There's no way a fan can talk about his team's schedule being tough without coming off as a tremendous whiner. I know this, but I'm going to it anyway. This is a no win argument.
And heck, I like that LSU plays tough games. The 2011 season was so much fun because LSU went to a neutral site to beat Oregon and then into Morgantown to beat West Virginia. LSU won the toughest conference in the nation plus won two games against fellow conference champions, both away from the friendly confines of Baton Rouge. Playing tough games is fun, winning them is even better.
What I don't like about LSU's tough as nails schedule, year in and year out, is the profound lack of credit LSU gets for routing playing one of the nation's toughest schedules. Texas A&M is being rightly celebrated for having a wonderful debut in the SEC. They've made a commemorative DVD and everything. Good for them. People should be happy and be proud of their team's accomplishments. Trying to run down another fanbase for being happy drives me insane.
A&M beat one team ranked in the top 10 last year. LSU beat two. LSU beat A&M head to head in College Station. I'm not trying to take anything away from A&M, but I'm left wondering, where's the 2012 LSU commemorative DVD? LSU got shipped to the #6 SEC bowl despite going 2-2 against their fellow top 6 teams, the best record against the top 6 outside of Alabama, who got their second win in Atlanta.
By now, you've seen the Athlon rating of coaches, which placed Les Miles 24th because, "There's no question Miles is a solid coach, but he has plenty of talent at his disposal, and the Tigers have slightly underachieved."
I'm past caring about Les Miles' being a sorely underrated coach. If you don't appreciate him at this point after two SEC titles, a national title, plus another title game appearance... well, nothing is going to change your mind. You are immune to empirical evidence, and I salute your tenacity. Keep defending that last hill.
But I do care about how this "underachiever" label affects LSU. Every year, we're subjected to a new "It" Team that is going to be the Next Big Thing. And outside of 2011 Auburn, they all fall on their face, and LSU is still left standing there as the biggest threat to Alabama's reign. LSU's tough schedule has cost the team BCS bowl bids or even just better bowl bids, like last year. LSU's consistent quality against tremendously difficult schedules has been wholly taken for granted.
Look at LSU's strength of schedule under Miles, according to Brain Fremeau of Football Outsiders
LSU has played top 5 schedule for five consecutive seasons and six of the last seven. Know what other program has done that? Yeah, no one. For LSU to be a consistent SEC title contender with that degree of difficulty is incredibly impressive.
This year is no different. While Alabama and Texas A&M get to avoid the top contenders out East, LSU gets to play both Florida and Georgia. These bridge schedules have not been "luck of the draw", they've been drawn up by the SEC ad hoc with the basic knowledge of how good the teams were going to be. The SEC consciously gave LSU the toughest possible schedule each year while Alabama has gotten a much lighter schedule (so has A&M, but honestly, who thought they were an SEC title contender in summer of 2012 when they made the 2013 schedule? The SEC gets a pass here).
As always under Miles, LSU will have to play the toughest schedule in the West and then be judged as if our schedules were even. And if Alabama loses, they will get a second chance, as they have the past two seasons. Am I mad that LSU doesn't get those second chances? That LSU doesn't get that same benefit of the doubt?
Hell yes. We've earned it.
After this season, the SEC will have to draw up schedules for the future. LSU has been consistently screwed over by the SEC offices, whether it is in the schedule making or in assigning the postseason. While the league bent over backwards to help Georgia and A&M, they did no such thing for LSU in 2005, when the Tigers lost the SECCG.
While I love the Florida game and think it's a great rivalry that has been great for fans, I'm sick of being taken advantage of by the SEC office. I've always opposed LSU's cowardly efforts to get rid of the Florida game but given the way the SEC screwed us last year, and has given us the toughest schedule and then punished us for having the same record as team's with easier schedules, I can't sign up for doing "what's right for the conference."
The SEC has to get rid of cross-divisional rivalries or at the very least, go to a nine game schedule. We can't keep playing nice with a conference that has repeatedly given us the finger. Yes, I'm pissed. LSU is now one of the premier teams in the SEC, it's time the conference treated us like it.
I'm tired of being taken advantage of. No more Mr. Nice Tiger. Let Alabama play our schedule. If not, at least give LSU credit for playing the toughest schedule this year. Like we did last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.