All posts by Scott Rabalais

Scott Rabalais is a sportswriter for The Advocate.

LSU announces 2014 Tiger Tour dates

LSU announced dates for the 2014 Tiger Tour on Tuesday.

Here’s the schedule:

  • Monday, April 28: Bossier City (Horseshoe Casino)
  • Tuesday, April 29: Monroe (Monroe Civic Center)
  • Thursday, May 1: Houma (Houma Civic Center)
  • Wednesday, May 7: Baton Rouge (Lod Cook Alumni Center)
  • Wednesday, May 14: Houston (J.W. Marriott Hotel)
  • Sunday, May 18: New Orleans (Hilton Riverside Hotel)
  • Monday, May 19: Alexandria (Alexandria Riverfront Center)
  • Tuesday, May 20: Lafayette (River Oaks Catering Center)

Speakers at each tour stop will be announced at a later date.

 

SEC spring football dates announced

The cheers from the 2013 season have barely died out, but spring football practice will be kicking off around the Southeastern Conference before you know it.

LSU begins spring practice March 7, with the annual Spring Game set for Saturday, April 5 (time still TBD).

By the way, Texas A&M has announced it won’t have a spring game because renovations are under way at Kyle Field. The Aggies will wrap up spring drills with a typical workout session on April 5.

A&M will be the first school to open spring practice on Feb. 28.

Here’s a look at spring practice dates around the SEC:

School, Start of spring practice, spring game, pro day

LSU, March 7, April 5, April 9

Alabama, March 15, April 19, March 12

Arkansas, March 16, April 26, March 5

Auburn, March 18, April 19, March 4

Florida, March 19, April 12, March 17

Georgia, March 18, April 12, April 16

Kentucky, March 28, April 26, March 14

LSU, March 7, April 5 (time TBD), April 9

Ole Miss, March 5, April 5, March 3

Mississippi State, March 18, April 12, March 5

Missouri, March 11, April 19, March 6

South Carolina, March 4, April 12, April 2

Tennessee, March 7, April 12, April 2

Texas A&M, Feb. 28, April 5 (no spring game), March 5

Vanderbilt, March 11, April 12, March 21

 

Rabalais: My final AP ballot

PASADENA, Calif.  - Here’s how I voted on my final Associated Press Top 25 ballot following Monday night’s BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl:

1. Florida State (14-0)

2. Michigan State (13-1)

3. Auburn (12-2) – I dropped Auburn behind the Big Ten champions because they finished better with wins over Ohio State and Stanford, but it was a very close call.

4. Oklahoma (11-2) – Probably ranked the Sooners too high, up from 12 in my previous ballot in December, but I had to put them ahead of Alabama for beating the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl and still didn’t want to drop Bama too low despite two straight losses.

5. Alabama (11-2)

6. South Carolina (11-2)

7. Clemson (11-2)

8. Missouri (12-2)

9. Oregon (11-2)

10. Ohio State (12-2)

11. Stanford (11-3)

12. Baylor (11-2)

13. LSU (10-3) – Had a tough time deciding to put LSU or UCF here, but the Tigers had tougher competition. Of course, some will say that about Auburn and Michigan State.

14. UCF (12-1)

15. Louisville (12-1)

16. UCLA (10-3)

17. Oklahoma State (10-3)

18. Southern California (10-4)

19. Texas A&M (9-4)

20. Nebraska (9-4)

21. Wisconsin (9-4) – LSU’s next opponent, Aug. 30 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

22. Arizona State (10-4)

23. Washington (9-4)

24. Fresno State (11-2)

25. Notre Dame (9-4)

DROPPED OUT: No. 21 Northern Illinois (12-2), No. 22 Iowa (8-5), No. 23 Duke (10-4), No. 24 Cincinnati (9-4)

Alleva: Still crickets from Texas on the Les Miles front

From left to right, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, Kathy Miles, LSU coach Les Miles and Outback Bowl President/CEO Jim McVay before the Outback team welcome dinner Thursday.

TAMPA, Fla. – LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said Monday he not received any contact from officials at Texas asking for permission to speak to coach Les Miles about their vacant head coaching position, and that he expects Miles to be with the Tigers for the foreseeable future.

“He has five years left on his contract and I expect him to be our coach for a long time to come,” said Alleva, here with the LSU traveling party as the Tigers prepare to take on Iowa in Wednesday’s Outback Bowl (noon CST, ESPN).

Texas coach Mack Brown is stepping down following Monday night’s Alamo Bowl against Oregon (5:45 p.m. CST, ESPN).

It must be said schools are not required to notify another school if they wish to speak to their coach about a job vacancy, but it is considered a professional courtesy.

Miles, who publicly has twice been considered for the job at Michigan (his alma mater) and once at Arkansas during his nine-year tenure at LSU, has been mentioned in some national media reports as a potential candidate for Texas, but there has been little about Miles and the Longhorns that seems more serious than that.

Miles himself brushed off any such talk at a pre-bowl media session in Baton Rouge.

“Oh, please, let’s not kick my name around,” he said.

Miles, 60, is 94-24 at LSU, with a BCS national championship and two Southeastern Conference titles. He has led the Tigers to a bowl all nine seasons in Baton Rouge and will likely have them in the final polls for the eighth time following this bowl game.

With LSU looking at Cotton, Outback, Gator bowls, will Mettenberger’s injury have an impact?

The time is rapidly ticking away until bowl bids are announced Sunday night, but for the LSU Tigers the variables and possibilities seem to keep expanding rather than becoming more defined.
Who’s running this show, The Riddler?
After wrapping up the regular season with a victory over Arkansas on Nov. 29, LSU seemed a virtual lock for the Cotton Bowl.
Not so fast, cowboy. The Cotton remains a distinct possibility for the 9-3 Tigers, but no longer more likely than a trip to the Outback Bowl. Even an appearance in the Gator Bowl can’t be dismissed.
Those already with their ticket orders and room reservations for Dallas may be dismayed that the Tigers are no more than a maybe for the Cotton Bowl at this point, but LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva doesn’t share those sentiments.
Maybe the disappointment of being passed over for the Cotton Bowl last season has taught the LSU Tigers to broaden their prospects.
“I’m very comfortable with the Cotton, Outback or Gator,” Alleva said Thursday. “Any of those three would be a good place for our team and our fans.
“I don’t think we could go wrong.”
The biggest new variable in LSU’s bowl plans is the injury to starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is done as a Tiger after suffering a knee injury against Arkansas.
Alleva said he didn’t think losing Mettenberger will be a huge factor in how the bowls look at LSU, a sentiment echoed by Cotton Bowl President/CEO Rick Baker.
“LSU is a great team and one of the reasons they’ve been great for so long is the depth they have,” Baker said. “I know they’re very high on their freshman quarterback (Anthony Jennings). He certainly looked good against Arkansas.”
“No one wanted to see Zach be hurt,” Outback Bowl President/CEO Jim McVay said. “But if their fans are excited (to see Jennings) it wouldn’t surprise me.”
Let’s handicap each of LSU’s bowl possibilities:
Cotton Bowl
Jan. 3, 7 p.m. (Fox)
Arlington, Texas
How LSU winds up in Arlington: To Alleva, the scenario is simple and rests in large part on who wins Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game between Auburn and Missouri.
“If Missouri beats Auburn we have a chance to go to the Cotton,” Alleva said. Missouri would automatically be in the Sugar Bowl or possibly in the BCS National Championship Game at 12-1, Alabama (11-1) would almost certainly be in the Sugar or Orange as a BCS at-large pick and Auburn (then 11-2) would probably go to the Capital One.
That would leave the Cotton with a difficult choice between LSU and South Carolina. In its 15-year affiliation with the SEC, the Cotton has taken an Eastern Division team only twice (Tennessee after the 2000 and 2004 seasons).
Likely Big 12 opponents: Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State.
Probability LSU goes here: 45 percent. That’s strong, but half of what it was a week ago. There is strong sentiment from Baton Rouge to Dallas-Fort Worth that the Cotton owes LSU after passing on the Tigers last year for Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. But, if the Cotton has LSU’s blessing — and that of the Outback, which has right of first refusal on an SEC East team — LSU may wind up in the …
Outback Bowl
Jan. 1, noon (ESPN)
Tampa, Fla.
How LSU winds up in Tampa: If the SEC Championship Game swings the other way and Auburn beats Missouri, then Auburn goes to the Sugar or BCS title game at 12-1 and Alabama likely goes to the Sugar or Orange at 11-1.
An 11-2 Missouri team could go to the Capital One or the Outback, but Alleva is of the opinion that those bowls would pass and leave Mizzou to the Cotton. This year, the Cotton Bowl is contractually obligated to take the loser of the SEC Championship Game if that team is passed over by the BCS bowls, Cap One and, in Missouri’s case, the Outback.
If the Cotton’s slot is filled, LSU would appear likely bound for the Outback for the first time in 25 years to play a team from the Big Ten assuming South Carolina goes to the Cap One or elsewhere.
Likely Big Ten opponents: Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin.
Probability LSU goes here: 50 percent. Slightly more likely than the Cotton because even if Missouri beats Auburn the Cotton could choose to make a first-time invitation to South Carolina anyway if the Cap One and Outback pass on the Gamecocks. The phone lines between Arlington and Tampa would be burning up Sunday morning to see if both sides have interest in making a deal.
Gator Bowl
Jan. 1, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Jacksonville, Fla.
How LSU winds up in Jacksonville: The Outback is often unpredictable and could throw a wild card into the mix by taking 8-4 Texas A&M over LSU. Don’t scoff. The Outback picked Florida over LSU in 2005 after the Tigers beat the Gators and were higher ranked. The bowl could also opt for 8-4 Georgia, which beat LSU in September.
Likely Big Ten opponents: Michigan, Minnesota.
Probability LSU goes here: 5 percent, but there are two intriguing factors. One, LSU could play 7-5 Michigan (Les Miles’ alma mater) for the first-time ever; two, Alleva and Gator Bowl President/CEO Rick Catlett are old friends. The Gator hasn’t had the Tigers since 1987 and rarely gets a team of its stature, and Alleva and Catlett may like to see this happen.
What of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31 in Atlanta? Never say never in the bowl biz — just like the fact LSU is still officially under consideration for a BCS bowl invite — but the Tigers and Tiger fans have made it plain that they aren’t thrilled about a sixth trip to the Chick-fil-A since 1996. What’s more, with five SEC Championship games and a Chick-fil-A kickoff game it would be a 12th trip to Atlanta in the last 17 years.
That makes the Chick-fil-A one of the Tigers’ least tasty options this time.

Change in plans puts 2014 LSU-Ark. game in Fayetteville

If you’re planning on going to LSU’s game at Arkansas again next season, be prepared to again make a hike up to northwest Arkansas.

The Arkansas Razorbacks are going from two games per year at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock to just one through 2018. That one game in 2014 will be against Georgia, stadium officials there have said.

That means the LSU game at Arkansas, scheduled for Nov. 15, will be in Fayetteville.

The Tigers won 20-13 in Fayetteville last year, their first trip to play at Arkansas’ on-campus Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium since 1992.

Of course, this year’s game in Tiger Stadium (1:30 p.m. Friday, CBS) will be the last time for the foreseeable future that LSU and Arkansas meet in the regular-season finale.

Starting in 2014, LSU and Texas A&M will play to end the regular season. The game at College Station, Texas, next year will be on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27.

The Aggies used to play archrival Texas on Thanksgiving day, so playing LSU on the holiday represents a return to tradition of sorts for the SEC newcomers.

However, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said when the Tigers play the Aggies in Tiger Stadium those games will not be on Thanksgiving day. Whether the A&M-LSU games in Baton Rouge will be played on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving has not been announced.

LSU bowl projections, Texas A&M week

Here’s a list of bowl projections for the LSU Tigers from across the nation going into Saturday’s game with Texas A&M:

  • Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Gator vs. Nebraska
  • CollegeFootballNews.com: Chick-fil-A vs. Duke
  • Brad Edwards, ESPN.com: Cotton vs. Oklahoma
  • Stewart Mandel, SI.com: Cotton vs. Texas
  • Dave Miller, NationalFootballPost.com: Cotton vs. Oklahoma State
  • Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com: Cotton vs. Oklahoma State
  • Brant Parsons, Orlando Sentinel: Cotton vs. Oklahoma State
  • Alex Scarborough, ESPN.com: Chick-fil-A vs. Duke (with ACC prediction from blogger David Hale)
  • Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: Outback vs. Nebraska
  • Erick Smith, USA Today: Chick-fil-A vs. Duke
  • Phil Steele, PhilSteele.com: Chick-fil-A vs. Virginia Tech
  • Jim Tomlin, Tampa Bay Times: Outback vs. Michigan State

LSU, Oklahoma rescheduling home and home series

LSU announced Wednesday morning that it is rescheduling its home-and-home series with Oklahoma for later dates.

The teams were scheduled to play at Oklahoma in 2018 and in Tiger Stadium in 2019. The LSU news release did not say when the schools would try to play.

LSU is now looking to schedule other opponents for its 2018 and 2019 non-conference schedule.

The Tigers and Sooners have never met in the regular season. Their only games were in the 1950 Sugar Bowl (Oklahoma won 35-0) and the 2004 Sugar Bowl, which LSU won 21-14 to capture the 2003 BCS national championship.

LSU bowl projections

Here are a sampling of LSU bowl projections from across the Web heading into the No. 10-ranked Tigers’ game at No. 1 Alabama.

Most continue to have LSU in the Cotton Bowl against a variety of Big 12 opponents, the most intriguing one being a matchup between the Tigers nd Oklahoma State, Les Miles’ old team.

One predictor, ESPN.com’s Alex Scarborough has the Tigers returning to the Chick-fil-A Bowl for the second straight year, though from here that seems unlikely.  A more intriguing matchup is SBNation’s Jason Kirk projecting LSU to meet Michigan in the Outback Bowl, a game with Miles’ alma mater who he steadfastly refuses to play in the regular season.

  • Jon Cooper, SaturdayDownSouth.com: Cotton vs. Oklahoma State
  • CollegeFootballNews.com: Cotton vs. Baylor
  • Brad Edwards, ESPN: Cotton vs. Oklahoma State
  • Jason Kirk, SBNation.com: Outback vs. Michigan
  • Stewart Mandel, SI.com: Cotton vs. Texas
  • Dave Miller, NationalFootballPost.com: Cotton vs. Oklahoma State
  • Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com: Cotton vs. Baylor
  • Brant Parsons, Orlando Sentinel: Cotton vs. Texas
  • Alex Scarborough, ESPN: Chick-fil-A (no opponent named)
  • Mark Schlabach, ESPN: Outback vs. Nebraska
  • Erick Smith, USA Today: Capital One vs. Michigan State

LSU moves back into AP top 10; ESPN GameDay in Tuscaloosa

Despite their first open date of the season, the LSU Tigers moved back into The Associated Press top 10 on Sunday at No. 10 in advance of Saturday’s prime-time showdown at No. 1-ranked Alabama.

LSU (7-2) got 863 points to barely outpace No. 11 Texas A&M (7-2) with 861. The Tigers are No. 11 in the Harris Interactive poll and No. 12 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

The Tigers remained 13th in the BCS standings.

Meanwhile, ESPN has announced its College GameDay program will be broadcast from Tuscaloosa for this game.

The top rest of the AP top 10 features (in order) Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State, Baylor, Stanford, Auburn, Clemson and Missouri.

LSU basically moved up because previous No. 7 Miami (Fla.) tumbled hard from the unbeaten ranks with a 41-14 blowout loss at Florida State. The Hurricanes tumbled to No. 14.

The Tigers and Crimson Tide will meet at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on CBS.

This will be the third straight year and fourth in the last five that LSU and Bama are both in the AP top 10 at the time of their meeting.

Click here for the complete Associated Press and USA Today coaches’ polls.