A Long LSU Sports Post

December 07, 2005

There was a recent poll result in the Baton Rouge Business Report that was interesting. It asked which LSU coach was the best. The results were...

John BradyMen's Basketball3.42%
Pokey ChatmanWomen's Basketball83.15%
Smoke LevalBaseball2.60%
Les MilesFootball10.82%

Wow, who would have suspected such a skewed result? Especially since it's skewed in favor of the coach of a minor sport, a woman, and an African-American. Perhaps the business people in Baton Rouge aren't the Neanderthals that I had imagined that they are.

There's a ton of interesting information in that result, but let's compare Pokey and Smoke. When you start thinking about it, they have a lot in common:

  • They coach a sport that is somewhere above the minor sports (swimming, volleyball, etc.) and the majors (football, men's basketball).
  • They both go by a goofy nickname instead of a real first name.
  • They both inherited their program from one of the all time coaching giants of their sport.
  • They were both hand-chosen by their coaching giant to be the successor.
  • They both took their teams to the championship round of their first season (College World Series is roughly the baseball equivalent of basketball's Final Four). If you count the half season where Pokey ran the team, you can apply that commonality to their first two seasons.
  • Both teams are consistently highly ranked during the course of their seasons.

So what is the difference that makes public opinion favor Pokey so strongly? I don't have the foggiest idea. But don't take this to mean that I disagree. In my mind, Pokey is obviously the best coach in the group. Just because I can't iterate an argument for "why" doesn't change my opinion. (Here's one guess: Pokey speaks intelligently and engages the fans at the game. Smoke sounds like an old country guy -- which he is, and doesn't make you prod when he represents the school to outsiders. That has nothing to do with how well they coach, but could possibly explain the perception. Still, my opinion is that Chatman is the better coach -- not that she's the better promoter. So I'm back to unsure about the answer. I guess I've beat this topic to death.) Before I leave the topic of baseball for the remainder of the post, I want to point out that LSU has released its list of bat girls for the upcoming season. This is a little amusing for two reasons. First, and most obviously, it is non-news. Was anyone other than these girls' parents waiting for such an announcement? Second, if you check out the article and scroll down, you will see an astounding number of girls selected. I understand the advantage of having as many cute college girls as possible at each game, but they've selected dozens of them. And then, there are a handful of alternates. As if the dozens that they selected couldn't handle it if a few of them got sick. I figure that they need about three per game. Tops. Getting back to football, I'm obviously disappointed about the fact that all of the New Year's Day games bypassed LSU. For crying out loud, the team is 10-2, with one loss at the very beginning of the season (and after having their world rocked by two hurricanes), and one was in the conference championship game. It makes no sense that Number 21 Wisconsin plays on New Years Day. Number 13 Alabama -- coming off two consecutive losses, including one to LSU -- got the SEC's Cotton Bowl slot. Overrated West Virginia (Number 11) plays in the Sugar Bowl. Meanwhile, Numbers 9 and 10 (LSU and Miami) play in the Peach Bowl on December 30. It makes no sense. After the Tigers' lackluster performance in the SEC Championship game on Saturday, Les Miles is taking a lot of heat for being a poor coach on the local talk shows. Although I'm not sure whether or not Les is one who will keep LSU competing for conference championships for years to come, you can't knock this season: 10-1 in the regular season, played in the conference championship game. I'll take any coach who can do that 1 year out of 3. It's not easy to win the division. Remember, Nick Saban didn't go to the championship game last year, and he went out a hero. On the other hand, I can't fathom that Miles actually went to Dallas to lobby the Cotton Bowl in case of a championship game loss. Any other coach in the country would have told the athletic director something like, "Are you out of your mind? I'm trying to win a championship game over here!" In fact, while we were watching the game on Saturday, Mrs. theskinnyonbenny had the nerve to ask about who the Tigers might play in the Cotton Bowl. She received an ugly, scornful reaction from the real football fans for daring to even mention it. It was a sincere reaction too -- we were angered by her willingness to give up on the team during the game. To find out that the head coach, of all people had done the same thing before the game kicked off makes me wonder. I guess I'll go with this opinion for now: Miles had a good season, and we should be pleased. He's younger than most head coaches in the league, and he's probably still a bit wet behind the ears. He'll probably make fewer dumb decisions each year. Time will tell if he's a great (or even good) SEC coach or not. That gets everything out of my system that I had to say about sports, so if you're bored with the topic, I'm done for a little while. By the way, we're still the 2003 National Champions!