RP Weighs In

OK, so I have been WAY out of the loop here lately.  Living without home internet makes it very hard to 1) post my thoughts, and 2) do the research necessary to actually have thoughts.  While I have internet at work, it is generally frowned upon to spend large amounts of time surfing the web.  Now, I am on vacation, in Louisiana visiting family, and there are things that must be discussed.  Here are my thoughts on recent goings-on.

1.  Urban Meyers resigns announces he is taking a leave of absence from Florida.  I have always frowned upon the idea of giving advice to or taking advice from fans of rivals.  After all, why should Florida listen to the advice of those who would want to see harm befall them?  It's like when James Carville says something like, "The Republicans would be better off if they would..."  You have to assume the ellipses represent what your enemies would like to see you do.  With that in mind, my advice to the Florida higher-ups is to tell Urban Meyer, "Thanks but no thanks.  We are going to replace you rather than let you sit out a year." 

I just can't see how this leave-of-absence thing is possibly going to work out.  It's like the worst of all worlds.  First, you throw the program into upheaval for one year, but in that year you have built-in uncertainty regarding whether or not Meyer will return.  It will be a distraction for the entire 2010 season.  It will disrupt not one or even two but several recruiting classes, as the class of 2010 will have to deal with a coaching change.  And then the program will have to recruit most of the 2011 class with a cloud hanging over it of whether Meyer returns.  If he does return, each subsequent class will have to ask itself how long Meyer will stick with them.  It's a situation that will only get better when Florida makes a break with Meyer. 

I'm not saying bad-mouth him.  I'm not saying they should disrespect him.  I'm saying they should wish him well but tell him they're going to seek permanence for their program.

2.  Pre-mature post-mortem on LSU's 2009 season.  On one level, and it's a very important level, winning is everything.  However, on a secondary level, how you win says a lot about your prospects for future success.  If you win 7 of your games by 30 points, it suggests you overwhelmed your opponents and will likely do so in the future.  If you pull out some wins in games you were outplayed, well that's great for you, but it's probably not repeatable in future years.  This year, according to the play on the field, I would say that Washington, Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech, and probably Arkansas outplayed us on the field but came up short on the scoreboard.  It is a worrying thought for future seasons.

So, we had a pretty good 2009 season, but my early thoughts on the 2010 season are worried thoughts indeed.  If we play like we played in 2009, we will be fortunate to go bowling at all.  Frankly, it was only through the application of some very timely plays that we aren't staring a Papajohns.com bowl game in the face this season.  Heck, we could very well have ended up outside of the bowl picture entirely.  It's great that we got the W's, but we would be very short-sighted indeed if we did not look at the progression of this team from 2007 to now and not be very concerned about 2010 and 2011.

3.  The Cap One Bowl.  There has been a lot of cynicism about bowl games, and it is not limited to LSU fans.  The fact is that LSU is among the vast majority of Division 1A college football teams that are not satisfied with their bowl destination.  It is a simple fact of life in college football that most bowl games have at least one (and quite possibly two) teams that are disappointed in how their season went and would much rather be somewhere else, like Pasadena. 

Add to this that the BCS seems to have cheapened the other bowl games, and the proliferation of minor bowl games has inundated us with games, leading to bowl game fatigue.

Count me in the minority.  I like the bowl games.  As a fan (and only in my capacity as a fan), I find bowl games exciting and important no matter what game you are playing.  If you're in Shreveport playing a 6-6 team from another conference, I still think you watch it as if it is another regular season game.  I also like seeing other bowl games, but I will admit that the enjoyment is dampened if one or both teams thinks they should be somewhere else.  When you see a game between two teams, even two low-profile teams, that both are excited to be where they are, that is usually a very exciting game.

4.  I still haven't seen much of the basketball team.  I am looking forward to the conference season.  I live with a die-hard Kentucky basketball fan, and she is currently on Cloud 9 as, to my estimation, Kentucky has looked like just about the best team in the country thanks to the play of freshman phenom point guard John Wall, veteran big man Patrick Patterson, and a solid supporting cast including star-in-waiting-if-he-can-stop-fouling Demarcus Cousins. 

I suspect, however, that if this year's Kentucky team falls short, Kentucky fans are going to join a growing chorus of college basketball fans who are disenchanted with one-and-done players.  John Wall is almost certainly among that class of player, and Demarcus Cousins may be as well.  The one-and-done player is like an energy drink.  It feels really good for a while, then it's over.  Once it's over, you realize your long-term interests would probably have been better served if you had not drank the energy drink.  If you haven't gotten it done in that year, then you have lost a year you could have spent developing a player who would stick around for the next year. 

If you win the national championship or make an uncharacteristic run with your one-and-done player, I suppose that is the equivalent of, "I drank the energy drink and was able to stay up all night and finish my paper."  You got the result you needed, but you can't help but think something wasn't right about the whole affair.

As you may imagine, the experience LSU had with Anthony Randolph has left a very bitter taste in my mouth.  We brought in a one-and-done forward, but missed the tournament while enduring story after story of Randolph pouting and sulking.  Despite having a team that was just a year away from winning the SEC and a couple years removed from a Final Four run (so you can't say the supporting cast was awful), a Randolph-full LSU team went nowhere, and then he unceremoniously left.  I can't help but think that Anthony Randolph was a waste of time for us all.

Anyway, I don't have high expectations for this team, but I am cautiously optimistic about this team having a good showing in the conference schedule.  Unless the SEC starts getting a lot more respect nationwide, I just can't see how we can be in the top 2 or 3 in the conference, which would be necessary to get an at-large NCAA bid.  We'll revisit this issue when the conference play gets going.

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