In 2000, despite the LSU Tigers coming off of a 3-8 season, there was a bit of excitement in Tiger Town.
Tiger Stadium’s new expansion was holding its grand opening, a new coach was going to run out from under the crossbar, and the promises of a winning season were on the minds of Tiger fans all over.
After two convincing wins, the Tigers dropped their third game to UAB. Yep, the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
The following Monday morning there was still a buzz around Baton Rouge, but it was more of a stinging buzz than the excitement previously felt.
“This aint the Big 10, Nick!” “If Coach would just let Jimbo take care of the offense!” “This conservative crap has to go!” “UAB?! Can you imagine what Tennessee will do to us next week?”
Fast forward to Saturday and the LSU Tigers outlasted the Tennessee Volunteers 38-31 in overtime, giving coach Saban his first of many signature victories.
That “pathetic” football team went on to finish 8-4 with a surprising victory over Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl. The excitement was back and things weren’t as bad as some conceived it to be earlier in the season.
Three seasons later LSU would finish 13-1 and claim the 2003 BCS National Championship. The following year the Tigers faced defeat three times, the final loss coming on the final play of the final game for Nick as the LSU head coach.
Despite the high expectations, the Tigers finished the following three seasons at No. 5, No. 3, and claimed the National Championship in 2007.
The championship season of 2007 provided Tiger fans with some of the best games ever played in Death Valley, and some of the best and most electric crowds ever seen.
Fast forward two seasons and the Tigers are sitting at 4-0. That’s four wins, and no losses. Zip. Zero. Nada. Unbeaten. Perfect.
How does that feel? Ask USC…uh, nevermind. Ask Ole Miss…scratch that. Ask Oklah…oh forget it!
Actually, there are only 16 other teams that this question could be asked to. I am pretty sure every team outside of these 17 undefeated teams would love to know how a perfect record feels.
However, at some point in the year, they couldn’t get it done. They couldn’t finish the job. They failed to get the “W”. They didn’t play for victory.
We all know the only fans that get the publicity are the ones complaining. It’s human nature. No one wants to hear about positive things. It makes for a better story, for a better radio program, and for better message board material to hear complaints. It’s “spicier.”
It’s also stupid. It’s also detrimental to the long term success of programs. It turns great programs good, and good programs mediocre. When you are on top, there is no place to go but down. A poor performance and the “sky is falling.” “The end is here.”
I could only imagine the feeling if the scoreboard showed more points for the opponent.
Tiger Stadium is two years removed from being the toughest venue in college football. Now, Tiger fans are beginning to be just like all the other successful programs.
LSU fans still put on a tailgate party like no one in the world, but when it comes to supporting their team win, lose, or draw, they are just like every other program out there.
If the Tigers win by 20, they should have won by 30. If they win by 30, they should have capitalized on that interception. If they throw for 400 yards, it’s only because they couldn’t run the ball.
If the Tigers are winning by 21 after half, Tiger Stadium begins to empty. If they aren’t winning by 21, well that is simply unacceptable. Let the boos begin. Three-and-out on offense is only something Tulane does. Giving the opponents a first down? The “old” LSU would never do that.
This has become the norm in Tiger Town; a fan base that likes to complain. Nothing is ever good enough.
This mentality was previously laughed at by Tiger fans. “Florida fans are never happy.” “Michigan fans whine about everything.” “Texas fans complain all the time.”
I understand this says a lot about your program’s success. These complaints mean the bar has been raised. The expectations are higher. These are all good things, but when they lead to the “doom and gloom” attitude of a fan base, it simply makes you a failure in the hands of your own success.
Sure, the Tigers have not shown “it” yet this year. Sure, there are issues that need to be corrected on both sides of the ball. Sure, there are many things to complain about.
Sure, there are calls to be unhappy with. Sure, there are reasons to be a bit on edge. But, things could be a lot worse. The key word there: could.
However, the Tigers are 4-0. The team is finding a way to win. There are moments of brilliance. There are signs of promise.
Not everyone looks at the glass half full, and no one should. A completely optimistic approach is no better than a pessimistic train of thought. To quote a friend of mine, “things are never as bad as they seem, and never as good either.”
Tiger fans, take the good with the bad, and be happy there is more good (wins) than bad (losses).
Until that happens, if it even does, shut up and enjoy the 4-0 start. You are only one of 16 other groups that can enjoy that right now.
Don’t make undefeated so unbearable.