DEVILLE: Answering the call of our readers

Over the past few weeks, it seems I have taken some relatively controversial positions on sensitive issues pertaining to the world of LSU sports.

And when a sports writer takes a stance on an issue, it never comes without criticism or support – and lately, there have been plenty of both.

 

Whether it is the e-mail or the post office box, I receive various forms of response from our readers and this is something I invite. It is always good to hear what you the reader likes or dislikes.

 

Recently, a number of the viewpoints here have garnered plenty of feedback. Some of the responses I would like to share with you.

 

 

In December, the issue of the rights of the LSU Sports Network was debated here and with it brought an outcry of support from readers across the state and their disapproval of LSU awarding those rights to an out of state firm. An obviously sensitive issue, Tiger Rag received the following e-mail from a concerned reader:

 

"I was most disturbed to learn today through Matt's article of the university's decision to end their relationship with LN. As a Louisiana business owner and an investor in LSU athletics I cannot believe the powers that be would divert business away from a local company for a national conglomerate. 

 

"We have seen this state and its politicians push the importance of doing business at home to support our economies. It also hurts to know that the same powers that be will be back in session year in and year out poor mouthing about the lack of support of higher education and the need to promote Louisiana business. The problem with public administrators is that they keep burdening local small businesses with higher taxes to run government programs and fund education but turn their back on supporting these same businesses when awarding contracts. Thank you LN, and thanks Matt for informing us - the working citizens of LA - of how our university rewards supporters and promotes Louisiana business.

 

- Charles Evans, Jr.

 

 

Thanks you Mr. Evans for your response.

 

On a lighter note, one of the more comical responses I have received pertaining to a recent editorial came on the heels of the hiring of Les Miles as the 32nd football coach at LSU.

 

When I receive e-mails from readers, not everyone feels the need to sign their name assuming responsibility for their rebuttal. However, some folks respond under an assumed, which can be quite funny from time to time.

 

Obviously a disgruntled Oklahoma State fan sent in the following opinion, signed under the pseudonym of the most famous Cowboy of them all. Very simply, in an appropriate burnt-orange colored text, the note simply stated:

 

"Massive rationalization on your part. Good luck with Miles"

 

- Barry Sanders

 

 

Wow! Thanks Barry. By the way, could you send me an autographed jersey or something?

 

One of the newer features in Tiger Rag has been our viewpoint, labeled simply "Where Do We Stand?" This feature is typically found on page 5. In this weekly piece, we take the liberty of offering our opinion on a various array of weekly topics, on which we give quick hitters expressing our view. While some are positive in the form of congratulatory remarks, we typically use this as an open forum to climb up on the soap box and rant about the happenings of the week.

 

Recently I received a letter from a long time subscriber, who asked that we not publish his response. However, I would like to address his criticism of our opinion on USC quarterback Matt Leinart's decision to return to the Trojans for his senior season. While we felt Leinart should have left for the NFL instead of coming back for his last year at Southern Cal, this concerned reader felt otherwise.

 

While I do not always agree with players leaving early for pro sports, in this case I felt he would be better served moving onto the NFL. In the response I received, the reader states "it was distressing that a criticism was published of a college athlete because that athlete wants to stay in school rather than take the money of pro sports."

 

In retrospect, I agree with the reader and can see the issue of sending positive message to athletes to stay and complete the commitment he made to play football at USC. However, we also feel Leinart has accomplished all anyone might dream of wanting to accomplish in the college ranks and would be jeopardizing draft status with the potential of having a bad senior season – that's all. Maybe Leinart could finish his degree (if he hasn't already in these days of accelerated learning at the college ranks i.e. Collis Temple III at LSU)? Whatever Leinart does as a senior at USC, the risk of an injury on the playing field affecting his draft status has been lessened considerably, considering the fact the Heisman Trophy winner took out a $15 million insurance policy. This guy has his bases covered.

 

 

One of my most recent editorials concerned the fan turnout for LSU basketball games. In a move which I rarely make, I criticized the fans for not supporting the team despite the outcry for the removal of John Brady as head coach. Fans are soured on Brady and are growing restless as the Tigers flirt with mediocrity year in and year out in the SEC. The opinion stated was support the team despite your feelings about the coach, which brought about the following response from a Baton Rouge physician who felt otherwise.

 

The following are excerpts of an e-mail received that is too long to be published in its entirety"

 

"Starting in the late 70's, when the Tigers became not only competitive but were regularly in contention for the SEC crown and NCAA Tournament berths, Mitchell, Macklin, Martin, Carter, the Cookie Man and Sims filled the "Deaf Dome" every night.

 

"The common ingredients:  Quality play and, most of all, wins.

 

"Everyone supports a winner.  Not many support mediocre play with few wins.  Ask the Saints.  Ask any team that is consistently mediocre.  Even Tiger Stadium had many vacancies during the Hallman era.

 

"I am a fan.  I lived in Alexandria for twenty years and drove down on Wednesdays and Saturdays to see basketball games.  It didn't make any difference whether we were winning or losing.  I came.  But I can tell you, when they are mediocre, there aren't many like me.  And when they are mediocre (See Houston, Southern Mississippi, West Virginia) I sit on my hands.  When they play well and compete, I, like many others, scream, stand up and cheer and berate the officials.  It's just not worth it when there are a bunch of underachievers on the court.  Hopefully, we've seen the last of the garbage play that typified the above mentioned games.  And, if so, the crowds will come, cheer, clap, scream and most will stay until the fat lady sings."

 

 

With the most recent debacle at Kentucky, one must believe the memory of the Tigers' three-game winning streak, which brought about the largest home crowd for a men's game this season, is all but a distant memory.

 

LSU battled valiantly throughout the first half and the opening minutes of the second stanza, but fell hard down the stretch for the third-worst loss in the John Brady era. The only two defeats worse that Saturday's were a 35-point defeat at Tennessee (93-58) in January 1999 and a 102-70 beating at Florida in January 2002.

 

While it will take the Tigers winning more games at home to rebuild its credibility after such a debilitating defeat, with it being a down year in the SEC, the Tigers still have a chance to win enough games to possibly turn this thing around.

 

From the looks of teams like Auburn, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee, if LSU can win the games they should against the above listed teams and possibly pull off an upset against either Florida, Mississippi State or Alabama and you never know what may transpire come March.

 

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Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger rag Magazine. He can be reached by e-mail at matt@tigerrag.com.


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