It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving Day without football.
Personally, I have a theory that the Pilgrims and Indians used Plymouth Rock as a crude football on some unsuspecting meadow after the first turkey and stuffing was consumed.
The Indians would have had home continent advantage, ’tis true. But the Pilgrims, being English, would have had the ever-present threat of football hooligan violence as a trump card.
Final score: Pilgrims 7, Nervous Native Americans 6.
If you follow LSU, Thanksgiving Day football has been about watching the Detroit Lions lose to, well, whoever, then the Dallas Cowboys engage in some sort of slapstick. (“It’s Leon Lett! No!”)
But LSU on Thanksgiving? That hasn’t been part of the plan since 1983 (a 20-7 win over Tulane in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome) and only twice since World War II.
Starting this year, however, that’s going to change.
The Tigers will play Thursday at Texas A&M, the beginning — like it or not — of a new tradition of sorts. Kind of like John Madden’s eight-legged turkey.
LSU and Texas A&M were eager to face each other on the final weekend of the regular season, the home of many traditional rivalries across the Southeastern Conference and the south: Alabama-Auburn, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt against … are they still playing football this time of year? No kidding.
The LSU-Arkansas game had to be moved up two weeks in the schedule to make that happen. Actually, Arkansas was shoved aside, much to the disappointment of the Razorbacks, who managed to exact a measure of revenge last Saturday, right guys?
“The Boot! We’ve got The BOOT!!!”
Thanks, fellas. Try not to drool on it.
Playing LSU in the regular-season finale was a chance for Texas A&M to revive one of its cherished traditions. No, it has nothing to do with Aggies screwing in a light bulb. But it did give A&M a chance to make an obscene gesture toward Austin, home of the Texas team that the Aggies used to play every Turkey Day.
Longhorn beef is no longer on the Thanksgiving Day menu at Texas A&M tailgates. It’s been replaced by Tiger prawns. To wit, when LSU plays at Texas A&M every other year, this biennial brouhaha will be played on the last Thursday of November.
While this may seem strange to LSU or not sit right with many folks on the east side of the Sabine River, A&M is apparently well within its rights to have the game played on the day of its choosing.
Playing Texas on Thanksgiving Day was the Aggies’ tradition. Now that A&M and Texas have taken that tradition, burned it down and written unprintable slurs at each other with the ashes, playing LSU becomes that tradition.
In case you’re wondering about LSU moving its home game with A&M to Thanksgiving Day next year or in the years after that, pondering the logistics of getting Aunt Figg and Cousin Bunkie out to the tailgate for the traditional feast, put your scribbling pen to rest.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva may not have the authority to make Les Miles pass the ball to a frequency of most Tiger fans’ liking, but he has much say about which day the Tigers will play.
Alleva reiterated in an interview last week that LSU will not, repeat NOT, play a home game with A&M on Thanksgiving day in 2015 or beyond.
There was certainly prodding from both Texas A&M and ESPN, which is televising this year’s game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. But Alleva, perhaps haunted by images of angry Tigers tailgaters waving barbecue tongs in protest beneath his office window, held firm.
A Black Friday encounter? Possibly, Alleva said. LSU got used to that against Arkansas over the past two decades. But Saturday night is the goal, where the game is currently, hopefully listed on LSU’s website.
But no Thursday. The Tigers haven’t played a home Thursday night game since losing 21-7 to Alabama in 1973 — the first game in Tiger Stadium was a 13-0 Thanksgiving Day loss to Tulane in 1924 — and they aren’t about to start up again now.
It will be interesting to see how many LSU fans will turn up in College Station for this year’s game, given the holiday and the records of the two teams (both 7-4).
But whether it’s at home or away, for the foreseeable future, Tigers fans are going to have to save that second piece of pie for a late-night snack.
No snoring aloud. Come Thursday night, there’s a meaningful game to watch.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.