Sonny Marks is writing a book about the game that put LSU basketball under Dale Brown on the college map.
It was a stirring 95-94 overtime
victory over No. 1 Kentucky on Feb. 11, 1978 in Baton Rouge.
The improbable triumph over Joe B. Hall's Kentucky team came despite LSU losing all five
starters to personal fouls. Six weeks later, the Wildcats completed a 30-2
season with a 95-88 victory over Duke in the NCAA championship game, and
embarrassing defeat to Dale Brown's bunch became a distant memory.
LSU fans were delirious with
excitement after LSU knocked off a seemingly invincible unit from Bluegrass land. Who knew the roles of the schools would
completely change in a three-overtime football marathon featuring LSU and
Oct. 13, 2007?
The Cats ecstasy over beating the
No. 1 team in the country has provided the program directed by Rich Brooks a
cache' it did not enjoy previously.
Kentucky's football prowess in the next three
years could rival LSU's hoop success after the epic clash vs. No. 1 Kentucky in
In the three seasons after the
court victory over Kentucky, LSU posted an 80-17 record and went 45-9 in the
SEC, winning two SEC regular season titles, a conference tournament crown and
making one trip to the Final Four.
Kentucky's '78 cagers brushed off the setback at the
Assembly Center and won it all in St. Louis the next month.
LSU's footballers of 2007 can repeat the feat in 85 days by winning the
remainder of their games---a forecast that is not unrealistic.
If the Tigers beat Auburn, Alabama, Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss and Arkansas, they will be 11-1 as they prepare
for the SEC title game. A win over South
Carolina, Florida, Kentucky or Tennessee
would likely propel LSU into the BCS championship game in New Orleans.
LSU and Nick Saban went 13-1 in
2003 and survived a 19-7 blowout loss to Florida at Tiger Stadium to capture national
honors. The current LSU squad could duplicate the 2003 accomplishment if Les Miles and Co. rebound as expected.
Kentucky's Rich Brooks has waited 30 years for
revenge against LSU. He savored it in lavish fashion Saturday night at
Commonwealth Stadium. On the night of Oct. 22, 1977, LSU punished Oregon 56-17 as a 36-year-old Brooks made his Death Valley debut as leader of the less than mighty
Charles Alexander rushed for 237
yards vs. Oregon and scored four touchdowns on the
ground. The last touchdown came when LSU's Charles McClendon called timeout to
enable No. 4 to score again. A livid Brooks responded by bellowing, "I wish he
had broken his leg."
Twenty-nine years later, Brooks
returned to Baton Rouge as Kentucky's coach and
witnessed a 49-0 slaughter to the Tigers.
Even with Saturday's 43-37 loss to UK, LSU has
outscored three Rich Brooks teams by a combined score of 142-60. Despite an
average margin of victory of 47-20 vs. Brooks in three outings, LSU is 2-1 vs.
the 66-year-old coach.
Kentucky is 22-31 in six years under Brooks,
including this season's 6-1 start. Brooks was 91-109-4 at Oregon from 1977-94 and
directed the St. Louis Rams to a 13-19 mark in 1995-96. His overall head
coaching ledger in 25 seasons is 126-159-4.
By contrast, Miles is 56-26 in
eight seasons as a head coach, including a 28-5 mark at LSU in three seasons. It
is ironic that Miles would bow to Brooks three weeks after being on the winning
side of an LSU battle against Steve Spurrier, who is 11-2 vs. the Tigers after
the 28-16 loss to the Tigers by South
Carolina on Sept. 21.
The odds are strong that Miles will
prevail this Saturday at home vs. Auburn and Tommy Tuberville. The War Eagles
outlasted Arkansas in a 9-7 struggle at
The intangibles point to LSU avenging last year's 7-3 loss at Auburn.
LSU's 13-game winning streak, which
was snapped by Kentucky, was the third longest in school
The other streaks:
1957-59: 19 straight wins starting
with a 25-6 victory over Tulane on Nov. 30, 1957 and ending with a 14-13 loss at
Nov. 7, 1959.
1907-09: 15 straight wins starting
with a 48-0 shutout of Baylor on Nov. 30, 1907 and ending with a 15-6 loss to
Sewanee on Oct. 30, 1909.
LSU also logged 16 games without
losing in the final ten contests of 1961 and the first six games of 1962, but
the streak included a 6-6 tie with Rice on Sept. 29, 1962.
The year of 2007 will no longer
produce a team of the ages like LSU in 1958 and 1972 USC and 1995 Nebraska, but the Tigers
still have ample opportunity to repeat the success of the 2003 team that claimed
a national championship trophy with a 13-1 record. The first step on Miles'
march to redemption comes this week vs. Tuberville and Auburn.
Jim Engster is the general manager
Network and Tiger Rag. Reach him at email@example.com.