Rabalais: Unwrapping Christmas gift wishes

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is helped off the field after injuring his knee in the second half of a game against Arkansas on Nov. 29 at Tiger Stadium. LSU came back to win 31-27. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is helped off the field after injuring his knee in the second half of a game against Arkansas on Nov. 29 at Tiger Stadium. LSU came back to win 31-27.

To quote Kate McCallister, Catherine O’Hara’s famous mom from the holiday classic “Home Alone,” Christmas is the season of perpetual hope.

To that end, let’s tear the wrapping (recycled newsprint, of course) off a few Christmas wishes we’ve found under the tree, so that some of the figures and teams in our sports world can find hope and give us all some joy this holiday season …

  • For injured LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, the gift of a speedy recovery from his knee injury in the Tigers’ regular-season finale against Arkansas.
  • Along those lines, a speedy recovery as well for Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro (broken ankle Sunday at Carolina) and former LSU and current Arizona Cardinals cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
  • For LSU freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings, a roll of antacids (more of a stocking stuffer, really) for those pregame butterflies sure to come in for a landing New Year’s Day in the Outback Bowl against Iowa.
  • For LSU coach Les Miles, a fresh new white cap to wear at the Outback Bowl (actually he wears a new one each game).
  • For new Saints left tackle Terron Armstead, the ability to flush much of his first game as a starter last Sunday at Carolina and the ability to improve in his second start Sunday against Tampa Bay.
  • For former LSU sprinter Lolo Jones, an Olympic medal. After trying and coming up agonizingly short in two straight Summer Olympics, Jones will make a run at winning a medal on one of the USA’s two-person women’s bobsled teams in February during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
  • For the New Orleans Pelicans, the gift of a long-awaited playoff berth.
  • For Johnny Jones and the LSU Tigers, the gift of a long-awaited NCAA tournament berth. It’s only been five years, but it seems much longer than that.
  • For LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva, who sits on the NCAA basketball selection committee, the gift of having to leave the room in Indianapolis (by rule) when the rest of the committee discusses his team.
  • For Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, retirement. At least as general manager. It’s a team, not a toy, Jerry. It’s about time you got someone to run it who knows what they’re doing.
  • For LSU fans, a call from Jones to Nick Saban to come take over the Cowboys, and the subsequent promise (in writing) to keep his hands off the team (or possibly move to New Zealand). While you’re at it, go ahead and wish for that rich uncle you never knew existed to come through with a Hail Mary pass of a surprise inheritance.
  • For the folks at the Sugar Bowl, a bigger crowd for their game between Alabama and Oklahoma than the New Orleans Bowl got for Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane. The Crimson Tide and Sooners backers should come to New Orleans in good numbers, but after the New Orleans Bowl drew 54,728 Saturday night for the Ragin’ Cajuns and Green Wave, the bar has been set fairly high.
  • For the BCS, a well deserved eternal rest. Though something tells me we’re going to miss you more than most people think.
  • For all of LSU’s juniors considering turning pro after this season, the gift of enlightened decision making.
  • For the Atlanta Falcons, the gift of pride. Given the season they’ve had, the Falcons may not beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday even if they are at their best. The best the Saints can ask for is that the Falcons — who can hand New Orleans the NFC South title by beating Carolina if the Saints beat Tampa Bay — is that the Birds come out and give their best and not already have packed it in for the season.
  • For Auburn (or Florida State), a gift for you and all of us of another miracle finish in the BCS National Championship Game. Either something along the lines of the pass to beat Georgia or the missed field goal return to beat Alabama — we’re not picky.
  • For me, an Outback steak during bowl week, medium well. Something tells me that’s a wish that won’t be too hard to fulfill.

And from our Advocate Sports family to yours, a partridge in a pear tree for each of you, the happiest of holidays, and a safe and prosperous new year.

That and a backup remote for the TV in case the original gets lost. With all the big football games coming up, you don’t want to take any chances.