DEVILLE: Let summer be gone

It is mid July and that means several things. First, it is hot. Well, we all know that.

Second, football is just around the corner. The Tiger Rag Football Preview is headed to the press and should find its way into your mailboxes in a couple of weeks. The cover date is Aug. 2.


Third, to go along with the football theme, there are those isolated mid-summer headlines that rise to the surface allowing Tiger fans just enough to talk about for weeks until the start of fall camp. This summer's biggest headline so far is the Chase Pittman saga, which we will expound on shortly.




David Toms



Fourth, mid July means the British Open, which abruptly ended on a sour note for LSU golfer David Toms. Toms disqualified himself after Thursday's opening round for signing an incorrect scorecard. He signed off on a two-over 74, but in reality tapped in a moving ball on 17, which was a two-stroke penalty. Toms assessed the penalty on himself meaning he shot a 76. Technicalities! Those persnickety golf rules…. I tell ya!


But as midsummer rounds the bend toward August, LSU fans have been treated to a few enticing extras this July. Chase Pittman surely spiced things up with his early morning melee at a Baton Rouge bar. But the whirlwind surrounding Smoke Laval and the ongoing discussion concerning the construction of the new west upper deck has kept the radio talk shows and Internet message boards buzzing.


First, let's tackle the construction project.


All of you know LSU fans can be critical. But let's take it easy on the powers that be concerning this west upper deck thing. If you remember, it took almost two years to construct the east upper addition opened in 2000.


The west upper was torn down and is being rebuilt in a window of nine months. This is a project no one has dared to try before and if LSU pulls it off should be commended.


Heck, if they can get the thing habitable it will be an accomplishment.


The fact is, this is the only way this project could be done. LSU couldn't just announce, ‘all right, we will not have the west upper deck for the 2005 season.' That couldn't happen. The athletic department had the luxury of taking two years on the east upper because it was not previously in use.


For those of you who feel reconstructing the west upper was a waste of time and resources because the old one was good enough, you obviously never had the pleasure of visiting the press box or club level sections. Plus, when completed, Tiger Stadium will be visually appealing as each deck will be symmetrical.


Moving on to Chase Pittman.


Les Miles was forced to handle his first domestic issue in terms of disciplining a player (Shawn Jordan doesn't count because he was in Texas).


Chase Pittman's incident at Bogie's bar & Grill earned an indefinite suspension and a boatload of discussion in a traditionally slow news month.


Let's get the facts here:


Pittman slugged a guy in a bar. The unnamed recipient of Pittman's punch suffered a swollen guy and visited Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. Pittman, subsequently was arrested for battery. Pittman was suspended by Miles.


Here's what we don't know:


Did Pittman throw the punch taking up for a co-ed who was violated by the unnamed sluggee. Pittman said the person in question groped a young lady, he stepped in and the anonymous bar-goer took a swing at Pittman, to which he retaliated. Also, the man that threw the first punch was 5-7 compared to Pittman standing 6-4. (What was that guy thinking?)


It sounds like a whole lot of bar talk here, but from what we understand, something happened and Miles did what he had to do. Pittman was suspended but is suspected to return to the team for the season. These are the type of things that happen with college aged kids – football players or not. There has been a great deal of discussion about what Miles should do with Pittman, even suggestions that Miles should ban all players frequenting night clubs.


Whatever the outcome, Miles cleared his first major hurdle as head coach handling the issue quickly and efficiently.



Could Smoke say yes to Oklahoma?



Finally, what about Smoke?


Rumors out of Oklahoma say he is a candidate for the head coaching vacancy there.


Smoke says he is not.


The rumors were silenced a bit when Wichita State's gene Stephenson apparently accepted the job early last week. But when Stephenson had a change of heart, the rumor mill was revitalized.


Laval denies any talks with the Sooners, but athletic director Skip Bertman has spoken with the newspapers a little too often to believe there is nothing there. Plus, Bertman has made comments concerning Smoke's team "underachieving" and the fact LSU will not "offer Laval more money to stay" if he does talk to Oklahoma.


Sounds a little fishy on this end.


But it also begs the question, why wouldn't Smoke go?


At LSU, he has won more SEC games in four years than any other coach in the league (75), made two trips to the College World Series and has an SEC title under his belt. Yet, fans still scream for his head on a daily basis.




Because Laval is and never will be the kind of coach fans want him to be – namely Skip Bertman. Laval will never possess the fire in the dugout Bertman had nor will he ever be able to pump out five national titles in 10 years.


How about ‘pack your bags for Norman' Smoke?


At Oklahoma, Laval would obviously make more money than he does at LSU (Laval isn't among the leaders in salary in the SEC). Also, toss in the fact he would be playing in an easier conference, face fewer expectations and at the same time shed the Bertman shadow. Plus, he would be able to build his own program, much the way he did at UL-Monroe.


While Laval says he isn't interested in the Sooners and Bertman is leaving the door open for speculation with a host of cryptic comments, we say happy trails Smoke. You can't say the prairie grass of Oklahoma makes for greener pastures, but anything is better than the rising heat in this LSU pressure cooker.




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag Magazine. He can be reached by e-mail at

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