by Mike McHugh
I saw in the paper that LSU is ranked outside of the top ten in this year’s preseason poll. Here in Louisiana, life as we know it has ended.
There’s a distinct possibility that the Tigers could lose to someone besides Alabama this year. Maybe even to the Aggies. It would prove that football—and thus life itself—may exist west of the Sabine River after all.
Sure, it’s painful to lose to the Tide, particularly with Nick Saban at the helm. He is the devil personified for having divorced the Tigers and hitching up with ‘Bama, that following a brief fling with the Miami Dolphins. (I can’t rightfully blame him for ditching that floozy like a hot potato.) Still, being the devil and all, he is a formidable opponent, one you can’t feel totally bad losing to. If I had lost sleep over every time the devil bested me, my eyes would be as red as the ink on a Federal budget document.
So, Tiger fans are faced with the real possibility that their team could finish as low as third place this year, which would put them on the bubble for a bid to the Ty-D Bowl.
The football program at LSU is a textbook case of falling victim to one’s own success, what with so many of last year’s starters defecting to the pro circuit. Maybe there’s such a thing in college football as having too many good players, who, in the Tigers’ case, established almost as many conference records as they did police records.
I’m what you would call a recent immigrant to Tiger Nation, having come from a football-poor land in search of a better life, complete with some honest to goodness tailgating. My college in Yankee Land didn’t even have a football team. The main event for our homecoming weekend was a chess tournament. Our tailgate consisted of a few couples eating watercress out of the back of their Ford Pintos, the only decoration being a six-foot inflatable rook.
But now, as a sports fan, I’m looking forward to the coming season. It appears that, in at least a handful of games, it’s not a foregone conclusion who’s going to win. To be honest, I’ve skipped watching a number of LSU games in recent years, for the same reason that I rarely watch the same movie twice. I always know how it’s going to turn out. It’s the same reason why, as a lad, I quickly tired of hearing fairy tales. Maybe if, just once, the little pig with the brick house survived the wolf only to have his property foreclosed by the bank, I might have retained interest.
But this year, it’s different. The wolves—not to mention the Tide, the Aggies, and the Gators—appear to be howling at the gates of Tiger Stadium. Well, I’m here to affirm that this Yankee is ready to stand at those gates and help defend the Purple and Gold. And although I’m not yet to the level where I kneel on a prayer rug and face Baton Rouge every day, I hope you’ll accept me into the fold.
So, if you’re willing to put up with a Yankee at your game-day tailgate, I promise not to disappoint. I’ll bring the watercress.