It's the middle of the slowest work week of they year. Either you're still on vacation, headed home from a visit with family, or you're like me, stuck at work in a half empty office building. That makes this the perfect opportunity to clear out my link collection. It's been a while, so my apologies for any old news you may find.
In the final press conference before heading to Atlanta, Miles addressed the situation with Brad Wing as well as he ever does with these kinds of things, which is to say not making any comment. He was confident that Jamie Keehn will be ready to go in his place. He also declined to comment on the ongoing absence of TE Nic Jacobs. Besides that, there are Christmas anecdotes and a long discussion about the conflicts of chicken restaurants. The team returns from Christmas break today and will be flying to Atlanta this afternoon.
It's gotta be something in the water, because the LSU beat guys are starting to put out columns that look like applications for an insane asylum. First off, Engster at Tiger Rag commits the near unforgivable sin of wanting to invite Tulane (and Georgia Tech) back to the SEC. Then just yesterday Rabalais at The Advocate is calling for LSU to leave the SEC all-together. Either the free lunch at the Les Miles press conferences has been contaminated or there are some very bored writers covering LSU right now.
As always happens when a college coach gets a raise, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the astronomical price to be paid at a time when education budgets are thin. And make no mistake, at LSU, things have gotten shockingly thin. James Varney of the Times-Pic does a fine job pointing out that yes, Miles is worth it.
Our folk hero of the hardwood, Andrew Del Piero, had a very nice profile done in The New York Times a few days ago.
A little college baseball news as the season is now less than 60 days away. Collegiate Baseball has ranked LSU #4 in it's preseason poll. Southeastern Baseball has a good preview of new conference mate Mizzou. The SEC tournament is expanding once again to now include 12 of the conferences 14 teams and moving to a single-double-single elimination format. The site of SEC Tournament is also changing it's name back to Hoover Metropolitan as the Regions Bank sponsorship is following the Birmingham Barons to their new downtown park (where I suspect the SEC tournament may one day end up as well)
LSU Track and Field once again made history as sprinter Kimberlyn Duncan became the first athlete in the SEC to receive the Bowerman award, the highest honor in the sport of collegiate track and field. I should note that the trophy itself is massive.
The Advocate had a special piece last week catching up with Lora Hinton and Mike Williams, the first black football players at LSU. Among the stories of how they came to be at LSU is the tale of Gov. McKeithen getting personally involved in LSU's recruiting, which should be enough to give any compliance official nightmares.
I have absolutely no reason to believe Saban is going back to the NFL, but it's fun to watch the Bama fans get nervous about it. It's also fun to watch the NFL folks be so convinced that he is going and the people he has pissed off in the league be so preemptively angry at his supposed return, from broadcasters calling him a liar to Dolphins fans who (foolishly) think they'll have an impact on his return to Miami this week ahead of the National Championship. Though as history teaches us, their anger is not completely without merit.
If I'm speaking honestly, the long rumored schism of the Big East between the Catholic basketball schools and increasingly devalued football line up was always one of those conference realignment doomsday scenarios that I believed would never really happen. But here we are. From a pure basketball statistical standpoint, the Catholic 7 breaking away is a smart move for them, even if it means abandoning UConn. The New Jersey Star-Ledger has an amazingly detailed look at how we got here and where things are headed. The report even details how the addition of lowly Tulane was the last straw for some of the presidents and ADs and has brought to light a very awkward situation involving Marquette specifically. Marquette AD Larry Williams was perhaps the most vocal in expressing displeasure over the addition of Tulane saying
"I was not pleased that we issued an invitation to Tulane without any diligence to what effect that would have on our basketball product, the draw on our RPI and other such things. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to participate as a member of the conference in the deliberation that went into adding that. There might be well articulated and very deep reasons why you would do it otherwise. But dog-gone-it, I’m not concerned about that. I’m concerned about making sure that Marquette is in a position that it can take advantage of the great investment it’s made in being successful in basketball."
This has no doubt made for an awkward Christmas in the Williams household as Williams' daughter Kristin is an employee of Tulane's compliance department.
More important than Tulane being the assassinated Archduke that sparked the powder keg (I can hardly believe I just typed that) Is the ongoing problem of what to do with Bosie St. As rumors of the Big East's projected TV earnings continue to take a nose dive and the prospect of flying all over the country for conference games becomes less and less worth it for the Broncos, others are beginning to prepare to make Bosie St a better offer. The Mountain West (where Bosie St just finished it's final season of play) has restructured it's TV deal to allow itself more freedom in selling it's games that aren't picked up by it's primary rights holder, CBS (If your confused, CBS used it's MWC contract to launch the now dead MTN. network and to fill out it's gameday lineups on it's cable channel, CBSSN.) The deal, while not finalized, puts the MWC on par with what's rumored to be coming for the Big East. And if all things are equal, why should Boise go through the trouble of changing conferences? It appears they may do just that, as Sports Illustrated is reporting Bosie St will decide to leave or not even join the Big East, with a decision to come possibly before the 1st of the year. The Big East, in what seems like a desperate move to keep itself as an attractive option for Boise St., has now begun talks to take in Fresno St. and UNLV as football only members.
After being denied a summary judgement, the long running Oregon case will be going before the full NCAA Committee on Infractions. As this is the case involving shady recruiter Willie Lyles, I suggest we all hold off the celebrating until we are sure there is no collateral damage.
ESPN has a very thorough profile of NBA star-turned-addict-turned-rehabber John Lucas, the man who runs the clinic for players with drug problems that recently took in Tyrann Mathieu last fall. Former LSU basketball player Tack Minor has a small cameo in the piece.
Chad Jones (WOOOO!) could be working out for the Saints this offseason.
We've all been critical of CBS's programing decisions with regards to SEC football, both this year and in the past, and when I heard that their TV ratings numbers were significantly down, I started to ponder the theory that they'd been making bad decisions on purpose to prove a point in a year where they are renegotiating their contract with the SEC. But the plain truth is that CFB TV ratings were down on every network that wasn't named NBC (where that exclusive Notre Dame contract is finally paying off.) In the same story I just linked, the proof is on the wall that ABC is greatly benefiting from not having any nighttime games airing alongside CBS games at the same time. I sincerely hope that this helps change their minds regarding nighttime games in the future. In other TV news, despite all we have heard about how terrible the NFL Thursday night games have been, they are absolutely destroying the Thursday night college football games in the ratings. Commish Mike Slive has also put out fresh hints that an "SEC Network" is coming, with what sounds like an announcement to be made sometime this spring.
If you are a Cox Cable subscriber (which many in South Louisiana are) you should be aware that thanks to a new contract, the WatchESPN service (which will carry the Peach Bowl next week) is now fully available.
Not really LSU related, but I could get behind a team called "The New Orleans Rougarou"
Spare a thought this holiday season for Albert Elias, an LSU grad and agent to many former Tigers (most recently Michael Brockers), who passed away in his sleep last week, and for famed broadcaster Sean McDonough (who voiced one of the most famous moments in LSU history) as the future of his career depends on how well he can recover from recent skull surgery.
Tweets Of Interest
(I should note here that since being informed that he was the most followed CFB coach on twitter, Coach Miles has gotten quite a bit more active. We'll see if it stays that way after the bowl)
Happy Holidays from the LSU football staff ! twitter.com/LSUCoachMiles/…— Les Miles (@LSUCoachMiles) December 23, 2012
Videos Of Interest