When you put a microphone in front of a football coach, whether it’s at a scheduled and choreographed press-conference or at a rubber-chicken-circuit dinner, anything can happen. Recall last year’s imbroglio over Brady
JHoke’s “chicken” comment about the end of Michigan’s “rivalry” with Notre Dame. Well, at an LSU-event at a Bossier City casino yesterday, Mr. Third-Person himself, LSU’s own Les Miles, one-upped Ann Arbor’s heaving hunk of heaviness and waded into the muddied pool of college football rivalries.
The backdrop to Miles’ comments is the decision by the SEC to preserve its “permanent cross-division” rivalries. In LSU’s case, this means they have to keep on playing Florida, their designated cross-division rival. The Conference’s decision caused considerable outrage on the Big Muddy, and LSU’s A.D., Joe Alleva, blasted the vote, claiming that only four schools (Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee and Alabama) should be forced to, or would even want to, continue their traditional rivalries. On the tradition score, he has a point, as Georgia and Auburn have been playing football against each other since 1892 and haven’t missed a year since 1944. Alabama and Tennessee have also played each other every year since 1944, though they can only trace their rivalry back to 1902.
LSU has played Florida since 1937, making them mere teenagers in the SEC rivalry contest. After that first season, they played again in 1941 and again in 1953, when they started a fourteen year run through 1967. They broke until 1971, at which time they began a run of consecutive seasons that continues to this day. That means they’ve played each other sixty times.
To put this in context for you, the Notre Dame fan, The Irish have played Michigan State 77 times, if my math is right, USC 85 times, and Pitt 69 times. We’ve only played Michigan 41 times, with this season’s game marking only the 42nd game going back to the 1880’s. Given the ballyhoo and bloviating that accompanied Hoke’s comment, I think it’s fair to put Florida squarely in the “rival” camp when considering LSU. That’s especially true when you look at Georgia, the other team Les Miles whinged about. They’ve only played LSU a mere thirty times and consistently only since 2003.
Again, to put this in the context of Notre Dame, Florida is much more like one of our first-tier traditional rivals, such as USC, rather than a mid-tier tradition, such as Michigan.
But let’s get (finally) to what Les said: “I’ve had several years to chew on this. Going into my first year, I can remember lining up Florida and Georgia. A couple years later, well, we had Florida and Georgia. And last year, we had Florida and Georgia again. Nine years ago, I said, ‘The good news is, I can’t wait until some other guys have that problem.’ The problem is, they never got that problem.” Miles concluded his comments on the subject by saying, and this is why you have to love the guy, “King Alexander (LSU’s President), Joe Alleva and Les Miles stand in full agreement.”
So with Les Miles standing firmly alongside himself, he’ll no doubt be full of anger when his Tigers meet the Gators this season, and in seasons to come. If I were him, though, I’d keep a corner of my mind forever devoted to standing alongside of myself when this little gem was snapped: