DEVILLE: All's well at LSU... or is it?

Do you feel that funny feeling in the air?

Not the recent cool spell we have been having in Baton Rouge, there is nothing funny at all about it. It is wonderful. It finally feels like football weather.


While the weather does feel like football in the fall, does it seem evident to anyone but me that the weather is all that feels like football?


Is there something about football in Baton Rouge that has changed in the last year or so?

I know some people will say no, things are better than ever in Baton Rouge. The jambalaya is hot, the beer is cold, the Tigers are ranked in the top 10. All is well.


But really, is it?


It is something I cannot really seem to put my finger on, but that buzz in the air, that collective holding of breath that you can feel on a Saturday at kickoff, it just isn't there.


And it hasn't been for quite some time now.


Tiger Stadium is still Tiger Stadium, no matter what Collin Cowherd says. Cowherd, who hosts a daily radio talk-show host on ESPN Radio called "The Herd," said one of the most overrated myths in sports is Tiger Stadium. While I am not going to endorse the comment, which I think is a bit asinine considering Cowherd has probably never seen a game on Saturday in baton Rouge, I will somewhat agree.


When the situation is right, there is no place in any sport quite like a night game in Tiger Stadium. senior writer Pat Forde said so following LSU's 30-27 loss to Tennessee earlier this season.


I will agree the first half of that game was about as emotionally charged as these eyes have ever seen in that stadium. But the second half was a sharp contrast to the first. Fans sat limp with exhaustion of the previous few weeks (Hurricane Katrina) and the football team acted accordingly blowing a 21-point lead to lose by three in overtime.


But it wasn't just the second half of the Tennessee game. This is a lull that dates back to the days before Katrina, even before the arrival of Les Miles. It is a dilemma dating all the way back to Jan. 4, 2004, the day Nick Saban hoisted that crystal football on the floor of the building formerly known as the Superdome.


Baton Rouge, LSU, Tiger Stadium has not been the same since that day. It is as if the air was taken from the lungs of Tiger fans, the hunger from their bellies, the fire from their hearts.


People had yearned for almost five decades to again sit atop the ranks of college football.

A national championship would be the greatest accomplishment of all.


First came an SEC title in 2001 to light the fires of the LSU faithful. But the hunger was returned when the Tigers slumped to an 8-5 record the following year. Saban produced another league title in 2003 beating Georgia, then within 12 hours of that victory, the Tigers learned they would get their shot at the end-all, be-all national title.


Playing Oklahoma, touted most of that season as invincible, LSU fans traveled with enthusiastic doubt to New Orleans to see if the Tigers could pull off the upset. An emotional filled night resulted in an LSU victory – Tigers 21, Oklahoma 14.


USC be damned, LSU was No.1.


Finally, the Tigers had arrived. After waiting 45 years to return to the top of the mountain, LSU had done it.


Insert pin into balloon.


Maybe it was an omen when that rainstorm pelted a packed house in Tiger Stadium when heavily-favored LSU hosted Oregon State last season. The Tigers slipped by that night in overtime and needed the luxury of several narrow victories to escape week after week.


LSU's hopes were dashed of repeating as SEC champions when Auburn emerged as the team to beat in the league. While the grills sizzled across campus on Gameday, crowds came late and left early as no one seemed nearly as enthusiastic as the year before. A lackluster home schedule produced a typically half-empty Tiger Stadium by halftime.


Tiger fans smiled half-heartedly when LSU compiled a 9-2 overall record and landed in, yet another, New Year's Day bowl. However, the Tigers date with Iowa became very much of an afterthought when Saban, the man behind the national championship, bolted for the NFL.


Enter Les Miles, the man tabbed to follow Saban. From the beginning fans doubted his credentials. Sure he had won at Oklahoma State, but was he good enough to carry on what Saban had started in Baton Rouge.


Many sat with cautious optimism when Miles talked the talk as LSU prepared for a season, which it would open in the top five. Hurricane Katrina then struck ultimately removing what focus remained on football.


Miles pulled out a thriller at Arizona State, but soon found out how tough it really is to coach in Baton Rouge when his team blew a 21-point in losing to the Vols.


Presently, LSU is 6-1 overall (that loss to Tennessee being the only blight on LSU's record) and ranked No. 6 in the recent polls. But even being ranked in the top 10 hasn't seemed to matter as crowds have been thin, even against a home schedule that has included the likes of the Vols, Florida and Auburn.


The attendance was announced as the largest ever against Florida, despite hundreds of visibly empty seats. The announced crowd for the Auburn game a week later again topped the charts, again there were empty seats.


An announced attendance of 88,887 for the North Texas game last Saturday was more than a bit skewed. There actually looked as if there might have been 75,000.


The effects of the hurricanes have played a role in the decreased interest in Tiger football, but a feeling of apathy was apparent even before the storms.


Is LSU still suffering from post national championship hangover?


Whatever the case, LSU is in need of a remedy for what ails it. Is the proper medicine a win over Alabama in two weeks, we shall see.




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag Magazine. Reach him at

Tiger Blitz Top Stories