Hello friends, and thanks for clicking once again on the Bayou Bengal Briefing, the best and easiest place to catch up on a day’s worth of LSU news. We’ve got plenty of football news to go over, but we’ll also highlight some of the smaller sports, and also take a trip to space. So with that in mind, let’s get to it.
The King’s decree
In an interview with The Advocate Wednesday, LSU president F. King Alexander filled in a lot of the blanks about Les Miles’ dismissal and Ed Orgeron’s promotion that had been baffling fans over the last two weeks. Here’s a quick rundown of what Alexander said, with a little bit of analysis.
The main frustration Alexander expressed with the end of the Miles era was the way LSU’s offense performed, as to be expected. But unexpectedly, Alexander seemed to say that the football players themselves wanted Miles out the door just as much as fans did.
“There was a degree of demoralization that our student-athletes were showing. We just weren’t getting better,” Alexander said. “It was clear that our student-athletes had their concerns, not to mention the fans.”
This idea runs contrary to everything said by the players since Miles was fired. Of course, no player is ever going to come out and say “Good riddance” when a coach gets fired, but there was an overwhelming sense of shock and sincerity that came from the players two Sundays ago when the news came down. If this truly is what the players wanted, either they are really good actors, or they didn’t know how to deal with the devil of their own destruction.
But analysis of the past is just that, the past. And to paraphrase Miles’ replacement Ed Orgeron, there’s no sense in focusing on the past. Especially when the future is so interesting.
Alexander said Orgeron has “as much of a chance as anybody” to retain his post in a full-time capacity, which doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement. Alexander also confirmed that LSU has began its search for a new head coach outside of Orgeron, but said he isn’t directly involved in the process enough to know which candidates have been contacted.
Alexander mentioned nothing of the reports that surfaced earlier this week that beating Alabama could secure the job for Orgeron, which makes sense given that those reports were from unconfirmed sources and may well have been tongue-in-cheek. But he did say that it would be nice to see Orgeron, a Louisiana native, rally this team, especially given the political tumult and natural disasters Baton Rouge faced over the summer.
Your non-revenue sports update
The LSU volleyball team won its first in-conference match of the season Wednesday night, using every set necessary to beat Ole Miss 3-2. The Tigers were down big in the early going, losing the first set 12-25 and the second 18-25. But the team scratched its way back into contention, winning the third set 25-19 and the fourth 25-18, forcing a tie-breaking fifth set. LSU won that set very closely, sneaking away with a 15-13 set win and a huge comeback victory.
Here is the schedule for some other non-revenue happenings tonight and this weekend.
- The soccer team takes the pitch tonight in Baton Rouge to face Tennessee, before heading to Athens, Ga., for a Sunday match against the Bulldogs. The Tigers are 6-7 with a 1-4 record in SEC play this year.
- The swimming and diving teams have busy weekends. Friday and Saturday, portions of the team will be competing in the FGCU Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., while the rest of the team will be in New Orleans competing against Loyola.
- If you’re looking to avoid college football Saturday for some reason, look no further than the men’s golf team, which is hosting the David Toms Intercollegiate and the University Golf Club Saturday and Sunday. The men’s golf team is ranked No. 4 in the country, second in the SEC behind No. 3 Auburn.
- Coming off its win Wednesday, the volleyball team will join the soccer team in Athens on Sunday, facing off against the Georgia Bulldogs.
You are who you play like
Every Thursday in the Briefing, we like to predict the outcome of the rest of LSU’s season a little differently. ESPN.com has a nifty service on its Insider page called “PickCenter,” which includes all sorts of gambling information that serves very little forecasting purpose. But tucked in the corner of its page, it also included a “Similar Teams” matrix, or a list of five college football teams from recent history that, through this point in the season, resembled the team’s in this year’s game.
Since history tends to repeat itself, it’s fun to look out how the seasons turned out for the other five teams. Here are the 2016 LSU Tigers’ most direct comparisons through five games.
The 2015 LSU Tigers (97 percent match)
Final record: 9-3
Postseason: Texas Bowl (win)
Worth noting: Last year’s LSU team won three games over ranked opponents
The 2006 Clemson Tigers (95 percent match)
Final record: 8-5
Postseason: Music City Bowl (loss)
Worth noting: Of their four regular-season losses, three came by just five combined points
The 2014 Wisconsin Badgers (95 percent match)
Final record: 11-3
Postseason: Big Ten Championship (loss), Outback Bowl (win)
Worth noting: The 2014 Badgers and this year’s LSU team share a coordinator in Dave Aranda
The 2009 Pittsburgh Panthers (94 percent match)
Final record: 10-3
Postseason: Meineke Car Care Bowl (win)
Worth noting: Pitt’s three losses that year all came by just one score
The 2008 Iowa Hawkeyes (94 percent match)
Final record: 9-4
Postseason: Outback Bowl (win)
Worth noting: Iowa’s four losses that year came by a combined 12 points
So what can we learn from this? Well, aside from the obvious comparison that is last season’s team, the most direct comparisons to this year’s LSU team are teams that succeeded in the regular season and made the postseason, but lost in heartbreaking fashion. These were all teams that were good enough to be ranked, but probably didn’t belong in the top 15. Which, given the rest of LSU’s schedule, if that is the Tigers’ destiny, I’d consider that a season well salvaged.
In Wednesday’s edition of the Briefing, we talked about Odell Beckham, Jr.’s claim that he no longer has fun playing football. In a poll, I asked you guys what you thought about the statement — whether it’s justified or if you think he should quiet down and play football.
Pretty overwhelmingly, you guys voted in favor of the latter. 42 percent of voters said he needs to “quit whining.” 23 percent of you said his comments are justified, and another 11 percent of you sympathized, but said he shouldn’t talk about it even if he does feel this way. The other 24 percent of you were split between the libertarian position of “I don’t feel it’s right to tell a man what not to think” and the ambivalent position of “I don’t know.”
Moral of the story: Polls are fun. Let’s do more of them.
Arbitrary Analysis, Part 4
In honor of the Boilermaker Bowl this weekend between former Purdue quarterbacks Danny Etling and Austin Appleby, a matchup that’s looking increasingly less likely as time goes on, we’ve been counting down the most famous graduates of Purdue University all week. Wednesday we unveiled No. 3, former Republican presidential front-runner and professional pizza company runner Herman Cain. Today we give you No. 2.
Reminder: The criteria I’m using to deduce fame comes from MIT’s awesomely entertaining Pantheon Project. Check them out.
No. 2: Gus Grissom
There aren’t many people who were cooler than Gus Grissom. While he was still in high school, Grissom enlisted in the Air Force to fight for his country in World War II. The war ended before he could ship out, so he was discharged and went to Purdue. When he graduated, he re-enlisted in the Air Force, flew planes in Korea, for which he was honored with a Distinguished Flying Cross medal. And then, as if Korea wasn’t exotic enough for him, Grissom went to space. Twice.
Gus Grissom was the second American to fly a craft into space, which in itself is pretty impressive. But then he survived an explosion when he landed safely in the ocean coming back down to earth. A survival, that I would like to point out, there was legitimately no precedent for. No one had ever gone through that kind of complication coming back from space before. Because, you know, space travel was kind of new.
And he had a sense of humor about it. He jokingly named the next craft he piloted into space after the Broadway show “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” and that was only after NASA rejected Titanic as its name.
Sadly, Grissom died alongside two other astronauts preparing for the launch of Apollo 1, which would have been his third mission to space.
So just how famous is Grissom? According to Pantheon, Grissom is the 7,395th most famous human ever. This puts Grissom slightly behind Serj Tankian, the lead singer of modern metal band System of a Down, and slightly ahead of two-time Academy Award winning actress Cate Blanchett. Try to find another sentence that includes all three of those celebrities. I dare you.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Gus Grissom sounds like a pretty cool dude. How are you going to top him?” Oh just you wait until tomorrow. Purdue has a grad even cooler than Gus Grissom, as hard as that might be.