Scooter Hobbs column: Not much to cheer about
Published 1:06 pm Monday, November 28, 2022
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Sifting through the debris of LSU’s disaster at Texas A&M, and I’m trying to come away with some positives for LSU.
Reader alert: This promises to be a short discourse.
But here goes:
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If you’re LSU, you’re looking at Saturday’s 38- 23 totally unexpected loss, observing how bad the Tigers played, and wondering how in the world this team won six SEC games.
Now if you’re Texas A&M, you’re looking at how well the Aggies played and wondering how in the Hullabaloo did that talent — good enough to be ranked No. 5 nationally in preseason — lose six conference games, not to mention one to Appalachian State.
So — ray of sunshine alert — at the end of the day, which side of that fence would rather be on?
Plus, there’s …
Sorry, that’s about all I’ve got for you. Silver linings were in short supply. The SEC would be excused if it searched for loopholes to keep the Tigers far away from the conference championship game in Atlanta Saturday.
None exist. They will still face No. 1 Georgia as SEC West champions.
Still, at the end of this day, Saturday I guess it was, it was the Aggie cult doing the SEC-trendy rushing-the-field exercise — not once but twice.
How many Aggies does it take to …
Well, the first rush was premature. For some odd reason LSU had called time out with 13 seconds remaining, perhaps wanting one more chance to (try to) tackle A&M running back Devon Achane, whose 215 yards was the real rushing story.
Order was restored, one more snap executed, and the field was successfully filled to overflowing with Aggies again.
Who knows if the SEC will now fine the school once or twice on that sliding monetary scale for the double rush?
But it will be a bargain in the end. It should save the school the headache of scrounging through the oil patch for spare change to pay off the $90 million or so it would take to buy out head coach Jimbo Fisher’s contract.
He may well get another extension.
Presumably Kelly is safe at LSU, too. The upset out of nowhere just proved that, previous appearances aside, you don’t just snap your fingers and change a culture.
“It’s not a step back, it’s a bump in the road,” an obviously annoyed Kelly said afterwards.
Oh yes, for sure, it is a step back. Inevitable? Maybe. Expected? Probably. Excusable? Not even.
The sober and realistic faction amongst LSU fans — I’m told there are some out there — will tell you that any of them would have taken a 9-3 regular season, no questions asked. And back then there was not even any mention on record of an SEC West championship.
They are right, of course.
But that doesn’t excuse the LSU team that showed up at Kyle Field.
The Tigers were beyond the early doubters by then. Maybe they had to overachieve to get there.
But, with the carrot of the College Football Playoff out there, they had put themselves in position to make the Georgia game the feel-good David & Goliath story of the year.
Now, after the College Station belly-flop, it seems like an obligation.
Maybe it wasn’t fair that LSU had to face an A&M team far different than the woe-begone Aggies everybody else in the SEC had so much fun with.
That’s part of being a champion. You have to expect every team’s best shot, even when it comes from a team that had to ship in UMass last week to break a six-game losing streak.
And it was fine, totally acceptable, that LSU fans looked at the game, on paper, and assumed another victory.
Excuse them, too, their current frustration, no matter how many unexpected highs there were leading up to it.
The Tigers had shown them what they were capable of. The bar was re-set on expectations.
You are what you establish you can live up to.
If the players got caught up the back-slapping and atta-boys, they have no one to blame but themselves.
So, yes, it was step back —like the Aggie scoop-and-score that did in the Tigers just as they were starting to get their act together Saturday.
There was plenty of time to overcome it, but LSU never was the same afterwards.
That step back obviously flustered the Tigers for that game.
It will be interesting over the next two games to see how they react to that game as the season’s setback.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org