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Rabalais: The not-so-hidden secret to LSU women's sports teams having massive success this year is . . .

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU celebrates with teammate Bianka Bell (27) at home plate after Bell's home run in the third inning against Stephen F. Austin during LSU's Purple and Gold Challenge, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, at LSU's Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La. Bell's home run tied the career home run mark.

“Tigers, not daughters …” — William Shakespeare, King Lear A winter of discontent on the LSU football field has been followed by an LSU spring with successful teams blooming everywhere. And LSU’s women’s programs are leading the charge. The LSU softball team, 28-1 after beating Nicholls State 6-1… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Why LSU made the NCAA tournament with room to spare

LSU coach Johnny Jones celebrates the Tigers' selection to the NCAA men's basketball tournament Sunday, March 15, 2015.

LSU’s upset loss to Auburn in the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday begat 48 hours of hand wringing and rampant speculation, bracketology dissection and bubble watching, and probably in at least one corner, an exorcism for the Tigers’ free-throw shooting. As the hours ticked away until the 5 p.m. NCAA selection show, LSU guard Josh Gray had to… Continue reading →

Rabalais:LSU's Jalen Mills excited to lead the secondary; Mom's influence helped make it happen

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU safety Jalen Mills (28) moves in to bring Arkansas wide receiver Jared Cornelius (1) down after the completion during the first half Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 in Fayetteville, Ark.

LSU’s reputation as “DBU” is something Tigers senior safety Jalen Mills takes quite seriously. “For me, it’s about having high expectations for myself,” Mills said this week. “We put a target on ourselves calling ourselves ‘DBU.’ Whether you feel like it or not, we have to come in every day and give 110 percent.” Mills returned… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Lady Tigers have earned their likely spot in NCAA field

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --LSU's Danielle Ballard gets a defensive rebound in the second half of LSU's  80-63 win over Texas A&M Sunday in the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In his latest NCAA women’s tournament projections Sunday morning, ESPN analyst Charlie Crème looked into his crystal basketball and put the LSU Lady Tigers on the No. 10 seed line, playing Rutgers in the Greensboro regional in Tallahassee, Florida. LSU and Rutgers played back on Nov. 22, with Rutgers winning 64-57… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Tigers starting to look dangerous at the right time

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU's Jordan Mickey dunks over Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody in the second half Saturday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Moment by moment, possession by possession, by each rebound and dunk and block and steal, the LSU Tigers may finally be evolving into the basketball team we all thought it could be. The latest evidence: Saturday’s 73-63 over Ole Miss. For just the second time this season the Tigers are proud owners of a three-game Southeastern Conference… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU gambled and lost — but you can also blame the NCAA and another mindless rule

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles gestures to an official during a review during the Alabama game Nov. 8.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to be in Indianapolis for an NCAA men’s basketball tournament mock selection exercise. It was a highly organized, informative, exceptionally professional event. It was the NCAA at its big-time best. Thursday, we were witness once again to the NCAA at its bureaucratic worst. LSU’s football program was… Continue reading →

Rabalais: It’s cold outside, but Lady Tigers are riding a hot streak

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU head coach Beth Torina coaches against Memphis, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, at LSU's Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La.

The weather at Tiger Park on Tuesday was chilling. The home team couldn’t be hotter. The LSU softball team returned from the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in posh Palm Springs, California, over the weekend with another sack full of victories, five of them, pushing their record to16-0. It’s the best start in school history. LSU’s ranking… Continue reading →

Rabalais: With PMAC packed, Tigers put on show

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Rheagan Courville celebrates her performance on the uneven bars against Florida in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.

There was a time when it took Shaquille O’Neal and his larger-than-life, rim-rattling theatrics to fill the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Friday night, the PMAC was filled again, fans drawn to the theatrics of a bunch of perfectly manicured young women vaulting and spinning and tumbling to the choreography of a cutting-edge soundtrack worthy of a Vegas… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Why a sellout crowd, heroic effort wasn't enough for LSU to shock Kentucky

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Kentucky head coach John Calipari talks to his players on the bench in the first half of LSU's 69-71 loss to  #1 Kentucky Tuesday night in the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The crawfish in the second row of the LSU student section was boiling, like the rest of the Deaf Dome. Looking like they were outclassed and outgunned down 13 points with just under 13 minutes left, the LSU Tigers mounted a furious 16-0 rally from 60-50 down to 66-60 up on No. 1 Kentucky with 7:29… Continue reading →

Rabalais: In a pivotal year for Les Miles, LSU needs these recruits to pan out

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU coach Les Miles answers questions about new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and new defensive line coach Ed Orgeron last month. Miles and his staff finalized a signing class of 25 players Wednesday.

Recruiting is referred to as an inexact science. It’s a statement that does injustice to inexact sciences, like meteorology or coming up with a flu vaccine that actually works (excuse me while I reach for another tissue). Yet every year, fans and us media types sift through the college football classes on… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU baseball team tries again to climb College World Series mountain

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- From left, LSU hitting coach Andy Cannizaro, head coach Paul Mainieri, and volunteer assistant coach Will Davis observe bunting practice Friday at Alex Box Stadium.

If you play or coach baseball at LSU, the expectations never relent. It’s there from the moment you arrive at Alex Box Stadium for batting practice or a game and see the six national championship flags snapping in the breeze. Or the faces of LSU All-Americans, staring expectantly from plaques on the iron and brick fence ringing the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Benson saga hard not to watch

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson walks with his wife Gayle Benson, left, and granddaughter Rita LeBlanc before an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

The lawsuits are flying, the attorneys are massing on the border and people are choosing sides for what promises to be The Battle of New Orleans II, an uncivil war between Bensons and LeBlancs for control of Louisiana’s major professional sports empire. In the middle, like children caught in the eye of a rancorous divorce, are… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Marathon’s Danny Bourgeois aims to help Louisiana take that first step

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Runners make it to mile 16 at the intersection of Jefferson Highway and Claycut Road during the third annual Louisiana Marathon in January 2014.

Danny Bourgeois is convinced there’s a healthier Louisiana out there, lurking under our deep-fried, crunchy exterior. “With this sedentary lifestyle, where sitting has become the new smoking, we’ve all put on a little weight,” said Bourgeois, marketing director and one of the co-founders of the Louisiana Marathon festival, which takes over Baton Rouge’s streets and public spaces… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU football staff could be recruiting ‘dream team’ in the making

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- From left,  LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, head coach Les Miles and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron stand together during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 at LSU in Baton Rouge.

Kevin Steele and Ed Orgeron were announced as LSU’s new coaches Wednesday, Steele as defensive coordinator, Orgeron as defensive line coach. Their reputation as recruiters borders on legendary, especially Orgeron, the gregarious, high-energy son of south Louisiana, who finally gets to fulfill a longtime career ambition by coaching at LSU. Combine them with established LSU coaches… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Is LSU’s 6-year championship itch the sign of bigger things to come? Or is the program declining?

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND --  Les Miles boards a bus departing from the LSU Football Operations Building for the Music City Bowl on Dec. 27.

They say history is the best predictor of the future. If so, this is a pretty interesting point in history for the LSU football program. Despite whatever frustration and angst that may have resulted from the 2014 season, this remains the longest sustained period of success for LSU football ever. The Tigers have had 15 straight winning… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Ohio State's Sugar Bowl shocker vs. Alabama proves it — the SEC’s reign of dominance is over

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban takes the field before kickoff against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff Semifinal / Sugar Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015

Dylan Thompson danced and spun around on his good leg on the Ohio State sideline as teammate Michael Thomas wrapped his meaty mitts around Alabama quarterback Blake Sims for a 9-yard sack at the Crimson Tide 30. It was only with about 11 minutes left in the third quarter. It was only with the Buckeyes having just… Continue reading →

Rabalais: John Chavis’ no comment said it all — he’s going to Texas A&M

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis

John Chavis could have ended the speculation. When he emerged from the LSU locker room Tuesday after the longest delay this side of the review of Brad Kragthorpe’s fake field-goal keeper… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Their LSU Tigers in a bowl game? Super fans Scott and Kent DeJean wouldn’t miss it for the world

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  LSU super fans, twin brothers Kent DeJean, left, of Baton Rouge and Scott DeJean of Lafayette, pose with an LSU jacket touting the Tigers' three football national championships at the Nashville Downtown Sheraton on Monday, Dec. 29, 2014.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When it comes to LSU bowl games, neither monsoon-like rain nor sleet nor mad cow disease will stop the Evil Twins from being in the stands. When LSU kicks off Tuesday here in the Music City Bowl against Notre Dame (2 p.m., ESPN), twin brothers Scott and Kent DeJean will be in the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU football in a 'disturbingly downward trend;' Music City Bowl vs. Notre Dame starts 'incredibly pivotal 2015 season'

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings, left, watches as coach Les Miles questions a call to officials during the first half of the Tigers' 10-7 win over Ole Miss last week.

NASHVILLE, Tenn . — To quote country music immortal Johnny Cash, when it comes to bowl games, I’ve been everywhere, man. New Orleans. Tampa. Dallas. Pasadena. Atlanta. Miami. Shreveport. Shreveport again. Often, a bowl is just a bowl, the main difference being the colors of the ugly blazers the bowl… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU’s Anthony Jennings brings a suitcase full of quiet confidence to Music City Bowl

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Quarterback Anthony Jennings is interviewed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center late Saturday afternoon, after LSU arrived at the team hotel.

Amid the swirl of TV cameras and interviews and LSU players trying to find their room keys as they arrived at the Opryland resort on Saturday for the Music City Bowl, a small band of youngsters slipped in and took a picture with Tigers quarterback Anthony Jennings. As they returned… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Keeping John Chavis, underclassmen from bolting key job for LSU coach Les Miles

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU head coach Les Miles, left, talks with defensive coordinator John Chavis before the Sam Houston State game, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

As he settled in for his final on-campus news conference of 2014 Monday night, Les Miles mentioned the Forbes article that rated LSU as the nation’s fifth-most-valuable college football program. The price tag: $103 million. Someone asked Miles if he should get a raise for his role in leading such a lucrative “franchise,” but… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Jimmy Graham’s goal-line gaffe sums up the Saints’ lost season perfectly

Atlanta Falcons strong safety Kemal Ishmael (36) strips the football from New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) after a reception near the goal line in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Falcons free safety Dezmen Southward (41) tackles. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)

For once Sunday, Drew Brees was able to drop back in the pocket unhurried to find his favorite target open over the middle: tight end/wide receiver/amateur pilot Jimmy Graham. Graham leaped high on his basketball-trained pogo sticks and came down with the ball right at the goal line. The pensive Mercedes-Benz Superdome crowd, chewing nails all afternoon… 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 →