Last Modified: Monday, October 28, 2013 10:18 AM
BATON ROUGE — This is a wonderful country and LSU can thank its lucky purple and gold stars that the last incarnation of Tigervision was still pay-per-view.
I’m not sure what LSU did Saturday night against Furman to improve two spots to No. 11 in the Associated Press media poll.
Only in America, I guess.
But, of course, I was there and witnessed a sluggish, disjointed performance until LSU’s far superior manpower finally kicked in and made a presentable 48-16 final score inevitable whether the Tigers wanted it or not.
It was the last time LSU will produce it own pay-per-view game — beginning next year these kind of games will be on the start-up SEC Network — but it evidently paid dividends in at least one poll. I can tell you that the media is way too cheap to shell up the extra bucks when there’s plenty of free stuff out there to scarf up.
The well-paid coaches, on the other hand, left the Tigers at No. 13 in their poll, and maybe that’s just a difference in the groups’ disposable income.
Anyhow, somehow it got me to wondering about the difference in college football, where the elite deal with the pressure of not being able to afford to lose more than a single regular season game, if that, while the NFL teams get mulligan after mulligan before their eventual postseason dreams are mathematically eliminated.
In the NFL, however, any team except Jacksonville can beat another if you don’t bring your best game or the stars line up just right or there’s an ill-timed turnover or two.
It evens out. An upper echelon college team, like LSU, gets a couple of Furmans a year under the excuse that the Tigers needed a win and a breather and the Paladins needed $500,000.
No knock on Furman. It just happened to be the school there Saturday night. The Paladins played hard, did the best they could, even took a shocking 7-0 lead and followed that with a 10-7 lead, all without really worrying anybody in Tiger Stadium — even the thousands of early Halloween revelers who apparently came disguised as empty seats.
Furman could come and play LSU 100 times and it’s not going to win one of them.
That was pretty well proved Saturday night when, in the end, despite LSU’s best early efforts at Louisiana hospitality, the scoreboard gradually reflected the firepower difference in the teams, if not the intensity of their play.
Give Furman a Jeremy Hill, even a Terrence Magee, along with a couple of Odell Beckhams and Jarvis Landrys and maybe throw in a Zach Mettenberger, and perhaps it’s a different story. But those guys don’t often end up at Furman.
Yet they keep playing these games with a straight face. Maybe college football needs a handicap system, like golf.
Or maybe that was what LSU was up to when the Tigers presented the Paladins with a nice 7-point party favor to start the game.
LSU wrote it off as a classic miscommunication, meaning Beckham apparently zigged when Mettenberger expected him to zag. Nobody afterwards was of a mind to point fingers. But while only their hairdressers know for sure who was wrong, it left Furman defensive back Reggie Thomas wide open and Mettenberger hit him in stride, right in the mitts, for what turned into a 76-yard touchdown the other way.
Yet there wasn’t even any shrieking from the festive empty seat costumes.
I guess that’s a round-about way of saying I’d tread lightly before analyzing this game too seriously.
What did we learn? Nothing we didn’t already know.
LSU has an offense to play with anybody when its head is on straight, it still has across-the-board defensive issues nine games into the season no matter who it plays, and the Tigers really, really need the open date they get this week.
Leave it at that.
Mainly the open date.
The 7-2 Tigers, the only team at the FBS level that has played nine games, are the last team in that division to get their week off.
Maybe they need a union.
But it looks premeditated — having two of the next three weeks off gives them an extra week to rest for Alabama and, then, another extra week to recover and to prepare for the Texas A&M offensive circus.
Physically, the Tigers are reasonably healthy for such a stretch, just bumps and bruises. Certainly they’ve haven’t suffered the loss of multiple offensive toys like so many others in the SEC, particularly the M*A*S*H unit that is the East Division.
But they aren’t robots.
Emotionally, mentally, they look like a team that needs a break to just get away from football, recharge the batteries.
• • •
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org