LSU is once again the king of the college football world.
The national champion.
The real Tigers (who are Auburn, Clemson, Missouri, even Princeton to argue?)
Residents of the real Death Valley (again, sorry Clemson, but see LSU 42, You 25).
And, arguably, owners of the best season and layers to the claim of being the best team in college football history.
But what a very LSU kind of championship this was as well, sprinkled, not unlike the bacon pralines they served in the postgame media party (not bad, though not very bacon-y), with surprises, controversies and general strangeness.
Here is a smattering:
• Smoke, but no fire: Several LSU players lit up victory cigars in the locker room after Monday night’s triumph, delivered by former NBA great Karl “The Mailman” Malone, father of former LSU lineman and current graduate assistant K.J. Malone. Smoking is a serious no-no in the smoke-free Mercedes-Benz Superdome. There were postgame fireworks that produced clouds of smoke, but we’ll set that aside for now.
A police officer reportedly threatened some LSU players with arrest, but in the spirit of restraint and "he who has just won the national championship makes the rules," apparently no one got hauled downtown. In the end, a little tolerance was needed, and that was the result.
One of the lasting, and arguably coolest images of the entire season will be that of Joe Burrow, sitting on a couch, still in his LSU uniform, smoking a cigar. Someone off camera speaks to him, and the Heisman Trophy winner nods and tips his smoldering stogie in their direction in a very Michael Jordan sort of way.
Joe Cool forever.
• OBJ, no way: What was not cool was the video of former LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. handing out what looked like cash to Tiger players after the game, specifically receivers Justin Jefferson and Jontre Kirklin. LSU officials said there were fake bills on the field after the game but that it was unknown whether those were the bills Beckham was giving players.
Giving money to players is an NCAA violation, though not potentially as worrisome as it may seem. If the money was real and players were to give back the money, LSU might self-report a secondary (or minor) NCAA violation and that likely would be it.
What is more troubling is why a star former player like Beckham, now with the Cleveland Browns, would draw such attention to himself and draw such a negative light on the program he supposedly was there to help celebrate in arguably its greatest moment ever. Other former LSU players like fellow Browns receiver Jarvis Landry and Dallas Cowboys tackle La’el Collins were also there, but you didn’t see them engaged in such shenanigans.
The incident puts LSU and Orgeron in a difficult spot. Coach O spoke Tuesday of the importance of keeping former players involved in the program. “I told them, one day we are going to play in the national championship (game), and you guys are going to be with us.”
If there’s a next time, though, maybe LSU should lose Beckham’s invitation.
A video has surfaced on social media of former LSU star Odell Beckham Jr. appearing to hand out cash to LSU players moments after the national…
• ‘Hold that Tiger!’ the sequel: Coach O is famous for slyly tweeting out “Hold that Tiger!” every time the Tigers get a new commitment. Schools aren’t allowed to publicize commitments, but nothing against the rules for sending fans scrambling to try to find out who has just pledged to LSU.
Considering how many players he now has to re-recruit to keep the bottom from falling out of LSU’s 2020 team, Orgeron may be tweeting every time someone decides to stay. At least 10 juniors and a smattering of draft-eligible sophomores like linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson and nose tackle Tyler Shelvin have decisions to make.
Expect several players to leave, but don’t discount Orgeron’s ability to pull a couple of key players back for 2020.
Apparently, Orgeron has already lost one “recruiting” battle to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. They are making LSU passing-game coordinator Joe Brady, this season’s Frank Broyles Award winner as the nation’s top assistant coach, their offensive coordinator under new coach Matt Rhule. LSU offered Brady a big new salary, but the word has long been that the former Saints assistant longed to return to the NFL. Now he becomes a potential headache for the Saints, where he coached from 2017-18.
Brady’s loss stings, but Orgeron’s track record of enticing and retaining a strong coaching staff is a good one. One name to watch: LSU analyst and former Louisiana assistant Jorge Munoz, whom Burrow gave much credit for helping him identify blitzes.
The Advocate’s offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette are open Tuesday morning and stocked with extras newspapers and high-quality …
• Why, FPI? While LSU may be the undisputed national champion and Ed Orgeron and his players won just about every major award they were up for this season, ESPN’s Football Power Index was unmoved. In the final rankings, LSU was No. 3 — yes, three — behind Ohio State and Clemson. The Clemson that LSU just beat, and The Ohio State University that Clemson beat in their CFP semifinal in the Fiesta Bowl.
The FPI wasn't keen on LSU all year, ranking the Tigers behind Alabama in November AFTER LSU beat Bama on the road. It doesn’t matter one bit, but you have to wonder what LSU person made fun of the FPI as a child and why it still holds a grudge.
• SEC dominance continues: LSU’s national championship means Southeastern Conference teams have won 10 of the past 14 national titles and at least played for the national title in all but one of those seasons. The only time in that run was the first CFP title game after the 2014 season when Ohio State beat Oregon after the Buckeyes beat Bama in a Sugar Bowl semifinal.
• Never hurts to look ahead: The Sugar and Rose bowls host the CFP semifinals on Jan. 1, 2021. The CFP National Championship Game will be Jan. 11 at the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium in South Florida.