After we clear away the ribbons and the wrappings and pop some Christmas leftovers in the microwave, here is a hale and hearty holiday list of Christmas wishes for the sporting folk in our midst, and one or two for our sorely tested community after a trying and tragic 2016:
For LSU football coach Ed Orgeron, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears from his trip to the Citrus Bowl, simply embroidered with a gold “O” on the back. Go to The Chapeau in the Magic Kingdom. Tell them Walt sent you.
For former LSU coach Les Miles, the high white hat of a new team to coach, or a nice fat ESPN contract to spread his Mad Hatter ways on TV.
For returning LSU defensive tackle Christian LaCouture, the Tigers’ cherished No. 18. The team will vote before next season and give the jersey number to a deserving team leader, but LaCouture gets my vote.
For LSU men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones, some post players who don’t get into foul trouble in the first five minutes. And some better interior defense. And some good luck in Southeastern Conference play. He’ll need it.
For LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Fargas, 10 more wins to go with the first 10 of the season, and the NCAA tournament bid that’s sure to follow.
For LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux, that elusive championship season — either SEC, NCAA or both. Her team has the talent and the experience. The Tigers just need good health and that one … good … night.
For Tigers tailback Derrius Guice, the Heisman Trophy in 2017 that eluded Leonard Fournette.
For the New Orleans Saints, consistency. Good offense plus good defense in the same game, guys. See what that gets you.
For the New Orleans Pelicans, a season, just one, without significant injuries all the way through. That or an exorcism. The players on this team could get an infection from a paper cut opening their presents.
For Alabama’s football team and UConn’s women’s basketball team, a chance to meet in a game so at least one of them would lose.
For Southern’s football program, the blessing of time. Because of NCAA sanctions the program is facing, the team may go a third straight year without being able to hold spring practice, although coach Dawson Odums is hopeful that ban can be lifted. Considering Southern’s efforts to correct its compliance issues, it would be a great gesture on the NCAA’s part.
For the NCAA enforcement department, some humanity. (See above.)
For Tigers wide receiver Malachi Dupre, the good sense to come back to LSU for his senior season.
For new LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada, his first crawfish boil, and instructions on how to suck the heads.
For LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, a tie. Someone always has to get a tie.
For LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri, a proper GPS that points him and his Tigers on the Road to Omaha.
For former LSU All-American David Toms, a monster year on the Champions Tour.
For former U-High golfer Patrick Reed, a major.
For Baylor women’s basketball coach and Hammond native Kim Mulkey, a rightful place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (she’s on this year’s list of candidates) and a good seat cushion for all the games at Alex Box Stadium watching son Kramer Robertson try to lead the Tigers to another national title.
For LSU fans everywhere, a reliable alarm clock to get you up in time for the Citrus Bowl (10 a.m. CST on New Year’s Eve).
For every Craig Sager fan, some garish, multi-colored garb to remember him by. Me, I’ll remember riding in his tiny car back to LSU’s team hotel after Dale Brown made an appearance on CNN before the 1986 NCAA regional final in Atlanta. I was a student in LSU’s sports information office, and Sager’s car was so small I had to sit on the lap of my boss, Jamie Kimbrough, my head sticking between the front seats as Sager and Dale chatted away. Awkward, but memorable.
For East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputies Nick Tullier and Bruce Simmons, and the still unidentified Baton Rouge Police officer, continued recovery from the July 17 attack that claimed the lives of law enforcement officers Montrell Jackson, Brad Garafola and Matthew Gerald. It would be the most amazing sight one day to see them take the field together in Tiger Stadium to receive a most deserved standing ovation.
For all of us in south Louisiana, may we have a year when we live in peace and free from hardships and natural disasters.
Farewell to a friend
Former Advocate sportswriter Gary Laney died unexpectedly Friday, one more sad note in a year filled with them.
Gary's byline was familiar to sports fans across South Louisiana, having spent much of his career at the Lake Charles American Press before coming to Baton Rouge. In recent years, Gary made the real estate business his primary profession, but he kept his hand in sportswriting as a contributor to the website SaturdayDownSouth.com, remaining a fixture on the LSU sports scene.
Gary brought intelligence and passion to his craft, but always with a sense of humanity. He will be deeply missed by his family, his sportswriting family and those he covered so well for so many years.