NEW ORLEANS — No, the College Football Playoff didn’t forget about the national championship.
It might seem like the bowl season ended weeks ago and the semifinals that put LSU and Clemson on a much-anticipated collision course were, in fact, last year.
They will get around to it, like probably tonight.
The tell-tale signs of something big on tap are all over the place here in the city that best knows how to throw a party and a big sporting event.
LSU is here because of course the Tigers are, because New Orleans is hosting the big show and it must be thusly ordained that the city can’t do it without purple and gold and Tiger Bait! and a whole lot of Geaux Tiger-ing filling the French Quarter.
The Big Easy is hosting its fourth national championship this century and LSU has been involved in all of them.
That can’t be just a coincidence can it?
At first there was a four-year symmetry about it, 2003, 2007, 2011...
But when the Tigers hit a lapse, the city apparently understood, taking a brief respite from the rotation, perhaps waiting for LSU to get up to speed again.
The Tigers and their fans know the drill.
In fact, although it’s been eight years since the LSU fandom converged en masse on the French Quarter, it seems to have found it pretty much the way it left it.
Friday night, if anything, there were more Clemson fans taking over the Quarter. Pretty much had the run of the place. But purple and gold reinforcements began pouring in Saturday and it was a outright flood by Sunday.
It all looks very familiar.
But if there’s anything that’s overrated about this three-way deal between the devil, the Crescent City and LSU, it’s the notion that the Tigers have a huge home dome advantage in the actual game.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney fell for it.
Saturday he said — not complaining, mind you, just observing — that “The game might as well be in Baton Rouge.”
Swinney has been in all six playoffs and won two of the last three national championships, but there’s still things he doesn’t understand.
The city? Yes. It’s a longstanding tradition for its platoons of TWTs — Tigers Without Tickets — to come for the party, and stay somewhere to watch the game.
And there will be an LSU crowd advantage, but not what he might imagine. The two schools basically had equal access to the available tickets.
It will be up to the Tigers to ignite that advantage — see, Oklahoma (2003) or Ohio State (2007) — or not, see Alabama, 2011.
LSU knows all that. Been here, done that.
And it was convenient for New Orleans to wait on the Tigers to have a worthy team again.
This year’s team certainly is.
If we’ve learned anything during what is most often being referred to as a “dream season,” it’s that it’s a lot more fun when your offense just might score 49 points against Oklahoma in one half, possibly at the drop of a hat.
Enjoy what you’re seeing. Savor it and appreciate it.
Admit it. If Alabama is still LSU’s benchmark, then running circles around the Tide 46-41 is a whole barrel of more fun than a 9-6 slugfest.
You even get a Heisman Trophy in the deal while Joe Burrow morphs into Joe Burreaux.
We can’t be for certain if this team’s pyrotechnic offense was a fluke of Joe Brady or Burrow or the new system or what.
Maybe it really is plug-andplay.
Maybe LSU will have the same luck as the whiz kid architect of it all, Brady. By the way, if you see Brady in line for a random-number-generated lottery ticket, break line in front of him.
A year ago he was a total unknown underling way down the NFL food chain doing offensive go-fer work for the Saints.
Today he’s the hottest (fullfledged) assistant coach in college football.
Saturday he explained how that works.
“Last year, I’m sitting in a room next to Drew Brees, and I’m like, ‘Man, I’m going to be spoiled the rest of my life.’
“Then, you go to college and see a guy like Joe (Burrow) and see how he approaches it ... you’re spoiled.”
That might describe LSU fans right now.
Maybe LSU is just scratching the surface of a new era built on wild and nutty offense with occasional or timely defense.
Maybe the moon-shot records this offense has set all year will be sitting ducks next season under a new quarterback ready to up the ante.
Maybe it will become the norm no matter who the quarterback is as Crazy Cajun Ed Orgeron creates a dynasty to make Alabama blush.
But there’s no guarantee that this will be as good as it gets.
Right now, most would agree that this LSU team is the best the Tigers have ever fielded.
But there’s still one chore left — that would be tonight; and Clemson is on double alert — to validate its standing.
Otherwise, it’s just another great team that fell one game short.
If this amazing team has done anything, it’s to play its best in the biggest games.
This is the very biggest.
I like their chances.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at