TIGER RAG VIEWPOINT: Where We Stand

It looks as if the LSU Tigers will finally play a home game.

With the Tigers finally on the verge of getting to take the field in Tiger Stadium, "game week" has finally arrived in Baton Rouge.

Two weekends ago, it was technically game week. However, there was nothing normal about preparations for LSU's 1,400 mile displaced trek to the Arizona desert. Now, with a national audience looking on, the Tigers are set to open their home slate as well as SEC play with a disgruntled band of Tennessee Volunteers converging on Tiger Stadium Saturday.

For the second time in three weeks of this young football season, LSU had the weekend off. Tiger fans spent another September weekend watching the college football world go about its business while a pall seems to be hovering above Baton Rouge. That is all about to change on Saturday.

In the meantime, plenty has been going on other than football in Baton Rouge. Fran Flory's volleyball team is rising to prominence while it appears Tiger Stadium's west upper deck is quickly becoming habitable.

Former Lady Tiger Temeka Johnson picked up some bling in the big leagues while Tiger nation survived a scare with one of its most popular sports alums.

It is all here in our latest rant. 

 First foremost, welcome back football in Baton Rouge. The capitol city is finally getting ready for a football game to be played on Saturday. Let's just say, it's been a long time coming. 

A very enthusiastic thumbs up to the Tiger volleyball team. Already facing the fact it will not play a home game until mid-October, LSU is making the most of a bad situation. Armed with the best team of her tenure in Baton Rouge, Fran Flory's Tigers are ripping through the competition and are off to a 10-1 start, the best of her eight years on campus. LSU bested a very good Arizona State team last Friday at the Hurricane Katrina Classic in College Station, Texas. Then most probably assured a national ranking by defeating No. 8 ranked Notre Dame in five games on Sunday. It was LSU's first win over a top 10 team since 1992. "I don't think I have ever been more proud of a team and the way we competed," Flory said. "Notre Dame is an outstanding team. We came in here and executed the game plan that we drew up and it worked. When they adjusted in the third and fourth games, we showed resiliency and that we are a mentally tough group. I think the most important thing was the way this team handled adversity. We had several calls not go our way and we thought we had the match won at one point, but we fought back from that. We learned from our five-game loss to Texas A&M. I think this win will lead to bigger and better things for this team." The win marked the first victory for LSU over a nationally ranked team since a 3-0 win over No. 18 Texas Tech on Dec. 5, 1992 and the first over a top 10-ranked team since a 3-0 win over No. 9 New Mexico on Sept. 13, 1992. It is also the first win over a nationally ranked team in the Fran Flory era. 

Former LSU golfer and PGA Champion golfer David Toms was rushed to the hospital after playing the front nine at the 84 Lumber Classic last Thursday. Toms, who was suffering from an out-of-control heartbeat (over 170 beats per minute), was taken by ambulance to a to a Farmington, Pa. hospital where he was given an injection that stopped his heart. Technicians then re-started his heart with a series of electric pulses. Toms, fourth on the PGA money list and 11th in the world rankings, has had several bouts with rapid heartbeat. He was told by doctors he would never a procedure to fix the problem, but said he will take medication temporarily allowing him to play in this weekend's President's Cup. Toms will then undergo the six-hour procedure to fix what test revealed to be an electrical malfunction in the upper chamber of his heart. It was a scary situation," Toms said. "I really didn't know what was going on. It got obviously kind of hairy there for about 45 minutes. ... I knew right away my vitals weren't very good, and I was hurting real bad in my chest. At that point, they don't know if you're having a heart attack. I didn't know what was going to happen to me, really." 

To Temeka Johnson. Johnson, the first-round pick of the WNBA's Washington Mystics and former LSU women's basketball point guard, was named the WNBA's Rookie of the Year. Johnson, who received 44 of the 50 possible votes by from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters, started all 34 games for the Mystics at point guard. The New Orleans native averaged 9.3 points, 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game after being selected with the sixth pick of the 2005 draft. 

To the construction of the west upper deck. While the structure will be only 'habitable' for the home opener versus Tennessee on Saturday, a tour late last week has this writer believing in the fact Tiger Stadium will be the premiere college football venue when completed. In this opinion, one word sums it up – PHENOMENAL. 

To the Arkansas Razorbacks. Of all the teams that could have represented the SEC against the nation's No. 1 ranked team, the Razorbacks, fresh off a loss to Vanderbilt, ventured into the Los Angeles Coliseum and were thrashed by Southern Cal 70-17. To put things in perspective, USC ran just nine plays and had the ball 1:32 in the first quarter – and led 28-7. YIKES! 

To the NFL rejects that they are. It was the "Washed Up" bowl Saturday as the Pitt Panthers visited Lincoln for a contest against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska, led by former Oakland Raider coach Bill Callahan, RAN UP the score on Pitt coach and former Miami Dolphin mentor Dave Wannstedt, defeating the once-nationally ranked Panthers 7-6. No wonder why these guys don't coach in the NFL any longer. Wonder how long they'll last in college? 

To exciting football on Saturday. While LSU fans spent another weekend waiting for football to come to Baton Rouge, at least they were treated to several good football games. Overtime thrillers at Notre Dame (vs. Michigan State) and at Clemson (vs. Miami) plus nail-biters in Boston (BC vs. Florida State and Gainesville (Florida vs. Tennessee), Saturday was a great day to be a fan of the game. Heck, even Vanderbilt improved to 3-0 with a win over Ole Miss. What is college football coming to? 

And last and certainly least, the arrogance of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has finally caught up with the Sooners' mentor as the sixth-year coach has found out the hard way how the other half lives. Oklahoma fell to 1-2 Saturday with a 41-24 loss at UCLA. The Sooners haven't been 1-2 since 1997 when they finished the season 4-8.


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