We here at HLS wanted to know a little more about LSU, their football team, and the psyche of their fans, so we went straight to the place we knew we could get the most accurate, infallible information: the internet. And on the internet we found an LSU blog called AndTheValleyShook.com. Coincidentally, AndTheValleyShook.com happens to be a blog dedicated to LSU sports. So we contacted them for a little Q&A, and here’s what we got back:
1) Are the LSU Football team and their fans really as confident as they seem to be heading into the Sugar Bowl? It’s like y’all know something that we don’t. Granted, “on paper,” things may look bleak for the Irish, but “on paper” counts for squat. Y’all planning to put poison in the Irish’s pre-game gumbo or something?
Yes, the fans are confident as ever, and it scares the bejeezus out of me. Basically, this game is generally viewed as a huge letdown â€“ Tiger fans were really pumped to get a shot at Michigan or USC in the Rose Bowl, and many had bought plane tickets and reserved hotels, cars, etc. before UCLA went in and knocked off the Trojans. So most Tiger fans spent a whole week basking in the novelty of the Rose Bowl and a matchup with either A) a team weâ€™ve remarkably never played (Michigan) or B) the team so many Tiger fans hate after the â€œsplitâ€ national title of 2003 (USC). Either situation seemed to be golden, and then for everything to fall apart and us to wind up in the Sugar Bowl against a lower-ranked opponent, well that just stung. At this point then it becomes almost a no-win situation in the minds of a lot of fans â€“ since weâ€™re already favored by 9, either we lose and are exposed as a fraud, or we win small and are still the â€œnever put it all togetherâ€ team, or we win big and just get the chorus of â€œWell, after NDâ€™s losses to Michigan and USC, everyone expected the Tigers to squash â€˜emâ€ (and frankly a blowout win would probably be no more satisfying than Peach Bowl win last year, a surprisingly lopsided 40-3 victory over the Miami Hurricanes). Now, Coach Miles has been doing everything he can to dispel any notion that this game will be a cakewalk, but the fans in general donâ€™t seem to be biting. That said, there are plenty of Tiger fans who are relieved that they wonâ€™t have to shell out massive amounts of cash to get out to Los Angeles, so thereâ€™s like, some offset there. And stuff.
2) I googled Les Miles and took a peak at recent pictures of him. He looks like he lost the stupid baseball cap. Who finally stepped up to the plate and broke in a decent cap for the guy? Oh, and is Les really as stupid as everyone thinks he is?
Hah, the hat has caused plenty of controversy. Doesnâ€™t take much to get Tiger fans riled up, and while I think itâ€™s pretty silly, it is hilarious to see that hat sitting so oddly perched on his head. Iâ€™m not sure that whole situation has been cured, though â€“ stay tuned for the Sugar Bowl and weâ€™ll see. Regarding his alleged stupidity, I think he deserves plenty of credit for the 11-2 season last year and 10-2 to this point for 2006 â€“ no other Tiger coach has accomplished back to back 10-win seasons. Sure heâ€™s got boatloads of talent on his roster, but whereas last year we never really put it together in any game, this year we played complete games against most of the cupcakes (Ole Miss aside), and after really disappointing performances at Auburn and Florida, came away with two huge wins at Knoxville and Little Rock in the second half of the season. So thereâ€™s some measure of redemption there. That said, the season does still have a sense of â€œwhat ifâ€ hovering above it; after all, the Gators are in the national championship game and we had every reason to believe we could have beaten them. It was a litany of errors in every phase of the game, and certainly the one just about every Tiger fan wishes we could have back. And thereâ€™s always been some tension among the masses about Lesâ€™ supposed haggling with offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher over the playcalling. I donâ€™t think anyoneâ€™s particularly sure what the real division of labor is there, but the bottom line is that Les typically gets blamed when things go poorly, and Jimbo gets the credit when they go well. Iâ€™m certainly not as negative on Les as a lot of folks out there, but I can certainly understand the criticism â€“ given the talent we had on this roster, even with the brutal schedule (all our tough games on the road) I think most folks feel like we still should have contended for the national championship. A loss to the Irish in the Sugar Bowl will certainly add fuel to the fire, but next yearâ€™s schedule will define Les â€“ all our tough games are at home (Va Tech, Florida, Auburn, South Carolina, and Arkansas).
3) The Sugar Bowl is January 3rd. Who will be a household name among Irish fans on January 4th?
I hope itâ€™s Keiland Williams, our freshman tailback whoâ€™s shown flashes of greatness in the few times heâ€™s been given a chance to get some rhythm. The running-back-by-committee approach that weâ€™ve taken all year long has been pretty frustrating to watch as itâ€™s clear to most fans that Justin Vincent was never back to his 2003 freshman year Sugar Bowl-MVP form, and Alley Broussard just hadnâ€™t put it all back together. The running game is the one area that never really got unleashed this year and weâ€™re hoping Les will use this game to show us whatâ€™s in store for next year. Also, keep an eye on Trindon Holliday. Heâ€™s about 4 foot tall and runs the 40 in about three seconds flat, give or take a tenth. Swear.
4) What, besides the beignets, keeps you up at night when thinking about the Notre Dame football team?
Unquestionably itâ€™s Charlie Weisâ€™ camel toe. Oops, sorry.
I think the big play potential of Quinn to Samardzija is it. We just canâ€™t let those two guys come out hot or weâ€™re in for trouble. Has Jeff ever dropped a ball? Just curious. In our last outing our defense got shredded by one of the best running games in the country, and now weâ€™re up against the best passing attack weâ€™ve faced this year. Our secondary is solid at every spot, but weâ€™ll certainly need to bring the house and get Quinn rattled to help the DBs out. Big plays from your offense early on will start to get the purple and gold masses frustrated pretty quickly and it could well go downhill from there. Iâ€™m sure the Irish will be focused on taking the fans out of the game quickly, and weâ€™ve shown in the past that weâ€™re susceptible to the occasional big play.
5) What’s the single greatest tradition associated with LSU Football? Hot cheerleading sqaud? Memorable fight song? Alcoholic tendancies?
I think hot cheerleaders are merely a staple of the SEC in general. The single greatest tradition, glorified in this yearâ€™s media guide (which I unfortunately canâ€™t find a link to since the official site has put up the Sugar Bowl guide now), is that of Saturday night games at Death Valley. Come on, you give a bunch of Cajuns 8-10 hours to sit around and eat meat and get hammered, and THEN let them into a stadium with 92,000 cohorts who in their collective are loud enough to register on a seismograph? How could that not be a great tradition? Our fight song is fun, but I absolutely, unconditionally, 100% completely concede that battle to the Irish. Keep this on the down low, but your fight song is actually on my iPod playlist.
6) How long did it take you to get over Nick Saban leaving LSU for the freaking Dolphins. Do you sometimes think he’ll come to his senses?
His announcement on Christmas Day 2004 stung, but I donâ€™t blame him at all for giving it a shot at the NFL level. He brought us our national title, weâ€™ll always worship the guy. Regarding coming to his senses, after the whole Culpepper-over-Brees thing down there one does wonder how much longer heâ€™ll deal with it. But hey, he gets to sit around and cherry pick the best talent from all around the SEC in the draft every year. And then get his name bandied about as the 10,000th candidate for the Alabama job. If youâ€™re asking me if Iâ€™d take him back if he wanted to return, then yes. HELL yes.
7) When the Irish Fans arrive in New Orleans, what do you think their impressions of the city will be? Something along the lines of “wow. This has really come along,” or “Wow. This place is still in ruins?”
You know, unless you make it a point to specifically take a tour of the devastation, I donâ€™t think youâ€™ll notice all that much. The Quarter and Garden District and central business district (where pretty much all of you guys will be staying) all emerged from Katrina more or less unscathed (well, relative to the 9th ward, for instance), save the windows blown off the face of the Hyatt adjacent to the Superdome. Unfortunately, Iâ€™d have to tell you that if you were to go check out the most heavily hit parts, you wonâ€™t be particularly amazed at the progress made (or lack thereof). If you tour it and it compels you to donate money to help down there, then by all means, get thee to a tour bus, stat!!! And take all your friends with youâ€¦
8) Finally, your prediction for the game? Don’t just give us the score, give us a little meat to go along with it.
Everyone expects something on the order of LSU 42-17, and I just donâ€™t see that happening. I feel like there are some similarities to Georgiaâ€™s battle with West Virginia last year in the Sugar Bowl. Even prior to the SEC Championship a lot of folks were already disappointed that the winner of that game would get â€œlowlyâ€ West Virginia in the Sugar. Then lo and behold, the Moutaineers jumped out to that 28-0 lead and the Bulldogs never recovered (though they gave it a good shot!). I feel like that mentality is way too prevalent this year. No Tiger fans wanted to play Notre Dame. The typical view is that the Irish are the media darling and now the world has finally come to understand that theyâ€™re not invincible, and thereâ€™s not really a whole lot the LSU Tigers can add to the party. Too much â€œalmostâ€ sort of talk regarding the Rose Bowl that could have been. Iâ€™m guessing plenty of players feel roughly the same way. I think weâ€™re going to be a bit shell shocked at first when you guys come out pretty strong, and weâ€™ll get stuck in a battle with you throughout. Quinn and Russell will be going back and forth to prove to the myriad NFL scouts in the audience that each should be the higher pick, and I expect Quinn to be typically razor sharp and efficient. Irish defenders will be dazed when shot after shot at JaMarcus fails to bring him down, and he maybe even lumbers for a first down or two on the ground. After taking some time to recover from the initial shock that it isnâ€™t going to be a blowout, our drunken Tiger hordes in the Superdome will show up loud as all hell in the fourth quarter and propel the good guys to victory. LSU 31, ND 27.
Thanks to AndTheValleyShook.com. They’ve sent us some questions to which we were happy to respond. Look for those items on their site. We’ll also post a link once we notice that they’re up.