The 2016 LSU football season, to the soundtrack of the movie, “Our Brand is Crisis.”
All of what is listed below has happened just since late July:
• LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye survives a one-car crash in Wisconsin that kills Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler.
• Heavy rain and flooding cancels LSU fan day and media day in August.
• In preseason practice, Leonard Fournette, LSU’s Heisman Trophy front-running tailback, suffers a high ankle sprain that has him sidelined for Saturday’s game with Southern Miss, his third missed game in the Tigers’ first six.
• Former coach Les Miles allows formerly dismissed defensive tackle Travonte Valentine to rejoin the team, likely a first for Miles’ LSU tenure.
• In a stunning upset, LSU loses 16-14 to Wisconsin in Green Bay, the Tigers’ first regular-season nonconference loss since their 2002 opener.
• LSU fires Miles, its second-longest tenured and second-winningest coach, after an 18-13 loss at Auburn in which LSU’s winning touchdown is waved off because the Tigers didn’t get off the last snap in time.
• LSU’s Oct. 8 game at Florida is postponed because of a threat to Gainesville from Hurricane Matthew, though LSU offers numerous alternatives to play the game that are rebuffed by the Gators.
• Mike VI, the school’s beloved Bengal tiger mascot, is euthanized Tuesday after a five-month battle with cancer that saw him undergo radiation therapy at Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.
With the passing of Mike VI this week, LSU is now tasked with filling its luxurious tiger en…
Photos: Mike VI mourned at memorial service for beloved LSU tiger
Students, faculty, staff and visitors gather at the Mike the Tiger habitat during a memorial service, Wednesday, October 12, 2016, for the late Mike VI who passed away on Tuesday following a four month battle with terminal cancer at LSU in Baton Rouge, La.
• The LSU-Florida game is back on as of Thursday, rescheduled for Nov. 19 in Tiger Stadium. LSU must cancel its home game scheduled for that date with South Alabama to accommodate the switch.
It’s against this back drop of tragedy and drama and general strangeness that the LSU Tigers must regroup from their forced layoff and regain the momentum of two weeks ago and their 42-7 victory over Missouri.
At 3-2 and just clinging to a berth in the Amway coaches’ poll at No. 25, the national championship hunt would seem to have left LSU far behind.
But there is just a glimmer of hope for the Tigers, a pinpoint of light on a far horizon, that says they can still win out and win the Southeastern Conference.
If they did, that, all with just a smidge of help from the rest of college football, might not LSU find itself in contention for a College Football Playoff berth?
That, on paper, is a mathematical possibility crunched from the lofty numbers of LSU’s recruiting classes over the years. The talent is there, but it will take more than that to get the Tigers to college football’s big show.
But, for now, they can dream, can’t they? It’s about having hope, even if it’s just a sliver of it, though that’s something the Tigers might not have had just a day or two before.
Had LSU and Florida not been able to pry themselves out of their entrenchments on both sides of this stalemate over where and when to make up their game, the Tigers and Gators wouldn’t even have been eligible for the SEC title game. You’ve got to play a full SEC schedule to do that, the league announced Thursday. For a program like LSU, that would have been a terrible thing to have to give up in mid-October.
Tied to the Tigers’ fortunes is the career of one Ed Orgeron. Since replacing Miles, LSU’s interim coach has demonstrated a willingness to dig deep in the playbook and unearth some pass plays, downsize practice sessions, welcome alumni players back into the fold and generally charm the skepticism off of everybody.
If you were casting a movie (which Orgeron has been in, “The Blind Side”) about a Louisiana football program, you wouldn’t cast The Fonz (Henry Winkler) to play your coach. You’d send for Orgeron, whose voice sounds like it came from the bottom of a jambalaya pot. Coach O is trying to turn fantasy into reality and keep the job permanently.
Orgeron hasn’t engendered a wisp of criticism since taking over for Miles, but his tenure won’t have as much to do with the court of public opinion as the field of cold, hard numbers. Win enough games, though no one knows how many that would be, and he gets to crumple up the interim tag next to his name.
He couldn’t ask for a tougher gauntlet, with five ranked SEC teams lying in wait, all preceded by months of unbelievable drama.
Somehow, Orgeron has embraced it all.
“You know, whatever,” he said. “This is college football. Whatever the day brings, we’re going to face it and be positive about it and go after it and adjust on the move.”
Hopefully, for all concerned, LSU has done enough adjusting for one season from one tragedy and crisis and drama to another.
What say they just start playing the games again and see how it all turns out?