GULF SHORES, Ala. — Dr. Tommy Casanova doesn’t make every LSU home football game these days.
But when he does and happens to look up at the façade of Tiger Stadium’s east upper deck, where his name and No. 37 are enshrined, LSU’s only three-time All-American has trouble believing he’s deserving of such an honor.
“I’m still uneasy about it,” Casanova said here Saturday between appearances and autograph signings at the inaugural SEC Beachfest, a kickoff celebration of the upcoming college football season. “Billy Cannon, Johnny Robinson, Jerry Stovall, those are the guys I grew up following.
“To have my name up there with Billy Cannon is intimidating to me,” he said.
Casanova played cornerback for LSU from 1969-71 before going on to six years with the Cincinnati Bengals (1972-77). He maintains an ophthalmology practice in his hometown of Crowley.
Saban wants change
Nick Saban said he wants to see BCS teams like his Alabama Crimson Tide and former employers like LSU and Michigan State play schedules comprised strictly of other BCS-level programs, approximately “the top 60 or 70” teams in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
The purpose of this would be to put teams on a fairer competitive balance in terms of trying to advance into college football’s new playoff system, which begins in 2014.
“If someone is playing a schedule that’s not as tough as yours and you lose a game, certainly two, and they go undefeated, then they’re going to be playing for the national championship,” Saban said.
Saban also would like to play more SEC games to ensure each schools’ players have a shot to play everyone else in the conference during a four-year college career.
“I don’t think players should come to school at Alabama or Auburn or LSU and not get a chance to play all the teams in the SEC,” he said.
Fulmer has faith in Chavis
Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said losing Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu will make things tough for LSU, but he his friend and former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis will find ways to compensate.
“This is a case where the rest of the team has to pick it up on defense and offense,” Fulmer said. “John understands that as well as anyone I’ve been around.”
Fulmer acknowledged that Chavis’ defense is predicated on having cornerbacks who are adept at handling man-to-man coverage. LSU is going from Mathieu, a junior, to true freshman Jalen Mills and redshirt freshman Jalen Collins at that position.
“I’m not saying it’s not going to be a loss,” Fulmer said, “but it’s not going to be the end of the world, either.”
Father knows best
Former Georgia coach Vince Dooley is proud of the way his son Derek is running the program at Tennessee.
But the elder Dooley acknowledges some of the decisions the former LSU assistant and former Louisiana Tech coach has been forced to make have left him vulnerable going into his third season at UT.
Among the players Derek Dooley has had to dismiss include safety Janzen Jackson, a Lake Charles native and former LSU commitment who was let go in 2011, and wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers last week.
“I’m proud that he’s got a standard,” said Dooley, head coach at Georgia from 1964-88. “I knew he inherited a tough situation, but I didn’t know it was this tough.”