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15 Alabama-LSU Headlines 11/1/11

Line watch:  The early money is on Alabama as the opening line of Tide -4 has shifted to Tide -5 on this Tuesday morning.

Tickets:  Currently the highest-priced tickets on StubHub.com are listed at $10, 423.14 a piece.  We’ll see if prices rise as we move toward kickoff.  Not bad… you can get a pair of lower bowl end zone seats for a smidge under $21,000.  And they say our economy is bad.

And now the top stories on Tigers/Tide all in one spot:


1.  National media outlets are flooding into Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa this week.

2.  So far, the players on both sides are handling the hype.

3.  Les Miles admits that his staff will be coaching differently leading up to Saturday’s ultra-game.

4.  Despite that fact, Miles calm demeanor might just help to keep his players calm, too.

5.  Miles had nothing but praise yesterday for Alabama’s “very strong and capable coach.”  (And now, the feats of strength!)

6.  The comments from LSU’s coach were softer than some of the jabs he’s taken at Nick Saban and Alabama in the past.

7.  LSU’s “synthetic marijuana three” will play against Bama just as everyone suspected.

8.  In a matchup of two of the nation’s most physical teams, expect the game to be won in the trenches.

9.  Former Tide and Tiger players are already giving their predictions.

10.  Saban, who turned 60 yesterday, has everything under control.

11.  This writer believes this weekend’s #1 versus #2 matchup might be the first such game in which the top two teams have so separated themselves from the pack.

12.  Here’s a look back at some of those great #1 versus #2 games.

13.  Can Saturday’s game live up to the hype?

14.  Miles: “Frankly, I don’t know how high ‘too jacked up’ is.”

15.  Saban: “Well, you can give them all the instruction that you’d like, but just like we all have children that we give instruction to when they go out on a date, you’re never really sure if (they’re) going to do it or not.”

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No Surprise: All 3 Suspended LSU Players Back At Practice

Tailback Spencer Ware and defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon were all back at practice for LSU yesterday, reinstated after a one-game suspension for a failed drug test.  And the world gasps with surprise and shock.

“Those guys were at practice,” Les Miles said yesterday.  “If they continue to do the things they were doing (at practice), we would anticipate that they would play.  We’re practicing and preparing them to play and operating along that way.  We’re going to practice them.  We’re going to plan on using them.  They enjoyed being with their team.  They worked hard.  They were missed.”

And now they’re back in time for top-ranked LSU’s showdown game with second-ranked Alabama.  In making his announcement, Miles still refused to classify what befell Mathieu, Ware and Simon as a suspension.

“I don’t recall that I ever suspended them to you guys.  Am I right?  So I guess what I’m saying to you is we’ve operated as this discipline would be internal and we would handle it in that way, and our guys have returned to practice.” 

The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that when Miles was asked what term besides “suspension” he would use to describe the players’ situation, the coach said: “We withheld them from play.”

Oh.

Here’s the problem for LSU (and by association the SEC): The national media that will bury the Tigers-Tide matchup in hype and coverage will be all over the angle of whether or not “the synthetic marijuana three” should be playing at all.  Splitting hairs between “suspension” and “we withheld them from play” won’t help matters.

The Tigers are only a couple of months removed from a major bar brawl that made national news and left starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson — and his 49 pairs of shoes — facing serious charges (later downgraded) and off the team for several weeks.

Oh, and receiver Russell Shepard was suspended for the first three games of the season for an NCAA rules violation.

In addition, LSU has one of the softer drug policies in the SEC.  In fact, officially there is no final strike that would result in a player’s dismissal.  And in the case of these players there was wiggle room in the system allowing for a one-game ban rather than a two-game ban.

The reinstatement of the players above may be 100% fair.  But outside Louisiana, it’s doubtful it will be viewed as such by skeptical rival fans and a cynical media.  Allowing Mathieu, Ware and Simon to return only adds to the perception that Miles is running a pretty loose ship down on The Bayou.

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