Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Undisputed Truth

There is no doubt this time. The LSU Tigers are undisputed national champions for the second time time since 1959, when they enjoyed an undefeated season under head coach Paul Dietzel. Yes, the Bayou Bengals are the first team to score two Bowl Championship Series titles since 1998 when the BCS began keeping standings.
But there was the other win back in 2004. The 21-14 win of the BCS's number-two ranked LSU over number-one ranked Oklahoma was spoiled when the Associated Press's final poll came out to reveal the University of Southern California as its choice as national champion for the 2003 season. That didn't go over well with LSU fans, who quite rightly called foul and pointed to LSU's 13-1 overall record as opposed to USC's 12-1 finish. The image of LSU head coach Nick Saban's lifting high the crystal Coaches Trophy inside the Superdome was bitter-sweet and that AP poll took some of the wind out of what should have been a well-deserved claim by LSU to the national championship. The LSU Tigers can claim they have three national championships under their belts -- and most people would agree with that -- but that damn AP poll keeps getting in the way. Perhaps, now, the sting of that earlier BCS victory can finally be eased. No one can take anything away from LSU this time. Regardless, whether one says three national championships, two undisputed national championships, or two BCS national championship titles, LSU can be extremely proud of its efforts in last night's game against a very good Ohio State team. Indeed, the way the game started with the Buckeyes jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, I wondered if LSU could ever buckle down and stick to their game plan under Coach Les Miles. It wasn't long before they proved my confidence in them was not ill-placed and 31 unanswered points later there was no doubt that LSU was a team of destiny. Playing like a team possessed, LSU blocked a field goal, picked off two Ohio State passes, converted plays on a lot of second effort, and received a lot of help from a number of ill-timed penalties by Buckeye players. Plagued by penalties throughout the season, LSU played with uncharacteristic discipline throughout the night and concentrated on the prize at hand. They also had a lot of help from local fans who cheered the Tigers on to victory. Following last year's loss to Florida for the BCS national championship, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel used the score 41-14 as the pass code for his players to enter the school's stadium for practice so they would not forget. Perhaps he forgot to note that LSU beat Notre Dame by the very same score in last year's Sugar Bowl.
Two other minor notes of interest: today is the 193rd anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans and what would have been the 73rd birthday of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Elvis played many of his early gigs in New Orleans and filmed what many consider one of his best films, "King Creole," here in 1957 just prior to his being drafted. That's for those of you who may think I only have my head in the football clouds.

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