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Rabalais: SEC race could be anyone’s to take

Advocate staff photo by Patrick Dennis -- LSU coach Les Miles celebrates with players Saturday after the Tigers' 31-0 win over UL-Monroe in Tiger Stadium. With a wide-open Southeastern Conference, the Tigers are hoping to be in the thick of the chase.

Three weeks into the college football season, virtually everyone in the Southeastern Conference has some reason for optimism if not downright bubbling overconfidence. Everyone except Vanderbilt, that is. After three straight bowl trips, the Commodores look like they’re going to “anchor down” once again to the bottom of the SEC East standings, familiar territory for… Continue reading →

Rabalais: After the Saints’ latest stunning loss, there’s no time like the present to turn this around

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham walks off the field after a 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns in an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard) ORG XMIT: CDS127 ORG XMIT: BAT1409141543403671

We interrupt the mudslide of appalling off-the-field NFL storylines to bring you the tale of the New Orleans Saints’ freefalling 0-2 start. And you thought Roger Goodell had problems. The NFL’s embattled commissioner only has issues with his image and with people calling for him to be ousted from his $44 million-a-year… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Roger Goodell fumbles the ball when faced with crises in NFL

FILE - in this March 26, 2014, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions during a news conference in Orlando, Fla. Goodell says the league asked for, but was not given, a just-released video showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee on an elevator. Goodell says during an interview with CBS aired Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014:

If the Saints’ Bountygate situation were converted to football terms, Roger Goodell would have fumbled the snap. In the mushrooming Ray Rice fiasco, the NFL commissioner has thrown a pick six that may ultimately scuttle his ability to govern sports’ most popular and increasingly most criticized organization. The rest of the world now views Goodell the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: This Saints loss stings, but there’s a whole season left to turn it around

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas (23) and others walk off the field after overtime of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won in overtime 37-34. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

When it was over, when 71 points sent sparks shooting from the Georgia Dome scoreboards and the teams combined to melt the artificial turf for 1,040 yards and the lead changed hands like a relay baton five frantic times after halftime, the Atlanta Falcons celebrated victory over their most hated rival by turning the… Continue reading →

In impressive fashion, these young Tigers make it 2-for-2

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings celebrates his second touchdown pass to LSU wide receiver Travin Dural on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, at Tiger Stadium.

CenterAlign.30Our cultural obsession with youth has found quite a happy home with this LSU football program. The Tigers came into this 2014 season heavily dependent on the young, the restless and the completely unproven. They had no choice, particularly at critical spots like quarterback, wide receiver and defensive tackle. Even 90-year-old Tiger Stadium got in on the… Continue reading →

LSU’s Tiger Stadium now looms larger than ever

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Tiger Stadium's new south end zone expansion, top, ready for Saturday's home opener against Sam Houston State.

Tiger Stadium turns 90 this season, and the old gray lady on Nicholson Drive never looked grander. She certainly has never loomed larger. Years of renovations have recoated her exterior walls, replaced rusting dormitory windows, added dramatic lighting, improved the gates, fencing and walkways around the structure and beefed up the sound system within. The… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Win over Wisconsin — the weird, the wild, the thrilling — was vintage LSU under Les Miles

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen congratulates LSU's Les Miles after the Tigers completed their 28-24 comeback victory Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

HOUSTON — You can say what you want about this LSU football program. All the good. All the bad. All the head-scratching insanity. A delay-of-game penalty on the second half-opening kickoff? That doesn’t happen in Pop Warner football. This only happens with Les Miles football, baby. Welcome to his world. Welcome… Continue reading →

Numbers add up for Les Miles

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU head coach Les Miles pumps his fist on the way to Tiger Stadium for LSU's home opener in this September 2013 Advocate file photo.

Impressive numbers have accumulated as part of the Les Miles coaching story the way some people collect matchbooks or cars or, as in his case, a fresh white LSU baseball cap to wear to each and every game. Numbers like 95. That’s how many games he’s won at LSU since arriving in 2005, the most for any Southeastern Conference… Continue reading →

Saints look like confident, talented team

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Baltimore Ravens defensive back Brynden Trawick can't stop a long reception by Saints receiver Robert Meachem in a preseason game Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.

The final chapter of the New Orleans Saints preseason schedule was written Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens. The 22-13 loss to the Ravens was more epilogue than page-turning climax — maybe even just the index. That’s the way of it by the time the blessed final exhibition game rolls round. By week four of the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Seeking white smoke as LSU’s lack of QB clarity drags on

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Quarterback Anthony Jennings throws downfield at LSU's spring game.

If it wasn’t so vital, and if it wasn’t obvious how much he really wants to unearth one primary quarterback, you’d think Les Miles was enjoying all this quarterback chatter. Here’s the CliffsNotes version of what the LSU coach had to say at Monday’s season-opening news conference about his quarterbacks, Messrs. Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris:… Continue reading →

Rabalais: 10 topics facing LSU football before the season opener

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU defensive tackle Quentin Thomas (95) run from under the canvas as defensive end Danielle Hunter (94) waits his turn during drills as LSU's veterans practice.

Ranking the top 10 topics facing LSU football with less than two weeks to go before the Tigers’ season opener: 1. THE POLLS: LSU opens at No. 13 in both the USA Today coaches’ and now The Associated Press preseason polls, the latter being released Sunday. That’s one notch higher than where the Tigers finished in… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Jalen Mills thankful for second chance after troubling off-field incident

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU junior safety Jalen Mills answers questions Sunday at the Anderson-Feazel Indoor Field.

At the far end of the LSU indoor practice facility Sunday, well away from the maddening media day hordes surrounding Leonard Fournette and Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings, Jalen Mills sat hunched over a folding chair alone with his thoughts. More than once he must have appreciated the simple fact he was still sitting there on a… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Repaired shoulders have Jermauria Rasco ready to go

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Asst. coach Bradley Dale Peveto, left, shouts encouragement as LSU defensive end Jermauria Rasco (59) does a drill at LSU's practice.

For Jermauria Rasco, every play there was pain. This is nothing unusual for a football player. The anomaly is to tackle or be tackled to the ground and get up with out something hurting or stinging or aching. For Rasco, LSU’s senior defensive end, playing the game meant years of dealing a different level of discomfort.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: QBs beating Father Time

Associated Press photo by MICHAEL CONROY In this Sept. 6, 2007, file photo, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, right, and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees meet after the Colts won 41-10 Colts in an NFL football game in Indianapolis.

It’s said that age is just a number. That’s never more true than when you become that number. When I was a lad — we’re talking pre-cable TV, 8-track, death to disco days — quarterbacks were done by their mid-30s. Well done. It wasn’t uncommon to see Joe… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Jimmy Graham glad contract squabble with Saints over

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints tight end Jimmy Graham makes a catch during the first day of practice of training camp Friday in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Jimmy Graham stood in the bright West Virginia sunshine Friday and uttered five words, five little words that could have saved all those on the New Orleans Saints’ planet and in its orbit a lot of trouble if he’d said them five months ago: “I’m an all-pro tight end,” Graham… Continue reading →

Alabama’s Landon Collins looks back on decision to leave Louisiana

Associated Press photo by BUTCH DILLAlabama defensive back Landon Collins looks to the sideline for a play-call during an Oct. 5 game against Georgia State.

HOOVER, Ala. — Landon Collins was asked to rate the recruiting pressure he felt coming out of Dutchtown High School on a scale of one to 10. “I would give it a one to 1,000,” he said, the wisp of a wry smile creasing his face. The younger Collins who pulled on an Alabama… Continue reading →

Graham, Saints deal a win for both

Advocate staff photo by John McCusker -- New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) lets out his customary yell after the national anthem as the New Orleans Saints took on the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, November 10, 2013.

When a harsh phrase like “grievance hearing” enters the conversation, it’s not easy for both sides to get past the hard feelings and tough talk to work a deal. That the New Orleans Saints and Jimmy Graham — who is now and forevermore a tight end, amen — were able to strike an accord on a… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Pelicans bank on proven big man, not potential

Associated Press photo by JONATHAN BACHMANNew Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis will miss Saturday's game against the San Antonio Spurs, but his left ankle injury is not considered seriouis the team reported.

If you wanted the New Orleans Pelicans to make a play for LeBron James, you’re disappointed. And unrealistic. It looks like the Houston Rockets will angle for the world’s current No. 1 player, though. That has to be part of the reason Houston shipped center Omer Asik to New Orleans in a pre-draft deal Wednesday in exchange… Continue reading →

Rabalais: La’El Collins not regretting returning to LSU

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- LSU Tigers offensive tackle La'el Collins speaks on his decision to stay with the Tigers for his senior year during an announcement on Tuesday at LSU in Baton Rouge.

Had he chosen differently, La’El Collins would be in some NFL city somewhere having just completed his first round of OTAs and mandatory minicamp. But instead he was at All Star Lanes in Baton Rouge on Tuesday night, cutting up with his teammates and seeing whether he or LSU coach Les Miles in the lane to his… Continue reading →