Sunday morning I took a jog down Skip Bertman Drive next to Alex Box Stadium. There the arena sat…dead, quiet and empty. The National Championship flags of years past flapped high in the dry, summer wind above. There were no tailgators, no smoking BBQ pits, no "Boys of Summer." The LSU Tigers indeed were not on the field, playing for a berth into the NCAA Super Regionals. Instead, they were still smarting nearly a week after being left out of the NCAA Tournament.
Should LSU have gotten in? I think so. But, let's also look at it this way…
Remember that great feeling of turning in a test at school, knowing you had aced it? The confident feeling that you had studied hard, learned the material thoroughly and proved it when you put the pen to paper? That's what you call an automatic bid. That's what you call taking your fate out of other peoples' hands. That's called giving the opposition nothing to work with. You are rewarded and moved on.
And then there's the feeling of NOT totally handling your business. You know….going through the motions early, procrastinating later, before finally cramming at the last minute. That approach might be good enough to get by…but then again it might not be. So then you sit, wait and worry. You lose a little sleep. You wonder how many of those "iffy" questions you actually got right. You have put your fate in the teacher/professor's hands. If he/she doesn't like you, they can always find a reason to fail you. Being on the borderline….certainly isn't a stress-free place to be.
My dad used to always ask me when I got home after school…"How did you do on that test?". When I did well, the answer was simple and effortless, "Did great". However, when there was doubt and trepidation, I would stumble and mumble…"I think I…did….alright." His reply was always dead on…"When you do well, you KNOW it. There's no ‘I think"…."
LSU likewise didn't ace their exam. After their regular season finale the words "we hope" and "we'll see" were coming out of the Tigers' mouth, not "we know" and "we're going". That's because head coach Paul Mainieri's bunch didn't earn a trip to the SEC Tournament and likewise waited to be left out of the postseason altogether. Yes, LSU padded their GPA late by acing a couple of easy courses called Kentucky & Tennessee. They got a solid B in a reasonably difficult Mississippi State class…but some careless mistakes cost them an A. Long story short…the professors (The NCAA Committee) weren't overly enamored with this student (LSU). Maybe they found him a bit cocky, arrogant, or unlikable. However, to site those reasons is a bit emotional and knee-jerk. But the suits certainly weren't in love with LSU….and decided to send them to summer school.
And again, the Tigers probably should've made the field. However, a 2-7 record in one-run SEC games just killed LSU. Had they finished 15-15 in the league…they'd be in. And there were plenty of terrible mid-week losses that didn't help either. UL-Lafayette came to Alex Box Stadium and simply peppered LSU, while the Tigers also lost to a dreadful Northwestern State team as well.
It's perhaps a bit harsh, but it's the reality of the situation. LSU should be on the bubble to be a top 8 national seed or one of the 16 hosting regional sites. They should not have to sweat out simply getting into the tournament. Coach Mainieri knows that, and changes are already underway. Pitching coach and head recruiter David Grewe has been nudged out the door. And the overall team roster could be getting a major overhaul during the summer months.
A year from now we'll see if LSU is back to their 2008/2009 College World Series form.
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