Aggies will be challenge for Tigers, regardless of kickoff time

By By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

BATON ROUGE — It was just after midnight — early Sunday morning, actually — before Texas A&M finally held off Louisiana Tech

by the moon-shot score of 59-57.

This week, the Aggies can almost go straight from their famed midnight yell practice to the kickoff for a key SEC game against

No. 6-ranked LSU.

The Tigers will have a little more of a logistical challenge.

ESPN giveth and the four-letter network taketh away.

Neither school’s fans seem particularly happy about moving the SEC renewal of what was once a long-standing non-conference

rivalry to the eye-opening hour of 11 a.m. at Kyle Field in College Station for ESPN.

The LSU team will have an especially early morning, as they’re spending Friday night at a resort on Lake Conroe, a good hour

from the stadium.

But head coach Les Miles wasn’t complaining.

“The early morning game, I think we’ll

also look forward to that,” he said Monday. “Get in, get it going. We’ll

get home (earlier)

after the game and maybe watch some SportsCenter.”

Fans are blaming SportsCenter’s parent ESPN, even to the point of a clandestine theory.

The conspiracists say ESPN balked at a 6:30 p.m. start because the game might then draw Texas viewers away sister network

ABC’s prime time telecast of the Baylor-Texas game.

CBS, which had first choice with its SEC contract, understandably took this week’s South Carolina-Florida game for its 2:30

p.m. time slot.

That left ESPN to choose between the LSU-Texas A&M and Alabama-Tennessee games for its 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. slots.

The Alabama-Tennessee game got the night billing.

If keeping the Aggies from bumping up

against the other big game in Texas this Saturday was just a glimpse

behind the scenes

into the strictly business world of college telecasts, LSU can

take heart that the Tigers have also benefited from the wheeling

and dealing.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said that playing a night game in a rocking Tiger Stadium last week contributed greatly

to LSU’s 23-21 victory over the then-No. 3 Gamecocks.

That game being at night was a product of the network deal that also will allow LSU to host Alabama at night as it prefers

for the Nov. 3 showdown rather than the afternoon CBS time slot.

To get the prime time slot for LSU-Alabama — instead of 2:30 p.m. — CBS had to give up something to ESPN, which normally has

the rights on the nighttime spot.

That something was giving ESPN first

choice over CBS last week, which is why the latter had to put the less

attractive Alabama-Missouri

game at 2:30 p.m. Otherwise, CBS surely would have picked

LSU-South Carolina as its marquee afternoon game.

At any rate, LSU will have to wake up early on the road this week — a half-hour earlier, even, than the morning games that

Tiger fans dread for the SEC Network 11:30 a.m. syndicated games.

“I think our guys will understand that 11 o’clock is plenty,” Miles said. “I think (any time) before that could be a problem.

It will be a nice time to roll out and play.”

It won’t be the earliest game LSU has played under Miles.

The Tigers opened the 2008 season

against Appalachian State with a 10 a.m. kickoff in Tiger Stadium. But

that game, originally

scheduled for 4 p.m., was moved up to get it out the way as many

in Baton Rouge were evacuating later that afternoon for the

approaching Hurricane Gustav. LSU won the battle between the

defending FBS and FCS national champions 41-13.

Miles has had three other morning starts at LSU, including last year’s 35-7 victory over Kentucky in Tiger Stadium, and has

won them all.

The only other 11 a.m. road game, however, was a 2007 struggle in the Superdome before the eventual national champions finally

woke up in the second half to beat Tulane 34-9 (a 40-point favorite, LSU led only 10-9 at the half).

“We’ll examine some of our work schedule and see if we can put them in a position where they’re comfortable there,” Miles

said. “I don’t think it’s going to take much.

“Certainly the style of (Texas A&M)

will challenge us, and I think we’ll meet that challenge no matter what

time we kickoff.”