LSU-Florida goes from penthouse to outhouse

Published 7:40 am Friday, October 10, 2014

As much as they seem to complain about the forced marriage that joined them at the hip as permanent cross-division “rival” opponents, who ever thought LSU and Florida would be happy to see each other?

For once, it’s seen, by both, as good of a chance for victory as might come along.

But there’s the bigger picture.

Quick, Tigers, this is your chance to get out of this scheduling mess. Opportunities like this don’t come along too often.

Get the schedule makers on the horn. Remind them that one of the excuses for keeping those permanent East-West opponents annual was that the Tigers vs. Gators, for instance, was always such top-notch entertainment, fun and excitement for all ages.

And they had some doozies over the years, often as not capturing intense national attention and once driving Tim Tebow to real tears.

It would be shame, they always said, for the gridiron public to be denied such a delightful circus year after year after year.

They made a strong case.

Back in the day.

So explain why they’ve been shoved off Broadway for Saturday’s renewal in Gainesville, at The Swamp.

Probably because it’s the first time since 1989 that neither team goes into the game ranked — keeping in mind that for much of the 1990s LSU was more rank than ranked.

The traditional television outlets have turned up their noses.

Who’d have thought the SEC Network was invented to have some convenient, out-of-the-way spot to park LSU-Florida?

That thing was supposed to be a last resort for Kentucky-Vanderbilt and similar riffraff.

LSU and Florida don’t do the SEC Network. If Verne and Gary aren’t there, it’s hardly worth taping your ankles for.

This is the rivalry game that we’ve been told that no man should cut asunder, for the common good.

Yeah?

Then how come it’s almost like the SEC is trying to hide this affair — pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

And you can’t blame them.

This is a conference that is now floating trial balloons that it should be theoretically possible for not two but three teams from the same division (SEC West) to be in the upcoming four-team College Football Playoff.

LSU’s and Florida’s name haven’t come up in the discussion.

But it’s bold move anyway. So the SEC wants eyeballs directed — and I’m not making this up — at Starkville, Mississippi, where Auburn and the Cowbells collide or in College Station, Texas, where Ole Miss and the Texas Aggies promise thrills and chills aplenty.

It’s a strange new world order we live in.

Even Alabama-Arkansas promises more, if nothing else a testament to good old-fashioned football values (the I-formation).

LSU and Florida are getting a pat on the head and being told to come back when they grow up.

Florida — I looked it up because I didn’t believe it — is 2-1 in conference play but hasn’t fooled anybody.

Grand Theft Play Clock is suspected in an overtime win over Kentucky and nobody has yet begun to figure out how the Gators beat Tennessee last weekend.

The Gators thought they had found their answer at quarterback because somebody named Treon Harris came off the bench to complete exactly one pass in a 30-yard scoring drive, which qualifies as a genuine spark to the Gators attack.

But, alas, he was suspended this week over a sexual assault allegation, which overshadowed a dandy off-the-field locker room fight between two Gators teammates, apparently over a pair of football cleats.

LSU, on the other hand, is 0-2 in the conference and looked very believable doing it.

The school that once couldn’t decide between DL U. and DB U. as a proper nickname is now answering to Can’t Stop U.

No way, no how. Not yet, anyway — 1,136 yards of offense surrendered in two SEC games.

The Tigers have also given the keys to the car to teenage quarterbacks, which is always exciting and usually an invitation to a fender-bender.

So this week they called the predictable players-only meeting, which at best is usually much ado about nothing and, at worst, the first sign that desperation has set in.

So what’s not to like?

This game has a chance to attract the curiosity seekers, the rubberneckers who creep past an auto accident.

As of now, Florida’s 10-9 victory over the Vols stands as the ugliest 60 minutes of SEC football this year, if not this millennium.

It will take some serious guffaws for any two teams to top it.

But on paper, at least, LSU and Florida look up to the challenge.

If you want to sell this game, sell it as a novelty piece, a freak show.

It’s a game that needs carnival barkers outside Ben Griffin Hill Stadium, daring one and all to come inside and see the Bearded Lady, the Elephant Man, the Lobster Boy, the LSU front seven and the Florida wide receivers.

You’ll scream, you’ll shriek, the insensitive may even laugh. But cover the eyes of children and womenfolk anyway.

l

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

athletics. Email him at

shobbs@americanpress.com(Associated Press)

Butch Dill