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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Smoke needs to light a fire at LSU

Les Miles was a virtual unknown before last season. Then, in his first year as LSU's head football coach, he helped the Tigers overcome distractions ranging from Hurricane Katrina to a potential quarterback controversy while leading them to an 11-2 record and a 40-3 rout of the Miami Hurricanes in the Peach Bowl.

John Brady, who hasn't had much success in recent years at LSU, and Pokey Chatman, who has emerged from longtime coach Sue Gunter's shadow, have coached the men's and women's basketball teams, respectively, to undefeated SEC records this season.

Then there's the track and field squad, gymnastics team, tennis, rugby, soccer -- you name it and LSU has seen success in the past few years.

So who's the odd-man out? Tigers baseball coach Smoke Laval.

Laval, whose team was ranked second in the SEC West in a preseason poll compiled by league coaches released Tuesday, has not lived up to expectations and a once-proud program is no longer a perennial contender for the College World Series. Sure they've had two appearances in the four years Laval has coached there (in addition to an SEC title), but getting to Omaha isn't the big accomplishment -- winning it is.

Miles had a great season. There's a chance LSU's men's and women's basketball teams could each win the SEC and make noise in the NCAA tournaments. The gymnastics team? Gimme a break - they're the best ever. So the pressure's on Laval to get his program on par with the other sports at LSU and back where it should be -- atop college baseball.


Blogger Bret H. McCormick said...

You just don't get it. Just like every LSU "fan" with unrealistic expectations. On one hand you say LSU is no longer a "contender for the College World Series". On the other, they've been there two of four years under Smoke. Ridiculous. Just face the fact that LSU's run under Skip Bertman was one of the greatest the sports has ever seen and leave it at that. Then let Smoke coach and maintain one of the top 10 programs in the country.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Pedro Pizarro said...

Leave it to a Tech fan to be pleased with just a top-10 finish.

Being a news editor, you should have caught that I said "perennial" contender when talking about LSU and the World Series. Perennial means every year, not two out of four.

I did realize that Bertman ran one of the best college baseball programs that was the reason for the post. Smoke is a letdown even for fans with unrealistic expectations.

Good luck to you in the future :)

10:43 PM  
Blogger Jason Pugh said...

Kudos, Pedro.

Just realize that if Skip could give Brady that much rope with the men's basketball team, he'll surely give his hand-picked successor Laval that much.

And for all the LSU baseball fans out there, that isn't a good thing.

Laval is doing to LSU what he did with ULM, which is keep it at the level it was and not improve it at all.

5:14 PM  

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