SEC to release 2012 schedule Wednesday morning

After much speculation and many delays, the SEC office has announced it will release the 2012 conference football schedule at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

According to LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, the SEC will only release a schedule for the 2012 season. Long-term plans are still being ironed out with the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri to form a 14-team conference.

LSU is expected to pick up Texas A&M, which is likely to be placed in the SEC Western Division with the Tigers, with a game to be played in College Station.

Based on the current scheduling rotation, LSU was to have had home SEC games in 2012 with Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina and road conference games with Auburn, Florida, Kentucky and Arkansas.

Schedule information will be available Wednesday at http://www.secsports.com.

Reports: Gunner Kiel commits to LSU

The Indianapolis Star and multiple websites are reporting Tuesday afternoon that five-star quarterback prospect Gunner Kiel has committed to LSU.

Kiel (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) out of Columbus (Ind.) East chose the Tigers over Notre Dame and Vanderbilt, reopening his recruiting process in October after committing to Indiana in July.

A website called myindianafootball.com appeared to break the story.

“I woke up Friday morning and knew I wanted to be a Tiger,” Kiel told the website. “I can’t wait.”

Kiel is expected to enroll in school in January and participate in spring practice.

Kiel is rated as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback by Scout.com, No. 1 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com and No. 2 overall quarterback by ESPNU. Kiel is No. 16 on the Scout 300, No. 18 on the Rivals 100 and No. 20 on the ESPNU 150.

Named Indiana’s Mr. Football by the Indianapolis Star, Kiel led Columbus East to a 12-2 record in 2011. He threw for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions, and also ran for 482 yards and 11 TDs.

LSU appeared to pick up ground with Kiel late in the recruiting process. Kiel attended LSU’s regular-season home finale with Arkansas on Nov. 25 as part of an unofficial visit, but then returned early the following week for his official visit.

“The thing about LSU, they’ve been on him from the get go,” Kip Kiel, Gunner’s father, told 247sports.com. He credited his son’s relationship with LSU quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe as being a decisive factor in Gunner’s commitment to the Tigers.

“Obviously I think Gunner had a great relationship with coach Kragthorpe and coach Kragthorpe has a lot of experience, and I think that was the big key for LSU,” Kip Kiel said. “Playing with the top talent in the country around him had something to do with it. He likes the SEC conference and that atmosphere kind of helps too.”

With seniors Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee departing, Kiel joins a backfield that already includes junior-to-be Zach Mettenberger (6-5, 228) and redshirt freshmen Stephen Rivers (6-7, 200) and Jerrard Randall (6-1, 185). Mettenberger, a junior-college transfer, has seen spot duty this season and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Tiger fans will hope that Kiel can one day have the same kind of success as LSU’s last Indiana-born quarterback had. Matt Mauck, a native of Santa Claus, Ind., led the Tigers to the 2003 BCS national championship.

LSU now has 22 commitments for the Class of 2010, but Kiel is the first quarterback to become part of the Tigers’ class. The national signing period begins Feb. 1.

 

 

LSU wishes Mizzou luck and comparing the SEC’s tiger mascots

Everyone has heard of Southern hospitality, but this may be a new spin on an old ideal.

LSU’s athletic department recently took out this full color ad in the Shreveport Times, wishing new SEC member Missouri good luck in Monday’s AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl against North Carolina (4 p.m., ESPN2).

Ad taken out by LSU in the Shreveport Times

 

 

 

 

Officials at the SEC office have yet to release the 2012 conference football schedule, but it’s not expected that LSU and Missouri will play each other this coming season. It is expect that LSU will play Texas A&M – which will almost certainly be planted in the SEC West – and there have been some reports that the Tigers and Aggies will play in College Station.

On a side note, Tigers will soon be the most common nickname in the SEC, breaking a long-standing tie with Bulldogs (Georgia, Mississippi State).

In case you’re wondering, Missouri’s Tiger is named Truman, yes, after President Harry S Truman, a native of Independence, Mo. Here’s what Truman looks like:

Missouri's Truman the Tiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, of course, you have Auburn’s Tiger mascot, Aubie:

Aubie in his natural habitat, Jordan-Hare Stadium

 

 

 

 

 

 

I may be biased, but I think Mike the Tiger is tops. Truman looks a bit too cartoonish for my taste and Aubie has always looked a bit emaciated – like he was in need of a muffaletta sandwich or something.

And while we’re going way off the original track, I thought we’d add one more thought to this mascot mashup: LSU is the only one of the three to have a live Bengal tiger mascot on its campus, though Auburn of course has an eagle. One of my Missouri-educated friends humorously said his school is more interested in education than running a zoo. No wild animals for them.

Gunner Kiel reportedly close to a decision

Gunner Kiel is running out of shopping days to find a football home.

Widely regarded as one of the nation’s top one or two quarterback prospects, the Columbus (Ind.) East blue-chipper told the Indianapolis Star that he plans to choose between LSU, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt by Christmas.

He told a blogger for the paper that he wanted to make a decision Tuesday at the Columbus East-Columbus North boys basketball game, where he was presented with the Indianapolis Star’s Indiana Mr. Football trophy.

But, in a moment that no doubt will cause heartburn for LSU, Vandy and Notre Dame recruitniks, he admitted he simply “couldn’t make a decision.

“It’ll be a gut feeling,” said Kiel, who was once committed to Indiana before apparently realizing he was a top football, not basketball prospect. “It’s been a very hard decision.”

Apparently some of Kiel’s schoolmates would like to make the decision for him. The paper reported that Columbus East students chanted “LSU! LSU!” as he accepted the Mr. Football trophy.

Kiel attended LSU’s regular-season home finale against Arkansas on Nov. 25, then abruptly returned four days later for his official visit. He made subsequent official visits to Notre Dame and Vandy.

Kiel (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) threw for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior and rushed for 482 yards and 11 TDs. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 16 overall prospect and top quarterback on the Scout 300, No. 18 and the top pro-style quarterback on the Rivals 100, and No. 20 and the No. 2 quarterback overall on the ESPNU 150.

The other quarterback considered on the same level as Kiel is Jameis Winston (6-4, 195) of Hueytown, Ala. A Florida State commitment, Winston is reportedly still being pursued by LSU and a host of other schools. He’s No. 1 on the ESPNU 150, No. 10 on the Rivals 100 and No. 20 on the Scout 300.

 

 

Miles says all players eligible for BCS title game

Everyone is good to go.

That was essentially the message of LSU coach Les Miles on Friday as he said all of his players are academically eligible for the Jan. 9 BCS National Championship Game against Alabama.

That includes senior quarterback Jarrett Lee.

Miles’ news conference Friday was his first since LSU’s 42-10 victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. After that game, Lee said he felt he would be academically eligible for the BCS championship.

There had been widespread media and fan speculation about the possibility of Lee and other players being ineligible for the rematch blockbuster with Alabama, but according to Miles that will not be the case.

Mathieu, Claiborne, Blackwell, Miles earn more honors

LSU’s dynamic cornerback duo – Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne – have picked up another pair of All-American honors, this time from The Sporting News and ESPN.com.

They made TSN’s first team and the ESPN.com All-America selections, along with senior offensive guard Will Blackwell.

LSU coach Les Miles is ESPN.com’s coach of the year. The Sporting News picked Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

The Sporting News also picked a Freshman All-American team. LSU punter Brad Wing – who Wednesday earned first-team Associated Press All-America honors – was selected by TSN along with defensive tackle Anthony “Freak” Johnson.

Apparently, no Miami clouds on LSU’s football horizon

It seems like when it comes to LSU football coaches, there’s always a Miami involved.

Miami of Ohio is known as the “Cradle of Coaches.” It’s the alma mater of LSU coaching greats Paul Dietzel and Bill Arnsparger. Mike Archer attended to Miami (Fla.) and Arnsparger came to LSU before the 1984 season from the Miami Dolphins, where he was defensive coordinator.

The Dolphins hired away Nick Saban from LSU after the 2004 season, a move Saban later admitted he knew was a mistake mere months into the job. By then it was too late, as LSU had hired Les Miles to be his successor.

This week, Miles got his name thrown into a mixed bag of blog put out by a writer from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel when he listed 11 potential candidates for the Dolphins job – and any others that may come open in the NFL this season. A bunch of dart board throwing to be sure. That said, Miles name had already gotten some play earlier this season in a column by CBSSports.com columnist Mike Freeman, who said the Mad Hatter was becoming an increasingly hot name among NFL front office types.

Anyway, LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette on Wednesday spoke on Miles behalf to say that The Hat isn’t interested in the Dolphins job or any other job.

This is one of those “is it news, is it not news?” kinds of deals. Just because someone writes it somewhere does not make it so, yet in this business one hates to ignore the possibility that a kernel of a information somewhere may grown into a popcorn box of a full-blown story later. I’ll never forget calling a reporter in Lansing, Mich., back in 1999 to tell him that we were hearing that Saban was about to become LSU’s next coach.

The guy laughed, but not for very long.

Not to say that Miles couldn’t be intrigued one day by an NFL gig, but it does seem unlikely. He spent three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (1998-2000) before becoming head coach at Oklahoma State in 2001. But for what it’s worth, Miles doesn’t reference his NFL days one-tenth as often as Saban used to talk about his coaching experiences in pro ball. When Saban was at LSU you could tell he was still clearly infatuated with the NFL and that one day it was an itch he would simply have to scratch.

If Miles didn’t scratch the Michigan itch – twice – the odds of him leaving LSU at this point to coach somewhere else appear long. Not that I would laugh if someone called me to say they were hearing Miles’ name being bandied about concerning whatever team they cover, but it doesn’t look like the Miami Dolphins will be a cradle robber of LSU coaches this time.

 

3 Tigers in 4 spots on SI.com All-America team

It seems each day brings new honors for the No. 1-ranked LSU football team, but this one does come with a bit of a twist.

SI.com released its All-America team Tuesday, a list that features three Tigers in four spots: Tyrann Mathieu at cornerback and punt returner, Morris Claiborne at cornerback and freshman Brad Wing at punter.

Yes, for all of you Tiger fans who felt Wing got dissed for the Ray Guy Award (best punter) and even the Heisman Trophy, the freshman phenom from down under finally gets his due.

A more singular honor has come Mathieu’s way. According to LSU, it’s the first time a Tiger player has been recognized as an All-American at two different positions – much less within the same season.

LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery and offensive guard Will Blackwell made the second team, while Tiger place-kicker Drew Alleman earned honorable mention recognition.

A full listing of SI.com’s 2011 All-America team can be found here.

LSU 42, Georgia 10

LSU couldn’t even get a first down in the first half Saturday.

But the Honey Badger didn’t care.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU’s spark plug cornerback and punt returner, kept LSU in the SEC championship game with a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first half, then added another long return and a fumble recovery that sparked No. 1 LSU’s 42-10 win over No. 14 Georgia at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

LSU (13-0) tied a school record for wins in a season and guaranteed itself a spot in the BCS national championship game Dec. 9 in New Orleans where it will likely have a rematch with Alabama, the only team that stayed close to the Tigers this year. Oklahoma State could stay in contention with a win over Oklahoma tonight.

Running back Kenny Hilliard scored three touchdowns for LSU – two rushing and one receiving – to lead the Tigers offense. But there was precious little offense for the game’s first half.

The Tigers went 3-and-out on every first-half possession, but only trailed 10-7 at halftime thanks to Mathieu’s electrifying 62-yard weave of a punt return for a touchdown that pulled LSU within 10-7 in the secocnd quarter. Georgia (10-3) also blew several chances to add points with two dropped touchdown passes and several other drops.

With the drops, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray finished 16-for-40 for 163 with two interceptions.

But LSU’s offense adjusted at halftime and sparked by a fumble by Murray forced by Michael Brockers and recovered by Mathieu, the Tigers took off.

Alfred Blue had a team-high 94 yards on 8 carries while Hilliard carried eight times for 72 yards as the Tigers seemed to adjust after halftime. The Tigers created three turnovers, with cornerback Morris Claiborne returning one for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Mathieu also had a 47-yard punt return in the third quarter.

That more than made up for the fact that quarterback Jordan Jefferson had an awful day, completing 5 of 13 passes for just 30 yards. Despite Jefferson’s struggles, Jarrett Lee never played.

 

So much for “not being able to run”

LSU just scored its third rushing touchdown of the second half, a 48-yard run by Alfred Blue, to take a 35-10 lead with 6:17 left. At the end, this will look as dominant as any other LSU win.

The Tigers, who couldn’t budge Georgia’s front seven in the first half, now has 208 rushing yards led by Blue’s 94 yards on 8 carries.