The baseball team's recent slide and the impending deluge of football previews have LSU fans all over wringing their hands over the dreaded "slide into mediocrity." You can't read more than 500 words on LSU sports right now without someone bringing up that phrase.
Should we be in full scale panic mode? Should I adopt the T Kyle King method of relentless pessimism in order to not get my soul crushed? Well, here's the bad news, folks. It is time to panic regarding the baseball team this year. LSU is playing so poorly right now that we can't even count on an NCAA birth, which is just a shocking collapse. I think Mainieri's out of ideas and has resorted to simply hoping this team gets its act together. He's tried everything else, so why not?
Is the LSU Athletic Department headed for a decline? Absolutely.
Look at the high level of success LSU achieved in the last decade. The football team won two national titles and went to four BCS bowls. The basketball team won three SEC titles and went to a Final Four. The baseball team won two national titles and made five trips to Omaha. The women's basketball program went to five straight Final Fours. There are only a handful of schools who achieved that level of success in the high profile sports last decade (or any decade). Decline is inevitable.
This does not mean we are sliding into mediocrity. There's lots of wiggle room between "one of the very best programs in the country" and "mediocre." LSU absolutely can have a successful athletic program even with a slight decline from the peaks of 2000-2009. There's room between 11-1 and 6-6.
One of the virtues of the LSU fanbase has always been that we don't take this stuff too seriously. We might lose the game, but we never lose a tailgate. I think Red Cup Rebellion summed it up nicely while wishing for a roadtrip to Wisconsin:
I could be entirely wrong here, but I imagine a visiting experience at Wisconsin to be akin to that of LSU, minus having peepee thrown on you (right, Poseur?). You'll get cussed at and ridiculed, only to have a cheese-drenched bratwurst thrust into your left hand and an ice-cold cup of lager into your right; a pat on the back and an "you know what, you're an alright sport" later, and you feel truly welcomed.
You're right, Ghost. /zipspantsup
LSU believes in putting the fear of God in the visiting fan, and then bring them back from the edge by offering them a beer and some food. F#%@ ‘em if they can't take a joke. Winning is better than losing, obviously, and we live and die with our team just like everyone else, but at the end of the day... LSU fans used to be okay with whatever happened so long as the party was good.
So the team is going to decline. I hate to be the one to tell you that, but it's impossible to maintain the level LSU established in the last decade. That doesn't mean we're going to stop winning titles, it just means we probably won't win two titles in both football and baseball, and we won't spend every other year in Omaha. There's too many good teams out there to be a dominant program in every major sport. Saying we're going to decline is just a testament to how terrific LSU has been this last decade. No school can keep up at this level forever (yes, even Texas).
But we're not going to be mediocre. We're not going back to the 1990s, when the football team suffered through six straight losing seasons and the basketball program spiraled out of control and on to probation. Let's dial back the apocalyptic visions of the future. Going from great to very good is not a reason to pack up the keg.
Most importantly, let's remember that this is supposed to be fun. No more half empty fourth quarters in Tiger Stadium. Have fun for the final baseball weekend (and go mock a Greenie, tonight). If you can, travel to vocally support the baseball and softball teams this postseason, win or lose. Remember, LSU sports are just another excuse to throw a kick ass party. And no one throws a better party than us.