East: Still some gifts left to give to LSU football team

The LSU football team arrives in Atlanta on Wednesday to begin on-site preparations for its Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Clemson on New Year’s Eve.

Family, friends and Santa Claus have all distributed their Christmas gifts, and now we’ll see if the football elves have a few presents to hand out.

Between now and when the clock strikes midnight in the Georgia Dome and 2012 turns into 2013, it would be nice to see some of the following gifts given to members of the LSU football community.

For the Tigers seniors and others playing in their final game, both those who realize it and those who don’t:

An injury-free performance from which they will leave with no regrets.

For wide receiver Russell Shepard:

An opportunity to make at least one big play in his final game.

For freshman Jamie Keehn:

A performance that helps establish him as “LSU’s strong-legged Australian punter.”

For the players who arrived with the team in August but won’t be part of it on New Year’s Eve — or perhaps ever again — because of various non-football issues:

The discipline, maturity, guidance and good fortune to have smoother sailing from here on out.

For head coach Les Miles and his staff:

A season some year in which every player who reports for preseason camp is still part of the team for the bowl game.

For sports information director Michael Bonnette and his staff:

A good while without having to hear any questions about which team rule was violated by which player.

For reporters covering the LSU football team:

A good while without having to ask which team rule was violated by which player.

For the numerous underclassmen who are pondering whether to leave early for the NFL draft:

The clarity to understand that for some players in their position the potential reward for completing their college careers is greater than the potential risk for doing so, and that for others, the opposite is true. Also, the wisdom to understand which category they fall into.

For all the players leaving before they have a degree:

The dedication and perseverance to do what linebacker Kevin Minter has done — get their diploma no matter how much or little time passes between when they remove their LSU uniform for the last time and don a cap and gown.

For Athletic Director Joe Alleva:

A late surge in ticket purchases by LSU fans that leads to the Tigers selling out their 16,000-seat ticket allotment.

For LSU fans: The realization that when you’re disappointed that your team is 10-2, ranked No. 8 in the BCS and playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, you’ve got it pretty good.