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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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(Associated Press)

Hobbs: If the Mean Green are in Baton Rouge, watch the Gulf

Last Modified: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 6:29 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

Gee, and it looked like such a safe, benign option at the time.

But let this be a lesson to LSU, one of those “learning experiences” we hear so much about on football teams these days.

For if we’ve learned a life’s lesson this week, it’s that if LSU is going to schedule North Texas, particularly for a season opener, the Tigers might as well go ahead and leave the light on for Jim Cantore, too.

If the so-called Mean Green are in the picture with LSU, the Weather Channel’s resident hurricane addict can’t be far behind.

Hence, Isaac revs up and aims for the coast.

LSU was supposed to open the 2005 season with North Texas, but Katrina’s horrors had other ideas, forcing the game to be postponed to a more seasonable October date.

The Tigers had North Texas again in 2008, they thought tucked safely away on the third playing date. So an approaching Hurricane Gustav forced them to play the season opener at 10 a.m. against Appalachian State so everybody could get properly evacuated. Which was fortunate because Gustav did enough damage to force postponement of the next week’s game against Troy.

North Texas finally arrived in Baton Rouge two weeks later, just as Baton Rouge had cleaned up — and, of course, just hours before Hurricane Ike flooded Lake Charles to the hilt.

Are you starting to detect a pattern with the Mean Green? Do they fly to Louisiana in a storm chaser plane? If they’re on the LSU schedule, better keep an eye on those millibars.

LSU has further tempted fate this week as the school was still in the process Tuesday of erecting giant, 10-foot, illuminated letters across the outside of Tiger Stadium that, in a fit of cosmetic creativity, spell out “TIGER STADIUM.”

I suppose the informational, cosmetic upgrade is for the legions who wander down Nicholson Drive each day and wonder aloud, “I wonder what THAT big place is.”

Hopefully they are bolting the new letters down snugly, else they could become collector’s items scattered across the landscape. It might leave the stadium facade looking like the game board on “Wheel of Fortune,” with Annie from Toledo needing to buy a vowel.

We shall see.

North Texas is involved so just heed the standard warning — hope for the best, expect the worst.

As LSU head coach Les Miles said Monday, “The good news is we’ve been through this before, we know how to do it.”

Yes, they do.

First you prioritize. At LSU, that means classes were canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday, but football preps continued apace.

That might be overkill considering that it’s only North Texas. But the students would probably only get in the way.

By Saturday, you never know. The whole state might need a good, thorough uplifting of spirits again.

Miles, we know, can handle that.

This, in fact, is pretty much where Miles came in, where we first got to know him at LSU.

It’s doubtful any coach ever went through a more trying time to make his debut at a school than Miles did in 2005 in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Miles has proved to have few equals when it comes to crisis management — whether it’s practicing football while stepping (post-Katrina) around the world’s largest triage center on his campus, dealing with a mass team curfew break at Shady’s Bar or the unexpected dismissal of a Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, Heisman Trophy finalist.

LSU football manages to get through it, somehow, some way, some day.

Take 2005 and Katrina. LSU’s scheduled second game that season, the delayed Miles’ debut, was to be at home against Arizona State.

That wasn’t really practical with all the helicopters still delivering patients to the Assembly Center triage center.

So Arizona State agreed to host the game, and the Tigers were shipped out to the desert and were dumped and left stranded in FEMA trailers until game time.

Just kidding. In fact, the Tigers were put up very well, in one of the most posh, upscale golf resorts in Phoenix, although there were scattered reports that the putting greens were a tad grainy.

But they were carrying a heavy load, the weight of a football-crazy state that was in a state of confusion and exhaustion.

The Saints certainly weren’t much help. It would be a full year before they’d provide much Katrina respite.

At the time, the fleur de lis-ed symbol of a ravaged city was bravely exploring every loophole and excuse it could find to abandon the carnage and move the team permanently to San Antonio, where the real money was.

So it was up to LSU. Somehow, most of the state found a working television that night, many attached to generators.

But as one displaced New Orleans refugee told me later, when ESPN switched to the game and the cameras caught those yellow helmets bobbing in the end zone before the Tigers took the field, it was the first reassuringly familiar Louisiana thing he’d seen in weeks. And quite a relief.

It almost didn’t matter that LSU won the game.

But it certainly did help that the Tigers won it in dramatic comeback fashion.

And maybe it was fitting the way Miles ended that first season of his at LSU —  with a 40-3, Category 5 whipping of the Miami Hurricanes.

In the meantime, the next time LSU gets the uncontrollable urge to play North Texas, maybe it should be a neutral-site game.

Like maybe Omaha, Neb.

•••

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

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