Now that the NFL season will proceed as scheduled, it’s OK to look ahead to a football season that could be unlike any other in Louisiana.
It’s unlikely there has ever been a summer in which the combined expectations for LSU and the Saints are as high as they are right now. The closest probably came in 2007 as the Tigers were preparing to win what would be their second BCS Championship in five years and the Saints were coming off their first trip to the NFC Championship. But that Saints team fizzled to 7-9, and this one is just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl title.
Of course the odds suggest someone other than LSU will win the BCS and someone other than the Saints will win the Super Bowl, but the thought of either or both making a title run is based on more than standard preseason optimism.
The Tigers are ranked at or near the top of most preseason polls for good reason. They went 11-2 last season, playing in by far the most difficult conference in the country. They punctuated their bounce-back season with a 41-24 thumping of an emerging Texas A&M team in the Cotton Bowl.
The addition of new offense coordinator /quarterback guru Steve Kragthorpe could elevate the play of senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson. If not, Jarrett Lee and Zach Mettenberger provide options in reserve. Three exceptional players must be replaced on defense, but coordinator John Chavis still has loads of talent to work with.
There are hurdles to clear, such as Oregon in the opener, three road games among the first four, including a trip to West Virginia, a November visit to Alabama and the rest of the SEC gauntlet. But there’s no reason to believe LSU is less of a BCS title contender than anyone else.
Unlike the Tigers, the Saints finished last season on a downer as the wild-card loss to the Seahawks brought the Super Bowl defense to an abrupt stop, but an impressive offseason has New Orleans back on track.
The drafting of defensive end Cameron Jordan and running back Mark Ingram revived Super Bowl talk before it had time to fully dissipate.
Even the departure of Reggie Bush was mitigated by the acquisition of Darren Sproles.
The Saints, like LSU, have enough talent to win a championship and are coached by someone already wearing a championship ring.
Whether Sean Payton, Les Miles or both can earn another ring will make the next several months even more fun to watch.
And the few days since the end of the NFL lockout have reminded us how much more fun it is following news relating to football rosters rather than football business.
The Saints were back on the practice field Friday, and the Tigers will be on theirs in a few more days.
Have you ever been this ready for some football?