The Truth Hurts

I hate LSU home games on Jefferson Pilot.<br><br> When the Tigers kick off against Mississippi State this week at college football's equivalent of the crack of dawn, I'll be spending Saturday morning in my La-Z-Boy, polishing off a breakfast burrito.<br><br>I'm staying home in protest of this ludicrous sellout the Southeastern Conference has made for a few extra bucks with a cut-rate production.

Granted, I don't know how much JP pays the SEC or how much of that is LSU's cut and quite frankly, I don't care. I do know that when those guys are in town, tradition is obliterated.

 

An 11:30 kickoff erases LSU's unique brand of tailgating and nighttime football that was here long before the university started taking chump change from the broadcast division of a North Carolina financial services company.

 

An 11:30 kickoff means there is no time for tailgate party hopping. No time to look at pretty girls. No chance to ridicule shameless politicians who work the game-day crowds and razz the other team's fans, all of which make a precious handful of Saturdays in Baton Rouge special and life here a little more tolerable. I realize LSU's athletic department has no say in the matter, but that's what makes it all the worse. The JP contract doesn't even allow schools to control their own scheduling.

 

A 6:00 start for ESPN coverage is fine. It's only one hour earlier and the network actually remembers college football is supposed to be fun. CBS is really pushing it with a 2:30 start time. If nothing else, it's great listening to Vern Lundquist get so excited it sounds like he's on the verge of a coronary.

 

But an 11:30 kickoff for LSU is totally unacceptable.

 

True, I also hate day games because LSU rarely plays as well as it does under the lights. But Jefferson Pilot – from the top down – is a bush league effort. About the only thing less inspired than a JP presentation is the second-grader who designed the new LSU sports logo.

 

I was in heaven watching the Vanderbilt-Ole Miss game last week. It was the best conference match-up so far this season and no doubt will go down as one of the best SEC contests this year. The only problem is that you'd never know that watching Dave Neal and Dave Rowe.

 

Neal does a passable job of play-by-play. But this is the SEC, the premier college football league. This is not the Channel 5 Sunday Matinee brought to you by Bob's Wrecker Service. If he had been a starting linebacker for The Mean Machine and smoked a pack of unfiltered Camels every day, Neal still couldn't touch the baritone gravitas of a Keith Jackson.

 

"This is one exciting contest," Neal mused with the scored tied at 38 late in the fourth quarter. Really? So was that last movie with the Mighty Ducks.

 

Dave Rowe, a Penn State alumnus and member of Oakland's Superbowl championship team in 1977, is a veteran sportscaster with a decent knowledge of the game. But the most intelligent insight uttered by the former All Pro defensive tackle encompassed gems like, "The offense is lollygagging," or "You need to get a hat on that guy."

 

Perhaps Roget himself couldn't have envisioned such verbal acrobatics.

 

JP's spare graphics, lame ‘80s-synthesizer music and tired overall production get me about as fired up as I was headed to my last prostate exam.

 

Hey guys: This is college football. This is the league of Billy Cannon's Holloween run, War Eagle, the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, The Grove and playing Between the Hedges. The Chinese Bandits, Bo Jackson, Broadway Joe, General Neyland and The Bear all called this place home. SEC fans deserve more than play-by-play from a guy whose eloquence peaks at "an exciting contest."

 

And how about those sponsors and their ads? Texas Pete? Yep, on game day, there's nothing I crave more than reaching for a bottle of diluted pepper sauce and shaking it on my quiche, only to find one of those giant, red cowboy hats magically appear on my head. I don't know what they do in Texas, but this company must think SEC fans spend the rest of the week draped in mauve and marching in PETA demonstrations.

 

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