BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Things were suppose to be different this time.
Defensive stars Tre'Davious White and Kendell Beckwith decided to return for one more year and a final run for glory. Running back Leonard Fournette was ready to follow up his monstrous, record shattering sophomore campaign and be a legitimate contender
for the Heisman trophy. Brandon Harris was now an upper classman, looked upon to lead the offense as a more mature and seasoned junior quarterback. And certainly head coach Les Miles would learn from his job's near death experience the previous November and
make tweaks to LSU's archaic offensive attack.
"Anything less than a national championship is going to be unacceptable," senior defensive tackle Christian LaCouture told the media back in January.
Unfortunately for LaCouture, an incredibly impressive young man from an equally wonderful family, a knee injury in August would end his season before it even began. Not long after that the strapping Fournette was limping around in a walking boot, slowed
by an injury of his own to his ankle. Harris would be benched before halftime of LSU's second game and Miles' tenure with the Tigers would soon come to an end with a final play, actually not final play, defeat at Auburn.
Today LSU sits with a very pedestrian 6-4 overall record and finds themselves unranked in one national poll, while clinging to the No. 25 spot in another. This coming after the Tigers entered the year with a lofty No. 5 ranking in the AP Top 25 and had
aspirations for challenging for the SEC and national championship.
Fans are simply sick and tired of all the letdowns and disappointments.
As interim head coach Ed Orgeron took over the reigns for the jettisoned Miles in late September, excitement, optimism and impressive victories immediately followed. Fournette wowed us all with a breathtaking and LSU single game rushing record of 284 yards during a
rout of Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium. But in the end, what eventually has transpired is another ho hum season for LSU football and a postseason destination that certainly won't be met with any riveting response from the fan base.
Saturday's 16-10 stunner to Florida in Death Valley is just the latest example of readjusted goals, yet still very significant opportunities, being wiped out by a staggering stumble at the worst possible time. Orgeron had just led LSU to a very focused and
thorough domination of the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, defiantly moving past their offensive bagel and hard fought 10-0 setback to No. 1 Alabama. Roasting the Hogs was probably LSU's best outing of the season. The fiery Cajun with the friendly demeanor and
bombastic personality had the Tigers looking like a team that would soon grill some Gator and then telling Aggie jokes Thanksgiving night.
But instead, like the professional football team down the road, LSU seemed to invent and discover new creative ways to lose. Florida fans certainly have every right to gloat and brag about their team's triumph, especially after the contest was surrounded
by endless trash talk and extra curricular activity. The Gators made the final tackle and consequently have the last laugh. But I'm here to tell you the Tigers gave this one away, pure and simple.
There's no need to totally dissect the game again, for you watched it for yourself and felt the collective agony of numerous missed opportunities. From LSU fumbling inside the Gators' 10-yard line twice (including the final play), to d ropping the snap on
a chip shot field, to allowing a pop-gun Florida offense to hit a 98-yard touchdown pass, the Tigers bent over backwards to accommodate their fiesty visitors from Gainesville. You had the feeling most of the day LSU would win ugly. And then they didn't win
Hopes of partying in New Orleans during the holidays and watching LSU in the Sugar Bowl against a tradition rich program like Oklahoma vanished with Saturday's chilly defeat. It could've been the Tigers' first major bowl appearance and a chance to finish
in the Top 10 for the first time in five years. Instead, well, chomped.
Is Orgeron a better or worse coach because Derrius Guice ran the wrong way on the final hand off? Probably not, but we are in a result oriented business and a loss against a 14-point underdog at home doesn't look good for the coaches' chances. The burden
of proof on Orgeron during this audition has been extremely demanding, probably unfair and despite a roster loaded with talent, certain things are very difficult, if not impossible to fix. I know for a fact that even when the Tigers were rolling up big offensive
numbers and points under new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, it wasn't a joyful experience for the man. Being forced to call plays and work with the offensive formations and system left behind by Miles and former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is like
being asked to cook dinner each Saturday with canned tuna. You sure would like to serve your guests some steak and a loaded baked potato, but that's not possible under the current conditions and time restraints. Here's some canned tuna. Jazz it up and do your
Just like last November, Florida State head coach and former LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher seems to be the man of top interest for the Tigers. Those that say Fisher's record is similar to Les Miles' and that he's not much of an upgrade seem to have
a very simplistic and naive view of the situation. Miles won a very impressive 77% of his games during his 11 plus years at LSU, while Fisher has a winning clip of 81.7% in nearly 7 full seasons at Florida State (gr anted, it's been much more difficult to win
in the SEC West than the ACC). However the goal and vision for LSU should be to make their next five seasons, better than their last five. And it seems Fisher has strong potential to do that.
Miles compiled a sparkling mark of 34-6 through his first three years at LSU (2005-07), with the Tigers finishing No. 5, No. 3 and then No. 1 in the national polls, However in his next eight full seasons, LSU only finished ranked in the Top 10 twice - No.
8 in 2010 and No. 2 in 2011. His team this year certainly was giving no indication or hope that downward trend would end. After the Tigers' 21-0 loss to Alabama in the 2011 BCS national championship, Miles was 39-16 overall, finishing No. 14, No. 14, unranked
and No. 16 in the AP Top 25. And as we detailed above, LSU was 2-2 and unranked when he was fired in late September.
In his last four full seasons, Fisher is 59-6 overall, finishing No. 10, No. 1, No. 5 and No. 14 in the national rankings. His current squad sports an 8-3 record and is No. 15 in the AP. I'm not saying hire Jimbo Fisher today or that he lacks any flaws,
but for those who just seem baffled by his positive reputation, there's some info to chew on. And as it's been detailed in great depth, Fisher's strong suit throughout his extensive career is developing quarterbacks, which has been LSU's Achilles heel for
the better part of a decade. He coached at LSU for seven years, knows the area and perhaps has the desire to prove he's the chosen one to dethrone Nick Saban and his Alabama empire. True competitors want and yearn for the biggest challenges. And these days,
there's none bigger than what rests in Tuscaloosa.
Whoever coaches LSU in 2017 will face big challenges. The roster is likely to be gutted and the schedule will include five SEC road games, instead of the usual four because of the LSU/Florida scheduling debacle. The Tigers will travel to Alabama, Florida,
Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee next year, although the early season schedule is soft enough to give LSU a chance to at success while enabling their younger, less experienced players to gain some confidence.
LSU and athletic director Joe Alleva have had a long time to prepare for this moment. The college football world impatiently awaits the announcement of the man who lead the Tigers charging out of Death Valley's north end zone on Saturday nights. Whether
it's Jimbo Fisher, Ed Orgeron, or someone else, the pressure will undoubtedly be insanely intense. This is a big job. This is LSU.
And fans are thirsting for a return to glory.