Tomorrow, Ed Orgeron makes his return to Oxford and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Ole Miss fans and administration have always been contentious toward Da Coach O, and those feelings have only intensified with Oregon’s hiring at LSU and his eventual hire as head coach.
A lot of times when a sports figure makes a return to their old stomping grounds, it’s interesting to see what the reception will be. The amount of cheers or jeers usually relies on that person’s tenure and the conditions they left on. There’s no question what the reception is going to be Saturday night.
If it sounds all too familiar, it should. In 2007, Nick Saban began his tenure at Alabama. Saban’s departure was a knife in the back of LSU fans, and him returning not only to the SEC but to Alabama in the SEC West only twisted the knife. His first year was rough after LSU defeated the Tide, but in 2008 he had the Death Star nearly fully operational. It was also his first game in Tiger Stadium since he hammered Arkansas 43-14 on November 26th, 2004.
We all know what the 2008 LSU team was: not good. Yet there they were, hanging tight with an Alabama team that they had no right hanging with, taking them into overtime. LSU lost the game, but the Tigers looked so good in that game that it made the following losses so much worse to bear.
And part of the reason for that was that the atmosphere gave LSU an edge to play Bama straight. And I expect VHS to be feeling the same way, even if it’s a little bit under Tiger Stadium’s capacity, even before the expansion. Ole Miss’ troubles are well documented but that doesn’t mean they can’t get up for one game and spring an upset.
In that 2008 game, Alabama and LSU traded turnovers before Alabama scored the first points of the game. LSU then held on to the ball and scored two consecutive touchdowns to jump out in front, really getting the stadium into the game.
LSU can’t make the mistake Alabama did. They need to jump out in front and slam the door behind them. Take the crowd out of the game early and keep them out of it. Score early by any means necessary, then hold on to the ball and and suck the air out of the stadium. Don’t fall into the same trap that Auburn did last week in Baton Rouge, but keep the ball and clock moving. Ole Miss fans don’t need reminding of their current situation, but make it painfully obvious.
Show Ole Miss fans where they can go.