Raid the vacation fund for some season tickets. Wipe those remnant episodes of “The Governor’s Wife” off the DVR. (It’s a good idea no matter what.) And it’s probably a good idea to make room on the wall of your Tiger den for another LSU Advocate sports poster. Suitable for framing, naturally.
As the lazy summer days melt into the frenetic fall, we draw closer and closer to what could be an epic athletic year on the LSU campus.
You’ll want to be prepared.
Athletic talent at LSU is rarely in short supply. It grows like the sugar cane from the fertile Mississippi River bottomlands that are within view of Tiger Stadium’s massive superstructure. It’s exported by the barge-full to professional leagues and competitions the world over.
But this could be one of those years remembered as the time the planets aligned and the stars fell on Louisiana.
I’m reminded of my days as a student writer at LSU in 1988-89 when one sport after another boasted some of the best to ever wear the purple and gold.
There was Tommy Hodson, who left Tigertown as the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leading passer. Chris Jackson, who set the NCAA freshman single-season scoring record that still stands. (Pete Maravich, of course, holds the scoring records for sophomores, juniors, seniors and a career.)
Ben McDonald was on his way to becoming the No. 1 draft pick in 1989 after capturing the Golden Spikes Award. David Toms was on his way to becoming the best golfer LSU has ever produced. And Dawn Sowell was sweeping to three NCAA titles, leading the Lady Tigers to yet another NCAA team track and field championship.
That is one lofty collection of achievements, perhaps never to be repeated. But the athletes coming to and returning to LSU’s campus in 2015-16 have a tremendous chance to leave a sparkling legacy in their own right.
Just turn through the seasons and consider some of the brilliant athletes who will take the field, court and course at LSU over the coming athletic year:
It starts in September with sophomore tailback Leonard Fournette, the nation’s former No. 1 recruit and a major Heisman Trophy candidate. The leader of “Buga Nation” led the SEC in all-purpose yards last season and earned preseason all-conference honors at SEC Media Days earlier this month.
It continues in November with the debut of the nation’s No. 1 basketball recruit, forward Ben Simmons from Australia, a program-changing kind of prospect who can pass and run and rebound and shoot so well that he’s already being touted as the No. 1 NBA draft pick next year. (That’s right, folks; he’s going to be one-and-done.)
In February, Alex Lange returns to the mound after spinning an unbeaten All-America freshman campaign, leading the Tigers back to the College World Series. At the same time, All-America shortstop Bianka Bell returns for her senior season, intent on taking the softball team back to the Women’s College World Series.
Two other new additions to the purple and gold are among the best anywhere. Golfer Sam Burns was the No. 1 junior golfer in the world earlier this summer. Not the nation. The world.
And gymnast Lexie Priessman had a great shot to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2012 and 2016 before injuries derailed her.
I’m not here to forecast how many championships the Tigers and Lady Tigers might win with these student-athletes in the fold. Some will shine brilliantly; some may never get off the ground.
But there’s a great chance that someone is going to do something special. Accomplish something astonishing. Leave us with the kind of performances that years from now will have you saying, “I was there when they did that.”
So save some money for a ticket and some room for a memento. This may just be an unforgettable year.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.