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Rabalais: Bill Arnsparger restored the roar at LSU

Advocate file photo -- Bill Arnsparger waves to the crowd after a victory over Alabama.

When Nick Saban was considering the LSU job in late 1999, he did so without ever having set foot on the campus. But there was someone’s opinion he wanted to hear. So he called LSU senior associate athletic director Verge Ausberry. He wanted Bill Arnsparger’s number. So they talked football, Saban and Arnsparger, two tough-minded, NFL-hardened, defense-oriented… Continue reading →

Rabalais: 8-5 finish frustrated Les Miles’ LSU Tigers, but continued lack of QB clarity leaves a lot up in the air

LSU coach Les Miles speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

HOOVER, Ala. — Eight is not nearly enough. LSU fans know it after the Tigers went 8-5 last season, merely treading water at 4-4 in the SEC, then losing the Music City Bowl to Notre Dame. LSU coach Les Miles and his players know it as well, and they made it a… Continue reading →

Rabalais: New SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey thoughtful, idealistic in first major SEC address

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Monday, July 13, 2015, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

HOOVER, Ala. — When last we saw Greg Sankey, he was working on his dance moves. It was at the Southeastern Conference spring meeting in Destin, Florida, in late May. Sankey, the SEC Commissioner designate, and outgoing commish Mike Slive, the slightly built retiring legend of college athletics, alternated speaking behind a podium as… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Five items (blow up football scheduling; leave Birmingham) to add to new SEC commissioner Greg Sankey’s to-do list

New SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

HOOVER, Ala. — On his Twitter page, new Southeastern Conference commissioner and fitness devotee Greg Sankey has a photo of himself flipping a tractor tire. It’s perfectly symbolic of the kind of heavy lifting he’ll have to do on the job that is one of the prime leadership roles in all of… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Arrival of media days means football is near, but the SEC could be in for another rough road

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU head coach Les Miles on the sideline, during the first half Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 in Nashville at the Music City Bowl.

Southeastern Conference Media Days are upon us, and with them the first hint in the humid, searing hot summer air that football is on its way. But as the faithful are called to worship in Hoover, Alabama, a suburb that is cheek by jowl neighbors with Birmingham, once self-billed as the Football Capital of the South, something is… Continue reading →

Rabalais: For three of LSU's suspended foursome, conduct was foolish but not fatal to future with the team

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU offensive tackles Evan Washington (75) and Vadal Alexander (74) block as quarterback Anthony Jennings (10) throws during the second half of the Music City Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.

As baseball was winding down in the College World Series last week, the police blotter was filling up with the names of four LSU football players arrested for a variety of transgressions. The biggest name, of course, belongs to starting quarterback Anthony Jennings. He, cornerback Dwayne Thomas and defensive lineman Maquedius Bain were arrested for unauthorized entry into… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Should LSU's baseball season be considered a success or failure?

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU designated hitter Chris Sciambra greets fans upon arrivinving at TD Ameritrade Park on Thursday during the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

When passing judgment on this LSU baseball season just done, a sharp distinction should be drawn between disappointment and failure. There’s nothing wrong with the fan, the player, the coach, being disappointed by the fact the Tigers came up short, well short, of winning this year’s national championship. It is LSU’s perennial quest, to force a repaving of… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Why 'it's a little remarkable' LSU baseball made it this far in Omaha

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Fans watch as LSU right fielder Mark Laird (9) hits the wall after making a leaping catch on a hit by TCU catcher Evan Skoug (9) in the third inning, Thursday, June 18, 2015, during game ten of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

OMAHA, Neb. — After winning 54 games, the Southeastern Conference regular-season title and being ranked No. 1 most of the season, LSU’s season ended far quicker than most people thought it would. Perhaps given the way the Tigers had to parade pitchers to the mound Thursday night against TCU, it’s a little remarkable the Tigers… Continue reading →

Rabalais: It’s all about LSU’s survival instinct as it’s now win-or-go-home season for the Tigers

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU's Andrew Stevenson greets fans as the team arrives to TD Ameritrade Park for their game against Cal State Fullerton in the College World Series

The weather was gray Monday, spitting rain, matching the LSU Tigers’ mood to a meteorological T as they trooped over to Creighton’s rather-blighted ball field for practice Monday afternoon. If rainy days and Mondays always get you down, imagine how getting paved like asphalt in your College World… Continue reading →

Rabalais: In CWS opener, Tigers pick a terrible time for what looked like their worst showing of the season

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri, right, and his son Tommy leave the field following game 3 of the 2015 NCAA Men's College World Series between LSU and TCU at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., Sunday, June 14, 2015. LSU lost 10-3.

It all fell apart with one simple toss. Cody Jones led off the TCU fourth inning by chopping softly back to LSU pitcher Jared Poché. After three straight hitless innings to start their College World Series opener, it looked as though Poché had won another important battle against TCU’s… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Omaha’s not home run heaven again, but improvement could be on the way

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU hitting coach Andy Cannizaro observes batting and infield practice, Friday, June 12, 2015, at TD Ameritrade Park during the College World Series in Omaha, Ne.

Christian Ibarra stood on the field at TD Ameritrade Park, remembering his frustrations in the College World Series two years ago. In at-bat after at-bat during LSU’s brief two-game stay in 2013, Ibarra “barreled up” shot after shot, only to watch the balls he thought he put a… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: LSU’s decision on starting pitcher isn’t as simple as it seems

Associated Press photo by Gerald HerbertLSU pitcher Alex Lange runs off the field during Game 1 of NCAA super regional against Louisiana-Lafayette on June 6.

After his family, his religion and his baseball, Paul Mainieri’s favorite thing may be talking. He lives to talk. Reporters talk about how a person can “fill up a notebook.” With Mainieri, you fill up a notebook and have an emergency notepad in the… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: It’s time to celebrate, not nitpick: These Tigers just find a way to win

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The LSU baseball team celebrates their 6-3 win over UL-Lafayette in the NCAA Division I Baton Rouge Super Regional, Sunday, June 7, 2015, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. With this win, the Tigers advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

They didn’t celebrate with a dogpile like teams for whom a trip to the College World Series is like the national championship itself. Instead, the Tigers held a convention in center field and jumped for joy, their usual choreography. Or was it relief this time for having survived such a heavyweight bout of a… Continue reading →

Rabalais: There was something Warren Morris-like with Chris Sciambra's walk-off home run in LSU's win vs. UL-Lafayette

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Players swarm LSU designated hitter Chris Sciambra (5) after his solo walk off home run in the ninth inning to beat UL-Lafayette 4-3 during the NCAA Division I Baseball Super Regional, Saturday, June 6, 2015, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

The rain seemed to come out of nowhere. So did the Ragin’ Cajuns. And then, so did Chris Sciambra. LSU wasn’t dominating but was in control of the NCAA tournament’s Baton Rouge super regional opener against Louisiana-Lafayette for seven innings, up 3-1. Not running-away-and-hiding kind of numbers, but it was the same margin by which the Tigers… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette college baseball feud gets super-sized

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- UL-Lafayette takes batting and fielding practice, Friday, June 5, 2015, in preparation of the NCAA Division I Baseball Super Regional between LSU and UL-Lafayette in on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, La.

It’s D-Day, in more ways than one. It’s the LSU Fighting Tigers and the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns in the NCAA tournament’s Baton Rouge super regional. It’s meaningful. It’s personal. It’s may be borderline delusional, given the passion that runs like hot sauce over both of these simmering rivals. But this weekend is about everything that… Continue reading →

Rabalais: How LSU's teddy bear, UL-Lafayette's facial scruff became their baseball superstitions

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Members of the LSU dugout watch in dejection as they drop the final game in the weekend series to Texas A&M. Not Even "Lil' Brown Suga," held by LSU pitcher Zac Person (49), could help the Tigers' beat Texas A&M for the sweep, Saturday, Apr. 25, 2015 at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

Baseball is a funny game. Funny strange. And funny ha ha. You can hit the ball like it’s been launched out of battleship turret, and it finds a glove for an out. You can just barely tick a piece of the ball, and it goes for a triple.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Dream putt seals LSU’s national golf title

Photo by Tim Cowie -- LSU's Ben Taylor holds the trophy after the Tigers defeated Southern California  to win the NCAA men's national golf championship Wednesday at  The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.

Every day at the end of their practice sessions, LSU’s golfers would gather for a putting competition on their practice green at the University Club. It’s the kind of game every youngster who comes up in golf plays at some time or another: (golf whisper) “If he makes this putt, he becomes the youngest Masters… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Defense never rests for this LSU baseball squad, and that made all the difference in the Baton Rouge regional

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU shortstop Alex Bregman throws to first for an attempted double play after tagging Lehigh left fielder James Bleming out at second during the NCAA Baton Rouge regional Friday at Alex Box Stadium.

Alex Bregman shifted to his left, then shifted into a higher gear to run down Corey Dick’s grounder before turning and spinning to nip him at first base. Andrew Stevenson laid flat out in right-center field to rob Luke Dunlap of extra bases, setting into motion a lunar eclipse-rare 8-4-3 double play. “He looks like… Continue reading →

Rabalais: ‘A ridiculous decision,’ in Joe Alleva’s words, makes LSU baseball's regional even weirder

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Tulane's J.P. France acts out 'upside-down man' as the Green Wave jokes around with the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks to pass the time in a rain delay during the NCAA Division I Baton Rouge Baseball Regional, Sunday, May 31, 2015, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

Notes from a soggy baseball scorebook at the NCAA tournament’s Baton Rouge regional (note to self: buy indelible pens for next year’s regional) … -- We’ll start with a vote for a slogan for this year’s regional at Alex Box Stadium: 1. Home of the 3-hour, 15-minute rain delay. 2. Welcome to Alex Box Stadium,… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Late, late show with Alex Lange gave LSU baseball fans plenty to stick around for

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Fans give a standing ovation to all active duty and veteran military personal during the LSU / UNC-Wilmington baseball game during the NCAA Division I Baton Rouge Baseball Regional, Saturday, May 30, 2015, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

Jared Foster cracked a towering fly ball deep to the warning track in right-center field, a blast that looked like two bases rode on its contrail — maybe three. At the last moment, UNC-Wilmington right fielder Zach Shields dived flat out and skidded across the dirt to make the grab, holding the ball up for second-base umpire… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Mike Slive leaves the SEC on his terms — on top

Mike Slive (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Mike Slive could have been forgiven if he had stepped onto the deck of the Sandestin Hilton after wrapping up this year’s Southeastern Conference Spring Meeting, pulled out a cigar and a $100 bill and struck a match while looking out over the Gulf of Mexico. He’s run the race. He’s fought the fight. And he’s going… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Rare early exit from the SEC tournament could work in the LSU Tigers’ favor

Advocate staff photo by ANDREA MABRY-- Head coach Paul Mainieri and Andy Cannizaro talk with Kade Scivicque before he goes up to bat as LSU faces Florida in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala. Saturday, May 23, 2015.

With the huge crowd at the Hoover Met still abuzz from the game that just ended, a member of the grounds crew took a shovel to the letters “LSU” painted on the path between the Tigers’ dugout and home plate. For the first time since 2012, they won’t… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Big-swinging, bag-swiping LSU Tigers are overwhelming opponents

LSU's Alex Bregman steals second base against Arkansas' Rick Nomura during the first inning of a Southeastern Conference college baseball tournament game Thursday, May 21, 2015, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) ORG XMIT: ALBA110

On a gorgeous Friday afternoon at Samford University’s ballpark, LSU coach Paul Mainieri is throwing batting practice. One by one, his players take their turns in the batting cage. The results are like someone replaying a YouTube video: line drives laced across the green grass of the outfield,… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Hot? Cold? Hitting? Hurting? However you label them, these Tigers just keep winning

Advocate staff photo by ANDREA MABRY -- Jared Foster and Jake Fraley celebrate after Foster scored during Thursday's game against Arkansas at the Southeastern Conference tournament in Hoover, Ala.

Hot, or cold? Hitting, or hurting? Label the LSU Tigers as you may in this Southeastern Conference tournament, depending on whether their bruising hitting allows you gloss over their startlingly ineffective starting pitching to reminisce wistfully about the Geauxrilla Ball days. Just label them winners once again here,… Continue reading →

Rabalais: LSU’s win over Auburn was nice ... but what about that pitching?

Advocate staff photo by ANDREA MABRY -- LSU pitcher Jared Poche drops the ball as Daniel Robert reaches first base Wednesday during the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. — If you were wondering how the LSU Tigers would inject meaning into what so many were calling meaningless trip to Southeastern Conference tournament, the nation’s No. 1 team figured out a way in inning No. 1 Wednesday against Auburn. One is the position in the LSU starting rotation Jared Poché has occupied almost this entire season.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Why restraint by LSU in SEC baseball tournament could turn into a national championship in a few weeks

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU players reach to touch the championship trophy after LSU's 2-0 win over Florida to win the SEC Tournment  in the Championship Game in May 2014 in the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, AL.

HOOVER, Ala. — Since the minute it clinched the Southeastern Conference championship, 45 minutes before Saturday’s regular-season finale at South Carolina, the question has hung out there like a chest-high fastball: Should LSU care about winning the SEC tournament? On the face of it, it’s a ridiculous question. Should you want to… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Bianka Bell goes from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs as the LSU softball team roars into super regionals

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU shortstop Bianka Bell (27) bats against Arizona State in the first inning during the Division I NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, Sunday, May 17, 2015, at LSU's Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La.

Bianka Bell was having a day. And not in a good sense. After carrying the LSU softball team to so many victories during a storybook run through the regular season, with their season on the line, her bat went all Sunday silence in the Tigers’ first game against Arizona State. Bell was 0-for-4. LSU… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Believe it or not, but the SEC could miss out on the second College Football Playoff

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott breaks free on a long run as Alabama defensive back Landon Collins (26) and linebacker Ryan Anderson (7) give chase during the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Southeastern Conference is in the midst of a significant trend, and we’re not talking about spread offenses. In three years, the SEC went from the last of its seven straight BCS national championships to losing the final BCS title game (Auburn against an SEC-like Florida State team) to Alabama getting bounced from the semifinals of the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Garrett Grayson a 'fascinating' pick by Saints; now the big question...

Colorado's State quarterback Garrett Grayson (18) runs in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Nevada, in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. Colorado State defeated Nevada 31-24. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison) ORG XMIT: NVCA118

If you went into the Saints draft this season expecting fireworks, you were disappointed by their first three picks. If you thought we’d be in store for more of Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis’ trademark wheeling and dealing once the picks started flying, you were mistaken. With their first three choices of this Extreme Hoarding… Continue reading →

Rabalais: The selection of Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat at No. 13 fills one of the Saints' many needs

Stanford offensive lineman Andrus Peat poses for photos with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New Orleans Saints as the 13th pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft,  Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

One offensive tackle’s dream came true Thursday. Another’s life has become a nightmare. The New Orleans Saints drafted Stanford’s Andrus Peat with their first selection, the 13th overall pick of the first round. You have to wonder were circumstances different, if the calendar was spun back a month, would the Saints have taken former LSU… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saints mostly mum on plans heading into NFL draft

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis answers questions at his news conference Wednesday at the Saints training center.

The perfect blend of affability and caginess, a smiling Mickey Loomis met with the media Wednesday morning and said … nothing. That’s not a knock on the New Orleans Saints general manager. Like the reporters massed at the Saints’ Metairie headquarters, Loomis was held hostage by the circumstances of that most unusual of question-and-answer sessions: the pre-draft… Continue reading →

Rabalais: The win for Justin Rose is a huge win for the Zurich Classic

Justin Rose, of England, holds the trophy after winning the Zurich Classic PGA golf tournament, Sunday, April 26, 2015, in Avondale, La. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Behind the grandstand on 18, a massive, 25-foot-tall image of Justin Rose loomed over the comparatively toy-sized hut where players signed their scorecards after each round at TPC Louisiana. A sign of the times, to be sure. Rose wasn’t the only golfer to have a stellar scoring week in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans dart-throwing… Continue reading →

Tigers try to take good with bad

LSU looked like it had done enough. Texas A&M looked like it had enough. After two breathlessly dramatic victories Thursday and Friday night over Texas A&M, then a Saturday soaker before the game could be played after a three-plus hour rain delay, the Tigers came out swinging. And running. Into outs. “That’s as bang-bang… Continue reading →

Former LSU standout Peterson ‘ready for win’

By anyone but Jordan Spieth’s standards, John Peterson is putting together a successful season in his second full year on the PGA Tour. That doesn’t mean he’s satisfied. Once play resumes Saturday morning in the muddied and delayed Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the former LSU All-American will have made the cut in his 14th of… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Thankfully, this LSU game vs. Texas A&M lived up to the hype

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  LSU's Jake Fraley is safe stealing third base under Texas A&M in Alex Box Stadium Thursday, April 23, 2015.

It’s hard to have a first when it comes to LSU baseball. So much history. So much success. So many great players. So many incredible games. But a first it was Thursday as the No. 1-ranked Tigers hosted No. 2 Texas A&M in the first 1-2 matchup at Alex Box Stadium — new or old. As such, you wanted… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Billy Horschel, former Zurich Classic winner, is a hard worker, a giving golfer, and easy to pull for

Associated Press file photo by JOHN BAZEMORE -- Bily Horschel hits from the tee on the third hole during first round of play in the Tour Championship golf tournament Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in Atlanta.

Buddy Alexander had only one last piece of a scholarship to give when he went to the Florida state golf championships in 2004. The former LSU and then-Florida men’s golf coach was going to offer the scholarship money to one of two players. One player had the better swing. The other was Billy Horschel.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saints’ schedule looks better than last year’s, but the start of the season looks mighty tough

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Saints coach Sean Payton

The Pelicans are in the midst of a playoff series against the NBA’s top team, Golden State. LSU and Tulane played in baseball Tuesday night, the prelude to a huge No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown this weekend between the Tigers and Texas A&M. The PGA Tour is swinging through south Louisiana this week with the Zurich Classic… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Monday qualifiers keep golfers’ dreams alive one more week

On the PGA Tour, Monday qualifying is the dream’s ground floor. Rising stars, wannabes and once-weres converge every week of a regular tour stop to try to snag one of four spots in that week’s 156-man field. For the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the local qualifier was held at English Turn Golf and Country Club… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Jordan Spieth has look of next U.S. golf star

Associated Press photo by Matt Slocum -- Bubba Watson helps Jordan Spieth put on his green jacket after winning the Masters golf tournament Sunday in Augusta, Ga.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Hello, world. Ever since that night nearly six years ago when Tiger Woods crashed his Escalade into that fire hydrant and his body started misfiring in all sorts of ways, American golf has been looking for “The Next.” Rory McIlroy came along, still the world No. 1, but he’s from Northern… Continue reading →

Rabalais: The Masters is still Jordan Spieth’s to lose, but some Sunday drama may be coming our way

Jordan Spieth hits out of the gallery on the 18th hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Beauty, tradition and drama. They’re the holy trinity of Masters week. On the final day of worship at Augusta National Golf Club, it looks like we’re going to get all three after all. Jordan Spieth’s lead bounced from huge to enormous Saturday. A birdie on the par-3 16th put him to 18-under-par… Continue reading →