BATON ROUGE, La. — School’s out for summer. That’s with the exception of summer classes, of course, which is a detail Alice Cooper glossed over when he celebrated the end of the school year.
Summer school notwithstanding, this is still the ideal time to take a look back at LSU sports. After providing you with a season in review on Monday, we are taking things one step further and grading the 2016-17 Tigers.
LSU fall sports
The weird and usually wonderful Les Miles Era ended in a weird but not-so-wonderful fashion.
After the Tigers staggered to a 2-2 start capped by a near-miracle win at Auburn that replay review turned into a dagger of a loss, Miles was replaced by interim coach Ed Orgeron. LSU turned a corner offensively under Orgeron, but lost the two games in which it couldn’t deliver against Alabama and Florida.
LSU’s defense was among the best in the nation under coordinator Dave Aranda. And despite squandering an easy path to the Sugar Bowl, the Tigers still ended the season on a positive note by shutting down Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville.
Still, a good a grade can’t be given to a season that ended far short of expectations.
We won’t be grading the minor fall sports individually, but it was a rough season overall. Women’s soccer finished 2-8-1 in SEC play. Volleyball went 4-14 in conference matches. And the cross country teams were near the back of the pack, with the men finishing 11th of 12 in the SEC and the women finishing 12th of 14.
Overall fall grade: D
LSU winter sports
In a word: woof. And that’s all we’ve got to say about that, because no one needs to relive any part of a season that resulted in the firing of Johnny Jones.
However, the coaching change has men’s basketball poised to be LSU’s most improved sport in 2017-18.
The Tigers bounced back from a miserable 10-21 season in 2015-16 to get back to the NCAA Tournament and finish with a 20-12 record. But LSU is still a long, long way from the top in the SEC, as the South Carolina-Mississippi State national championship showdown demonstrated. But at least there was progress.
Most seats in the PMAC would not have known the sensation of human touch last winter if it weren’t for D-D Breaux’s gymnastics program. LSU finished second in the country for the second straight season despite dramatically improving its score from last year’s Super Six. Only Oklahoma’s super team prevented the Tigers from taking the crown.
The only other winter sports at LSU are swimming and diving. The men placed ninth in the SEC and the women finished eighth.
Overall winter grade: It’s hard to strike a balance between the greatness of gymnastics and futility of men’s basketball, so we’ll settle on a C+.
LSU spring sports
There was grumbling from the fanbase all season, but when things mattered the Tigers got red hot, winning the SEC Tournament, earning a national seed, and making it all the way to the College World Series finals.
That LSU was the next-to-last team standing after the unfortunate loss of pitcher Eric Walker midway through the CWS was a testament to this team’s will. It shall be remembered as one of the best in LSU history.
It was another outstanding season for the Tigers, who made it to their third straight Women’s College World Series. Not unlike the baseball team, this group put up a fight, staving off elimination in the regionals and Super Regionals to advance to Oklahoma City.
Track and field
How’s this for consistency? LSU’s men’s and women’s teams both placed seventh nationally.
Men’s golf won a regional for the first time, strengthened by the performance of sophomore Sam Burns, who will turn pro at the end of the summer. Women’s golf also made it to regionals. The beach volleyball program was one of eight to reach the NCAA Tournament, and the only one from a state that doesn’t border an ocean. Men’s tennis struggled enough to merit a coaching change, but women’s tennis reached the NCAA tourney.
Overall spring grade: A