Let’s make sure we’re ready for our first college football Saturday of the season.
I’ve made a check list of necessities to have done before the start of any LSU season:
1. Quarterback controversy
We always seem to have one ever since Ryan Perriloux was kicked off the team.
Who’s the starter? Andrew Hatch? Jarrett Lee? Jordan Jefferson? Zach Mettenberger? And whoever the starter is, the other guy is, of course, the guy who should be starting.
It looked like we were going to avoid this as best we could this year. By the end of spring practice Jefferson was clearly the starter and Mettenberger was obviously being groomed to take over the reins next year after Jefferson and Lee were finished. Credit Les Miles and his staff for establishing this as the approach in the spring and minimizing calls for Mettenberger during August camp.
Controversy? What controversy?
Of course, if Jefferson struggled out of the gate, then the controversy would come back.
But never mind all that.
Jefferson went and redefined what a “quarterback controversy” is around here by getting charged with second degree assault a bar fight and subsequently getting suspended indefinitely.
So now Lee’s the starter and we don’t know if or when Jefferson will come back. And, of course, people will be screaming for Mettenberger either way.
This might also set us up nicely for future controversies. Jefferson has not used a redshirt year, so if this season is lost to a legal process, he could be back next year, the year Mettenberger was due to take over the job.
So “check” the first one on the list. And it’s a nice segue to ...
2. Off-the field, off-campus issues
New rule at LSU -- Keep close, CLOSE tabs on where the players are staying in the summer. A couple years ago, it was Akiem Hicks. This time, Russell Shepard.
Three years, two unrelated NCAA rules issues centering around where players stayed -- and more importantly, how they paid for where they stayed -- during the summer.
So if nothing else, housing has given us plenty of summer time controversy.
And that doesn’t even bring up after-hour bar fights.
So this year, No. 2 on the list gets a resounding double check.
3. Reminding the world that we cook and tailgate better than anybody
Down here, it’s important to re-assert our culinary dominance every Fall.
From Cheeseheads in Wisconsin to barbequers in Texas, everybody likes to think they can hang with Cajuns in things cooked, particularly things that can be conjured up on the tailgate of a pickup truck or the side of an RV.
Of course, they are delusional and have to be put in their place.
This year, we can thank Anthony Bourdain for helping.
In the latest episode of his show New Reservations on the Travel Channel, Bourdain gave the perception of Louisiana food a nice shot in the arm with an August broadcast just in time for football season.
His portrayal of us Louisianians has been widely well received here. In a trip that took him from New Orleans to Breaux Bridge to Eunice and covered crawfish boils, boudin and boucheries, we come across not as the cliche backwoods folks who throw anything in a pot and drop a little cayenne on it, but as people who have pride in food preparation embedded into our cultural DNA. Our food isn’t an overrated, overhyped mess of spice and batter. It’s a heavenly result of food culture at its best.
After this episode, I’m sure there are more than a few fans from places like Western Kentucky and Auburn motivated to have a taste outside Tiger Stadium this year.
So check on that one. Let’s move on.
4. An ugly Thursday appetizer
There’s always a healthy schedule of games on the Thursday before the first Saturday to whet our appetites. Most of these games are unwatchable mismatches. They are to football appetites what bland salsa and stale chips are to a Tex-Mex joint.
Let’s look at our first big national TV game: Wisconsin 51, UNLV 17. Our first big SEC game: Mississippi State 59, Memphis 14. And try these scores on for size: Morehead State 67, Kentucky Christian 0; Stephen F. Austin 82, McMurry 6; Georgia Tech 63, Western Carolina 21 and Northwest Missouri 65, Truman State 3.
And this was a Thursday.
If these scores weren’t ugly enough, well, Kentucky was just flat hideous struggling through a 14-3 win over Western Kentucky.
So yeah, check that one too.
And just one more thing that’s essential in Louisiana ...
5. Tropical weather
Most places start looking for the leaves changing color. We look for the skies changing color, to gray, and the wind to kick up.
Like quarterback controversies, I thought we’d avoid this one this year. For a while, it looked like storms might stay out in the Atlantic.
And then, Tropical Storm Lee was born right on our doorstep just in time to at least make the return trip from Arlington interesting.
So check this one too.
Looks like we’re ready for football in Louisiana.