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NCAA Regionals
Tuesday, May 26
I'm happy LSU didn't get the #1 seed in the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
  • First, being #1 puts an extra burden on a team to live up to the confidence the committee showed in them. It can also cause a team to think it's so good it can't be beat, at least not in the regional.
  • Secondly, like the defeat in the SEC Tournament semifinals, not getting the expected top seed can humble the Tigers and make them realize they can't rest on their laurels. They'll enter the regional with something to prove.
  • And since it really doesn't make much difference whether you're #1 or #2 seed as long as you're in the Top Eight, there's no downside to being #2 instead of #1.
  • The way the brackets are set up, the Tigers can get a chance to get revenge on Houston, the team that beat them in the Baton Rouge Regional last year. The Cougars are the #15 seed. So the winner of the Houston regional plays the winner of the Baton Rouge regional in the Super Regional.

The bottom line entering the tournament is still what I said a few days ago (below...).

Future LSU Football Opponents
Monday, May 25
According to lsusports.net, these are the non-conference football games on LSU's future schedules.
  • 2015
    McNeese State, @Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, Western Kentucky
  • 2016
    Wisconsin @ Lambeau Field, Jacksonville State, Southern Miss, South Alabama
  • 2017
    Syracuse, Troy
  • 2018
    Miami (FL) @ Arlington TX
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
    @Arizona State
  • 2023
    Arizona State
  • 2024

What happened to the game in New Orleans that LSU promised Tulane when ending the 10-year pact that Skip Bertman unwisely entered into?

Quick Quiz

Match each of these future LSU gridiron opponents with their nicknames.

  1. Eastern Michigan
  2. Jacksonville State
  3. McNeese State
  4. South Alabama
  5. Troy
  6. Western Kentucky

A. Cowboys
B. Eagles
C. Gamecocks
D. Hilltoppers
E. Jaguars
F. Trojans

Disquieting SEC Tournament
Sunday, May 24

The Tigers wasted an excellent performance by sensational freshman P Alex Lange Saturday.

  • What disappointed me most was that LSU scored only one run off a Florida staff pitching a fourth game in four days.
  • A team that led the SEC in both batting average and ERA should have played better.
  • The first two starters, Jared Poche and Austin Bain, didn't acquit themselves well. But the Tiger bats, plus some poor fielding by Arkansas, enabled LSU to pull out both games.
  • Then Saturday the Tigers got an excellent performance from Lange but couldn't get enough runs to win.

So how good, really, is this LSU team heading into the NCAA Tournament?

  • Are they really the #1 team in the nation?
  • The Tigers have the most wins in the nation, 48, one more than Illinois - and I don't think anyone would equate the record of a Big Ten team with that of an SEC team.

It's easier to assess the team by listing strengths and weaknesses.


  • One of the top lineups, 1-through-9, in the nation. The Tigers have consistently been in the top five in runs and batting average.
  • The fielding is top-notch. The Tigers are strong up the middle with as fine a SS as you'll find in Alex Bregman, a solid C in Kade Scivique, and an outstanding CF in Andrew Stevenson, who surely is one of the best in the U.S. of A. Jared Foster is playing out of position at 2nd, and hopefully he won't cost LSU a game in the regional or super regional. The Tigers surely boast one of the fastest outfields in the NCAA. Conner Hale is solid at 3B. Chris Chinea, a C by trade, is adequate at best at 1B.
  • Alex Lange is the new Aaron Nola - a lights-out starter you can count on to give you at least seven strong innings every outing.


  • Inconsistent starting pitching. Have a bad outing by your starter and you find yourself in the losers' bracket quickly. Poche was reliable most of the season but has had three straight poor outings - not what you want heading into NCAAs. Manieri has searched for a third starter all season. First it was Godfrey. Then he went with Bain. You need three starters to get through a regional even if you never lose. Fall into the loser's bracket and you have to go to Johnny Wholestaff. Now Manieri has used Johnny numerous times this season and gotten some good performances out of Russell Reynolds and Hunter Newman. He did that in the first game of the tournament when Poche lasted only an inning.
  • Inconsistent relief pitching, particularly at the end of the game. Jesse Stallings started out as the closer and had ten saves to lead the nation the first month. But when opponents figured out that Jesse had no second pitch, they feasted on his fast ball and he's had only two saves since. Zac Person has made the most appearances of any Tiger hurler and Manieri relied on him more and more as the season progressed. But he blew the 1-0 lead against Florida in the 8th Saturday before Stallings gave up the game-winning HR in the 9th.
  • A tendency at times to play down to the level of the competition.

Bottom line: Since pitching is the main key to winning in baseball, the Tigers seem to be a long shot to win the national championship. But they may have enough firepower to survive a regional and super regional to get to Omaha.

Gridiron Oddity
While writing an article on the 7th game of the 1968 World Series (a most distasteful task for a Cardinal fan) for the next Golden Baseball Magazine, I ran across this article from the Aberdeen (SD) Daily News October 10, 1968. It's easy to see why the team in question was winless.

Anti-Designated Hitter "Arguments"
Friday, May 22
Last week, Sports Illustrated published an article by baseball writer Michael Rosenberg recommending that the DH be adopted for both leagues.

This week SI published these three responses in its "Inbox" section.

Using Michael Rosenberg's logic about the virtues of the DH, slick-fielding but poor-hitting shortstops shouldn't have to bat, catchers should be allowed to have pinch runners, and teams should be able to use their best hitter every inning, because that's what fans want to see. Just not this fan.
John Bateson, Moraga, Calif.

Why stop at the DH? Why not open substitution? Do away with that silly rule that prevents players removed from games from coming back in. Teams could employ specialists in bunting and stealing. Think how much more exciting games would be, and nobody would have to worry about boring things like strategy.
Michael Keeran, Atlanta

What about that great defensive, weak-hitting shortstop? What about the catcher who is great with young pitchers but can't hit his weight? I enjoy the strategy of the game, the sacrifice bunts, double siwtches and managerial moves. Maybe we could even get the NBA to use designated free throw shooters.
Jerry Newberry, Alexander City, Ala.

All three letters employ the same strategy the NRA does every time a piece of legislation is proposed to, for example, close the loophole that allows a person to purchase a firearm at a gun show without a background check. "This is the first step to taking all our guns away!" The technique is called "Attacking a Straw Man." It consists of twisting and exaggerating the opponent's argument to make it ridiculous and therefore easy to knock down, like a defenseless straw man. And not to single out the NRA, politicians of both parties constantly use this strategy.

Each of the three letters exaggerates - and therefore ridicules - Rosenberg's proposal. He did not advocate a change to the substitution rule or allowing hitters for other positions besides pitcher or allowing your best hitter to bat every inning. The American League has had the DH for over 40 years and hasn't made any of the changes the letter writers fear. And the reference to the NBA is the height of absurdity.

I sent an email to SI stating what I just said in shorter form. I wondered whether the person selecting the letters for publication is anti-DH and thinks these are compelling arguments. I concluded by saying that, if these are the best responses the anti-DH people can come up with, Rosenberg's logic must be solid.
Baseball Isn't Only Sport Trying to Pick up the Pace
Thursday, May 21
I like the changes the NCAA men's basketball rules committee has proposed.
  • Shortening the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds. Interestingly, women's basketball has always had a 30-second clock.
  • Increasing the restricted arc in front of the basket from 3' to 4'. This is intended to reduce the number of low-post collisions. It should also encour­age more drives to the basket.
  • A package of changes are aimed at decreasing the amount of stoppage in games:
    Reduce the timeouts for each team from five to four, with no more than three carrying over from the first to the second half;
    Faster resumption of play out of timeouts and player disqualifications;
    Disallowing coaches from calling timeouts in live-ball situations;
    Making a timeout called within 30 seconds of a media timeout stand for the media timeout.
  • Give officials the leeway to review shot-clock violations on made FGs at any point in the game.
  • Allow officials to penalize players for faking fouls or diving.

The proposal I like best is the one that prevents a coach from calling timeout during live play.

  • I've never liked this rule from the beginning.
  • A coach often calls the timeout when players are fighting for a loose ball and his man gains possession briefly.
  • I'd prefer that the committee go further and require players who wish to call timeout to have both feet on the floor inbounds. None of this calling timeout while in midair going out of bounds. Or calling timeout while lying on the floor after a scramble for the ball.
  • While we're on this topic, I'd like to see football adopt a similar rule. No more coach running down the sidelines to call timeout to bail out his of­fense as the play clock runs down or "freeze" a FG kicker. Go back to the old rule that only a player on the field can call timeout. Sure, coaches can signal the offensive or defensive captain to take time, but a player on the field must actually call it.

I also like reducing the number of timeouts. (I wish the NBA would adopt that one, too.)

  • The last minute of a game can take forever.
  • If you're not going to implement the NBA rule and allow a team that has just allowed a basket or FT to throw the ball in from midcourt after a time­out, then why do coaches need all the timeouts they save for the end of the game? You get to set an offense for the next possession, but the de­fense has a chance to make its adjustments also.
  • And, many times, combining a team timeout with the TV timeout that would occur less than a half-minute later will also decrease the time of games.

Another change the committee discussed at length was raising the limit of fouls for disqualification from five to six, as in the NBA.

  • They punted on this one and called for experimentation in the "lesser" postseason tournaments: NIT, College Basketball Invitational, and College­Insider.com Tournament. That follows the plan used this past year for the 30-second clock.
  • I think this rule is motivated in part by the yearly exodus of talented fresh­men and sophomores to the NBA.
  • Teams have less depth. So play suffers when starters go to the bench with two fouls in the first half or three early in the second half.
  • Another motivation for the proposal is to cut down on physical play since officials can call fouls early to set the tone for the game with less fear of sending top players to the bench early.
  • The head of the rules committee stated that this proposal is strongly favor­ed by the coaches. Tom Izzo of Michigan State: "Nobody else except Ken­tucky has any depth. Consequently, there's a big dropoff from your starters to your subs." Tim Cluess of Iona: "Guys can get two fouls pretty quickly, especially with new rules implemented, with hand-checking and everything. You want more scoring? Have your best players on the court."
Pelicans' Coach Search
Wednesday, May 20
Any flirtation between the Pels and John Calipari seems to be over.
  • Despite John's protestations of how happy he is in his present post, the reason the talks didn't go very far is that N.O. wasn't willing to equal or better the salary he makes at Kentucky.
  • Meanwhile, we haven't heard much from the first hot name that was ban­died about right after Monty Williams got the boot. I'm talking about Tom Thibodeau, coach of the Bulls.
  • "Friction" between Tom and the front office impelled many writers to predict a parting of the ways. Many, apparently including Thibodeau, believe that friction led to the downfall of the Bulls in the playoff series with Cleveland.
  • Tom is willing to come back next year if a mea culpa meeting would be held where both sides clear the air and agree to work together for 2015-16. Reportedly, though, Thibodeau doesn't expect that to happen.
  • So Pels' GM Dell Demps faces a tricky situation. If Thibodeau is the man he wants (and it's not at all clear that's the case), he has to wait for the Chi­cago drama to play out.
  • In the meantime, he may lose out on the next best candidate and end up with someone who is at best #3.
  • The Bulls, of course, have no reason to rush, especially if the man they covet to replace Thibodeau is still involved in the playoffs. (If they eyed Scott Brooks, the desposed OKC coach, indications are he'll sit out 2015-16.)
  • So the Pels dangle while the Bulls fiddle.
Kraft and Goodell
Wednesday, May 20
Greg Bedard had some interesting thoughts about the relationship between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
  • Kraft was a strong proponent of Goodell for the league's top position in 2006. He also persuaded the players, who despised Goodell, that they could trust Roger in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement five years later.
  • Robert pushed for Goodell's salary increase from $11.5M before the 2011 lockout to an average of $37M over the last two years.
  • After the Ray Rice debacle, Kraft defended Goodell in public and pushed the owners behind the scenes to stand behind their embattled commish.
  • Goodell has relied on Kraft's advice so much that some call him the "assistant commissioner."

Many commentators felt Goodell let the Pats off easy in the Spygate scandal.

  • Also, through 2010, New England had been the target of the most com­plaints to the Competition Committee.
  • Many team executives felt the issues raised were swept under the rug.

Now comes the Wells Report, commissioned by Goodell, and its indictment of Tom Brady and others in the Patriots' organization.

  • Some close to Kraft revealed that he considered the report an act of disloyalty - the worst sin.
  • The Pats owner thought the league came after his star QB over a minor issue that's not worthy of the time, money, and effort poured into it.
  • While Kraft has stated that he will not appeal the team's penalties, the report has probably ended his cushy relationship with Roger.
  • Kraft could resign from his position as chairman of the NFL's broadcasting committee, an action that may have a ripple effect with the other owners, some of whom may be itching to take down Goodell a peg.

Deflategate put Goodell in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't position.

  1. If he gave the Patriots just a slap on the wrist, he would provide more ammunition to those owners who are looking for a way to cut into Goo­dell's power.
  2. But by coming down hard, and particularly on Golden Boy Tom Brady, Goodell risked alienating his #1 defender among the owners.

The question is: By doing #2 (punishing Kraft's favorite player), did he still not achieve #1 (win back at least some of his opposition among the owners)? Does Roger have to stand firm on Brady's suspension to keep the opposition bloc off his case?

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About This Site
This site is devoted primarily but not exclusively to college and pro football. The unique feature of this site is the publication each fall of the author's rankings of all FBS college football teams and similar rankings for the NFL. I live in New Orleans and am a graduate of LSU and FSU. So I present a Southern and particularly an SEC point of view but one that is reasonably objective. I also publish a monthly Football Magazine with stories from the past and a monthly Baseball Magazine with a similar format. During the winter and spring, there's a monthly Basketball Magazine.

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