LSU fans, embrace Chick-fil-A

BY LES EAST

Advocate sportswriter

Your 24 hours are up, LSU fans.

Football teams routinely invoke “the 24-hour rule,” which allows only that much time to dwell on a game’s outcome. Players have 24 hours, and 24 hours only, to bask in the glow of victory, or fret about a defeat. Then it’s on to the next game.

Now seems a good time for fans of the Tigers to adopt their own version of the 24-hour rule in regard to LSU’s trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl to play Clemson on New Year’s Eve night.

Judging by Twitter and message boards, a lot of LSU fans were understandably disappointed when the Capital One, Cotton and Outback bowls passed on the 10-2 Tigers in favor of Georgia, Texas A&M and South Carolina, respectively.

But enough of the coulda, woulda, shoulda. It’s on to the next game — and it’s a pretty good one, against the second-best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (sorry, Georgia Tech) and one of the most productive offenses in the country.

Surely LSU fans will expect the Tigers to put aside any disappointment they might have and treat this game like the biggest one of their lives. They should demand no less of themselves.

Embrace the Chick-fil-A Bowl the way the Chick-fil-A Bowl embraced your team when the bowls in Orlando, Alington and Tampa didn’t.

LSU fans are known for representing on the road, whether it’s a BCS title game, a high-profile nonconference game or a regular stop in the Southeastern Conference.

No matter the venue, the Tigers know there will be a significant amount of purple and gold in the stands, making their presence known. It’s what LSU fans do.

On Monday, Chick-fil-A Bowl chief Gary Stokan recalled 12 years ago when LSU wanted the Chick-fil-A Bowl more than the bowl wanted the Tigers. Then-LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert, A.D. Joe Dean and coach Nick Saban had a tough selling job on skeptical bowl board members that doubted LSU fans would buy tickets and show up in satisfactory numbers.

“The first day tickets went on sale they bought 10,421, which was a record for the first day,” Stokan recalled.

That left a lasting impression on Stokan, who said he was confident LSU would sell its allotment of 16,000 for this year’s game.

Stokan went on to say Saban later told him that all of his prospective recruits watched the Tigers’ 28-14 victory against Georgia Tech on TV. That game, like this one will be, was the only bowl game that night.

Saban, Stokan said, landed all of the recruits, who eventually were significant contributors to the Tigers’ 2003 BCS Championship.

A bowl game is a reward for regular-season accomplishments, and that shouldn’t be diminished by the actual destination not being the anticipated one.

In the future, when bowls make the kinds of decisions that were made Sunday, it would serve LSU well if the decision-makers could look back at New Year’s Eve 2012 and decide they want Tigers fans to embrace their bowl the way they embraced this Chick-fil-A Bowl.