As part of today’s festivities of remembering the 2007 season, the members of the ATVS team with the clearest memories of the ‘07 National Champions decided to collect our memories.
How do you remember the 2007 LSU Football team?
Good Lord that team. I remember thinking at the beginning of the season after the drubbings of Miss St. and Virginia Tech that they would be unstoppable. That Florida game remains the best game I have ever watched, and the end of the Auburn game gave us one of the best moments in LSU football history. Losing to Kentucky sucked, I hated everything about that game. You knew a let down was coming after Florida, but ugh. Ugh Ugh Ugh. Then you throw into that pot the first LSU vs Alabama game with Nick Saban at the helm and winning that game at the death thanks to Chad Jones stripping the ball from John Parker Wilson (WOO CHAD JONES).
The loss against Arkansas looms in my head thanks to the amazing performance by Darren McFadden. I was stupid drunk during the Arky game and remember just sulking to sleep right after we lost. The thought that any shot at the MNC was gone hurt. Then the SEC Championship and December 1 weekend happened. Even though he was a highly regarded recruit, I didn't expect much from Ryan Perilloux in that game, but he played well enough and the Tigers won the SEC. Pitt upset West Virginia, Mizz lost to Oklahoma and all of a sudden LSU is in the BCS Championship. Then we beat the hell out of Ohio State. From high to low to high to low to the highest of highs. Damn team was everything. Fun, frustrating, exciting, heart attack inducing. They were great.
It's strange, but they felt snake bitten in some ways. In hindsight, we look back and see what an insane season 2007 was overall. In the midst, there were moments where it was plainly self-evident when we were the best team on the planet. On the other, we lost to fucking Kentucky. Injuries mounted. Our best player got chop blocked to hell. It seemed like we were destined to win just enough to go to a BCS bowl but not the National Title game and be the "well you know so and so won the title, but LSU was the best team that year."
So in the end, it felt like it was divine justice that CHAOS struck on the final week of the season to put LSU back in the title picture where they belonged. They were a team of destiny rising from the ruins of Katrina to give hope to a state that desperately needed. Sport is just sport, but sometimes it's not. That team represented light and goodness and promise restored to a wounded people that overcame.
Remember that time Jacob Hester didn't convert a fourth down? Remember that devastating long TD run by Arkansas to force OT? We tend to remember things with an air of inevitability, like it was all destined to be, but the 2007 season was perhaps the most stressful year of my life, and I'm including the one in which my son needed cranial surgery.
The 2007 season took years off of my life. Dan's right, we were clearly the best team in the nation, but it also seemed like we were destined to be the team better than the champ. And somehow, we got this miracle of second life to play for the title... And I've never been more confident before a game in my life.
There was simply no way we were going to go through THAT season to lose to Ohio St. They never had a chance. I bought a bottle of champagne the morning of the title game and we went into the parking lot of my apartment complex to pop the cork and drown each other in it. I felt like I earned it. We all did.
It was the best.
We'll all remember the highs, and who could forget the lows? From the complete bludgeoning of Virginia Tech to the epic Florida game. People forget the injuries piled up, and it all looked so precarious. And then it all topples against Arkansas.
I'll always say that team was misunderstood. From the whole "OMG FIVE FOURTH DOWNS MILES IS CRAZY" (almost all of them were do-or-die to even have a chance in that Florida game) to "no time on the clock versus Auburn" (there was enough time for that one shot to the end zone and the field goal was no gimme). But in the end, I think that regardless of the two losses, that LSU team can stand and point to its resume and claim to be the best team in the country. They throttled a Virginia Tech team that won the ACC and finished in the top five, and of course Ohio State in the championship game.
What I'll definitely remember about that team is how resilient they were. They had to be at times because they created their own share of adversity, but we knew that they would never give up. Entering that final game, I'll never forget telling Spencer Hall "I don't know how this game will go, but I know LSU won't be dead until that clock hits zero." And they turned a 10-0 deficit into a comfortable lead by halftime and cruised to a win that was probably more dominant than the final score.
They were champions, and they deserve to be remembered that way.
2007 was the first season the team really felt like it was Les' team. Yes, remnants of the Saban era remained on the roster, but 2007 was the first time I remember Miles introducing his particular brand of white-knuckled, "hang on, this thing could blow at any moment" football. In retrospect, 2007 reminds me a lot of the 2010 team: close games coming down late and/or to final plays (Auburn and Florida in 2007, Florida and Tennessee in 2010), unlikely play calls at unlikely times (hidden Trindon and the over-the-shoulder fake field goal in 2007, the reverse against Alabama in 2010), and big home wins against out-of-conference opponents (Virginia Tech and West Virginia, respectively). The losses, well, the losses were. The triple-OT loss against Kentucky ended up making me late to my senior year homecoming dance (the band playing at it were wearing LSU jerseys, I couldn't help but think, "what in the HELL are you assholes wearing those for right now?"), which was fine because I didn't really care about the dance anymore. The loss to Arkansas ended with me laying on my back in front of the TV at my parents' house, wondering what in the hell I had just seen, and realizing that Houston Nutt is more than happy crush your dreams too, even if he's already going down (shout out to Hugh Freeze!). Ultimately it ended up better than fine, like a majority of Les' seasons. 2007 was a wild year, and it (along with 2010) seem to best encapsulate the brand of insanity that he would be known for throughout his LSU tenure. It was fun, uncomfortable, anger-inducing, and ultimately wonderful. A two-loss national champion was always going to be a fitting end for one of the wildest college football seasons in recent memory.
2007 was my freshman year of high school, and with it came my first year of high school football, so I was beginning to actually watch football, and not just cheer when something good happened. I was learning about blocking schemes and the values different run plays bring you, and watching one of the best Les Miles LSU teams was special for that. Jacob Hester became much more than the white running back, he became the perfect poster for that LSU team: maybe they don't belong where they are, but if you give them the chance they will leave their heart on the field.
The fact that 2007 is the watermark we hold all college football related chaos to a decade later and nothing has really crept close tells all you need to know about it. A two-loss team won the national championship and there really isn't a doubt that they were the most deserving or best team. And of course, Les Miles was the head coach of the team. After the season, Les took on the mantle of The Mad Hatter or simply The Hat, known for either thriving or creating chaos despite a very conservative play calling and while he did follow it up with some crazy moments (his 10 fake field goals/punts/jump pass against Florida, the end around beat Bama, Clock It, etc.) really the 2007 season was his magnum opus. The Arkansas loss was by far the lowest point for me as an LSU fan, yes even lower than 9/12/2012 and then we salvage an SEC Championship. Before we could even process that win, everything happened. It was like the prison assassination scene in Breaking Bad: everything that needed to happen at that moment in time happened.
And like Poseur said, after that there was no doubt in my mind that it was LSU's Title.
So, how do I remember it? I remember it all in one chunk. Brandon LaFell's clock cleaning hit, the drubbing of Virginia Tech, I don't remember anything from MTSU but that's fine, Les making the Ole Ball Coach smile on the opposing sideline on a rainy day, the Katrina uniforms, pretty much everything from the Florida game as a whole and the heartbreak that followed it, then the one play that is up there with Cannon's run as the most iconic play in LSU history, the fake spike against Auburn, the comeback against defector Saban, Hester going unconscious against Louisiana Tech, Holliday's kickoff return against Ole Miss and how Verne called the race over before he even reached midfield, and then what was almost the worst loss in LSU history followed by the beacon of hope from winning the SEC title and the pure bliss that followed it.
Looking back, I remember that season in fits and spurts. I was still interning at my first job and didn’t even have season tickets. Parts of the year are vivid. I can remember the steamrolling of State on a Thursday night. There was some clip that aired before the game of Croom at a pep rally, saying something to the effect of “this wasnt your father’s Mississippi St” or some other nonsense. I wonder if they still say that before LSU games? VaTech is a complete blur, but I remember the rain right before kickoff against South Carolina. And The Flip. The first bit of Crazy Les.
I remember hating the uniforms in the Tulane game that nobody went to. I remember the full-out insanity that was the day’s tailgate before the Florida game. A night CBS game, how crazy? If the playoff ever expands to the point that games get played on campuses, that day was what it would feel like. Even better than the 2012 rematch game vs Bama, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a day on campus like that.
The abject depression of the 3OT loss at Kentucky that felt like the entire universe was breaking. HOW?! KENTUCKY!? WHAT!? NO!? Spending the next week (and the next 7 years) explaining to people how the final play vs Auburn would have left plenty of time on the clock for a field goal if the pass wasn’t caught. Chad Jones (CHAD JOOOONES) vaporizing John Parker Wilson into a fine dust. HOUSTON NUTT BACKED INTO A CORNER IS THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN ALIVE.
The day of the SEC Championship game. Oh well, that’s all for Miles then. We all act now like the “Have A Great Day” speech is something we all cherished in the moment, but the truth is we all blew it off as meaningless platitude and posturing for the Michigan job we all knew he was going to take. A tight game, but that defense man, that defense.
Pitt’s doing what? TURN THE GAME ON! A thousand BCS computations on napkins. Chaos Theory. Dave Wannstedt brushes a butterfly off his mustache in Japan and LSU is going to the BCS. Glen Dorsey dressed up as Forrest Gump. Todd Boeckman is still screaming somewhere. MY GOD THAT DEFENSE. Matt Flynn with the crystal in the confetti. Les Miles and the leather jacket from out of nowhere.
Name your favorite player and favorite moment from that season:
Favorite player: Glenn Dorsey. He never missed a start after being injured (FU Chaz Ramsey), and was having a monster season before then. Fact that he finished the season is remarkable in itself.
Favorite moment: Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd. Field goals suck, so let's win the game on an amazing last second pass that just crushes Auburn? Oh hell yes.
My favorite player was probably Ali Highsmith and his sack of Krenzel in the championship is maybe the most memorable play of that game.
But I'll give a hat tip to the lightly heralded Jonathan Zenon, who's interception vs Tennessee in the SECCG kept LSU in the race for the BCS title berth.
Favorite player goes to Glenn Dorsey, simply because he was riddled with injuries after teams did everything they could to stop him (including extralegal means), and he played through it all to start all 14 games. Favorite moment? Probably Flynn to Byrd against Auburn, because that moment provided catharsis after the loss to Auburn in 2006. Furthermore, it may be the "most Les" moment ever: a ballsy, game-winning call with scant attention to clock management that became apparent in the immediate post-game interview.
Glenn Dorsey immediately comes to mind for star power. He's still the most decorated defensive lineman in school history, and before Patrick Peterson came along he was the most decorated non-Heisman winner in school history. It's a testament to what's come down the pipe in this program since that he's not top of our list when we rank all-time greats from this golden era.
But on offense, one name that I've always thought was underrated was Early Doucet. He was all primed for his time in the spotlight after being the No. 3 guy to first-rounders Dwayne Bowe and Buster Davis, and he was off to a hot start before a groin injury cost him a few games -- most noteworthily Florida and Kentucky. I'll never forget all but forcing his way on to the field against Auburn and then immediately catching a huge deep ball to help get the offense in gear. And of course there was the special fourth-down catch and run to tie things up at Alabama.
And then there was the amazing relief of Chad Jones' forced fumble to clinch that Bama win.
We're going to let Jacob Hester apostasy just hang out there? Will the cult of Keiland Williams' thighs never end? Williams was a nice backup and change of pace back, but there comes a point at which production matters more than raw talent. You have to convert your tools into actual production, something Keiland never really did, outside of the Virginia Tech game. Hester was the better back in that he seized the starting job from a guy he wasn't supposed to take the job from, and then Keiland would later fail to hold off Charles Scott from taking the starting job. Keiland was not better. He had more raw talent, but he just never fully put it together.
Hester is more talented than he got credit for, you don't hang around the NFL for five and half seasons because you're a nice guy. He was the best run to the sticks runner we had, and while he lacked big-play ability, he was the king of getting you exactly the yardage you needed. He's the poster child for Success Rate (though Charles Scott had the highest Success Rate on that team).
Was he the best player? Of course not. I tried to convince my wife to name our first child after Glenn Dorsey. Chad Jones was already a monster. Our receiving corps was knee deep in explosive playmakers. But Hester was the guy who was always seemingly in the right place at the right time, eking out another third down conversion and keeping those chains moving. He had the best story, and he fits right in there with my eternal love for fullbacks, the torch carried on by guys like James Stampley and Quinn Johnson.
Cult figures are the best. Jacob Hester is a cult hero. And he just converted another fourth down against Florida.
What is the first thing I think of when I remember 2007? Jacob Hester laying down in the South endzone after scoring the go-ahead touchdown, unable to even sit up under his own power. He became an LSU legend for that night, and not for any broken record or trophy won himself. He put absolutely everything he could give to the game and then some. LSU was caught dead to rights several times in that game and he refused to be denied. And in the end he had to fully extend and subject himself to everything that happens in a goal line scrum, which is exactly what it takes. It reminds me of the best Lombardi quote: "I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle, victorious."
I STILL run into people on game day wearing Glenn Dorsey jerseys. Chaz Ramsey should be tried for crimes against humanity. To hell with the Heisman and it’s bias against large men, Dorsey was the most outstanding player anyone saw that year. That’s no mark against Hester, Flynn, Perriloux, Jones, Ricky-Jean, BIG HERMAN, Holliday, Steltz (my god, the names on that team), Highsmith, Chevis Jackson, or the rest.
Favorite moment is one I’ll never forget, and can never recreate. Florida, full day’s insanity. I’ve got no ticket. I catch the band coming down the hill and head for a friend’s house on Aster St, just a block north of campus. The AC is out, so we’ve got the game on and the windows open. Hester crosses the goal line and I hear the stadium through the window before the ball is snapped. I have never ever enjoyed a game I wasn’t at in person more than that moment.