Scooter Hobbs column: LSU ready to run the gauntlet

Published 9:18 am Friday, October 8, 2021

So, after all that, this is the week Ed Orgeron pulls off one of those “Coach O” moments, isn’t it?

We have seen this movie before, right?

Hot seat. Written off. Chaos on the sideline. Natives restless. Realizing the Cajun Charm is wearing thin, the home-state discount running on fumes. Trying to keep the fed-up fans from converting the merely annoyed ones.

I’ve never been sure who controls the hot seat alerts in college football, who determines the temperature and relative timidity of a coaching tenure.

Probably a little hermit-gnome burrowed up in one of those hollowed-out mountains that used to be a CIA hub, somewhere way out west.

But Orgeron is suddenly on the short list — and LSU is one of the few places where it could happen less than two years removed from one of the best seasons in college football history. But there you are.

And you know where we’re headed with this doom and gloom.

So, go ahead, might as well cue up the unexpected upset, right?

Usually, it’s been Florida, conveniently right on schedule, as the unsuspecting foil. And we’ll get to the Gators in a moment.

But they were there the first time Coach O in his first full season of his dream job after little ol’ Troy did the unthinkable with a Tiger Stadium upset.

But just as the predictable purple-and-gold buyer’s remorse was settling in — the next week, LSU 17, Florida 16.

Carry on, Coach O. Hot boudin.

And that was nothing compared to last year, a week after losing 55-17 to Alabama in Tiger Stadium. LSU was a 24-point underdog heading to Gainesville again — out of nowhere, LSU 37, Florida

34. And there was more to it than a thrown shoe.

So here we are again with LSU at 3-2 and coming off a Tiger Stadium loss to Auburn that never should have happened.

“When things don’t go right, obviously I get asked questions and maybe it sounds like I’m trying to point the finger or something like that, Orgeron said this week. “That’s not me. I’m going to take full responsibility for everything that happens in this program. And that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

Translation: Orgeron needs a big stunt and pronto. Again, he has some making up to do with a rabid fan base.

Florida is otherwise occupied.

So a stand-in, Kentucky, is probably in trouble this Saturday, right?

Wait, you’re wondering …

Kentucky? Since when does beating the Wildcats get you any chips? Hoops hasn’t even started yet.

Well, maybe you didn’t get the memo. Kentucky is good. Or thinks it is, which might be half the battle.

But the Wildcats are 5-0 good, coming off their first win at home against Florida since 1986. Probably got a Big Blue shindig planned for the Tigers’ first visit since 2007 — when the Cats upset a No. 1-ranked (and eventual national champion) LSU team in double OT.

It’s just the kind of party Orgeron is known for barging into and breaking up all the good china and flatware.

It would probably hold more weight with irritated LSU fans if Kentucky was a bigger brand name to go with the perfect record. Would a win over the Cats settle down the masses, cool off that hot seat?

Might need a ruling from that gnome on this one.

But that’s not really the problem. To wit: how many encores would such a bounce-back need?

And it’s not a good year be flailing around the SEC trying to find yourself almost halfway through the schedule.

What Kentucky is up to this year, that kind of thing is running rampant in the SEC right now … even if Alabama and Georgia seem to be toying with the whole lot of them.

Most of the reliable speed bumps have risen up in defiant anger.

Arkansas, with a bargain-basement coach in Sam Pittman, has beaten $135 million worth of Texas coaches, Longhorns and Aggies both.

There were sane people who thought Ole Miss might upset Alabama last week. The Rebels didn’t, but the popcorn was good.

The SEC accounts for seven of The Associated Press’ Top 25. And that’s without the likes of LSU and Texas A&M.

Bottom line: the mild part of the schedule is over. Kentucky is the second of six consecutive ranked SEC opponents for the Tigers.

“That’s the SEC,” Orgeron said. “It’s like that every year.”

Well, not quite like this.

And it certainly won’t get any easier.

But if Orgeron could pull one of those unexpected upsets out of thin air, it would be a start.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com