DEVILLE: Getting through the open date

Most coaches like open dates. Former LSU coach Nick Saban swore by them.

The current coach of the Miami Dolphins' philosophy was he liked to play no more than six straight games without the benefit of an open date.


He had better be glad he's in the NFL because with the 12-game schedule now in effect in college football, teams get only one break during the season.


Heck some teams don't even get a break.


Four teams in the SEC – Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky and Vanderbilt – don't get a break of any kind. They all play 12 straight games.


A year ago, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita postponed the beginning of the 2005 season, LSU had its open date after the season opener versus Arizona State. The Tigers played 10 straight games, winning nine of them.


While Les Miles and his team surely welcomed the downtime last weekend, the absence of a game allowed fans to continue brooding over LSU's 6-2 record heading into Knoxville. Local talk radio shows and Internet message boards have been buzzing with Miles critics after the Tigers dropped their first two road games against top-10 teams Auburn and Florida.


The fans have been brutal.


"Miles is in over his head."


"Miles needs to go."


These are just some of the cries from fans. They question his play calling, his lack of emotion, the way he wears his hat, and so forth and so on. And the ridicule will continue until Miles beats a quality opponent. LSU's six wins have come against teams with a combined 17-20 record. The only team with a winning record is Louisiana-Lafayette, which is 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the Sun Belt Conference.


Miles will get his third chance to beat a prime-time opponent when the Tigers travel to Knoxville to face No. 9 Tennessee.


While a large portion of the chatter around town has been surrounding football, there are plenty of other topics that have diverted fans' attention away from the woes of the football team.


The ongoing scandal surrounding the baseball program has some people already trying to name Skip Bertman's successor as athletic director.


The baseball camp/free housing scandal is becoming a public relations nightmare for the LSU athletic department and many feel Bertman, once the most beloved man in Tiger Town, could be on his way out the door – and soon.


And if "Baseball-Gate" hasn't been enough of a black eye for the athletic department, a couple of recent arrests made involving illegal contact between sports agents and student-athletes has only made matters worse. An agent was arrested two weeks ago for hanging around the athletes' on campus apartments.  It got worse when an assistant strength coach for the football team was apprehended for working as a runner for the same agent.


Not all things are negative, though.


Both the men's and women's basketball program officially got things going last week at SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Ala. The LSU men were picked second in the SEC West behind Alabama, while the women were tabbed third behind Tennessee and Georgia. (Check out page 12 for all the latest news on hoops in the Capital City.)


And as for myself, I spent my open date in Longhorn country visiting my in-laws in Austin, Texas.

I became an uncle for the first time last Friday when my brother-in-law Stewart Bonner and his wife Ann gave birth to an 8-pound, 6-ounce baby boy named Marshall Brooks.


The youngster is destined to either be a baseball player or a country singer with that name.

Talk about a child that is going to grow up with some pretty heavy sports influences.


Mother Ann admits she heard an interview with Marshall Faulk on ESPN Radio and liked the name immediately. Dad chose the name Brooks from the greatest third baseman of them all, Brooks Robinson.


But here's where it really gets interesting.


Looking out the window of Baby Brooks' room at St. David's Hospital in downtown Austin, you can clearly see Darrel K. Royal Memorial Stadium just next door.


The Texas influence will be strong.


Mom is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and is truly one proud Poke. The orange-and-black runs quite deep.


Dad is an LSU alum and has guaranteed his son is a Tiger.


End of story!




From the mailbag:


No, last year was not enough to convince me of anything but that Tyrus Thomas was a freak of nature.  Brady still is missing out on the kind of big-name recruits that it takes to compete with the big boys.  Had Brady landed the Augustine kid who signed with Texas, it might have started to change my mind.  You'll see what I mean when he plays LSU this coming season.  While I welcome the chance to be proven wrong, LSU's tournament run was probably a one-hit wonder for Brady.  For all the greatness that the team displayed in their run in the tournament, Brady's team was ill-prepared when they met UCLA.  LSU had the team, but the coach must have been reading the sports clippings.  For all my negativity, I am looking forward to this year's games and for that I'm thankful.

- Ned Scheppegrell


Easy does it, Ned. I think you are witnessing the beginning of something special at LSU. Brady is going to use the homegrown talent to build the program and begin to be able to attract national recruits, such as five-star power forward Anthony Randolph from Dallas. Hold on. It's going to be quite a ride. - MD




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

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