Ex-coaches get caught up in rivalry

<p class="indent">LSU-Florida was already one of the best unacknowledged rivalries in college football.</p><p class="indent">Hold on, it’s about to get better.</p><p class="indent">It seems to be the annual game neither team is really crazy about playing.</p><p class="indent">And you’re not going to believe what they’re about to add to such a volatile mix (we’ll get to it in a minute, promise).</p><p class="indent">Gosh knows, LSU complains enough about the Gators being its permanent rival from the SEC East.</p><p class="indent">And that was before this latest experiment, which promises to … well, we’ll get to it here directly.</p><p class="indent">But, really, while other games tend to grab the rivalry click bait, LSU and Florida always seems to turn out to be must-see TV.</p><p class="indent">And wait until they hear what’s in store this year …</p><p class="indent">Really, think about it. Five of the last six games have been eight points or fewer, and that other one was only an 11-point game.</p><p class="indent">Of course, all of that was before …</p><p class="indent">And what are LSU fans complaining about, anyway? Yeah, Florida is usually pretty good while Alabama is getting the worst era in Tennessee football to deal with annually.</p><p class="indent">Now, however, this year is really upping the ante. Just hold on a sec.</p><p class="indent">Do the complaining LSU fans realize that the Tigers have won three of the last four against the Gators and six of the last eight? Not bad for a game that is allegedly sabotaging your schedule.</p><p class="indent">Now it’s going to get really interesting … and I swear we’ll have the unveiling momentarily.</p><p class="indent">Last year, for instance, LSU was really floundering on its way to Gainesville, having just lost to Troy, an embarrassment Ed Orgeron is still trying to live down. Went to Gainesville, beat the Gators, turned the season around.</p><p class="indent">This new deal, though, it might turn the whole rivalry into something beyond human comprehension.</p><p class="indent">But last year neither team played particularly well. But what it lacked in artistry it made up for in intensity. They were flat going at each other to the last breath. LSU won 17-16 by the grace of a missed extra point, a miscue that happened just before Florida started a new tradition of playing Gainesville native Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty had died earlier that week.</p><p class="indent">But that will soon pale if this new tradition takes hold.</p><p class="indent">Anyway, if you’re complaining about LSU having to survive this ordeal and then come home next week and find No. 2 Georgia waiting, consider that last year it was a very physical game with Florida. And LSU pulled off its biggest stunt the next week by rallying from three touchdowns in arrears to beat Auburn 27-23. Didn’t lose again in the regular season until Alabama.</p><p class="indent">Yeah, LSU won by an opponent’s missed extra point. It sounds a lot like the kind of foolishness our next guest might have pulled off. But more on that later.</p><p class="indent">Florida, meanwhile, went into a tailspin (the Gators basically quit) losing the next four games, eventually finished 4-7 and cost head coach Jim McElwain his job. So, yeah, this game can be a seasonmaker … or breaker.</p><p class="indent">McElwain was a pretty entertaining fellow, although he was a warm-up act compared to the former Gator who apparently is getting involved in LSU’s affairs again.</p><p class="indent">Things in the Florida-LSU tussle are heating with two big additions.</p><p class="indent">So without further ado …</p><p class="indent">Les Miles and Steve Spurrier are back. Unprompted. Unscripted.</p><p class="indent">At first I thought this latest was just Internet blather, more fake news. But, best I can tell, it is on the level.</p><p class="indent">Things often get lost in the translation when Uncle Les is involved, but apparently he started it. It also involved Twitter and Miles, which is double dangerous.</p><p class="indent">He has some free time on his hands since LSU canned him, and perhaps he missed Steve Spurrier.</p><p class="indent">The Mad Hatter, alone among LSU coaches, had nothing but success against Darth Visor, albeit while the latter was at South Carolina.</p><p class="indent">Miles still loves him some LSU, loves the Tigers almost as much as the school is still paying him.</p><p class="indent">So Miles fired out a tweet to Spurrier this week.</p><p class="indent">“Hey @SteveSpurrierUF… how much you wanna bet your Gators are going down this weekend? #GameOn”</p><p class="indent">Game on, indeed.</p><p class="indent">Spurrier never lacked for confidence with his sly little digs, and he came up with the perfect counter-bet.</p><p class="indent">“CoachLesMiles shoot, we’re going to win on Saturday. If we don’t, I’ll eat some of that grass of yours. When we do win, you’re wearing my visor! #GoGators”</p><p class="indent">College football needs this. That duo used to be the two headline acts at SEC Media Days every year.</p><p class="indent">College football misses them both. Florida certainly misses Spurrier. LSU at the least misses Miles’ zany antics, if not his offense.</p><p class="indent">If I understand it right, an LSU victory means Spurrier will have to eat some Tiger Stadium grass, the same way the Mad Hatter to used to chow down on just a quick pinch of the turf during tight moments.</p><p class="indent">As for wearing Darth Visor’s visor, some reports even have it that Miles would have to lead the traditional “Two Bits” cheer before a Florida game. It’s kind of lame as pregame traditions go, but they like it in Ben-Hill Griffin Stadium.</p><p class="indent">So it wasn’t already nutty enough, right?</p><p class="indent">Then somebody said, “Hold my beer …” Or at least they added beer to the equation.</p><p class="indent">It turns out that both do entertaining commercials for Dos Equis. Ordinarily, you’d want to keep corporate sponsorships out of such foolishness.</p><p class="indent">But it is, after all, beer, so maybe it has a chance. So Dos Equis jumped in and offered to give away its product at selected spots in either Gainesville or Baton Rouge.</p><p class="indent">Talk about pressure.</p><p class="indent">This rivalry has raised the bar forever.</p><hr /><p class="indent"><em>Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at <strong><span class="text_link link_wrap type_eml" data-link-target="shobbs@americanpress.com" data-link-type="EML">shobbs@americanpress.com</span></strong></em></p>””lsu-florida rivalry

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