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Rabalais: USGA’s handling of Dustin Johnson penalty farcical

Dustin Johnson holds the trophy after winning the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Oakmont, Pa. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Dustin Johnson, finally, is a big winner, claiming his first major championship with an exceptional display of skill and composure at the U.S. Open. The USGA, however, the organization that runs the U.S. Open, looks like a big loser. The USGA is like the NCAA, a stuffy, ponderous, often clumsy collective that suffers… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Paul Mainieri got what he wanted — but the stakes will rise with his salary

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri speaks to his players on the field before Game 1 of the 2016 NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional between LSU and Coastal Carolina, Saturday, June 11, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

So Paul Mainieri’s flirtation with Texas is over almost before we knew it existed. After a hasty meeting with athletic director Joe Alleva on Thursday and a hefty (if unspecified) raise — more of the latter than the former greased the wheels of this decision, I’m sure — Mainieri will stay at LSU. He has said he’d like… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Oakmont tough, very tough; take it from former LSU golfer Bob Friend

Dustin Johnson walks to the 12th hole during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, in Oakmont, Pa. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

They’re called SWAT matches. They’re played on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at Oakmont Country Club, best ball set-tos between foursomes, something to pass the time and stir the blood in the decade or so between hosting U.S. Opens. The sultans of SWAT are the Oakmont members, people who like their golf as hard as the Pittsburgh steel that… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: The Tigers’ season ends in frustration against Coastal Carolina after an impressive late-season run

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Coastal Carolina's Connor Owings (6) slides safely into home past LSU catcher Mike Papierski (2) in the first inning of LSU's NCAA Super Regional game vs Coastal Carolina Sunday in LSU's Alex Box Stadium.

The tension was as thick as the humid night air hanging over Alex Box Stadium. LSU was locked in a one-run game late Sunday against Coastal Carolina, a game that would decide whether the Tigers’ season would see another day. This is where LSU had to succeed or fail. This is where LSU has come through… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: LSU falls short, but these Tigers fans are off to Omaha for College World Series

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Chris Guillot cheers on the Tigers during LSU's NCAA Super Regional game vs Coastal Carolina Sunday in LSU's Alex Box Stadium.

The LSU Tigers had to beat Coastal Carolina on Sunday night to even have a chance of getting back to the College World Series. With or without them, Chris Guillot, the tireless cheerleading fan who roams the concourse and brings Alex Box Stadium to a boil, will be there. LSU’s first trip to Omaha was in… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: On topsy-turvy super regional Saturday, the upset bug bites LSU baseball team hard, putting Tigers’ season on the line

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU takes a moment on the field before Game 1 of the 2016 NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional between LSU and Coastal Carolina, Saturday, June 11, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

From all over the country the returns came, like election-night flashes on college baseball’s most momentous day. Saturday is when all eight NCAA super regionals are in action, and everywhere home teams were in retreat. Home-field advantage? What’s that? It meant nothing in ballpark after ballpark as super regionals filled with national seeds — seven of them… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Time to tweak the NCAA baseball tournament format? A long shot for now, but this idea has some merit

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- An "infield skin tarp" is on the field ahead of Game 1 of the 2016 NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional between LSU and Coastal Carolina, Saturday, June 11, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La. The specially designed tarp allows the grass the breathe and photosynthesize more efficiently. In the event of an in-game rain delay, the large tarp covering the entire infield will be used.

The NCAA baseball tournament has been in its current format so long that it’s hard to remember it being done any differently. In 1999, the NCAA expanded the field from 48 to 64 teams. That meant switching from eight six-team regionals that each sent a team on to the College World Series to 16 four-team regionals. Between the… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Expect magic in the air when LSU and Coastal Carolina clash Saturday night at The Box

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Fans cheer on the Southeastern Lions in Game 3 of the 2016 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional between Southeastern and Utah Valley Sunday at LSU's Alex Box Stadium.

This town, this night, this crowd Come on put ’em up Let me hear it loud — “This Town,” O.A.R. When it comes to sporting events at LSU, Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium are the purple-and-gold standard. It’s the suffocating heat, the deafening noise, the beat of a bass drum. And the bourbon. Let’s be… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Exactly how good are these Coastal Carolina Chanticleers? Impressive, but...

Coastal Carolina's Anthony Marks, left, and teammate Michael Paez, right, bump chests after Paez hit a two-run home run in the first inning during an elimination game in the Raleigh Regional of the 2016 NCAA Division I Menís Baseball Championship at Doak Field in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, June 6, 2016.   (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT  ORG XMIT: NCRAL203

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid lay flat against a rocky outcropping, squinting into the distance as they watched an approaching posse grow larger and larger in its relentless pursuit of the affable outlaws. “Who are those guys?” Butch and Sundance asked each other over and over, until they went home, picked up Katharine Ross and high-tailed it… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Throwing 'as many zeros as possible,' Jared Poché silences Rice as LSU bats come to life

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU pitcher Jared Poche' (16) greets fans as he walks along the wall during the team's victory lap following Game 7 of the 2016 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional between LSU and Rice, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La. The Tigers' won 5-2.

Jared Poché isn’t an overtly emotional guy. Watching Hunter Newman record three outs Tuesday for a save in the ninth inning of LSU’s 5-2 NCAA regional-clinching win over Rice, sandwiched along the dugout railing between Russell Reynolds and Parker Bugg, he looked like he was watching someone work a midweek bullpen. But don’t confuse… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: LSU baseball pushed to uncomfortable position for 'Game 7' vs. Rice when 'anything can happen'

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Kramer Robertson  celebrates after scoring on a hit by LSU first baseman Greg Deichmann in a game against Rice in the Baton Rouge regional June 6 at Alex Box Stadium.

The late, great Prince told everyone to party like it’s 1999. Here at the first NCAA baseball regional ever held at a water park, the Rice Owls decided to party like it was 2001 and 2014. And that’s a bad scene for the LSU Tigers. The last thing they want is for the visitors… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: NCAA policy for home teams needs revisiting

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU outfielder Brennan Breaux is tagged out at home by Rice catcher Hunter Kopycinski on Sunday at Alex Box Stadium. LSU won the game 4-2, and the teams played again Monday night, with Rice taking the spot of the home team and LSU lineup as the visitors.

First, a quick apology for what you’re about to read. This is going to be a rant about the NCAA. The organization contains many good people — no, really, it does — but it does many wrongheaded things. That makes the NCAA an easy target, a willing punching bag for columnists and bloggers and… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Rain delays bring out creative side in ballplayers

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Severe weather moves through the stadium during a rain delay in Game 2 of the 2016 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional between Southeastern and Rice, Saturday, June 4, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

So what do you do in baseball when the rain delay will never end? You could build an ark: The team with the most inventive design between LSU, Southeastern Louisiana, Rice and Utah Valley advances from here to the super regionals. You invent games like Southeastern Louisiana and Rice players did while waiting futilely… Continue reading →

Booger McFarland: 'LSU has got the best team they’ve had since Nick Saban left'

LSU head coach Les Miles leads his team onto the field before an NCAA college football game against McNeese State in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

. DESTIN, Fla. – Former LSU great Booger McFarland is a rising media star for three reasons – his personality, his insight and his candor. The former All-American defensive tackle is gearing up for another season of analyst work with the SEC Network and is about to branch out into a bigger role with ESPN (more… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Epic storm puts LSU’s pitching plans in flux

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri, left, and Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan go over the infield rules before their players take the field, Thursday, May 19, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

The meeting of the minds between LSU’s coaches beneath Alex Box Stadium’s drenched grandstands Thursday night didn’t produce the answers Paul Mainieri wanted to hear. He wanted his ace pitcher back on the mound against No. 1-ranked Florida. He wanted back the sliver of offensive momentum his Tigers were generating against unbeaten Gators starter Logan Shore in… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU back in the thick of talk about top baseball seedings

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU first baseman Greg Deichmann (7) slides into second base after hitting a line drive double along the first baseline in the fourth inning against Northwestern State, Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

The goal in college baseball is to be playing for something significant in May. At LSU, it’s the mandate, one that just a few weeks ago, this Tigers team looked incapable of living up to. Too much youth. Too many new names in the lineup. Too much ineffectiveness from the presumed strength of this year’s squad,… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU gymnasts deserve to splurge after best-ever season

Advocate staff photo by BRIANNA PACIORKA -- LSU's Ashleigh Gnat is swarmed by teammates after hearing it was announced Gnat scored another perfect 10 on floor during LSU's gymnastics meet against Alabama at the PMAC on Friday, March 4, 2016.

Ashleigh Gnat was ready to work, conditioned after a long gymnastics season to returning home from yet another meet and heading back in the gym to hone her routines for the next meet. Of course, there is no next meet. Not until next year. So LSU’s star junior traded conditioning for some of the things… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Blakeney's decision to return to LSU took smarts, and he'll cash in for it

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU head coach Johnny Jones, left, greets LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) during a timeout in the second half against American, Tuesday, December 22, 2015, at LSU's PMAC in Baton Rouge, La.

Antonio Blakeney proved as an LSU freshman that he’s a talented basketball player. Tuesday, he proved he’s smart, too. Blakeney announced, with unexpected rapidity, that he’s returning for his sophomore season. After deciding to test the NBA draft waters, Blakeney figured out he didn’t even want to dip his toe into the pre-draft combine in May. Blakeney apparently got some very sound… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Arnold Palmer’s health a concern at Masters

From left, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player pose during the ceremonial first tee before the first round of the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Jack Nicklaus said it was his dry-eye condition that was bothering him in Thursday morning’s light breeze as he stood on the first tee at Augusta National Golf Club. But the tears that he had to wipe away from the corners of his eyes seemed to be about something else. The past three years… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Golf’s ‘big three’ take aim at the Masters

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his chip onto the 15th green during the round of 16 play against Zach Johnson at the Dell Match Play Championship golf tournament at Austin County Club Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Golf has always seemed to have its dominant players come in bunches. Back in the 1940s it was Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson. In the 1960s thanks in part to the marketing savvy of their agents at IMG, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player were referred to as… Continue reading →

The Tigers quit — it’s that simple

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU head coach Johnny Jones coaches in LSU Tigers' 80-71 win over Missouri, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at LSU's PMAC in Baton Rouge, La.

LSU just quit. First on the basketball court Saturday, gliding like a phantom through a 71-38 loss to Texas A&M in the SEC tournament semifinals, one of the most embarrassing losses for any LSU team in any sport ever. Then Sunday, when LSU dropped a bombshell announcement that it would voluntarily end its season, ostensibly declining a… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Friday’s loss aside, the early returns on this LSU baseball team are encouraging

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU shortstop Kramer Robertson (3) throws to first to out Ball State's Colin Brockhouse in the third inning, Friday, March 11, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

It’s early yet. Way early. There are tons of delegates to count before everyone masses at the college baseball national convention known as the College World Series. But in the early returns and exit polls, the shambles of Friday night’s 7-1 loss to Ball State besides, the word on LSU’s Tigers has been pretty favorable. Maybe… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Six questions as LSU prepares for SEC tournament

LSU's Craig Victor II (32) and Ben Simmons (25) confer during the closing moments of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 94-77. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Your friendly neighborhood sports columnist is here to answer six pressing questions about LSU basketball on the eve of the Southeastern Conference tournament: Does LSU have to win the SEC tournament’s automatic bid to get in the NCAA tournament? It certainly appears so. At 18-13, the Tigers’ RPI is 90 going into their SEC tourney opener in… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Opening day is special and unique ... and at Alex Box Stadium, it’s finally here

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU ballplayers line up for of the national anthem before the start of the Purple and Gold World Series on Nov. 4 at Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers open their season Friday against Cincinnati.

The appeal of baseball is its timeless elegance. The players may change from season to season, but it’s still three strikes, three outs and nine innings on a glorious diamond of manicured green grass and lovingly massaged brown dirt. The games tend to blend one into the other, though if you watch closely you’ll invariably see something you… Continue reading →

After upset loss to Alabama, LSU back in must-win mode

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives past Alabama forward Michael Kessens (3) in the second half, Wednesday, February 17, 2016, at LSU's PMAC in Baton Rouge, La.

Tim Quarterman stared up at the ceiling as he toed the side of the free-throw lane in the closing moments of Wednesday’s 76-69 loss to Alabama. Perhaps he was thinking of the Tigers’ opportunities missed, especially around the basket, bounce after maddening bounce off the rims. Maybe he was watching LSU’s share of first place in the Southeastern… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Hard to imagine LSU football 'could be any richer' heading into next season

Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith pressures Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II during the Texas Bowl on Dec. 29 in Houston. Beckwith is among 18 starters returning to the Tigers for next season.

This better be good. With middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith and safety Tre’Davious White deciding to return to LSU for their senior seasons, it’s hard to imagine the Tigers could be any richer heading into the 2016 season unless they’d nabbed a piece of that mega Powerball prize last week. Their return means LSU has 18 starters… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Tigers predictably unpredictable in win over Arkansas — but awfully fun to watch

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- From left, LSU forward Brian Bridgewater (20), LSU forward Aaron Epps (21), LSU center Elbert Robinson III (3), LSU guard Keith Hornsby (4), and LSU center Darcy Malone (22) celebrate after LSU forward Craig Victor II (32) scored the game winning goal against Arkansas, Saturday, January 16, 2016, at LSU's PMAC in Baton Rouge, La.

I think I may finally have this LSU basketball team figured out. The Tigers need to turn the ball over to gain possession. They need their best player to have what he called his worst game (though he still finished with a double-double). And they need to play a cold-fish first half devoid of intensity… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Four questions about the future of the CFP final four

Associated Press photo by Morry Gash -- Alabama coach Nick Saban added to his collection of national championship trophies with his fifth tile Monday night after the TIde beat Clemson 45-40 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A final four of sun-drenched questions in the wake of Monday night’s CFP National Championship Game: 1. Is the SEC is back on top? Sort of. After a two-year championship “drought,” Alabama’s pulsating 45-40 victory over Clemson gives the Southeastern Conference its eighth national championship… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Alabama didn’t roll to this win over Clemson, which had to make it even sweeter

Alabama running back Derrick Henry (2) breaks free for a touchdown as quarterback Jake Coker (14) celebrates during the first half of the Playoff Championship NCAA football game against Clemson, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Glendale, AZ. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Deshaun Watson ran evasive maneuvers and threw pinpoint passes to someone named Hunter Renfrow. Derrick Henry just ran and ran in his steamroller way, while Jake Coker rained bombs out of the sky on the Clemson defense. In a bowl season filled with duds and routs,… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: With a shot at yet another national title, Nick Saban is unquestionably college football’s best — and maybe the best ever

Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks during a news conference for the NCAA college football playoff championship game Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

If you coach Alabama to a national championship, you get a statue outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Even if it’s a lame national championship, like the one Alabama claims in 1941 from something called the Houlgate System for a Frank Thomas team that went 9-2 and finished No. 20 in the AP poll. Oh,… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: There’s positively no doubt — Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is one upbeat coach, and it’s no act

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney listens to a question during media day for the NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship in Phoenix, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. Clemson will face Alabama in Monday's game. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The constant, upbeat intensity. The homespun catchphrases, like “B.Y.O.G.” — which stands for “Bring Your Own Guts.” (T-shirts are available.) The locker-room dance craze that’s sweeping the nation known as “The Dab” — not actually named for him, but he has made it so popular he probably could lay claim. Or admit responsibility.… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: As LSU’s defense goes modern under new coordinator Dave Aranda, it’s up to Les Miles to modernize the offense, too

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU football coach Les Miles, center, answers media questions following a news conference introducing new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016.

Taken simply on the merits of trying to get the best person for the job, LSU’s hiring of Dave Aranda to be its new defensive coordinator is significant enough. If Aranda didn’t trade Wisconsin red for LSU purple and gold — and the green of a three-year contract that will reportedly pay him $1.3 million next season… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: As Ole Miss cruises to a Sugar Bowl rout, it’s clear the SEC is flexing its muscle again

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Mississippi Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly (10), center, and Mississippi Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze celebrate their victory against the Oklahoma State Cowboys next Carey Wick, left, during the Sugar Bowl in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Friday, Jan. 1, 2016.

The Ole Miss faithful who encircled roughly two-thirds of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on New Year’s night cleared their throats and sang along lustily as the school’s band belted out a brassy “Battle Hymn of the Republic” before the Sugar Bowl kicked off. Glory, glory, hallelujah, indeed. This time last year, the SEC’s bowl reputation was in… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: In season marked by wrong turns, LSU finishes right way vs. Texas Tech, has much work ahead for 2016

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette holds his MVP trophy as head coach Les Miles is interviewed before presentation of the bowl trophy, after the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl on Tuesday. LSU won 56-27.

It was finesse against force, razzle-dazzle against relentless pressure, sleight of hand against size and strength. You knew coming in that this Texas Bowl between LSU and Texas Tech would be a captivating contrast in styles. But, given the way this season has gone for the Tigers, you just didn’t know… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Texas Tech, LSU ready for lift-off in explosive Texas Bowl

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU tight end Foster Moreau (84) celebrates the 50-yard touchdown catch by LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre (15) during the first half Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Tiger Stadium. LSU won 35-28.

HOUSTON — We are go for launch. For a month now there’s been a hold in the count as LSU and Texas Tech, two programs from bordering states who have completely missed each other on the football field for nearly 60 years, got ready to light the candle in the Texas Bowl. Candle? More like Roman candle. The… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Believe it or not, LSU’s crazy football season had plenty to be joyful about

Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette breaks free from South Carolina pursuit on Oct. 10. LSU's hospitality to the Gamecocks and their fans in the wake of severe flooding, as well as Fournette's nation-leading 158.3 rushing yards per game, were among the highlights of the Tigers' season.

Even by LSU standards, 2015 has been a crazy, tumultuous year for LSU football. Cam Cameron recovering from prostate cancer this summer. Les Miles getting rushed to the hospital the Monday before the McNeese State opener, then no McNeese State opener at all in the first LSU football game canceled since 1918. Moving the… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: After another disappointing loss, is it time to start wondering about Sean Payton’s future with the Saints?

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton watches time wind down against the Detroit Lions in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Monday, Dec. 21, 2015.

A comedy of Saintly errors erased a New Orleans touchdown just before halftime. Only the Saints, it would seem, could get in the end zone three times and come up empty. About half the fans in the already three-fourths-full Mercedes-Benz Superdome decided they had enough, or perhaps remembered they had some Christmas shopping left to do,… Continue reading →