Notes on a winning U.S. Ryder Cup scorecard while thinking Arnold Palmer must be smiling somewhere, sipping his namesake drink and looking for someone to join him for 18 holes …
… There are a lot of ways to look at LSU’s 42-7 victory over Missouri on Saturday, its impact on interim coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU coaching search.
First of all, it was a convincing win over a Mizzou team that came in armed with some flashy offensive statistics, a team it would have been easy for LSU to struggle to beat. Orgeron checked all the boxes in terms of preparing his team, opening up the offense in a limited amount of time and creating a fresh atmosphere that his players responded to positively. The result was a remarkable offensive explosion with 634 yards (a school record for a Southeastern Conference game) and 418 rushing yards without Leonard Fournette.
That said, Missouri was a mediocre opponent at best. Those Tigers will have to play well to go 4-3 the rest of the way to get to 6-6 and be bowl eligible. It does little to prove whether Orgeron will win enough in this eight-game “audition” to close the regular season to have the word “interim” removed from his title.
Orgeron believes he will at least get that chance.
“Well, we’re going to see,” Orgeron said Monday on "The Paul Finebaum Show." “I feel there’s some support in the administration. I’m from Louisiana, but I also understand the pressure to win games at LSU. We have to win games. If we do win games, I’ll have a fair shot to be the coach.”
Finebaum asked Orgeron whether he had been told there was a “magic number” of wins he needed to keep the job, and he said no, but Coach O probably has a pretty good idea. He went 6-2 as interim coach at Southern California in 2013, including a win over No. 5 Stanford, and he wasn’t retained.
Five SEC games remain, all against ranked opponents. Orgeron couldn’t have had a better start, but the finish against that formidable lineup is much more important.
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… If LSU were going to eventually jettison Miles as expected this season, it did itself a favor by firing him Sept. 25, thus making LSU the first power program to announce it’s in the market for a new coach.
Other big-name jobs are likely to open, among them Texas, and that could have a big impact on LSU’s search.
It’s no secret that if LSU doesn’t retain Orgeron, Houston coach Tom Herman is one of its prime candidates. But Texas probably covets Herman just as much. On Monday, Sports Illustrated reported that Texas is likely to fire 13-16 third-year coach Charlie Strong at season’s end.
There are a couple of factors that could steer Herman toward Texas. One is money: According to USA Today, Strong made $5.1 million last season (LSU paid Miles $4.35 million per), and Texas can go deeper than that. The other is Herman’s Texas ties. At LSU, he would have defensive coordinator (and former Cal Lutheran) teammate Dave Aranda, but he was a grad assistant at Texas before stints at Sam Houston State, Texas State and Rice.
A factor in LSU’s favor, believe it or not, could be relative stability. Yes, LSU’s administration was skewered in November for not firing Miles. But Sports Illustrated referred to Texas athletic director Mike Perrin as “overmatched” in his job and a “placeholder,” which could make Herman think twice about who his boss would be.
… Former LSU infielder D.J. LeMahieu of the Colorado Rockies is this season’s National League batting champion, but his title comes with something of an asterisk.
LeMahieu’s manager sat him for four of the Rockies’ last five games to help protect his major leagues-best .348 average. He played in 146 of 162 games and beat out Washington’s Daniel Murphy by a point.
While LeMahieu’s achievement is exceptional and what now former Rockies manager Walt Weiss did has been done before, it isn’t exactly in the spirit of Ted Williams. In 1941, Williams chose to play in a season-ending doubleheader when his average was sitting right at .400, going 6-for-8 to finish at .406. No major leaguer has batted over .400 since.
In time, few will remember that LeMahieu sat out the string to protect his lead. But for now, it’s a bad look for a beautiful achievement.
… Former University High golfer Patrick Reed has worn a black hat much of his career, but he may have earned some new fans while leading the U.S. to its first Ryder Cup victory in eight years.
He went 3-1-1 overall, including Sunday’s epic 1-up victory in singles over Rory McIlroy in the first match to set the tone for the U.S. Former Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, whom Reed carried through their matches Friday and Saturday as they went 2-1-1, called Reed “Captain America.” Reed’s backspinning hole-out for eagle Saturday on the par-5 sixth was the shot of the week.
Reed’s brash style may still not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is a winner. The victory over McIlroy may propel Reed, now No. 7 in the world rankings, to new heights of success and popularity.
All that remains for the five-time PGA Tour winner is to win a major championship. At 26, he’s entering his prime to do just that.