By JIM ENGSTER | President, Tiger Rag Magazine
Ed Orgeron lost a chance to coach LSU for the next five years when his star running back darted the wrong way on the game’s final play in Saturday’s 16-10 setback to Florida. Derrius Guice was stopped a hair from the goal line as Orgeron, the accidental coach, also fell short of snagging the most prestigious job in Louisiana. If Guice had run the play as designed, Coach O would remain in the running to retain the post he took from Les Miles six games ago.
The disappointment came on a gorgeous afternoon for football and even included some pre-game fisticuffs for feisty fans to cheer before the rescheduled clash between LSU and Florida. The Gators pulled an upset as they did in a rescheduled game in 1964 at Tiger Stadium. That contest showcased the brilliance of future Heisman winner Steve Spurrier, who at 19 guided the Gators to a 20-6 over a Sugar Bowl champion LSU squad.
Saturday’s defeat prevented this LSU unit from traveling to the Sugar Bowl and puts the Bengals in jeopardy of not reaching eight wins in a season for the first time in the 21st Century. When LSU tees it up on Sept. 2 in Houston, another leader will direct the Tigers against the Cougars of BYU.
Orgeron will be around for a few more games, but it appears Guice will have a new coach next year. With his career on the line, Orgeron called on his spectacular sophomore rather than the player hailed as the most talented athlete in the history of LSU football.
Leonard Fournette hobbled his way to 40 yards on 12 carries against the Gators while Guice was limited to 83 yards on 19 carries. For the season, the 19-year-old Guice has been a superior performer to Fournette, who turns 22 in January and is two and one half years older than his teammate.
The rushing numbers for No. 5 and No. 7 show the teen from Baton Rouge has been better this season than his celebrated running mate from New Orleans.
Att. Yards Average Touchdowns
Derrius Guice 120 964 8.0 10
Leonard Fournette 129 843 6.5 8
It was a less than stellar finish at Tiger Stadium for Fournette, who arrived in TigerTown with the Heisman Trophy in his sights. Time will tell if Fournette reigns as the next Jim Brown or the next Harvey Williams, but his three years on the college field were impressive.
Fournette was touted as the best NCAA back in years, yet his production is comparable to some fellow runners who enrolled at their schools at the same time Leonard became a Tiger. Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Oklahoma’s Semaj Perrine have posted similar statistics through three seasons.
Att. Yards Average Td
Dalvin Cook 641 4166 6.5 46
Leonard Fournette 616 3830 6.2 41
Semaj Perrine 631 3797 6.0 49
Christian McCaffrey 601 3711 6.2 29
Fournette is poised to be an elite runner in the NFL, but it is a pass happy league these days. It will take the right situation for him to reach his potential. Charles Alexander was as dominant in college as Fournette, but his coach with the Cincinnati Bengals, Forrest Gregg, opted to employ a world class sprinter as a blocking back for the obese tailback Pete Johnson. Hopefully, Fournette’s future endeavors provide him with the opportunity to showcase the kind of gifts only a handful of rushers since Jim Brown (O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson) have possessed.
President Trump is King of SEC
The 45th U.S. president will take the oath of office because of the awesome power he displayed at the ballot box in states represented in the Southeastern Conference, thus it is recommended in this space that the SEC Championship Game be renamed the President Donald J. Trump Bowl.
Trump sailed to victory in each of the eleven states located in the SEC, accumulating 20,686,828 votes to 15,993,928 votes for Hillary Clinton. The margin of victory for Trump in SEC territory was 4,692,900 votes. The league produced 150 of Trump’s 306 votes in the Electoral College.
This is significant because Clinton clobbered Trump in the other 39 states by a margin of 47,606,519 to 41,247,583, an advantage of landslide proportions, 6,357,936 votes.
Not since Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976 has a winning candidate for president swept the SEC and lost in the remainder of the country. This time it was the Republican who was carried to the Oval Office on the backs of voters in the South.
The Carter years were great for SEC football as Alabama captured the national title in 1978 and 1979 and Georgia won the championship in 1980.
Look for the SEC to dominate under the rule of the man from Gotham City. Trump becomes the first east coast candidate to win a presidential election since John Kennedy in 1960 and the first man to win the White House and lose his home state since Woodrow Wilson in 1916. New York didn’t show support for the Donald, but Texas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky Mississippi and Arkansas did in grand style.
Trump traveled to Baton Rouge in 2014 as owner of the Miss USA Pageant and visited again this summer after historic flooding deluged the area in August. Trump, like the five most recent presidents is an Ivy Leaguer, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, but he owes his election to the SEC.
Trump showed his allegiance to the conference by quickly naming U.S. Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III, graduate of the University of Alabama, as his attorney general.
Give me an A, Give me an E and Give me an O
LSU is almost certainly the first NCAA institution to have its governor, president, athletic director, head football coach, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterback have last names starting with a vowel. John Bel Edwards, F. King Alexander, Joe Alleva, Ed Orgeron, Steve Ensminger, Dave Aranda and Danny Etling have defied insurmountable odds to achieve this distinction.
It would be an appropriate gesture for President Obama to invite this group for a White House celebration between now and Jan. 20. It looks like names starting with consonants will be back in vogue next year on Pennsylvania Avenue and at Tiger Stadium.