On the day of LSU vs. Alabama 2017, the front page of The Tuscaloosa News' sports section Saturday exclaims, "THIS IS BAMA TERRITORY."
"No college football coach will tell you it's easy to win in Louisiana," the page reads. "It's hard to beat LSU at Tiger Stadium. It might be even harder to go into the Tigers' backyard and recruit the in-state powerhouse. But Alabama has recruited in Louisiana better than any other out-of-state school."
Though LSU fans don't enjoy hearing it, coach Nick Saban and Alabama have done well recruiting in Louisiana, scooping up several big-name players the past several years. On this year's Alabama roster there's 'Hootie' Jones from Monroe, Irv Smith Jr. from New Orleans, Isaiah Buggs from Ruston and Dylan Moses from Baton Rouge.
It's a major area of emphasis, LSU coach Ed Orgeron has said several times during his early tenure.
LSU’s recruitment of north Louisiana, especially the Monroe area, has developed into a hotly debated subject over the past half-decade. It’s often described as the one place where the Tigers don’t possess a stranglehold on high school talent. Click here to read a recent analysis of LSU recruiting in north Louisiana by The Advocate's Ross Dellenger.
Neil Broussard learned the truth later.
Alabama has 10 scholarship players on its roster from Louisiana this season, tied for the most of any state other than Alabama, according to The Tuscaloosa News. There are also 10 players from Texas. The Crimson Tide has more players from Louisiana than Florida (six) or Georgia (five).
“I think that it goes all the way back, 15 years ago or how many years ago that we went to LSU,” Saban said this week. “At that time LSU wasn’t getting a lot of the players in north Louisiana and we developed a lot of relationships, tried to turn that around. We still have a lot of good relationships. It’s a little closer to here than other parts of the state. I think they’ve got some great programs in north Louisiana, some great coaches.
“They’ve always had great players, historically through the years. We’ve been fortunate to get a couple of those players to come to Alabama and they’ve done a really good job for us.”
The Advocate's writers have made their picks for LSU vs. No. 1 Alabama on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala.