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Rabalais: Wrapping up Christmas gifts for the LSU football team

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU safety Jamal Adams (33) and LSU head coach Les Miles celebrate as they head to the locker room after the Tiger's 30-27 win over Florida, Oct. 11, 2014 in Gainesville.

Before I dash out to finish my Christmas shopping (don’t judge me), here are a few presents I’d like to bestow on the LSU football family: -- For coach Les Miles, a fresh white LSU hat to wear during the Music City Bowl. Actually, Miles breaks out a fresh new hat for every game, but… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Domination of the hibernating Bears gives Saints a lift

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates as he leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in Chicago. The Saints won 31-15. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO — It’s been a crazy, unpredictable, hard-to-define, upside-down cake of a season for the New Orleans Saints. But there are worse things than coming into Week 15 of the regular season 5-8. There are the Chicago Bears. In the latest episode of “Chicago No Hope,” Bears coach Marc Trestman is facing withering criticism… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU coach Les Miles to Michigan? Maybe

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU head coach Les Miles at the LSU-Texas A&M game Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014, in College Station, Texas.

Notes on the back of a copy of Les Miles’ contract while pondering that $1.25 million Michigan buyout clause therein … … So far we have no outright fire when it comes to the Les Miles-Michigan story, but smoke signals abound. There are now multiple reports from Michigan, including one Wednesday from the Detroit News, which… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Exposed in their own home, the problems clearly run deep for these Saints

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) looks as time winds down in a NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014.

It’s not about bricks and mortar anymore with the Saints, where they’re playing the game and whose fans are doing the most screaming. It’s not about being tied for the top spot (or at the moment just below it) in the NFC South standings. It’s about whether the Saints are a good team or not. And right… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Officially playoff-bound, Alabama looks as tough as ever

Alabama offensive lineman Alphonse Taylor celebrates after the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Missouri, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Atlanta. Alabama won 42-13. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

A word of advice — or better yet, a warning — to whoever has the dubious honor of facing Alabama in the College Football Playoff. “They’re going to have to come with their ‘A’ game,” said Landon Collins, the Crimson Tide strong safety and former Dutchtown star. “That’s what we come with every… Continue reading →

Rabalais: The very first College Football Playoff ... without an SEC team? Hey, it could happen

Alabama head coach Nick Saban walks on the turf during practice Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Atlanta, ahead of the Southeastern Conference championship football game between Alabama and Missouri held Saturday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

ATLANTA — Picture your television screen Sunday morning: With doves flying and trumpets blaring, the keepers of the eternal down marker, the high priests and priestess (that’s for you, Condi Rice) of the College Football Playoff committee unveil one by one the four teams in the inaugural, historic, the-world-will-never-be-the-same-again national semifinals. Ah, we have Florida State.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Time is right for 'underappreciated' LSU coach Les Miles to accept Michigan job

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLINGLSU coach Les Miles celebrates the return of working headphones just after the opening kickoff last Thursday against Texas A&M.

Take the job, Les. If Michigan, your alma mater comes calling, if it says it needs Les Miles to rescue its once proud and now sputtering football tradition, you should accept. You both wanted it to work in 2007, but the timing became lousy thanks to that Saturday morning splash report (to spin off a Sean… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Best way to sum up these New Orleans Saints? Expect the unexpected

New Orleans Saints fullback Erik Lorig (41) celebrates with tight end Benjamin Watson (82) after making a catch and goes in for a touchdown in the second quarter of the NFL game , Sunday,Nov. 30, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

In a season that defies description other than to label the whole confounding thing as “non sequitur,' of course the Saints followed up their worst homestand of the Sean Payton era with a big win. On the road. Outdoors. Continue reading →

Rabalais: Blown calls, broken headsets, torched timeouts ... Tigers' win vs. Texas A&M had it all

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU cornerback Jalen Collins (32) celebrates as he comes off the field after his game-clinching interception with less than two minutes to go, in the game, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in College Station, Texas. LSU won, 23-17.

And beneath it all, an undercurrent of brute force. Clumsy at times but powerful nonetheless, the wild Thanksgiving Day affair ended in a 23-17 LSU victory. Continue reading →

PASS THE TURKEY

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU wide receiver Travin Dural (83) catches along pass over Wisconsin cornerback Darius Hillary (5) in the second half of LSU and Wisconsin's season opener, Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston. LSU won 28-24.

Pass the cranberries. Pass the yams. But after the plates are cleared away, the biggest question around Louisiana’s Thanksgiving tables will be this one: Can LSU pass the ball? LSU’s 17-0 shutout at Arkansas on Nov. 15 doesn’t look quite so bad in the wake of the suddenly awake Razorbacks quashing the Ole Miss Rebels 30-0 Saturday.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Worst or first? Saints remain stuck in NFC South limbo

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette (93) and New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94), top right, watch the final seconds tick away as the Saints lose 34-27 to the Baltimore Ravens in a NFL football game in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.

The New Orleans Saints find themselves trapped in some sort of football limbo from which there seems to be no end. Not quite bad enough to be condemned to the kind of hell reserved for the truly dreadful teams — I’m thinking of you, Oakland Raiders, despite that win over Kansas City. Not good enough to be… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Ex-LSU greats Dale Brown, Shaquille O’Neal hold court at Hall of Fame induction like no on else

Associated Press photo by Colin E. Braley -- Former LSU coach Dale Brown, left, greets former LSU great Shaquille O'Neal as he takes the stage Sunday night during a National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame induction in Kansas City, Mo.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the 2014 inductees into the College Basketball Hall of Fame one by one took the stage and then departed Sunday, college basketball analyst Seth Davis turned to co-host Clark Kellogg of CBS to talk about the evening’s closing act. “We’re coming to the LSU portion of the show,” Davis said. As… Continue reading →

Rabalais: It's only half a ‘tradition’ for LSU and Texas A&M

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU coach Les Miles meets Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin after last season's game in Tiger Stadium. The Tigers and Aggies begin a Thanksgiving tradition when they meet Thursday at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.

It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving Day without football. Personally, I have a theory that the Pilgrims and Indians used Plymouth Rock as a crude football on some unsuspecting meadow after the first turkey and stuffing was consumed. The Indians would have had home continent advantage, ’tis true. But the Pilgrims, being English, would have had the… Continue reading →

Together, Shaquille O’Neal and Dale Brown formed legendary pair; and together, they will enter College Basketball Hall of Fame

Advocate file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU center Shaquille O’Neal, left, and coach Dale Brown chat during a game in January 1991.

Basketball took Dale Brown around the world, filling a need in a fatherless lad with boundless energy that couldn’t be satisfied by staying home in frosty Minot, North Dakota. Without knowing it, maybe what the globetrotting Brown was looking for was Shaquille O’Neal. They met in a U.S. Army base in Wildflecken, West Germany in 1985.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU may dive deep into bowl pool

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIGKentucky linebacker Tyler Brause (10) can't hold on as LSU defensive back Tre'Davious White (16) returns a punt for a touchdown during the first half of the teams' game Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 in Baton Rouge.

Among many things, LSU’s hollow 17-0 shutout loss at Arkansas on Saturday was like a cannonball leap into the pool. Dropping LSU to 7-4 overall and 3-4 in Southeastern Conference play, the defeat certainly took the Tigers out of College Football Playoff bowl contention, if even they had a shot going in. Certainly there are too many… Continue reading →

Hogs gladly accept ‘The Boot’ from the Tigers after offense freezes up in Fayetteville

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams diver over LSU's defensive line from the 1-yard line for the first half's only touchdown Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Whenever LSU plays football at Arkansas, it’s never what you would call, as the soccer folk say, the beautiful game. It feels more like “Groundhog Day” over and over and over: It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be gray and it’s going to last you for the rest of… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU must overcome chill and chilling loss

You’ve heard of the 24-hour rule. That’s the edict handed down from single-track minded football coaches to take a day to enjoy or mourn the previous game, then burn the evidence. Well, Les Miles and his Tigers talked about a 48-hour rule after last Saturday’s loss to Alabama. If it was twice as hard to… Continue reading →

Rabalais: For LSU to contend for a title, Tigers must find just one missing piece

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings

By the looks of the numbers of the teams contending for the Southeastern Conference and College Football Playoff championships, the Tigers won’t be among their number until they find a way to earn more sky miles. Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saints’ painful loss caps a heartrending weekend for Louisiana football fans

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--San Francisco 49ers kicker Phil Dawson (9) celebrates the game-tying field goal with guard Alex Boone (75) as defensive end Cameron Jordan walks off the field Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014.

If you’re a Louisiana football fan, you can check into Heartbreak Hotel anytime you like. Sometimes, though, it seems you can never leave. Sometimes it seems you’re doomed to repeat the past. Saturday night, the LSU Tigers lost to Alabama, the San Francisco 49ers of their nightmares, 20-13 in overtime after grabbing a three-point… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU-Alabama showdown will light up the night

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Alabama running back Kenyan Drake (17) is upended on the stop by LSU linebacker Lamar Louis (23) and LSU safety Craig Loston (6) during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

In a state where the fusion of food and football has been raised to a pseudo-religion, a season’s worth of simmering is about to deliver its tastiest dish. If you could find an unsold ticket for Saturday night’s LSU-Alabama game, the face value would read $100, not that you can get one… Continue reading →

Taking stock of the LSU defense, the Saints’ chances as a huge weekend looms

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU place kicker Trent Domingue (14) kicks off during the first half Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 in Baton Rouge.

News, notes and observations from the week that was and looking ahead to two huge games this coming weekend … Don’t look now, but LSU’s defensive numbers are approaching what we’ve gotten accustomed to seeing from LSU defenses. Through this weekend’s games, LSU ranks first in pass efficiency defense, fourth in… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Bobby Phills’ jersey returns to the rafters in Charlotte, where he’s still revered

Dr. Bobby Phills Sr. holds his grandson Trey, 3, as the Charlotte Hornets retire the number of Dr. Phills' son Bobby during a ceremony at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2000. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Nearly 15 years have passed since Bobby Phills’ death in a tragic car crash in January 2000. In that time, the Charlotte Hornets, the team for whom the former Southern and Southern Lab star shooting guard was then playing, moved to New Orleans. Charlotte got a new franchise named the Bobcats,… Continue reading →

Rabalais: If LSU upsets Alabama on Saturday, here’s what might happen next...

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) breaks the tackle of Mississippi linebacker Deterrian Shackelford (38) on the run during the second half Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 in Baton Rouge. LSU won 10-7.

A month ago, talk of LSU and bowls or titles in the same sentence seemed like some sort of cruel joke. Continue reading →

Style points aside, Saints get the job done — on the road

Carolina Panthers' Jerricho Cotchery (82) catches a pass as New Orleans Saints' Marcus Ball (36) defends in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stylish, it was not. The New Orleans Saints win with flair and a panache at home, often turning a brutal game into something artistic and graceful. But take the Saints on the road, and it’s all gritted teeth and clenched fists and, lately, a lot of heartache. Seven straight times in… Continue reading →

Rabalais:

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU coach Les Miles acknowledges fans while walking to Tiger Stadium before Saturday's game against Ole Miss.

Considering this week marks LSU’s first open date after a long nine-week slog to start the season, and that the Tigers’ postseason prospects have changed markedly with their three-game winning streak to get to 7-2, this seemed like a great time to try to pick off some common questions regarding LSU’s bowl, Southeastern Conference and, yes, CFP… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Mutual love of Miles, players shows after loss of mom

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU special teams coach Bradley Dale Peveto, center, celebrates the win after Saturday's win over Ole Miss.

The LSU football team was sequestered at The Cook Hotel on campus Friday night as usual before a home game when Les Miles arrived to speak to his team. Unfortunately, there was nothing usual about this night for LSU’s coach. Earlier that evening, while Miles and his wife, Kathy, were watching their son Manny play football… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Not dead yet; Saints resemble Super Bowl contender in win vs. Packers

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Saints coach Sean Payton talks with quarterback Drew Brees against the Green Bay Packers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014.

The Saints' big win vs. the Packers made New Orleans -- for the first time this season -- look like the team that everyone back in the preseason thought was a Super Bowl contender.

Continue reading →

Rabalais: History is on the Tigers’ side as LSU snuffs Ole Miss’ hopes again

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Fans fill the field after LSU's win over Ole Miss, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 in Baton Rouge.  LSU won, 10-7.

Doubt, despair, anger, anguish, even out-and-out grief have permeated this LSU football season. But on Saturday night, one epic Saturday night in The Valley, a young, undervalued LSU football team came to everyone’s emotional rescue. Who would have thought these guys, run over by Mississippi State’s Dak Attack and the victim of arson at Auburn, could come… Continue reading →

RIVALRY RENEWED

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU fullback Connor Neighbors and Ole Miss defensive end D.T. Shackelford jaw at each other after the kickoff during the first half last month at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

Back when the world was young, LSU and Ole Miss may have been the best rivalry in college football. Billy Cannon, streaking through the night like a Halloween phantom in 1959. Archie Manning, darting and scrambling and reducing LSU’s otherwise perfect 1969 season to ruin. Bert Jones’ touchdown pass to Brad Davis on the last tick… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saturday's Ole Miss at LSU game could be a classic ... for those who stay

Advocate staff file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles

Notes on a golf scorecard from the endangered species that is the LSU Golf Course … … It’s a sad state of affairs when LSU coach Les Miles has to beg LSU football fans to come early and stay late for Saturday’s Ole Miss game, even to the point Monday where he invited them to bring food.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: The Saints’ engine blows another rod for a stunning loss in Detroit

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton walks the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) ORG XMIT: otkco215

Here in the Motor City, where they know about recalls all too well, the New Orleans Saints have a simple question: Can they have a do-over? Hit the reset button? Bring this defective lemon of a team back to the factory and fix the parts that always seem to go… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Soft-spoken Slive carried a big stick

Mike Slive is a unique figure in college athletics. He isn’t physically imposing. He’s never known to raise his voice to make himself heard. And, in an increasingly rare trait in the sports world, never puts himself in a compromising position through his word or deed. In fact, it would be easy to underestimate Slive completely… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Taking stock of the LSU Tigers after their wild win at Florida

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU wide receiver Travin Dural (83) pulls in the touchdown pass in spite of the pass interference by Florida defensive back Brian Poole (24) during the second half of the teams' game Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Gainesville. LSU won 30-27.

Some thoughts from 40,000 feet heading home from Saturday’s LSU-Florida game … -- What, you thought Les Miles’ 100th win at LSU was going to be ordinary? Dullsville? A game that wouldn’t have you too wired to sleep until well after midnight? Not in a million. With The Hat at the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Where does LSU go from here? Who knows, but it’ll surely be interesting

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU safety Rickey Jefferson is dragged down by Florida receiver Demarcus Robinson after his interception in the final seconds of the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014

Dire Straits was somewhere under the stands at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, tuning up to send LSU out of here as a three-time Southeastern Conference loser. Twice. Follow the pinballing Jeff Driskel football from here, if you can: The Tigers trailed 24-20 with 3½ minutes left, facing… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saints keep hope alive with late rally for overtime win over Tampa Bay

New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) celebrates with teammates and fans after scoring the game winning touchdown in overtime in an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. The Saints won 37-31. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

The New Orleans Saints looked like a leaking boat. The injuries mounted even before the game began. Safety Jairus Byrd made it onto the cover of Sunday’s game program, but he never made it to the field after season-ending knee surgery. Once in play, tight end Jimmy Graham, linebacker Ramon Humber, center Jonathan Goodwin… Continue reading →

Tattered tigers

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) walks off, after a 41-7 LSU drubbing from Auburn, as fireworks go off behind him in Jordan-Hare Stadium, after the teams' game, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 in Auburn, Ala.

The LSU Tigers need a hug. And some quick-drying cement. And a fire extinguisher. The smell in the air over the so-called loveliest village on the plain wasn’t corn dogs. (Sorry, Katy Perry.) It wasn’t even from a four-alarm… Continue reading →

The young and the tested

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles walks the team out before LSU's game against New Mexico State, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in Baton Rouge.

It’s a stretch to say the LSU Tigers need to be driven to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday in a fleet of stretch limos because they’re not old enough to drive themselves. Or that they’re going to be asked to show their IDs at the locker-room door. Or that their moms have packed a postgame… Continue reading →

While temperatures slowly drop, SEC football heats up

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- LSU's Darrel Williams (34) is tackled by New Mexico State defenders Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, during LSU's game against New Mexico State in Tiger Stadium.

Notes on yet another losing U.S. Ryder Cup scorecard while wondering if the Americans will ever win it again … -- September was a lousy month schedulewise for the Southeastern Conference. But now it’s October. Fall is really coming this weekend — if only for a brief visit — and so are a flood of games… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saints’ season takes a turn for the even worse in Dallas beatdown

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett meets with New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan following an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

DeMarco Murray broke into open space, into one of the many fault lines that have fractured the New Orleans Saints defense this season, bound for glory. The only man between Murray and the big blue heaven of the Dallas Cowboys end zone was free safety Jairus Byrd — the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: What more do you need to see? Brandon Harris should be LSU’s starting quarterback

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs for a touchdown as LSU quarterback Brandon Harris (6) trails behind during the first half of the teams' game Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 in Baton Rouge.

In the coming days, you may hear tales that Brandon Harris can cure male pattern baldness, is working on a patent for a new version of the Air Jordan and is such a sweet-singing tenor he could make Andrea Bocelli want to chuck it all and become a shepherd. Let’s not fit the young man for Superman’s… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Is Les Miles really talking change for LSU football?

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles shouts during warmups before the Sam Houston State game Sept. 6 at Tiger Stadium.

Les Miles has trumpeted change for his LSU team in the wake of last Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State like a politician on the campaign trail. The question for LSU fans is whether it’s change they can believe in. There isn’t much faith in government these days, and frankly there isn’t a lot of faith that Miles is going… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Tigers need culture change to move forward

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU and LSU quarterback Brandon Harris (6) work on traveling the length of the field, with the stands fairly well emptied out, late in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 in Baton Rouge. LSU made a late comeback after State rolled to a big lead,  but fell short 34-29.

It’s time for LSU football to undergo a culture change. On the field. On the sideline. And in the stands (sorry fans, you’re not exempt on this one). LSU coach Les Miles faced the media Monday less than 48 hours after his Tigers lost 34-29 to Mississippi State. The Tigers were dominated for all but the final frantic… Continue reading →