Scooter Hobbs column: LSU visits Auburn’s circus
Published 8:00 am Wednesday, September 28, 2022
There’s an outside chance that what happens on the field, maybe even the scoreboard, will grab the headlines when LSU visits Auburn this weekend.
Not likely. But possible.
And this time there’s no need to rehash the earthquakes and barn fires and sextet pick-sixes that usually get mentioned this time of year.
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Oh, and there’s the possibility of a hurricane or its strong remnants dropping by Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend.
No biggie. These teams have dealt with about everything else, they’ll handle whatever this Ian thing makes of itself.
In fact, at this point, a good storm might be a breath of fresh air at Auburn, might bring some order to the campus, which is in absolute chaos because head coach Bryan Harsin is somehow still there.
Sniping, bickering and good old-fashioned back-stabbing galore.
It’s a social media-and-a-half mess.
The Power Brokers, who at Auburn have always been notorious for getting their own way, somehow whiffed on the whacking of Harsin after last season.
It was a done deal gone awry, similar to the Houdini Act Les Miles pulled off at LSU at the end of the 2015 season.
According to several reports last weekend, Harsin had to beat Missouri or LSU would have been facing an interim head coach this week.
Of course, the Auburn power brokers might get a favorable ruling that Harsin did not, in fact, actually win that Missouri game last week. Any two-bit country lawyer could make the case that, instead, Missouri lost that game two or three times — in unforced fashion, with little to no input from Auburn.
Never mind the missed chip-shot field goal attempt. When, oh, when are coaches going to get it through ball carriers’ heads not to stretch the ball out to the pylon one-handed when it’s not absolutely, positively, desperation necessary?
The “win” certainly didn’t seem to calm the restlessness at Auburn. Its rank-and-file fan base, which mostly watches the power struggles from the sidelines, is among the best in the country and deserves better.
It still seems like Harsin is a Fired Coach Walking (waiting for the right time).
Who will tell Harsin, if or when he’s fired, is a good question? Earlier this month — perhaps the wrapped-up dead fish arriving at the Corleone’s back door — athletic director Allen Greene was forced out.
It’s not really any of LSU’s concern. This is just Auburn being Auburn, where the school motto — Inde Est Quod Habere Non Possumus Omnia — translates to: “This is why we can’t have nice things.”
Maybe LSU could help out. Auburn has an open date next week before facing No. 1 Georgia the next. You can do the math.
LSU also owes Auburn one. In 2016, the season after Miles’ Great Escape, LSU lost at Auburn when LSU’s (apparent) winning touchdown was snapped a second too late and overturned (correctly) after review.
Close didn’t count. Miles was fired the next day. They’d obviously been waiting on a convenient time.
But forget the smoke-filled back rooms.
If LSU is to be any help here, first the Tigers have to decipher Auburn’s chaotic quarterback situation. Pay close attention here.
LSU thought it’d be facing the quarterback who started for LSU the last time it was in Auburn.
But T.J. Finley, who transferred from LSU to Auburn, only recently returned to practice after an injury. He is listed as the co-backup with Oregon transfer Robby Ashford because Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada is hurt.
At least LSU won’t have to worry about the Auburn quarterback who single-handedly beat them last year — Bo Nix has since transferred to Oregon.
Who’s on first could be a transfer to be named later.
But LSU is pretty sure it will start Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels.
This crazy quarterback puzzle speaks as much to the chaos in college football as to anything Auburn-LSU specific.
Still, LSU, no stranger to its own occasional in-house chaos, will roll in as a very quiet and unobtrusive 3-1 team. Probably not all that good, but not as bad as some predicted. It seems to be a patched-together but stable ship under first-year head coach Brian Kelly. For now he seems to have a fairly contented fan base (by its own whacky standards) that at least has confidence in the mature direction he’s leading the program.
The goal this week?
Just don’t let Auburn rub off on them.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at email@example.com