Randy's ramblings: #1 regardless?

Bouncing off the walls as the SEC Championship Game draws near

Some random thoughts with the next biggest week of the season gets underway for the LSU football team, as well as a key two-game swing for the men's hoop team in terms of RPI if the Tigers harbor serious NCAA Tournament hopes.

No. 1 regardless?

I was asked on the message board if I would consider voting LSU No. 1 on my final AP ballot if it winds up playing Alabama and loses in a close game in the BCS Championship Game.

I slept on it for a night and still didn't have a concrete answer. So I let it stew for another day … and I got nothing.

It's a slippery question, because I'm torn in some different directions.

On one hand, the championship game should be just that – a game between two great teams to settle a champion.

On the other, the Tigers have navigated through what I think is one of the five best regular seasons in college football history when you weigh who they played, where they played them and how they dominated every team except one.

Of course that one is the one who will probably get the shot to spoil the season. But would a loss to the Crimson Tide equal a disappointing season – a la the Patriots losing the Super Bowl to the Giants a few years ago. Or should there be some recognition for LSU for the 12-0 it just got through?

This one makes me feel like a ping-pong ball.

So my answer is I don't have an answer. And as I've mentioned before, the AP poll is not a factor in the BCS National Championship whatsoever.

Who will be the opponent?

I have to confess I'm also fairly torn on the whole 'who should LSU play in the BCS Championship Game' argument.

I vote in the AP poll and I've kept Alabama at No. 2 since the 9-6 overtime loss to the Tigers and will continue to do so. Why? Because I believe LSU and the Crimson Tide are the best two teams in the country.

Remember, the AP poll has nothing to do with how the BCS selection shakes out, so neither my note nor any of the other 59 pollsters have an impact there.

That doesn't necessarily mean I think there should be a rematch in New Orleans, though.

I hear people say all the time that the BCS is designed to get the best two teams in the championship game. I would argue that it doesn't always happen that way. It does sometimes, sure. If that was always supposed to be the case, then Michigan had an argument in 2005, USC had one in 2003 – heck, LSU had one in 2006.

Whether there's specific criteria in place or not – and perhaps there needs to be adjustments to add some criteria – I lean toward the notion that a team should have to win something to be in the BCS National Championship mix. As in a division championship or conference championship.

I also buy into the theory that there's something wrong about LSU having to beat Alabama twice to earn a national crown, whereas all the Crimson Tide has to do is earn a split.

Still, I also keep wandering back to the idea that there just aren't any teams in the country in the same class as the Tigers and Alabama.

Bobby Petrino's actions? Nothing more than a blip on the radar.

Selfishly, I also would rather see an LSU-Oklahoma State game because of the contrasting styles. Not sure how entertaining another defensive slugfest would be.

Bobby-gate

I haven't written about the whole Bobby Petrino thing from last week because, honestly, I think it's a non-factor.

Was it bad judgment and tacky for him to curse across the field at Les Miles? Sure, but it happens all the time. You don't think Woody Hayes or Bear Bryant cursed at their counterparts or crowed every once in a while? Difference was there weren't 163 cameras eyeballing every move.

As for the blow-by handshake, ehh, doesn't register much with me, either. Kind of matches up with the drivel that came all week before the game about how good Arkansas was and how much better a coach Petrino was than Miles. My answer: Win something first and then talk about it.

SEC West shakeup

We already know Ole Miss will have a new coach next season and the names bubbling to the surface are pretty impressive. I still think it's going to take a while to dig out from the last few seasons.

Now it sounds like Mississippi State might be in the market, assuming Dan Mullen and/or his agent has any sense whatsoever.

Dan Mullen: Is he headed to Happy Valley?

Rumblings are that Mullen is at the front of the Penn State search committee's hunt. As much turmoil as there is in Happy Valley right now, for Mullen to not jump at the chance if it's offered would be hugely foolish. Tainted or not, Penn State remains one of the crown jewel jobs in college football and with a guy with Pennsylvania ties like the energetic Mullen, this could equate to the chance of a lifetime.

So, if Mullen bolts, who's next in Starkville? Two names jump to the front of my mind: ULL coach Mark Hudspeth and Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Both of them have ties to the Bulldogs, both are young and personable like Mullen and right now, if the next coach can ride some momentum, it could widen the gap between State and Ole Miss for a generation.

Not the West, but I wonder if Mark Richt doesn't wind up entertaining offers from some big-name programs after the way the Bulldogs turned things around. Not sure I'd be all that eager to stick around when a school and fan base was calling for my head after averaging 10 wins a year.

Who will the OC be?

Lots of speculation that Greg Studrawa would listen (might've already done so) if Urban Meyer called about a spot on his new Ohio State staff. Again, as with Mullen, Studrawa would be foolish to not at least listen and consider what Meyer had to say.

Is Ohio State a better job than LSU? No, but Ohio is home for Studrawa, Meyer is a guy who's going to win at a high level and the Buckeyes will be in the national championship hunt on a regular basis – with a lot fewer hurdles than the Tigers face each season.

Les Miles won't sit idly by and let Studrawa go without a fight, but that figures to be a battle.

Rick Neuheisel could be on out-of-the-box option for Les Miles if he winds up coach hunting.

So, speculating that Studrawa could bolt, what does LSU do?

Steve Kragthorpe could be healthy enough to resume the role and has earned the right to if so. Billy Gonzales has paid some dues and has got to be close to making the jump, but as I said in Monday's chat, keep an eye on the Colorado State situation with him – either as the OC or even the head coach – if Steve Fairchild loses his job.

Should Miles opt to go outside the staff and/or Kragthorpe stepped back up and LSU needs a QB coach, some names I'll throw out there to think about: Rick Neuheisel (former UCLA and NFL QB), Major Applewhite (Baton Rouge native, former Texas QB who may be getting nervous with Mack Brown's future uncertain) and David Cutcliffe (tutored both Manning brothers and has probably squeezed as much success as possible out of Duke; also a close friend of John Chavis and was hired by Joe Alleva). Not saying any of those guys would come, but if Miles goes outside-the-box thinking, you never know.

Week off to a nice start

The LSU basketball team needs to find a rhythm and this week is a better time than ever.

The Tigers won at Houston Tuesday, 59-58, and finish the week at Rutgers Saturday in the SEC/Big East Challenge. After this week, LSU has only two more semi-marquee games: Marquette at home on Dec. 19 and Virginia at home on Jan. 2.

If LSU can somehow sweep those four or go 3-1, that could bode well should the Tigers be in contention for an NCAA berth or even in the NIT picture. Remember, the NIT selection committee relies on similar criteria to the NCAA selection committee. Yeah, I know, it's not much, but after the last two seasons, even the NIT would be a step in the right direction.

Mathieu a finalist for the Camp Award


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