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Arkansas interim football coach John L. Smith. (Associated Press)<br>

Arkansas interim football coach John L. Smith. (Associated Press)

Hobbs: Contrived rivalries don’t work for LSU

Last Modified: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:35 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

One of these days, LSU is going to have to start taking Ole Miss seriously.

Even at home.

Last Saturday wasn’t that day, but fortunately for LSU the game wore on long enough for night to descend on Tiger Stadium, which is about when the Rebels seemed to get the Tigers’ attention and dandered them up enough for a fourth-quarter comeback.

As much as the Tigers like to ignore Ole Miss these days as not worth the full lather — and certainly not Alabama — the fact is that they keep getting involved in wild shootouts when anything can happen. Saturday’s 41-35 victory was the most points LSU’s defense has allowed since, well, since the Rebels last visit, a similarly themed 42-36 near-fiasco in 2010.

Evidently, the Magnolia Bowl trophy wasn’t enough incentive for a full four quarters of adrenaline. Not that surprising, really, because the thing looks like something you’d pick up in a weak moment at a roadside front yard arts and trinkets (junk) shop.

Fortunately, few even know it exists. But at least you can pick it up and it’s easily transportable.

Which brings us to Part B.

While they’re rearranging worthy priorities, the Tigers might consider taking Arkansas seriously, too.

Even this year, the Year of the Bungling Bacon.

The Hogs have won three of the last five meetings, which doesn’t include a really good Razorback team last year, but does include an upset that all but killed the 2007 LSU national championship run that would not die no matter how many times it was wounded.

Evidently, The Boot is not getting it done, and that’s about all I have to say about that thing.

I will just remind you that the first year the extra incentive of The Boot was dangled out there, 1996, the Tigers won the thing in Little Rock and didn’t even bother to bring it home.

Nor did they miss it. The cleanup crew was sweeping up War Memorial Stadium when an innocent LSU fan wandered by and — I guess since he was wearing purple and gold — they offered him the chance to take custody of it, no questions asked.

Fortunately, he had come in a very sturdy pickup truck and managed to lug it back to Baton Rouge, where it was a convenient conversation piece in his apartment living room, mostly for being so unabashedly hideous and monstrously bulky.

By the next spring, even he had finally tired of the eyesore, so he dumped it off at LSU, which hadn’t exactly put out an all-points bulletin for it.

I know I bring this up every year around Thanksgiving, but with some things I think it’s important to make sure the stories get handed down from generation to generation just so everybody remembers that it was ARKANSAS’ IDEA in the first place, not Louisiana’s.

LSU just doesn’t do trophies very well. Back in the day, there used to be a parting gift for the winner of the LSU-Tulane game, and the Tigers, who went generations without losing to Tulane, did manage to lose the Tiger Rag.

They have no idea where the original of that thing is and, having won the Magnolia Bowl three years in a row, I’d guess they’ve probably misplaced it too by now.

The point with these silly things, I guess, is that people seem unnaturally intent with recreating LSU a natural rival (Ole Miss) or force-fitting one (Arkansas).

Never mind that Ole Miss will always have Mississippi State, that the LSU-Arkansas thing has had 20 years to fester with no trees poisoned, and we all know the Tigers will continue to circle Alabama first and boldest on the schedule.

It’s like the happily content single guy’s friends who seem intent on pestering him with blind date suggestions.

The latest theory is that LSU and Texas A&M should get together, having a bit of history, a close enough proximity and a natural battleground in Houston.

Maybe. It would have potential, particularly if the Aggies ever really do quit even thinking about how much they despise Texas.

There is even scuttlebutt that the Aggies might replace Arkansas as LSU’s final regular-season opponent, leaving the Razorbacks free to pursue a natural love-hate relationship with Missouri on Thanksgiving weekend.

There is merit there for LSU.

It would mean going to A&M for the crisp holidays rather than in the dead of College Station’s Sahara season.

Even better, it would mean an early trip to northwest Arkansas, rather than this time of year when you never know when you might walk right into the middle of an Ice Age.

There’s only one hang-up.

A Missouri-Arkansas Thanksgiving weekend game would mean an East-West Divisional matchup to end the regular season (don’t try to figure it out on a map, it will only confuse you).

But the SEC avoids that kind of thing to avoid the theoretical possibility that the teams could be rematched the very next week in the SEC Championship Game.

So, for now, it’s The Boot or nothing.

But if LSU wants to really get this rivalry stirred up, I have an idea.

They ought to have Mike the Tiger roar out on to Reynolds-Razorback Stadium riding a big, loud Harley-Davidson Hog with a Golden Girl on the back.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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