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Hobbs: The Vandals' art department can pack quite a punch

Last Modified: Friday, September 14, 2012 12:02 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

Me, I was thinking this was just nutty ol’ Les Miles again doing a halfhearted smoke job in trying to puff up an opponent (Idaho) when everybody knows he can name his own score for Saturday night’s game.

You were probably like me when Miles called the Vandals a “very capable” team — high praise indeed from The Hatster — you rolled your eyes and wondered if LSU would be charging full face value for game tickets (of course they are, silly).

Well, gee whiz, it turns out that the whole Idaho thing is just another glaring example of a team getting woefully overlooked. Blame it on East Coast/Gulf Coast media bias, perhaps, or another troubling example of Southeastern Conference hubris.

Maybe.

But on the school’s website you learn that the Idaho football team will go into Tiger Stadium ranked No. 3 in the nation.

Who knew? Not me. All this time I was thinking that, after encouraging improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 against carefully selected tomato cans, this would be the perfect time for LSU to step up the competition and see where it stands.

That’s why it pays to do your due-diligence research, particularly when the subject is a bit off the beaten path in Moscow, Idaho.

Bring on the Vandals!

This No. 3 ranking, of course, is in the often-overlooked category of nation’s best schedule poster.

It’s not made clear whether this is the media poll (which doesn’t figure into the BCS schedule-poster rankings) or the coaches poll (who really don’t have time to personally look at many schedule posters and often turn it over to an SID).

You might even want to question Idaho’s math.

By my reckoning, the Vandals are No. 4 in the nation, as there is actually a tie for the second spot between traditional schedule-poster powerhouses Vanderbilt and Colorado State, both of which trail the clear national favorite, uh, somebody … Iowa State, I think.

But even without fudging, No. 4 is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

The Tigers, by the way, are ranked way down at No. 12 — “Font size was the big killer for LSU.” — after easy victories over No. 34 North Texas and No. 45 Washington.

So this is indeed a big step up in competition.

One thing is certain: LSU can’t let this game turn into a schedule-poster war. If the Tigers try to beat the Vandals at their own game, they will be matching blows against a school where “use of that nickname to produce a movie-quality schedule poster is not just dumb luck.”

No gimmicks here. It’s an old-school schedule poster that wins “without sullying the layout with bright colors.”

Maybe the Tigers should have learned their lesson last week, where these same rankings predicted the Louisiana-Monroe victory over Arkansas. The Warhawks are a pedestrian No. 40, but anybody claiming it was an upset didn’t notice that the Razorbacks were unranked.

Perhaps that explains Miles’ concern this week. There were reports that, to better simulate game conditions, he went to the trouble of having an Idaho schedule poster stationed at one corner of the practice fields so they won’t be as much wide-eyed gawking when confronted with the unsullied game-night schedule poster.

Anyway, here’s the scouting report on Idaho.

“Having a cool nickname to work with is a major plus for the Vandals. If it weren’t for (Vanderbilt) the Vandals would have been champions of the uniqueness category.”

There is that nickname to deal with — you thought they were the Fighting Potatoes, didn’t you? — to say nothing of the dreaded “V” that Idaho springs on the unsuspecting.

The website cautions against using the dictionary to trace the Vandals, as they are apparently unrelated to the “Germanic peoples who overran Gaul, Spain and northern Africa in the fourth and fifth centuries, A.D., and in 455 sacked Rome.”

But the “V” is apparently both a logo and a hand signal sinister enough to make “Tiger Bait” sound like “Top of the morning.”

Sadly, the website contains no step-by-step diagrams. So I’m not certain if this a Churchill Victory “V” or more like a Mr. Spock Vulcan “V.”

But, even with the disclaimer that “it does not replace other well-known Idaho logos such as the ‘I-Vandals,’ ‘Vandals’ script or the iconic Joe Vandal,” it still packs quite punch, “a distinctive mark that resonates energy, power and strength.”

Miles, of course, will try to keep Idaho one dimensional, no small task against a versatile hand gesture that does all that resonating “Whether you throw it high, low, backwards, sideways, with one hand or two.”

Just say you have been warned.

•••

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

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