There’s no conspiracy, the Southeastern Conference is not “out to get” LSU.
Nor did the conference leave the Tigers twisting in the wind when it came time to disperse its teams for the holiday bowl season.
The SEC loves all of its little children equally, especially since Little Lord Lane Kiffin took his toys and left the crib (although, yes, that should have been a flagrant personal foul against Alabama on Saturday).
The SEC, with six of the top 10 teams in the BCS standings, had a wealth of riches for the upper-echelon bowls,
Everybody wasn’t going to be happy in the end.
But this was not some sinister plot.
Maybe it didn’t work out quite the way LSU had hoped, with the Tigers being shipped to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Bowl to play Clemson.
If everybody can just quit coveting thy neighbor’s vacation plans and put together an honest, working game plan, LSU and its fans can have themselves a fine ol’ time in Atlanta. Just quit whining and party hard and play harder in the Georgia Dome against Clemson.
Most of the bowl rankings — you notice nothing goes unranked these days? — have the LSU-Clemson game as no worse than the fourth-most appealing matchup up of the entire bowl season.
It’s probably more fun than going to Florida to play some clunky Big Ten teams — Georgia gets Nebraska in the Capital One and South Carolina gets Michigan in the Outback.
Clemson is No. 14 in the BCS standings. Nebraska in No. 16, Michigan No. 18.
Isn’t that what you really want in the end, the best possible opponent?
But in the logjam that was the SEC free-for-all, somebody has noticed that LSU was No. 8 in the BCS and yet the Tigers were technically selected behind No. 9 (Texas A&M) and No. 10 (South Carolina).
Well, whatever. Feel jilted if you must, Tigers. But in the overall scope of the football universe, this is a minor slight indeed.
A new word has even cropped up in the bowl selection process, something called “protecting” teams.
Never mind that these are big, strapping lads, and I’m not sure they need middle-aged, fluorescent-coated Shriners and Rotarians to protect them.
But the word on the streets is that the SEC — or maybe it was the Capital One Bowl itself or perhaps the two were in cahoots — was somehow protecting Georgia.
From what I’m not quite sure.
The Bulldogs seemed fairly well capable of taking care of themselves just fine in 60 minutes of an absolute Greco-Roman war against Alabama. They lost, but they were hardly staggered.
So if life was really fair — hey, it’s not always — Georgia would at least be in a BCS bowl, if not preparing for title rematch with Alabama.
So if the Capital One was the best the SEC had to offer, then give ‘dem Dawgs a bone.
It’s hard to blame the Cotton Bowl for taking a rejuvenated Texas A&M fan base even if they weren’t also getting the likely Heisman Trophy winner as a bonus with Johnny Manziel to pump up TV ratings.
If the Tigers still had them a Honey Badger maybe they’d look a little different. But they don’t.
The Outback was going to get Michigan on one side, so getting LSU and its dyed-in-the-wool Mad Hatter Michigan Man on the other would have seemed like too many potential hijinks to pass up. For everybody, that is, except Les Miles. If that scenario was ever being bandied about, I kind of doubt Miles really encouraged the discussion.
That left the Chick-fil-A.
But here’s the deal: Once you get into what could be known as the SEC’s next four — Capital One, Outback, Cotton and Chick-fil-A — there’s not really a sliver’s worth of difference in them.
Well, the Cotton Bowl sticks out since it still has the feel of a BCS bowl and it has that wonderfully over opulent stadium that Jerry Jones built.
The other three, you’re splitting hairs.
But some LSU fans are acting like the Tigers were the last kid on the playground selected for the pickup game.
The Chick-fil-A was cooler when it was the just the Peach Bowl, but it mostly gets a bad rap because it’s not in Florida and it never was one of the — remember this old phrase? — “traditional New Year’s Day” bowls, like the Cotton.
But it’s not like you have to dodge parachuting cows to play the thing. The Georgia Dome is a great stadium and a traditional happy hunting ground for LSU (9-1 all-time in the building).
Oh, sure, the money’s different, ranging from the Capital One’s $4.5 million to $3 million for the Chick-fil-A.
But not really. Not in the long run. The payouts are all going to the same place anyway, the SEC’s bulging coffers.
As big of a dog-eat-tiger competitive nightmare the SEC can be on the field — and as much as the schools act like old-school robber barons when gleefully raking in the cash — in the end, when they divvy out the money, it’s still a financial commune.
Everybody gets paid.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org