the first three months of 2012. Guidos, meth cooks, and quarterbacks head the list. A special shout out to my friend, Jordy Pujol, who has the Midas touch when it comes to blogging. PS: The publication date is in parentheses. Interestingly, four of the five were written in January.