Nick Suss/SEC Country
Fans leave messages of condolence on Mike the Tiger's enclosure after Mike VI's death.

Bayou Bengal Briefing: LSU gets one step closer to finding a new Mike the Tiger

Nick Suss

Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football with beat writer Nick Suss. Today we almost get news about Mike the Tiger, watch videos we’re allowed to see, ponder Danny Etling’s recovering health and more. Enjoy!

Let’s talk about actual, real-life tigers

The LSU athletic department on Tuesday announced the identification of a potential candidate to be the next Mike the Tiger. The tiger would be a rescue from an animal sanctuary in Okeechobee, Fla., which has recently undergone a change in ownership and needs to relocate several of its animals, including the potential next Mike the Tiger.

The tiger being vetted is a 9-month-old that shows characteristics of being of both Bengal and Siberian descent. As of now, the tiger weighs around 160 pounds. Male Bengals generally grow to be about 490 pounds, while male Siberians can grow to be almost 700 pounds.

As of now, there is no timetable for this tiger’s arrival to Baton Rouge, should it be chosen. Mike the Tiger’s habitat is still under renovation, but those renovations are scheduled to be finished at some point this month. These renovations will add a comfort rock to the enclosure, as well as revamp the water flow to keep the tiger cooler during warm weather.

Over the last handful of weeks, SEC Country has reached out to both the LSU athletic department and the construction company working on the renovations for comments and updates. Neither have made themselves available for comment.

Let’s watch what we’re allowed to see

As you probably already know, LSU football coach Ed Orgeron has elected to close the first couple of weeks of fall camp out of secrecy. As such, I can’t give you my usual Wednesday morning practice observations.

But I can share a video with you that the athletic department released. And we can talk about that.

There’s one big observation we can glean out of this: Arden Key practiced Tuesday — well ahead of schedule. All reports have been that Key wouldn’t be available for the first two weeks of camp. But there was No. 49, practicing along.

You can sort of see him in the background of the first scene of the video, but then you can see him vividly around the 40-second mark and at the end of the video. No one else is that unmistakably large, or wears his number. So, uh, that’s a good sign.

Words that Danny Etling said

LSU quarterback Danny Etling spoke to the media Tuesday. And since I’m part of the media, I was there.

From talking to the senior quarterback, I wrote this. Go ahead and click through for his full comments. But here’s the gist if you don’t have the time:

Etling feels as well as he has in at least a year-and-a-half. After his offseason back surgery, he immediately felt the difference. Now his goal is to fix some of the bad habits he picked up while throwing through pain for the last year. Those habits include relying too heavily on his arm and not enough on his mechanics and footwork. Still, he’s comfortable on the field and his coaches and teammates are raving.

He’s been the front-runner for the starting quarterback job this whole time. It isn’t officially his, but it sort of is. So get used to it. The offense will end up being tailored for him, after all. Support the guy, if that’s what you’re into.

Rankings, schmankings

ESPN released its annual list of the 50 best players in college football Tuesday, on which the expected two LSU football players appeared. Key showed up at No. 19, the second-highest ranking for a defensive end. And running back Derrius Guice slotted in at No. 5, one spot behind top running back Saquon Barkley of Penn State.

Most of the list is unsurprising. Though it is pretty surprising that the defending Heisman Trophy winner didn’t crack the top 5. That’s a weird amount of disrespect for Lamar Jackson, especially when quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield both ranked ahead of him.

I know LSU fans are the last people who are going to rave about Jackson after what the Tigers did to him in the Citrus Bowl. But he was the best player in college football last season. That has to mean something, right?

Leonard Fournette did a thing

For a video with corporate sponsor MET-Rx, former LSU football player and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ next offensive hope Leonard Fournette smashed 700 of his childhood trophies and donated the scrap metal to a high school football team in Florida to use as lifting weights.

Does that seem like an excessive amount of trophies to anyone else? If I’m doing my math right, Fournette has been alive for nearly 271 months. That means he’s earned more than 2.5 trophies for every month he has been alive. And if we’re being more specific, if these were all childhood trophies, they all likely came between the ages of 5 and 18. Which would equal about 50 trophies a year during that era.

That’s impossible. I don’t care if Fournette was the most talented high school running back ever. No one earns more 50 trophies a year. That’s absurd. I refuse to believe it.

Requisite Les Miles mention

Former LSU football coach and noted herbivore Les Miles spoke at a football kickoff function earlier in the week, where he revealed he won’t be working as an analyst for Fox Sports this season, after all.

Per the Montgomery Advertiser’s Kamarri Darrington, Miles said that he tried out for the job, but “didn’t want to be conformed.”

Here’s his full quote. It’s pretty classic Les.

“It’s a struggle when you haven’t had a censor button on the sidelines. You quickly find out I gave it the old college try, but it’s not going to happen.”

Today in made-up holidays

According to the folks at NationalDayCalendar.com, today is “National Ice Cream Sandwich Day.” So I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

I don’t eat ice cream. I haven’t had a cone or a bowl or anything of the like since I was in the first or second grade. Honestly, I can’t even remember why. One day I just stopped eating ice cream and it stuck.

But I did have one ice cream sandwich on Memorial Day 2013. And it was to celebrate this man.

Yep. Another Arrested Development reference. It’s almost too easy.

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every one of SEC Country’s daily LSU football columns right here.