Tiger Tangents: LSU Fans Have Short, Selective Memories
First off, let me just say that having an offense that ranks in the triple digits nationally is not something of which to be proud.
This Tiger team is far from perfect at 8-2, but looking around the country at teams like USC, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, etc., losses to the No. 1 team and No. 3 team and sporting a top-10 ranking doesn't look so bad.
The biggest problem some LSU fans are having is the way in which the team is winning—ugly.
You know, the kind of ugly for which we do not possess an alibi.
Fans have short memories, though. Really short. Hey, ready to let LeGarrette Blount back on the field?
Sure, why not, it's been a couple of months. Let's let bygones be bygones.
Besides being short, memories can also be selective.
The weird thing is, 2009 eerily mirrors another season in the not so distant past. Of course, several things have changed since then.
The coach, for one.
The country's biggest natural disaster was yet to befall Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast in the form of Hurricane Katrina. There was no such thing as the iPhone or Twitter back then. But it wasn't exactly eons ago.
Maroon 5 was popular, and "Hey Ya" by Outkast was played everywhere and constantly. Janet Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction, Mel Gibson wasn't the guy you wanted leading seminars on how to talk to the police, and Martha Stewart was sent to the slammer.
Ah yes, the year was 2004. It was the last season for a certain coach I shall not name. You know, the guy who announced he was leaving from Orlando's Capital One Bowl later that year. The guy whose last actions were to throw his DBs under the bus for a Hail Mary loss to Iowa in that game.
Think all the criticism of Les Miles is a new thing? Think again.
Think a down year should never happen to LSU? That Nick Saban never would've had a year like this?
This coach that darted to the Dolphins and would dart from them two years later was just starting his fifth year at LSU, one year removed from the National Championship.
Let's fire up the way back machine, shall we?
The first game of that season was exciting. Oregon State was making a rare trip to Baton Rouge to take on the Tigers in the opener. How'd the eventual five-loss Beavers do against the mighty National Champs?
Not bad, actually.
In fact, it took some luck for LSU to prevail in this one. A late comeback helped the Tigers get even, and a missed extra point was the difference in OT as the Tigers won a wet 22-21 contest.
Beaver QB Derek Anderson would pass for three TDs against Saban's (oops, said his name; well, it's out there now) defense, which finished first in the nation (I meant in scoring defense, Bob Stoops) just nine months earlier.
After LSU pasted Arkansas State at home, they traveled to Auburn and lost on a leaping penalty.
Saban pulled QB Marcus Randall after marching down the field for a score on the first possession in favor of JaMarcus Russell, whose squad never found the end zone again that day.
Later on that night, Ms. Alabama beat first runner-up Ms. Louisiana in the "Okay, I get it, God, you don't have to rub it in using meaningless competitions to make this day bad for me" pageant.
That day marked the day that LSU fell behind in the race for the West and would never regain control thanks to an undefeated season by Auburn. That's right: The race for West was over in Week Three, not November.
Next week, LSU took out their frustrations on a hapless Mississippi State team 51-0.
The following week, the Tigers headed to Athens to face a Georgia team they beat twice the year before. UGA got revenge and then some, beating the Tigers to the tune of 45-16.
The next week the Tigers stayed on the road in Gainesville and took on a Gator team piloted by Ron Zook. After spotting Florida 14 points off of turnovers, the Tigers willed themselves to victory, and RB Joe Addai did most of the willing. LSU stole this one in the waning moments 24-21 over the eventual five-loss Gators.
LSU was only ahead for 27 seconds that game, but it was the last 27 seconds—somewhat luckily avenging their only loss in 2003.
Homecoming week brought the Troy Trojans to Tiger Stadium, a team that would lose a 31-point lead to Les Miles' Tigers just four years in the future.
The Trojans weren't any less pesky to Saban's 2004 squad in which the Tigers needed a TD by TE David Jones with 2:18 to play to beat Troy 24-20. Randall was the embattled hero, throwing for 328 yards but digging his own hole in the process, throwing three picks.
The following week the Tigers hosted Vanderbilt, who would finish '04 with two wins. That didn't stop the Commodores from clawing their way to just a three-point deficit at halftime, 10-7. It was a second half punt return by Skyler Green that broke this game open, and LSU hung on to the lead and won 24-7.
The next week the Tigers hosted Alabama. LSU won the game 26-10, but Bama fans made much ado about a missed pass interference call that cost Alabama a TD and would have given them a 14-6 lead at the time.
Instead, they settled for a FG and went into halftime with a 10-6 advantage. LSU took care of business in the second half and beat the eventual 6-6 Tide, 26-10.
Next week, LSU took on an Ole Miss team that had just three wins at the time. LSU was a huge home favorite but had to come from behind to win 27-24. The Tigers led only by one, 17-16, at the half. Ole Miss took a 24-17 lead in the second half, and LSU did not regain the lead until the fourth quarter.
LSU would destroy Arkansas in Little Rock the following week, 43-14.
After more than a month off, Saban would unexpectedly coach his last game for LSU against Iowa in the Capital One Bowl. LSU looked awful the whole game but somehow fought back to gain a late lead, only to lose it on a miraculous Hail Mary play that sent the Hawkeyes back to Iowa City victorious and LSU with a bitter taste in its mouth to end the season.
It was Saban's second bowl loss in five years, and his leaving still doesn't sit right with some LSU fans to this day.
There was much complaining about that season. Many disgruntled fans. Talks of changes at offensive coordinator and whether or not Saban was reeling in Jimbo Fisher or if Fisher was an average coach.
Many of the things thrown out there by fans are eerily similar to '09. But '09 as of now has the potential to be more like Miles' Sugar Bowl run in '06—losing to two better teams this season and a chance to finish the regular season with 10 wins.
It won't end with a BCS bowl if the Tigers get past Ole Miss and Arkansas, but 10 wins in an off year is nothing to sneeze at.
But you'd never know it by listening to the fans. Just like you'd never know it back in '04 that the team was one year removed from a crystal ball trophy.
Yet some fans still harken back to those Saban seasons (throw in 2002 while we're at it) as high watermarks and the good ole days, all the while conveniently forgetting that they were the ones probably bellyaching over LSU's 2004 season.
People remember what they want to, I guess. Maybe it makes them feel better if things don't go exactly like they did when they beat this week's opponent 63-0 on Xbox.
Even as things change, I guess some things remain the same, and fans will always find something to complain about.
My uncle (who's also a Tiger fan) enlightened me earlier in the season.
He asked, "What's the perfect season for LSU fans?"
I replied that I didn't know.
He answered, "A season where LSU goes undefeated, finishes No. 1 on offense, No. 1 on defense, beats Auburn, Alabama, Florida, and Ole Miss by 40 each, wins the SEC championship, wins the national championship, and the coach gets fired."
Lately, that sounds about right.
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