Amid the rows of spotless recreational vehicles that began to gather Friday afternoon in advance of the LSU-Auburn game, fan confidence remained high that the suspension of three LSU players two days earlier would not change the certainty of LSU winning Saturday.
“We’ve got amazing depth. I think we can take anyone,” said Darwin Pittman of Frost.
“We’re gonna whoop ’em no matter what,” said Kim Thibodeaux of Meaux.
To the contrary, Coach Les Miles decision to suspend indefinitely cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon, as well as running back Spencer Ware, for unspecified violations of team rules earned praise and was generally viewed as a way to strengthen, not weaken, the team.
Robin Pittman, Darwin’s wife, said Miles set a good example.
“I think he’s done the right thing, and I think the players all respect him,” she said.
“He’s keeping it out of the public,” said Kim Ralph of Oil City. “He’s keeping it in house.”
Several fans also sympathized with the misbehaving players, recalling their own not-always-well-behaved days of youth.
“You know the problem with 18- and 19-year olds?” asked Jason Brady of Mandeville. “They act like 18- and 19-year olds.”
Kim’s husband, Gary Ralph, said the world has changed and the level of scrutiny has grown very high.
“Everyone now has one of those dad-gum iPhones and taking pictures and videos and putting them right up on the internet” he said. “We didn’t have that when I was growing up.”
LSU fans, an optimistic bunch to begin with, are even more so this season with the Tigers being undefeated and the top-ranked team in the country.
Several tailgaters on Friday said that LSU’s run of impressive, dominating wins — despite not having quarterback Jordan Jefferson and wide receiver Russell Shepard who were suspended for several games in separate incidents — has a lot to do with that high confidence.
“People don’t realize that we’re as good or better than the 2007 (BCS) National Championship team,” said Kera Romero of Maurice. “We’re that deep.”
LSU has had two other national championship squads, in 2003 and in 1958.
Part of the fans’ confidence Friday stemmed from LSU playing No. 19 Auburn next in Tiger Stadium instead of No. 2 Alabama. LSU is scheduled to play Alabama on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa.
Last season, LSU defeated Alabama but lost to Auburn and Arkansas en route to a 10-2 regular season record.
Kyle Dupre, his brother Jaimon and Rory and brother-in-law Wallace Porche, were all playing washer toss in a relaxed carefree way Friday under a warm autumn sun.
“If it was Alabama, well that’d be different,” admitted Kyle Dupre of Houma. “I wouldn’t be playing; I’d be drinking.”
Of all those interviewed, Brady of Mandeville expressed the most concern about the three player suspensions and its effect on the Auburn game, particularly the suspensions of starters Mathieu and Ware. But Brady said that he has faith that Miles will adjust his game plan accordingly.
His wife, Lucille Brady, said she’s been amazed at the way LSU has demolished, not simply beaten, teams this season and sees no reason why it won’t continue.
“I’ve been going to LSU games my whole life,” she said. “This may be the best one we’ve ever seen.”