Had LSU not squandered the last few minutes against Nick Saban’s Alabama squad, tens of thousands of the purple and gold faithful would be prepping for a trip to south Florida right now instead of muttering along I-85 East.
In what may have been the most deflating moment in the history of Death Valley, LSU frittered away their best opportunity to play in a consecutive national championship game and will instead face Clemson in the mid-level Chick-Fil-A (nee Peach) Bowl.
A good barometer of the lack of enthusiasm for the New Year’s Eve battle between the tigers is StubHub, where tickets have been going for less than one-third of face-value.
When considering that a ticket to an LSU home game against the likes of Towson is still pretty expensive, it’s obvious that appearing in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl is simultaneously a let-down for many – and a gift for some LSU grads who had to chase job opportunities in Atlanta, not to mention a bargain for other non-season ticketholders who are priced out of making games in Baton Rouge.
While the CFA Bowl is not a BCS game and lacks the stature of the Cotton Bowl, the venue many LSU fans had hoped for after dropping to Bama, LSU won’t take a hit for playing in a mediocre bowl game according to WWL 870 AM’s college football expert Mike Detillier.
“LSU is the new ‘U’ in college football'” said Detillier. “They not only dominate the state of Louisiana, but they recruit nationally and have had a host of successes this recruiting season getting defensive linemen from Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and Nebraska.”
Though the Fightin’ Tigers have had a lot of luck playing in Atlanta and have never lost a Peach Bowl or its new corporate incarnation, Detillier also has a warning for LSU fans expecting an easy victory over the 14th-ranked Clemson team.
“They have two tremendous receivers in Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins and a very good quarterback in Tajh Boyd,” said Detillier. “It is almost a month between games and you just don’t know about the focus of this team (LSU) with so many juniors leaving early and the SEC has really been dominate in bowl games throughout the last few years. Getting that extra practice time for both schools gives young players an opportunity to play in the bowl game and it helps their development.”
As someone who is lucky to make a single LSU game per season, I may have been one of a very limited number of fans who were happy about the Tigers going to Atlanta, not to mention the availability and affordability of tickets, two descriptions one rarely hears used concerning LSU tickets.
Curley Hallman was head coach when I arrived on campus as a freshman and the football program was so bad that I could walk up to a ticket booth on gameday, flash my student id card and get a ticket for $2. And there was more of a crowd at the since-renamed Sports Illustrated bar in Tigerland on a Thursday night than in the student section in Tiger Stadium.
I also remember being thrilled when then-head coach Gerry DiNardo ended the program’s long post-season drought by getting the Tigers in the Independence Bowl.
Having such humble roots makes this LSU fan appreciate playing in any bowl game.
Besides the Sugar Bowl or the Rose Bowl, anything else short of the championship game is a consolation prize. To quote Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, if you’re not first, you’re last.
The only gripe I have is with the Peach Bowl officials and the folks at Chick-Fil-A for bowdlerizing the state symbol of Georgia in its entirity for a corporate brand. College football is steeped in tradition and renaming the Peach Bowl cheapens the prestiege of that post-season contest.
Imagine if Allstate waved a pot of money to have the Sugar Bowl fully renamed for the insurance company. Hopefully the New Orleans-based bowl commissioners have better judgment than their colleagues in the ATL, but the proliferation of absurdly titled bowl games including equally absurdly unworthy teams is a stain on college football, watering down post-season and lowering the bar for achievement.