A Rivalry Renewed... on Delay

Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

This should be the best game of the year, and it won't be because of a stupid decision to start the game at an uncivilized hour.

This is no way to restart a rivalry.

LSU has wandered through the pretty much the entirety of football history without a major rival, which is a pretty neat accomplishment when you stop to think about it. I guess we're just too damn loveable to inspire real hatred in another fanbase.

Sure, there's been some half-assed attempts (Arkansas) and near-successes (Ole Miss) to get a good all-encompassing rivalry off the ground, but something always gums up the works. Tulane stopped playing competitive football. Ole Miss took about two decades off and decided that perhaps the Egg Bowl was more their style. And no one ever gave a crap about the Hogs and that trophy no one can pick up.

I guess the closest we ever got was Ole Miss, especially in the 1950s and 60s. Two great programs competing for conference and national titles while also playing in some great games is the foundation of a rivalry. It worked for awhile, but the two teams stopped competing for titles and stopped playing good games for a generation. Every so often we'll get Eli tripping over his own feet or Miles failing to call a timeout, but these are just flashes of what the rivalry could have been. Mainly we just go through the motions of pretending we hate each other before heading out to the same party.

Enter the Aggies, a team that knows how to hate like no one else and is in the market for a new dance partner. We know that they will never find a true replacement for that Texas-sized hole in their hearts, but LSU and A&M are just perfect rivals on paper: both ag schools, huge ROTC programs (Ole War Skule!), neighboring states, alumni who end up working the same jobs, and relatively the same levels of historic success (though LSU is in the lead, particularly right now). We even have a long, shared history to build on.*

*And it's time for LSU to fess up and admit we chickened out of this rivalry back in the mid-90s. I know our younger readers won't believe this, but A&M used to be much better than LSU. We got tired of getting our asses kicked to start each season, so we backed out of the rivalry game. It was craven and stands as the worst thing Joe Dean ever did as an AD (and this is a guy who hired Curley Hallman, presided over the worst era of LSU athletics in history, and even became literally the textbook case for Title IX violations**).

** Yes, literally. In law school, LSU's Title IX violation case made the textbook as the case study for what an egregious violation looks like. Thanks, Joe.

My first LSU game was a Texas A&M game. I'm related to Aggies. I work with Aggies and I'm even still talking to a few of them, usually to yell "Tiger Bait!" at them. A rivalry with Texas A&M just feels right. It is right. This is why I wanted them in the SEC.

So, of course, the SEC and ESPN reached right around and screwed all of us over. An 11 AM kickoff for the rebirth of what, I promise you, will develop into LSU's biggest rivalry game is just a slap in the face to both programs and both fanbases. They sucked all of the energy out of that stadium before the team buses arrived. This should have been the best road atmosphere of the season, and instead it'll be the unofficial Hangover Game.

Why?

All so the SEC can continue to prop up Alabama-Tennessee and ESPN can protect Baylor-Texas from garnering the first negative Nielsen score in history. Hey, Alabama is the marquee name and expecting the SEC not to continue to favor their golden goose is just silly. It's not even worth complaining about their special treatment, it's just the way things are. The only reason the SEC has permanent cross-division rivals is to keep the Bammers happy (and to appease Auburn when they got shifted to the West, apart from all of their traditional rivals).

Alabama gets the prime time slot because they are Alabama, and we are not. It's really that simple. Perhaps we should've won that national title. Who cares that the Bama-Tennessee game promises to be a non-competitive snoozefest? Who cares that LSU has been getting boffo ratings for ESPN this season? Who cares that this is only the renewal of what should be one of the more significant SEC rivalries going forward?

We can't have the actually interesting game on prime time. Getting booted for USC-Florida? No problem. That's the SEC Game of the Week. But there's one other matchup between two top 25 teams in SEC play this week, and its getting the Zombie Dave slot. It f'n sucks.

So instead of spending this week hating the people we should be hating, Texas A&M, each fanbase can turn its attention and hate someone else: ESPN, Alabama, and Texas. Sure, we know the game is rigged, but they don't have to be so blatant about it.

We're being robbed of the best road game of the season. Hell, Texas A&M fans are being robbed of their best home game of the season. 11 AM games simply aren't the same. It sucks all of the life from the stadium and from the campus. It's the time when you put on the games that no one cares about to get you ready for the real games that will start in the middle of the game. What are we, the Big Ten?

If the SEC wants us to build a rivalry here, perhaps they shouldn't give us so many reasons to look back and hate our traditional rivals. Because I'm willing to help A&M hate Texas if they'll help us hate Alabama. We're getting screwed.

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