As we near the end of June, a hot first half of the summer is in the rear-view mirror but fall is now fully in sight. For LSU fans, that means football canâ€™t get here soon enough.
The Tigers dismantled the Texas A&M Aggies back on January 7 in the Cotton Bowl to end last season at Cowboys stadium in Dallas. The 2011 season will begin in the same stadium on September 3rd against the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks lost the BCS championship game to Auburn and have high expectations for the upcoming season. The Ducks and Tigers will both be ranked in the top 5 at kickoff.
LSU fans are eager for this game to arrive. Since the Cotton Bowl victory, there has been little to roar about on the big stages for Purple and Gold faithful. Certainly, the menâ€™s and womenâ€™s individual NCAA golf titles are great sources of pride as well as accomplishments in other sports.
However, menâ€™s basketball was very tough to watch as the Tigers just did not have the talent to compete. After a 2-0 start in SEC play, Trent Johnson's troops finished out only winning 1 of 15 games (SEC tourney included) down the stretch. The Lady Tigers round-ballers finished 19-13 overall and 8-8 in the SEC, went 1-1 in SEC tourney and did not receive an NCAA tournament invite. Coach Van Chancellor was reassigned in the athletic department and replaced by Nikki Caldwell.
The LSU baseball team was ranked #1 early in some polls (proof that college baseball polls are among the most inaccurate rankings in existence) but finished in a tie for 9th place in the SEC, missed the league's postseason tourney, and to the surprise of many also did not receive an invite to the NCAA tournament.
The Lady Tigers Softball team had a farewell season for coach Yvette Girouard and did well (40-18 overall, 19-9 in SEC) and did make it to the NCAA Regionalâ€™s before bowing out to Texas A&M.
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This brings us back to football and the chance to look ahead.
The SEC media days are in Birmingham in late July, and LSU will be the last of 12 teams to meet the media. August will bring reporting day, the first day of classes, media day, fan day and, of course, fall practices.
Coach Les Miles and senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson both made trips to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT. They both spent their separate days on all of the ESPN radio, web and television platforms. This amounted to great exposure for LSU, the football team and the school. There will be many preseason polls, magazines, blogs, and other information descending on fans very soon (some already have).
The Tigers only have six home games this season; one in September, three in October and two in November. There are 37,000 tickets sold for the season opener in Dallas against Oregon. Something tells me that more fans than that will make the trip to Arlington for the game, conveniently slated on Labor Day weekend.
The two non-conference games are not attractive at all as dates with Northwestern State and Western Kentucky will not dazzle many onlookers. But the SEC games will have a full house. Tiger fans are very ready for these battles. As I mentioned, the spring had a few shining accomplishments, however, football and the expectations for this team are as high as ever in Baton Rouge and all of south Louisiana.
Meanwhile, the LSU athletic department is â€œpollingâ€ fans trying to gauge interest in how many more suites, club level seats or just plain tickets could be sold at Tiger Stadium. LSU is giving some consideration to the addition of an â€œupper levelâ€ in the south end zone. This level would include suites, club level seating and a possible walkway connecting the east and west upper decks. I have seen a total capacity of 115,000 seats mentioned. Wow! This sounds good for the likes of contests against Alabama, Auburn, Florida and other major SEC games.
The question remains as to whether it is a good idea to have so many seats to fill for opponents such as Northwestern State and/or Western Kentucky, typical of past and future non-conference rent-a-wins. I guess that if the demand is there, you can look for this project to be given serious consideration. More than likely, it will not happen very soon, but maybe in the next 3-4 years.
College football as we know is BIG business! But LSU fans for now are very eager for the 2011 season to start. South end zone upper level can wait.
Tommy Krysan is the host of â€œTigers Roarâ€ a live TV show each Wednesday night on Pelican Sports TV. He also hosts Pelican Sports Radio, Monday â€“ Friday, 3:00-4:00 pm in Baton Rouge on The Score 1210 AM.
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