Rabalais: SEC to mull permanent opponents

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry celebrates his touchdown catch in the first half Friday in Fayetteville, Ark. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry celebrates his touchdown catch in the first half Friday in Fayetteville, Ark.

May in the Southeastern Conference is the month of movers and shakers talking about important things in beautiful places.

The SEC’s athletic directors will convene Tuesday in Jacksonville, Fla. Among topics expected to be tossed around will be the just-announced SEC Network and football scheduling, both to be major focuses of the SEC Spring Meeting later this month in Destin, Fla.

The Jacksonville meeting marks the start of what is likely one last defining attempt by LSU officials to eliminate permanent cross-division opponents in football. There is every indication the SEC will emerge from Destin with a long-term football scheduling format, something that has been in limbo since Texas A&M and Missouri joined the conference last year.

LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva, as well as interim Chancellor William Jenkins, have been lobbying their peers for months on the subject. They argue that cross-divisional permanent games like LSU-Florida create a competitive imbalance within the nation’s most competitive football conference.

Alleva said he can support a nine-game conference schedule — a notion that has gained some traction recently — if the SEC does away with permanent opponents such as LSU-Florida, Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia.

Of course, the simplest solution is probably the farthest off the table: move Alabama and Auburn to the East and Missouri and another school (Vanderbilt or Kentucky) to the West.

But wait, some would cry, that would create a competitive imbalance.

Exactly.

  • A Phoenix-area drug paraphernalia store is welcoming former LSU and new Arizona Cardinals cornerback Tyrann Mathieu to come browse its aisles in a controversial print ad in a publication called the Phoenix New Times.

“Honey Badger, welcome to Phoenix,” blares the ad, which includes a Getty Images photo of Mathieu in an LSU uniform. “We have what you’re looking for.”

It’s predictable fallout from Mathieu’s well-publicized drug problems, the ones that got him kicked off the team at LSU and may have cost him a round or two in the NFL draft (he went in the third). Despite the likely embarrassment, Mathieu would do well to laugh it off.

Folks at LSU aren’t laughing, however.

“We think it’s in extremely poor taste,” senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent said. “We’re exploring our options to protect LSU’s good name.”

Can anything protect Mathieu’s name at this point?

  • Justin Thornton, a four-star defensive end from Vigor (Ala.) Pritchard, tweets he will announce his choice Sunday between LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M.

Thornton (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) is ranked No. 55 on the 24/7 Sports Top 247, No. 63 on the Scout 300, No. 111 on the ESPN 150 and No. 112 on the Rivals 250.

Thornton listed LSU as his leader in April, but tweeted Tuesday his three finalists are even. LSU has nine commitments and a top-five recruiting class at this point.