Ode to Hypocrisy

In the early 1990s, I found myself selling advertising in south-central Mississippi.<br><br> One of the few highlights of that chapter in my professional career came one chilly winter afternoon when I walked into a little gas station. I had an appointment with the affable owner about a deal I had been putting together for him.

A few minutes after we got down to business, his son, a cocky 30-something, walked in and apparently was struck by inspiration when he gazed upon my curly hair and the big schnozz occupying the middle of my face.


He then attempted to ingratiate himself with a joke about a Jew selling advertising to Mississippi rednecks. His father, who realized then how badly intelligence had skipped his progeny, was speechless.


It was at that point I very calmly corrected him. If he wanted to slur me, I suggested, "coon-ass" would be much more effective.


I might impart the same kind of advice to Creg Stephenson, who identifies himself as a columnist for Dateline Alabama, which from what I can tell is a University of Alabama Internet publication.


Stephenson, a goateed lad of considerable girth according to his staff picture, recently penned a piece questioning the veracity of the Death Valley mystique.


Just as the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an Empire, he breathtakingly mused, LSU's Death Valley is neither a valley nor very morbid for the Tigers' opponents.


From there, Stephenson proceeds to regurgitate the Tigers' mediocre at-home record, the galling 2000 loss to UAB, the Tide's recently ended 30-year streak of wins in Baton Rouge, as well as various other cheap shots.


At the risk of lending legitimacy to this person's burgeoning literary career by mentioning him within the precious space allotted for my own column, I couldn't let Creg's comments, which were pointed out by a few LSU fans, pass without a few observations of my own.


If you'll indulge me Creg, here's some advice from an old salt: If you're going to slur another team and its fans, don't do it the way Mississippi rednecks buy advertising. Go for the jugular instead of pussyfooting around with numbers and records.


Or at least pick an original topic.


Creg, who I assume from his syntax is a student writer, would do well to research the comments of a host of sportswriters more talented than either one of us who over the years have skewered LSU's oft bragged about home-field advantage.


In particular, Gary Lundy, a sportswriter for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, scribed a much more thought-provoking and intelligent indictment of the Tiger Stadium mystique in 2000 just before Tennessee traveled to Baton Rouge for an overtime loss.


Creg might also do himself a favor by delving further into Tiger Stadium's past. The intangible advantage of its high-decibel crowd has absented the Tigers in much more significant ways than the paltry examples he presents.


One of the Ole Miss losses he cited, for instance, came the week after LSU's ballyhooed upset of No. 1-ranked Florida in 1997, which vaulted the Tigers (briefly) to No. 8.


Speaking of Florida, Creg forgot about Steve Spurrier's old-school thrashings administered in Tiger Stadium throughout the '90s. The offenses of Curley Hallman in particular were fortunate to push the Gators past midfield in those days.


Creg overlooked Miami's rain-soaked 44-3 blowout of LSU in 1988 - a game that wasn't even as close as the score. And speaking of Miami, who could forget the home loss in 1986 to Miami of Ohio? That sore spot, which still rankles those who remember, represented what was perhaps the only stumble for the Tigers to at least challenge for their first national title since 1958.


How about LSU's yucky 20-18 home loss to Southern Miss in 1994? I thought surely Creg would have remembered that one, considering the Eagles traveled to Tuscaloosa two years ago and blanked Bama 21-0 just weeks before the Tide lost to Central Florida. And a year before Alabama-Birmingham was embarrassing LSU for the Tigers' homecoming in 2000, the Tide was humbled at homecoming at the hands of Louisiana Tech.


Louisiana Tech!


The most interesting conclusion in Creg's razor-sharp piece, though, came in avowing "the state of Louisiana leads the world in three things -- political corruption, good food and self-delusion."


OK, he's got us on the first two.


But rest assured, the Bayou State has no monopoly on the latter.


While this man-child is chastising LSU fans for their mass delusions, Sigmund Freud would have a field day with an equally disturbing epidemic of Pollyannaism infecting The Capstone – which is neither a cap nor much of a stone.


Bravo for Tide fans who continue to support a team that's going nowhere when its current or next season ends. But I'm constantly amazed at how the Tide faithful really believes its team's recent spate of NCAA sanctions was too harsh, or worse yet those who entertain themselves with fantasies of the Tide's innocence.


Aside from purchasing Albert Means like a used car, investigations have shown how Tide boosters were handing cash-filled shopping bags to recruits even as the university was fending off sanctions from previous infractions.


For its latest violations, the team was punished with a two-year ban on post-season play and a reduced amount of scholarships. Head coach Dennis Franchione responded by scheduling Hawaii for an ersatz bowl game instead of the Tide's traditional end to the season in the Iron Bowl with Auburn.


And the boys from NCAA could be headed back to Bama, but I'll save that one for another day.


Yes, LSU has its own problems with the Infractions Committee. And I would not be surprised to learn of wrongdoing.


But Creg, you're lucky there is still a team to follow in the first place. Under rules Alabama helped write, the Tide could have -- and perhaps should have -- been handed the death penalty.


Of course, we shouldn't be surprised to learn a busy program like Alabama doesn't have time for that pesky NCAA. There are well-documented accounts of how the illustrious Bear Bryant -- who may have been a Bryant but, let's face it, really wasn't that ursine – regarded the rules.


I'm the first to admit the Nov. 16 game was a quite a bitter pill, but I'm not surprised Alabama whipped LSU. In fact, the only thing about the Tide that does surprise me is the fact that the best college football team money can buy has two losses this year.


And now we learn Alabama's program boasts a whopping 36 percent graduation rate, proving academics is even less of a priority there than it is for other SEC football teams, which aren't exactly world-renowned for their academic excellence.


While you're congratulating yourself for just now discovering the parity and competition within the SEC that have been obvious to the rest of us, just remember, Creg: Your program can't even graduate the players it cheats to recruit.


So let's recap. Alabama cheats, flouts NCAA punishment and graduates barely a third of its players.


And yet, Tide fans and players proclaim the program's innocence and want to make a statement about who has the "best" West Division team this year.


Now, that, Creg, is delusion.


Chet Rollis is a Coon-Ass Doodle Dandy who covers SEC football.

E-mail him your comments

Tiger Blitz Top Stories