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UK And Calipari To Meet Louisville And Pitino In Semis; How Great Would That Game Have Been In The Finals?

The NCAA Tournament — by its sheer design — creates wonderful storylines and incredible sideshows each and every season.  For three rounds, small schools most folks have never heard of take down a few giants.  Then over the last three rounds, the biggest fish swallow up the remaining guppies which leaves coaches to face their old schools, local rivals to meet, and feuding program-runners to do battle with one another.

Thanks to Louisville’s tight win over Florida on Saturday and Kentucky’s blowout victory over Baylor yesterday, all three of those things will occur in New Orleans at the Final Four:


Coach facing old school: Check.  Rick Pitino versus Kentucky.

Local rivals meeting:  Check.  Kentucky versus Louisville.

Feuding coaches doing battle:  Check.  John Calipari versus Pitino.


The only downside to this  Battle of the Bluegrass State?  It’s slated for the national semifinals and not the actual final game.  And let’s face facts, that would be an even bigger, even better storyline.

Kentucky’s run this season has been dominant.  Calipari is looking for his first ever national title.  What could be better for Cat fans than capturing their first national crown since 1998 against Louisville and ex-UK coach Pitino?

On the flipside, imagine the pain Kentucky fans would feel if their latest “best shot” at a title was undone by those same Cards and that same turncoat — in most Cat fans’ eyes — coach.

Even in a sport that gives us electric, emotional storylines every March, such a set-up would provide the potential for the greatest mood swing in modern sports history.  Toss in the fact that there’s little love lost between Coach Cal and Ricky P and the finals would shatter television ratings records across the Commonwealth.

Don’t get me wrong, Saturday’s matchup will still be a doozy and one bitter rival will send the other bitter rival packing.  Calipari or Pitino will still block the other’s pursuit of a title. 

Oh, but if that Kentucky-Louisville game were still a possibility for Monday’s championship game?  Bedlam.  Complete and utter bedlam.  Suicide hotlines would have to add extra staffing.  Police in Louisville and Lexington would have to unbox their riot gear in preparation. 

Saturday will be fantastic for basketball fans inside and outside Kentucky’s state lines.  But a clash in Monday’s finals would have been seismic.  If only those brackets could be redrawn today.

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SEC Headlines – 3/9/12 Part Two

1.  Florida needs a renewed focus on defense today against Alabama.

2.  The Gators also need a feel-good win heading into the NCAAs.  (This one’s Billy Donovan versus old aide Anthony Grant, by the way.)

3.  If Georgia had shot all year the way they did in two games against Mississippi State, they sure wouldn’t have finished 5-11 in league play.

4.  Former UGA tight end Orson Charles — who left school early for the NFL — followed up a disappointing Pro Day with a DUI early this morning.  (Charles said Monday that he turned pro in order to help his mother pay some of her bills.)

5.  If you’re in New Orleans today to see Kentucky take on LSU — in less than an hour — you’ll likely spot a billboard of Anthony Davis that the school has put up.

6.  Expect the Tigers to be physical with the Wildcats today.

7.  South Carolina’s “miserable season” ended with yesterday’s loss to Alabama.

8.  Just to reiterate, Carolina’s “forgettable season” ends with the loss.

9.  Tennessee will enter tonight’s game with visions of the NCAA tourney dancing in their heads.

10.  For Cuonzo Martin it’s all about the defense… as usual.

11.  Vanderbilt will try to go 3-0 versus Georgia when they play late tonight.

12.  Festus Ezeli says the SEC tourney is “a chance to right some of the wrongs we’ve made before.”

13.  Gary Pinkel says Missouri and Kansas should play in Kansas City every September.

UPDATE — Mike Slive says the league will discuss making changes to the way it doles out Thursday-Saturday basketball turnarounds.

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Slive Sees Future SEC Tourneys In Atlanta, Nashville, And…

Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun caught up with SEC commissioner Mike Slive for a quick, but good little Q&A today.  The focus is on Southeastern Conference basketball and much of the discussion centers on the league tournament and its future.

It’s a good read, but here’s the section that stood out to this writer:

 

Dooley: The SEC Football Championship and baseball tournament have permanent homes. Why does the league like to move the basketball tournament around?

Slive: As we have looked at basketball, we knew we wanted to be in Atlanta on a somewhat regular basis and at the same time our fans enjoy the somewhat smaller basketball venues, so we’ve experimented by moving it around. We’ve been to Florida, we’re in New Orleans this year and we have found Nashville has served us well, so, as you know, we’re projected to come to Bridgestone Arena a little more often. In the future, we’ll settle in to Atlanta, Nashville and another site yet to be determined.

Dooley: Do you see a time when it might stay in one place?

Slive: I don’t know. I wouldn’t say no, but there has been a tradition of moving it around. Many of the venues that we want to go to are also competing for NCAA second and third rounds and regionals, and they are not available on an annual basis.

Dooley: With the new additions to the league, will other cities become part of the rotation?

Slive: Yeah, I think we anticipate we will hear from St. Louis. Whether or not we’ll hear from cities in Texas I don’t know. We still have two open years. We’re going to be in Nashville a lot, but ’17 and ’18 are open.

 

Assuming the commissioner wasn’t being waterboarded during questioning, it’s possible that his answers should not be taken too literally.  Having said that, in Slive’s own words he expects the league tourney to “settle in to Atlanta, Nashville and another site.”

For a while now — most recently last week — we at MrSEC.com have called for the league to create a regular rotation through four host cities: Atlanta, Nashville, New Orleans and Memphis.

Atlanta and Nashville are easy to reach, centrally-located, tourist destinations.  Memphis is located within reach of several SEC fanbases and is also a tourist destination, but the city lost out on its bid to land the 2015 tourney.  Also, hosting a five-day event would force the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies on a road trip for that bit of time (as is the case with the New Orleans Hornets this week).  In addition, there’s no telling how much interest University of Memphis booster and FedEx boss Fred Smith has in allowing 14 SEC schools to strut their stuff in front of West Tennessee recruits right in the FedExForum.

New Orleans — while a bit of a hike for most fans — is still New Orleans.  The fact that the SEC’s first first-round game today seems to have fewer fans in attendance than the other league tourneys currently on television doesn’t help the city’s case, but we expect Kentucky fans will invade tonight and tomorrow.

Currently the SEC is scheduled to play its tournament in Nashville in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019.  The tourney will move back to Atlanta for 2014.  (We know many would like to see the league bump the NBA’s Hawks for five days in order to play at the Philips Arena, rather than in the cavernous Georgia Dome.)

The tournament is still up for bid in 2017 and 2018.  Which brings us to another remark from the commissioner that jumped off the page.

Slive said that he anticipates hearing from St. Louis.  There was no mention of Kansas City.  Some folks in KC had suggested making a play for an SEC tourney and Missouri AD Mike Alden gave them his blessing.  We at MrSEC.com did not.  Kansas City is just too far away from most league schools and it’s very hard to imagine area fans paying attention to the SEC tourney while the Big 12 Tournament is going on elsewhere at the same time.

The commish also said he’s not sure if the SEC will hear from any cities in Texas.  As was the case in Missouri, there’s been some chatter among Texas A&M backers that Houston or even Dallas might bid to host a tournament.  As for Dallas, see: Kansas City.  Houston?  Well, we’d be okay with the league tossing the Aggies a bone and allowing a single tourney to be played there, but no more.

So where does all this leave the tourney?  Apparently in Nashville quite often.  That’s fine for yours truly.  Broadway is just steps from The Bridgestone Arena and that’s a good thing.  (Total sidenote — The downtown Hilton in Nashville ranks for me alongside the Royal Sonesta in New Orleans, the MGM Signature in Las Vegas, the Millenium Bostonian in Beantown, the Harbourview Inn in Charleston, the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, the Hotel Birger Jarl in Stockholm, the NH Porta Rossa in Florence, and the Pennington Hotel — of course — in England’s Lake District as a personal favorite.  Free plugs for all.)  After Nashville in 2015 and ’16, here’s guessing Atlanta will add either 2017 or 2018 to its 2014 hosting duties.

That would leave one tourney in either ’17 or ’18 for St. Louis and the Gateway to the West.  And all of that sounds rather easy for multiple fanbases.  Anyone can get to Atlanta and Nashville.  And St. Louis would be a draw for Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss fans.  If you’ve seen the movie, “Up In The Air,” you know St. Louis has an airport for those inclined to wing it to a tourney, as well.

If the SEC created a regular rotation of Altlanta, Nashville, New Orleans and St. Louis — with a bit heavier dose of Atlanta and Nashville — Slive and company would get good marks from those of us here at MrSEC.com.

Something you can be sure the folks in the league offices yearn for everyday.

 

Sidenote – As noted above, the current four-day tournament will most likely become a five-day event next year when the SEC adds A&M and Mizzou.  Here’s how we believe that bracket should look.

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UK’s Calipari Not Exactly Pumped For SEC Tourney

Ho-hum.  That’s John Calipari’s attitude toward conference tournaments.  Reading his statements on this week’s gathering in New Orleans, you can almost imagine a pause for a yawn:


“Three games in three days doesn’t prepare you for anything.  We just played a whole league schedule…

Fans spend their vacation money, their rent money, their cigarette money, and they go to this tournament. … You almost feel an obligation.  Let’s go play.”


Well, if they’re blowing their money for smokes on getting to New Orleans, then ya gotta at least show up.  Still, Calipari told The Lexington Herald-Leader that all this is just “prelude” to the NCAA tourney.


“For our league, (the SEC Tournament) has no bearing on seeding.  We proved that last year. …

Maybe one team can play in (to the NCAA tourney, but) they had all season to play in…

Three games in three days is like nothing.  It’s like playing in Maui (in November).  It wears you out…

But we’ll be there.”


Mike Slive’s likely thought: “We’re trying to sell some tickets down here, fella.”

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SEC Headlines – 3/6/12 Part Two

1.  It’s a biased opinion, but Bill Self says Kansas City is a Kansas State town first, Kansas second and Missouri third.  (Would the SEC really consider playing a tourney there?)

2.  Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen is feeling better after shoulder surgery.

3.  Several ex-Tigers are gearing up for their Pro Day.

4.  A loss to Ole Miss did some damage to Alabama’s RPI.

5.  Arkansas will be fighting to keep their season alive in New Orleans.

6.  Ex-Razorback gridders are prepping for their Pro Day, too.

7.  LSU will be looking for a fresh start at the SEC Tournament.

8.  Tiger AD Joe Alleva is starting his five-year tour of duty on the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

9.  MSU’s “Mr. Double-Double” Arnett Moultrie is a changed man.

10.  “Newfound confidence” has State feeling good about themselves again.

11.  Ole Miss needs win in New Orleans if it’s to keep its bubble hope alive.

12.  Murphy Holloway has been key to the Rebels’ revival.

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UGA’s McGarity Says “Everything Is Still On The Table” For Scheduling

Georgia’s Greg McGarity was one of four SEC ADs to enter last week’s scheduling talks in Nashville hoping to save “permanent cross-divisional rivals” when the league adopts its new scheduling format.

He told The Chattanooga Times Free Press that he feels better about the odds of Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee being preserved:


“I do feel better.  The tone of the conversations that everyone had sort of gave the impression that everyone had a sense, at least the majority had a sense, of liking the rivalry game with an opponent from the opposite division.  The tone led us to believe that this has a good opportunity moving forward…

I think everything is still on the table.  We spent one full day on it, and I’m sure we’ll spend one full day on it in New Orleans once everybody’s had a week to think about it.”


From what South Carolina president Harris Pastides says, it sounds like things are further along than McGarity wants to say.

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SEC A.D.s Ready To Start Schedule Talks

Just a quick note from Nashville where I’ve ventured on some MrSEC.com business…

The SEC’s athletic directors are descending on the Music City as planned for their talks regarding the SEC’s future scheduling formats.  Jeremy Foley (Florida), Greg McGarity (Georgia), Pete Boone (Ole Miss) and David Williams (Vanderbilt) were in and around the lobby as I checked into the Hilton downtown this afternoon.

Perhaps I should slide a copy of this under a few doors.

The ADs will meet in Nashville during this week’s women’s basketball tournament and then reconvene next week in New Orleans to continue talks during the men’s tourney.  Whatever the ADs come up with over the next two weeks will likely have to pass muster with the presidents and commissioner Mike Slive in Destin at the SEC Meetings in late-May, early-June.

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The 2012 Kentucky Squad Or The ’96 Cats – Which Team Is Better?

Tyler B.

The general consensus amongst basketball “experts” or “historians” is that the 1996 UK hoops team will be remembered as one of the best college teams ever, and several list them #1. Neither expert nor historian, simply just a big hoops fan, I have them firmly pegged at #1.

The average margin of victory for ‘96 team was shocking (22), and offense startling (91.4 ppg). It carried incredible depth – 10 players on this team made an NBA roster at some point – and was armed with first-round talent, too. The 1996 NBA Draft took the #6 (Antoine Walker), #16 (Tony Delk), #19 (Walter McCarty) and #52 (Mark Pope) players from UK, and the 1997 NBA Draft called Lexington for the #6 (Ron Mercer) and #13 (Derek Anderson) picks. Their only two losses came against two teams that made the Final Four (UMass and Mississippi State), both losses avenged, and Rick Pitino was near the pinnacle of his Hall of Fame coaching career. All this evidence supports the reasoning behind the 1996 UK teams being one of the greatest ever.

So why such little national chatter about the chance of the 2012 Wildcats being the greatest college team ever if they cut down the nets in New Orleans? The 2012 average margin of victory is enormous (19.8), offense efficient, and the hallmark of this team is stifling defense (58ppg). And what about the team’s future Hall of Fame coach at the pinnacle of his career and the current crop of NBA prospects on the roster? According to nbadraft.net the 2012 NBA Draft looks like this: Anthony Davis #1… MKG #7… Doron Lamb #16… Terrance Jones #18… Marquis Teague #21… Darius Miller #60. All those dots mean you’re supposed to think about what you just read for a minute…

So what if the 2012 team doesn’t lose again and ends the season as champs with a 37-1 record? A team that’s lone loss was a buzzer-beater on the road against Indiana? Let’s compare the stats between the ’96 and ’12 team. (***2012 Stats compiled before Mississippi State game***)

1996 Averages in 36 Games // 2012 Averages after 27 Games

FG-FGA:    

33.2-68.3 (48.7%)

27.6-56.6 (48.7%)

3FG-3FGA:

7.38-18.61 *(39.7%)

5.74-15.07 (38.1%)

FT-FTA:      

17.5-24.5 (71.3%)

16.9-23.5 *(71.8%)

Rebounds:

*41.7 (+5.9)

39.4 *(+7.4)

Assists: *21.7513.6

Turnovers: 15.38*11.9

Blocked Shots: 4.8*9.2

Steals: *12.08 – 6.5

PPG: *91.4 – 77.8

Points Allowed: 69.4 – *58

Avg. Margin of Victory: *22 – 19.8


TOP-10 ROSTER SCORING

 

C – Anthony Davis: 13.9 // SG -Tony Delk: 17.8

SG – Doron Lamb: 13.8 // PF – Antoine Walker: 15.2

SF -Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: 12 // C – Walter McCarty: 11.3

PF -Terrence Jones: 12.3 // SF – Derek Anderson: 9.4

SF – Darius Miller: 9.9 // SG – Ron Mercer: 8

PG – Marquis Teague: 9.6 // C- Mark Pope: 7.6

PF – Kyle Wiltjer: 7 // PG – Anthony Epps: 6.7

C – Eloy Vargas: 1 // SG – Jeff Sheppard: 5.5

PG – Sam Malone: 1 // PG – Wayne Turner: 4.5

SG -Brian Long: .2 // PF – Jarred Pricket: 3.4 

POSTION BREAKDOWN

 

Point Guard: Edge 1996. This is actually a very fair comparison because both Anthony Epps and Marquis Teague were/are asked to be “game managers” before Nick Saban made the term popular. To further prove my point, when Delk moved to point he was better than Epps at times, similar to when Lamb takes the ball from Teague. I give the edge to Epps over Teague because of his experience; nearly 100 games of it before ’96 titles game. Additionally, Teague’s terrified of the open 3, and tends to play a bit loose with the ball in his hands, whereas Epps shot 40% from 3 in 1996.

*It also should be noted that Epps didn’t have the luxury of dropping a deuce anywhere within 20 feet of the rim and having Anthony Davis flush it.

Shooting Guard: Big Edge 1996: Tony Delk (AA, SEC POY and FF MOP), Ron Mercer (1st Team All-SEC Freshman and NCAA All-FF Team), Derek Anderson (NCAA All-Regional Team) and Jeff Sheppard could all play shooting guard very well. 2012 starts one of the best shooters in Kentucky history, Lamb, but take away his 48% stroke and you’re left with Vinnie “The Microwave” Wiltjer and Darius Miller. If Lamb and Delk scratch each other out Mercer, Anderson and Sheppard fill the gap nicely. Conversely, without Lamb the 2012 team has trouble getting points outside the paint.

Small & Power Forward: Edge 1996. Darius Miller, Kyle Wiltjer, MKG and Terrance Jones vs. a mixture of Antoine Walker (1st Team All-SEC, NCAA All-Regional Team), Derek Anderson, Waltah McCarty (2nd team All-SEC) and Ron Mercer. 1996 scored better from this position, but 2012 is more physical. Jones reminds me a lot of Walker in a variety of ways because you are/were never sure if the engine would crank up when the key turned in the ignition. Posturing and theatrics were/are big for both, as ‘Toine rocked his Shimmy and Jones loves the Blank Stare. I would pick Walker over Jones 100% of the time.

Even with the different skill sets, both Anderson and MKG, were/are the glue guys of their respective teams. But if we’re talking glue it should be noted that Anderson is Elmer’s and MKG is superglue. Anderson was a better pure scorer, but the rebounding, defense, toughness and leadership from MKG make him more valuable. And that’s difficult to write considering Anderson would come back in 1997 and be a leading candidate for player of the year before blowing his knee out mid-season. Wiltjer against McCarty is a very interesting and similar match-up… but McCarty played a decade in the NBA and Wiltjer, as much as I love him, plays like he’s got gout and is wearing ski boots. I give the edge to the 1996 team because the combination of Miller, Jones, Wiltjer and MKG has trouble scoring for long stretches.

Center: Giant Edge 2012. Because Anthony Davis has the potential to be the best defensive newbie in college basketball history the edge obviously goes to 2012. While Davis flies around the paint with his unibrow, looking like an Angry Bird swatting everything in the flight path of his wings, the’96 center position would give Davis trouble by moving him away from the basket.  While McCarty and Pope had the letter C, as in Center, next to their names, both were good shooters that would float around the three-point line for portions of games. Davis isn’t afraid to leave the paint on occasion to swat an outside jumper or 3, but he prefers to patrol the paint on the majority of defensive possessions.

1996  had enough frontline height to take away many of the 2012 lobs to Davis so he would have to use his rarely-seen post moves to score 16-18 points. On the glass Davis would gobble up loose boards, but what a treat it would be to see Davis and an equally gangly McCarty battle for a rebound. Two wet noodles trapped in a bowl fighting for a loose meatball is about all I can pitcture.

The edge at center goes to 2012 in every possible way unless Davis gets in foul trouble. UK’s only loss in 2012 came against IU because Davis got in early foul trouble, and Ole Miss put on a run when Davis left the court with early foul trouble, too. If Ole Miss and IU gave this team fits without Davis on the court the ’96 team would start doing work. Enough work that the 2012 team couldn’t recover?

Bench: Giant Edge 1996. When a team averages 91 points a game it’s clear the foot never comes off the gas on either end of the floor. It means a team must have incredible depth. The tenth man on the 1996 team had potential to reach double digits on any given night, and if a tenth man even exists on the 2012 team he might not be able to crack double digits after three hours in an empty gym.

Scoring for Top-10 on each rosters

C – Anthony Davis: 13.9 // SG -Tony Delk: 17.8

SG – Doron Lamb: 13.8 // PF – Antoine Walker: 15.2

SF -Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: 12 // C – Walter McCarty: 11.3

PF -Terrence Jones: 12.3 // SF – Derek Anderson: 9.4

SF – Darius Miller: 9.9 // SG – Ron Mercer: 8

PG – Marquis Teague: 9.6 // C- Mark Pope: 7.6

PF – Kyle Wiltjer: 7 // PG – Anthony Epps: 6.7

C – Eloy Vargas: 1 // SG – Jeff Sheppard: 5.5

PG – Sam Malone: 1 // PG – Wayne Turner: 4.5

SG -Brian Long: .2 // PF – Jarred Pricket: 3.4

Tougher Schedule: Edge 1996. On average the 1996 squad played a better team.

1996 Opponent Averages in 36 Games // 2012 Opponent Averages after 27 Games

FG-FGA: 24.5-59.3 *(41.5%) // 21.2-58.6 (36.2%)

3FG-3FGA: 5.03-15.8 *(33.6%) // 5.4-17.2 (31.6%)

FT-FTA: 14.8-22.19 *(67.1%) // 10-15 (66%)

Rebounding Average: *35.8 // 32

Assists: *13.52 // 10.3

Blocked Shots: *3.91 // 3.4

Steals: *7.1 // 5.5

PPG: *69.4 // 58

Turnovers: 22.2 // *12.8

Coaching – 1996 Pitino or 2012 Cal: TBD. After the 1996 title season Pitino’s resume had Final Four visits with UK ’93 and Providence ’87. If Cal wins a title this year his resume includes Final Four trips with UMass (1996), Memphis (2008) and UK (2011 and 2012). Is Pitino a better coach than Cal simply because Mario Chalmers hits a 3?

Swaggle: Giant Edge 2012. Cal is the coolest guy on the block, and when he throws parties Jay-Z, Drake, Ashley Judd, LeBron, World Wide Wes and maybe Kate Upton show up. He’s the CEO of the most recognizable college basketball brand in the world. He’s expanded the UK brand into China, raised money for Haiti and coached the team of another country in the off-season. During the NBA lockout its best players – even those with no affiliation to UK – came to his office to practice, and each year the best high school seniors send resumes to Cal’s desk in hopes of attending his Basketball Executive Program.

In reference to the UK hoops teams the last two years, Kentucky Senator and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Cal “creates more millionaires than a Wall Street firm.” Well, I can do him one better. In the world of college basketball in 2012, an innovator and PR man like no other college coach before him, Cal’s like the late Steve Jobs running the Harvard Business School. Simply put, in 2012 Cal “gets it.” Pitino “got it” like no other coach back in 1996, but he also eventually got Karen Sypher.

So after scribbling nearly 2,000 words comparing the two teams I think it’s finally time to pick a “better” of the two. The biggest fear of a winner take all game is always the opponent shoots the lights out for the better part of it, and when that happens a usually great defense that suffocates a team to death around the 60-point mark is left helpless. There is no effective defense to employ when five or six guys are hitting shots from all over the court, regardless of who is guarding them. And those five or six guys hitting shots from all over the court, all on one team and in nearly every game, wore the 1996 UK jersey.

Exclusive of averaging 91 points per game, the ’96 Cats won their first four tournament games by at least 20 points and no team came closer than seven. They made a great defense look very vulnerable, and that’s exactly what they would do to the ’12 team. If both teams played each other 10 times I believe the ’96 team wins seven, but what if they played just once? 

Kentucky 1996 – 77

Kentucky 2012 – 68

*Just for pleasure, Digger, Bobby Knight and Jimmy Dykes would call the game.

Tyler B. works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

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Jefferson Didn’t Like LSU Game Plan In BCS Title Game, Either

Add another name to the list.  This time, the name of a quarterback who looked incredibly limited during LSU’s loss to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game.

Jordan Jefferson told WCNN-AM in Altanta yesterday that he, too, was unhappy with the Tigers plan of attack in the big game:

 

“I think we should’ve spread them out a little bit more, put the ball in different passing areas, use our talent on the receiving side,” Jefferson said. “We had that in as far as play-calling, we just didn’t get to it.

We have great guys in those areas and sometimes we just wonder why we don’t use those guys. But we’re not the one calling the plays. We still have to go out and execute what the coaches and coordinators are calling. We can’t complain as players, but sometimes we do question that…

I definitely didn’t expect for it to play (out) like that.  Alabama was a little bit more prepared than us. There was a lot of things that we should’ve did different to catch a rhythm on offense. To win a type of game like that, you’ve got to win all three phases – offense, defense and special teams – and we just didn’t get over that hump to winning those phases. We kind of fell short in that game.”

 

Tiger fans will love the part about Alabama being a little bit more prepared.  I’m sure that won’t be used against Les Miles on pro-Tiger messageboards.

While Jefferson shot down “many rumors that are not true,” he did confirm that LSU practiced one plan and then called another on gameday.  The ex-Tiger said that his team had studied Utah’s 2007 Sugar Bowl victory over Bama before this year’s BCS title game, but to no avail.

 

“We were going to spread out our guys to make sure we’d get them the ball.  But once we got in the game, it wasn’t how we practiced.”

 

The biggest question now?  When are players and ex-players going to stop talking about what went wrong that night in New Orleans?

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Hebert Not In Hot Water With Station For Actions At LSU Presser

As most of you know by now, former NFL quarterback and current New Orleans radio host Bobby Hebert opened Les Miles’ post-BCS title game press conference with an emotional rant that forced someone in charge to ask Hebert if he even had a question.

Some LSU fans — who were also mad at Miles for losing one game out of 14 this season — have supported Hebert’s bush league actions.   But most media members — who know that a) you don’t cheer in the press box and b) you behave professionally in press conferences — have come down hard on the admitted Tiger fan.  (The fact that Hebert’s offensive lineman son, T-Bob, didn’t play in Monday’s game might have had more to do with Papa’s rant than the his fandom.)

In addition to most media members, LSU has also tsk-tsked Hebert.  Sports information director Michael Bonnette said: “Bobby said he was a fan, and we don’t credential fans.”

Sugar Bowl spokesman John Sudsbury apologized to LSU for Hebert’s behavior.  “It was very disrespectful. … We don’t want to credential people who go into a press conference and act like a fan.”

One group that’s behind Hebert?  His employer, WWL-AM radio in New Orleans.  Though even the station that enjoys good ratings for Hebert’s show admitted that he was out of line.

“Bobby’s in no trouble (with the station),” said WWL vice president Chris Claus (we presume no relation to Santa).  “The tone of the question Bobby asked was not appropriate.   The content of the question was fine, and Bobby knows he made a mistake.  Bobby’s incredibly passionate about LSU, and his emotions bubbled up, as they often do.”

Bobby knows he made a mistake?  Actually he said on his own show that he’s not a journalist and “so what” if he’d been thrown out of the presser for his behavior.  Later in the week on ESPN radio he went through a list of Miles’ previous coaching gaffes.  On Sirius radio he suggested Miles had just been lucky this season.  Sure doesn’t sound like Hebert “knows he made a mistake” to those of us at MrSEC.com.

It will be interesting to see if Hebert receives his usual media credentials for LSU home games next season.

From our viewpoint, if Hebert says he’s a fan, then he should buy a ticket and sit with the fans.  If, instead, he wants to receive the “perks” of being in the media — a cold hot dog, a seat in a sterile press box and then a seat in the postgame interview room — then he needs to act professionally.

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