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Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. (Associated Press)

Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. (Associated Press)

Hobbs: Real threats don’t need gimmicks

Last Modified: Friday, September 07, 2012 7:34 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

Oh, that again.

It turns out that, to better acclimate his team for this Saturday’s game with Washington, LSU head coach Les Miles has stationed a live Siberian Husky near the practice field as his team goes through its paces.

No, wait.

The game is in Baton Rouge.

Check that.

LSU is playing it straight.

It’s Washington that’s resorting to the gimmicks.

Miles doesn’t let any strangers in practice.

But Washington coach Steve Sarkisian went to the trouble of getting a live Bengal tiger, on loan from a nearby wildlife park, to preside over one of his Huskies’ workouts this week in Seattle.

Well, that’s different.

Of course it was only a 16-month, 300-pound female, meaning that compared to LSU’s Mike VI, who tips in at closer to 500 pounds, you’re talking about something that could be a house pet in Louisiana.

The tiger in question is also available for state fairs, kids’ birthday parties and probably the odd bar mitzvah.

But to each his own.

“The whole emphasis of it was just to get us used to it now so when we get down there, no one will be surprised or caught off guard,” Washington senior center Drew Schaefer was quoted as saying in the Seattle Times.


The thought of a live tiger on the field always gets a lot of play from opponents going to Tiger Stadium, one of the many horrors of going to Baton Rouge complete with tall tales (never quite confirmed) of opposing players who refused to come out of the dressing room as long as that beast was right outside.

It makes a good story. The home folk and Tiger Stadium regulars don’t really pay much attention to Mike VI, even in those rare moments when he’s awake.

One thing you should know, Huskies, regardless of what you may have heard, is that Mike VI, although he may well be quite capable of eating you for lunch, HE IS IN A CAGE!

A very strong cage. He is no more of a threat to you than a trip to the zoo.

It’s not like he will be prowling the sidelines on the loose. Besides, as soon as the game starts, they take him out of the stadium and back across the street to his palatial estate where he can get a good, sensible nap in peace.

Of course, if they watch reality TV, they probably will expect to tiptoe over alligators between the team bus and the dressing room.

Just for fun, don’t tell them any different.

But acclimating yourself to being around a live tiger makes no more sense than if, when LSU went to Seattle three years ago, Miles had built a replica of Mount Rainier outside the Tigers’ practice field.

When the highest spot in your state is a man-made tee box, that will get you gawking if you don’t plan ahead for it.

As for wildlife, I wandered into a fish market not far off the Washington campus up there and, I’m telling you, they had crabs bigger than our pickup trucks and a lot of even larger sea urchins and things I don’t know what they were and didn’t care to find out.

You didn’t hear tales of LSU being afraid to venture up there.

But give Washington credit. Most teams that go to Tiger Stadium fall for the ploy of pumping crowd noise into their practices all week.

It’s overanalyzing to a fault , and it usually doesn’t accomplish much more than to annoy the neighbors around the practice field.

Of course, if the Huskies scouted Tiger Stadium from the North Texas game, they might well want to spend the week’s practices with amplifiers blaring in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.”

The quickest way to silence the Tiger Stadium noise is to let it be known that you’re a threat and that the Tigers are not playing for style points.

That shuts them up in a big hurry.

But if Washington really wants to get used to its surroundings, perhaps it could dial up some 93-degree weather in Seattle, the kind of heat that you can see the spots rising, with the humidity literally dripping from the sky.

That, too, however, is often overrated.

The closest LSU has come to losing during its 38-game nonconference, regular-season winning streak was a September overtime win over equally heat-challenged Oregon State in 2004.

In fact, Washington’s last trip to Baton Rouge is often (mistakenly) used as Exhibit A for the misery a cool-weather, low-humidity team can be subjected to when venturing to the Gulf Coast.

In 1983, Washington was ranked No. 9 in the country when it played its only other game in Baton Rouge, in mid-September, against a nondescript 1-1 LSU team.

The Tigers shockingly won 40-14.

One problem with the melting-in-the-heat theory, however. It was unseasonably cool for the game, bordering on sweater weather.

LSU, although the Tigers won only two more games that year, just happened to be the better team that night.

Which is usually the way it happens, no matter the gimmick preparations.


Scooter Hobbs
covers LSU athletics. Email him at

Posted By: Gyrthel Whiddon On: 9/9/2012

Title: Real threats don't need gimmicks

Thanks for accepting my comment.

Posted By: Gyrthel Whiddon On: 9/9/2012

Title: Real Threats Don,t Need Gimmicks

This article is great and, as usual, I think Scooter is the best and most entertaining of all sports analysts Bar None!

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