All posts by Scott Rabalais

Scott Rabalais is a sports columnist and sports writer for The Advocate. A Baton Rouge native, he began working at the paper in 1991 and has covered LSU athletics since 1992.

LSU-Wisconsin tickets still available

Tickets for LSU’s Aug. 30 season opener against Wisconsin are still available through the school’s athletic ticket office.

Prices are $40-60 each, depending on ticket location.

The game, set for 8 p.m. at NRG Stadium in Houston, will also be televised on ESPN.

Tickets are available by visiting the LSU Athletic Ticket Office or www.LSUTix.net, or by calling (800) 960-8587 or (225) 578-2184.

 

Report: former LSU recruit Janzen Jackson charged with murder

One-time LSU commitment Janzen Jackson, a talented but troubled defensive back who went on to play at Tennessee and McNeese State, has been charged with killing his mother’s boyfriend, according to a published report.

Jackson was charged Friday in the death of Frank Herrera, whose body was found Sept. 14 in a car on a street in gritty south Los Angeles. Police said Herrera, reportedly Jackson’s mother’s boyfriend, had been strangled and his body was likely there for three days.

Jackson, who was arrested on Sept. 16, entered a plea of not guilty. He is reportedly being held on $1 million bond.

A graduate of Barbe High School in Lake Charles, Jackson was committed to play for LSU but switched to Tennessee shortly before the start of the 2009 national signing period.

While at Tennessee, Janzen and two other teammates were arrested on suspicion of armed robbery. The charges were later dismissed, but in 2011 Jackson was permanently kicked off the Volunteers squad by then coach Derek Dooley for a variety of issues.

Jackson finished his college career at McNeese State where his father, Lance Guidry, is defensive coordinator.

Jackson played briefly with the New York Giants in 2012 and Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 2013 but has apparently since been out of professional football.

The Mel Kiper Jr., Colin Cowherd conversation LSU coaches should play on every recruiting visit

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. was on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” Thursday on ESPN Radio as they talked about next month’s draft.

During their segment talk turned to players from Alabama and how both felt many of its players under-perform in the NFL. Out of the blue, Cowherd compared them to players from LSU. Both also remarked that it was LSU’s defense, not Alabama’s that confounded Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel the last two years.

Here’s their conversation:

COWHERD: Is there that guy in this draft? Is there the Eric Berry? Is there the Patrick Peterson? Is there that guy that everybody knows is just a 10-year great player?

KIPER: The guy that should be is Taylor Lewan, the left tackle at Michigan. He’s, right now, better than Greg Robinson [Thibodaux native]. Can Greg Robinson, two or three years from now, the Auburn offensive tackle, be better than Lewan? Yeah, he could.

COWHERD: Not now, though.

KIPER: But I’d rather say right now, Lewan is really good. Robinson struggles in pass protection. He needs some work.

COWHERD: I’ve got another theory for you: Why are the Alabama guys … everybody loves Nick Saban. Let’s go (over) all these Alabama guys in the NFL.

Rolando McClain, out.

Mark Barron?

KIPER: Disappointing right now. Kareem Jackson. Dre Kirkpatrick.

COWHERD: Mark Ingram.

KIPER: Terrence Cody.

COWHERD: Trent Richardson. Dee Milliner.

KIPER: Defensive players are struggling right now. That’s a fact. Alabama defensive players have not lived up to the hype.

COWHERD: This is an interesting theory here. Years ago with Jeff Tedford [former head coach at California, now offensive coordinator at Tampa Bay] people stopped taking his quarterbacks because they were like, ‘Jeff gets the most out of them in college’ …

KIPER: We called it ‘A Tedford creation.’

COWHERD: ‘A Tedford creation.’ That nobody wanted Tedford’s quarterbacks.

KIPER: You know who was a Tedford creation? Aaron Rodgers. Joey Harrington. Trent Dilfer.

COWHERD: Aaron worked out pretty well.

KIPER: And Trent won a Super Bowl. In Baltimore. For my Ravens. It worked out pretty good. And Aaron worked out great, cause you know what? They took his mechanics from what he was at Cal and spent four summers, four years, and all those summers changing. If you put Rodgers in his final year at Cal …

COWHERD: I saw him play.

KIPER: … And you saw him at Green Bay, it looks like a completely different quarterback throwing the ball. Look at the mechanics. Completely different.

[Skipping ahead through an aside from Cowherd about watching Rodgers play while at a wedding on a mountain. Whatever.]

COWHERD: So what I’m saying is, do you have programs and coaches, is there a ‘Tedford effect’ a little bit with Saban? I always look at these LSU guys. They’re better than Alabama guys as pros. Les Miles is crazy, but those LSU guys are better pros.

KIPER: What defense completely frustrated Johnny Manziel? Not Alabama’s. He (Saban) had no answers. LSU’s. John Chavis. Look at that game.

COWHERD: Look at LSU guys in the NFL right now.

KIPER: We’ve got one, former safety Ryan Clark working for us now doing stuff. Ryan was a heck of a player. At LSU, underrated coming into the NFL. But I think you look at the Alabama defensive players and they’re all within that system.

COWHERD: The system!

KIPER: They’re all ‘coached up’ by Nick Saban, the defensive guru, and they all work within that framework of that Alabama defense. And they get to the NFL and they’re as good as they’re going to get. They’ve probably already peaked in terms of what they’re going to be.

COWHERD: They said this years ago about Nebraska players in the 90s. Remember that? Nebraska was rolling people 70-17 … they all topped out in the Nebraska weight room. That’s as good as they were going to get.

Certainly the Cowherd-Kiper conversation is just one small fragment of draft talk, and next week they could be piling on LSU or some other school. You could point to any number of LSU players who have been busts in the NFL, none more notorious than JaMarcus Russell. And for the record, Ryan Clark was recruited to LSU by Gerry DiNardo but played his last two college seasons (2000-01) under Saban.

Still, perception can be reality, and it makes you wonder how wide a perception Kiper and Cowherd’s viewpoint is throughout football.

You can hear the entire Kiper segment at ESPNRadio.com.

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