With the days until the football regular seasons dwindling down, it’s time for some hot takes (are there any other kind in August?) and bold predictions on the sports world …
… Ed Orgeron will likely always have his detractors as a head coach — and this season will likely sway those opinions greatly in a positive or negative direction — but it’s impossible to say he isn’t one of the most well-connected coaches in the game. He gets the interim LSU job in 2016 and immediately can dial up Pete Jenkins to come and take his place as defensive line coach. He brings back Jerry Sullivan to coach wide receivers for a season. He even gets a College Football Hall of Famer in John Robinson to come be a consultant this season. And with an injured Dennis Johnson in a motorized scooter, he gets former Saints and Rams coach Bill Johnson to come fill in as this year’s defensive line coach. By the way, Saturday when asked about Bill Johnson, Orgeron didn’t shut the door to him staying on the staff past this season, so stay tuned.
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… I’m bullish on all our area teams this season. LSU will go 11-1 and challenge for the College Football Playoff, but that Florida game is a real tossup that could go either way. If LSU doesn’t beat the Gators, it’s 10-2 and in the Sugar Bowl. The Saints will go 12-4 (is that enough for NFC home-field advantage again? Yes, barely), Southern will go 9-3 (and win the SWAC), Tulane and SLU will go 8-4 and UL will go 7-5.
… Speaking of the Ragin’ Cajuns, they had their first fumble of the season when it came out that coach Billy Napier told his players they needed to contribute $50 to the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics Foundation. Napier later backed off that to say they were only encouraged to give, but any way you slice it this sounds like pay to play. Introducing young people to the idea of giving to worthwhile causes has its value. But this was an ill-considered move that a more experienced coach never would have made, opening Napier and his school up to nationwide criticism and creating a huge distraction for his players on the eve of a promising season.
… Auburn goes 7-5 this season and fires Gus Malzahn. Meanwhile, Arkansas goes 0-8 again in Southeastern Conference play, prompting it to dump Chad Morris after two brief but disappointing seasons and bring in Malzahn on the rebound.
LSU is ranked No. 6 in the AP preseason poll, which was released Monday morning.
… Dick Vitale seemed to be talking out of both sides of his mouth this weekend when the ESPN analyst urged people not to jump to conclusions after a report that Kentucky men’s basketball assistant Kenny Payne may have been the recipient of text messages describing under-the-table payments from Nike to high school players via the shoemaker’s Elite Youth Basketball League. Vitale is right that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions as the person in the texts is only referred to as “KP.” The text sender, EYBL director Carlton DeBose, could just be a huge Katie Perry fan, for example. Vitale seemed not to be so even-handed when LSU coach Will Wade’s name surfaced in federal wiretaps stemming from the adidas case, but though he condemned Wade he admitted he never heard the actual federal wiretaps during Round 2 on WNXX-FM’s “Off the Bench” show Monday morning (Round 1 earlier this year was a yell fest). Vitale did also laud Wade’s coaching ability, sang the praises of senior guard Skylar Mays and correctly observed that LSU fans would not have been so quick to side with Wade were he not winning. Still placing the over-under at Vitale calling a game from the PMAC this year at zero, though.
… The Saints will be here 30 years-plus as Governor John Bel Edwards promised last week, but it’s hard to see them as tenants of the Mercedes Benz Superdome that entire time. Give the Superdome another 20 years and then the Saints will be moving into a retractable roof stadium next to the bridge by the river. That will probably cost $3 billion and have people criticizing the $450 million upgrade of the Superdome wondering why they can’t just spend another $450 million to spruce up the aging Dome once again.
… Really, Rutgers? You have nothing better to do than pick on Ruston High School and its logo? Ruston has agreed to change it but come on, how big a problem could this really be for a Big Ten school (still can’t get used to that) 1,300 miles away? Somehow the Green Bay Packers and Georgia Bulldogs and Grambling Tigers have all co-existed with the same “G” logo on their helmets for years. Wish Rutgers could have done the same.
The traffic Saturday in and around LSU was regular-season home game caliber, as thousands of students stormed their campus dorm rooms and apar…
… I get shot down on this every year by the folks at LSU, but once, just once, for all these alternate uniforms the Tigers play in, I’d like to see a black jersey instead of the alternate purple.
… Russell Shepherd is gearing up for his seventh season in the NFL and second with the New York Giants. He and Garrett Temple, who just completed his ninth season in the NBA (now with the Los Angeles Clippers), are two of the most remarkable pro athlete stories out of LSU ever. And proof that good things do indeed happen to good people.