This week has been marked by the LSU fan base getting an earful from a lot of different quarters. First, ESPN commented on the empty seats during the broadcast of the Alabama vs. Mississippi State game. Second, this blog and many other printed quarters delivered editorials on the sorry state of some small section of our fans. Third, Troy coach Larry Blakeney commented on how his team ran the fans out of Tiger Stadium.
And most recently, the LSU players have gotten in on the action:
"The fans' leaving did kind of upset me," [starting offensive lineman Herman] Johnson said. "Then they did upset me when they started to boo. It was weird to see the fans leaving. It was crazy. The coaches were really upset with (fans).
"They are the home fans and they are supposed to cheer us. Hopefully, the fans will stay next week and not boo us.
Senior kicker Colt David acknowledged that it bothered him to see the stands more than half empty.
"I'd like to have the fans here," David said. "That's what makes Tiger Stadium. It hurts when they leave. The ones who stayed are the true fans."
Yikes. If that doesn't tell the tale, I don't know what will.
With all this said, I think starting now you will see a different attitude from the LSU fan base. I think the "negatigers" as they have been called have been somewhat chastened, and they will slink away for a while. The more positive elements are conversely emboldened and you will see them make a point of being more vocal.
Once again, let me reiterate that I think it is perfectly OK to be critical of a coaching staff or even a player to a point. It's even OK to call on that coach to be fired or the player to be benched. Heck, I know I've done it.
There comes a point when fans become fixated on criticism to the exclusion of all else, and to the point where it really does bleed over into the team's performance and the strength of a program.
A lot of people don't agree with that, that fans can weaken a team, but if you believe that a good group of fans can strengthen a team, why is it so hard to believe that a bad group of fans can weaken it? After all, a good crowd is the essence of a home field advantage. And I think pretty much everyone will agree that the home field advantage exists in sports at least to some degree. If good fans give you a home field advantage, why can't bad fans give you a disadvantage? Or at least minimize the advantage?
And then there's the recruiting angle. If the raucous Tiger Stadium crowd is a recruiting draw, why can't a dysfunctional and overly critical crowd be repulsive to recruits? If you believe that being a good fan can help your team, you absolutely have to believe that being a bad fan can hurt it.
But I digress. I think the era of negativity among our fans has closed. It reached its zenith late in the 3rd quarter last Saturday night, and you won't see that any more.