Set a spell, take your shoes off

Published 9:26 am Friday, October 24, 2014

LSU is expecting a bubbling full house for Tiger Stadium Saturday night.

You know, Ole Miss will be there.

The Rebels are more than relevant again, they’re undefeated, No. 3 in the nation and winning like it’s 1963, minus the Confederate flags.

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Someone said it’s homecoming, which is usually reserved for the New Mexico States of the world.

But maybe LSU is pulling out all the stops on this one.

Billy Cannon will be a guest captain, along with Bert Jones, Bradie James and Lake Charles’ own Bill Baggett, who in 1950 set an LSU record of 17.5 yards per carry against Ole Miss that stood for more than 30 years.

The place figures to be rocking.

Les Miles won’t admit to the underdog role, and LSU fans might have to swallow hard to accept it against Ole Miss, but it seems to be warranted. The Tigers are caught in a rebuilding mode in a year that the Rebels hold up their end of the bargain.

Bottom line: Big game. Traditional opponent. Night game in Tiger Stadium, dang near Halloween. And nobody is putting it past the Tigers to spoil a great season for an archrival.

ESPN’s “College GameDay” will originate from the LSU Parade Grounds Saturday morning, which is old (mad) hat for the Tigers. But you know this is a truly big game, finally worthy of an often-waning rivalry, when the biggest question from LSU fans is not how their pedestrian quarterback will coax any points out of the college football’s best scoring defense.

No, it seems the pressing dilemma, which has much of the state’s media in a Watergate, investigative frenzy, is who “GameDay” will have as the guest picker to rebut Katy Perry’s famous corn dog slur while the gang was in Oxford.

Apparently Britney Spears (the perfect anti-Perry), has been ruled out, as have Shaquille O’Neal, Edwin Edwards and Huey Long.

Many fans’ worst fear seems to be that the guest picker will be “Duck Dynasty” related.

So what else could you ask for in a pregame buildup?

LSU has built three new upper decks, with all the fixings, in the past 14 years just for these very occasions.

So Miles has taken to begging the fans to not only come early but, more importantly, to stay late.

Which seems to be the sticking point.

“We would expect that the fans and those people that file into Tiger Stadium would come, bring food so that you can stay long and stay through the fourth quarter,” Miles said. “Make some noise.”

Later, “It will be a magical place, you will add to it. So to that crowd that will come in, come on. Let’s have some fun.”

Nobody doubts it.

So it would seem to be an odd request, given the gravity of the situation. The tough-ticket game is a hard sellout, after all, and a much-anticipated affair.

Miles has promised that he will be there to the bitter end, which is certainly encouraging coming from your head coach.

Miles later had to retract the picnic lunch suggestion, perhaps after learning that “outside food” is on the laundry list of items strictly prohibited in Tiger Stadium, among them coolers, outside high-octane beverages, banners, weapons, umbrellas, lit cigarettes, house pets and power tools.

But his point was understood by all.

LSU apparently can build upper decks to the lower stratosphere and still pretty well fill the place up even while charging whatever price (and donation) they want for the privilege.

They just have a devil of a time keeping them there. Turn your back just for a minute, and it seems they vanish.

A good portion of the zealots seem to want to tailgate all morning, socialize all afternoon, then do a quick toe-tap in the actual stadium so they return to the parking lot or get into the traffic jam early.

It drives LSU officials crazy. They’ve hired consultants to study the phenomena.

It’s not limited to LSU, certainly. It’s more the over-connected, social media age we live in.

Nick Saban himself took Alabama fans to task last season for habitually sneaking out early.

A couple of Bama fraternities even showed up for one game and found that their usual “saved” section was no longer saved or even available to them.

The Bama seat police had done a spot check during the waning moments of the previous game and found too many missing fannies and revoked their saving privileges.

LSU hasn’t cracked down that hard.

In fact, when pressed, Miles made it clear he wasn’t calling out the loyal (if antsy) fan base.

“All I can tell you is that if you tickets, the back end of these games is worthwhile for staying for,” he said.

My guess is that if LSU hangs close with Ole Miss heading into the fourth quarter, he won’t have to worry about another second-half evacuation.

That’s kind of up to the Tigers, not the fans.

But since Miles apparently spoke out of church about the bring-your-own food thing, perhaps LSU should make the best of it. Maybe it should relax the rules just this once to allow one sandwich (soft bread) per paying customer, although let the food police enforce a rule that none can be consumed until the fourth quarter.

Ole Miss fans might suggest a far simpler solution. Just tell the fans to set their watches back three hours.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

athletics. Email him at Press)

Gerald Herbert