By JIM ENGSTER
President, Tiger Rag Magazine
With several prognosticators giving the early nod to LSU to take the national title in football for 2016, Les Miles is sitting pretty just seven months removed from narrowly escaping a firing squad.
Miles, who turns 63 in November, will soon be the oldest coach in LSU history. Skip Bertman celebrated his 63rd birthday days before his departure from the dugout in 2001 while Dale Brown was 61 when he left the court at the PMAC in 1997. The oldest head football coach in LSU history prior to Miles was Bill Arnsparger, who turned 60 six days before his final game for the Tigers in the 1987 Sugar Bowl.
Miles has three years remaining on a contract that will pay him a base sum of $4.3 million. Should LSU take the national championship, Miles will receive an annual boost in compensation of $2.7 million. His contract stipulates that LSU reward him with a yearly stipend that exceeds any other SEC football coach by $100,000 a season in the event of a national title. The fellow who coaches at Alabama now receives $6.9 million a year.
Nick Saban is 7-3 vs. LSU in his nine years with the Crimson Tide and has won five in a row against his former employer. LSU hosts Alabama on Nov. 5 with the showdown at Death Valley providing a prelude to the Nov. 8 national political championship contest between Donald J. Trump and Hillary R. Clinton.
Miles enters the season as a favorite over his nemesis in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is rebuilding while LSU fields a veteran team featuring Heisman Trophy contender Leonard Fournette. The Tigers must win in November or face the prospect of enduring a dry spell against Alabama similar to the 1971-81 period that saw the Tide win eleven times in a succession.
Charles McClendon lost his last nine assignments vs. Bama and the Bear after winning two in a row in 1969 and 1970. When LSU rolled into the Superdome for its BCS collision with Alabama on Jan. 9, 2012, Miles boasted a 5-2 record against the despised rival and had won two straight. Since then, it’s been all Alabama, and the natives are restless.
LSU is positioned to whip the Tide for the first time since the 9-6 overtime Game of the Century of Nov. 5, 2011. This year’s clash will be played on the fifth anniversary of the epic battle at Bryant-Denny. Look for the Tigers to prevail and for Miles to exact years of pent up revenge against his counterpart in the Crimson shirt.
When LSU and Alabama jousted five years ago, Saban and Miles had each won one national championship at their respective schools. Saban now has four crowns with Alabama and one at LSU.
Here is a look at SEC football since 2011.
[table] School,SEC Record,Overall,National Titles
South Carolina,22-18 ,43-21,0
Texas A&M,17-15,43-22 ,0
Saban, Miles and Dan Mullen of Mississippi State are the only coaches in the league from 2011 remaining at the 14 conference schools. Miles is the senior member of the coaching fraternity as he starts his 12th season at LSU. Saban is second with ten years at Alabama.
Let the beer flow at LSU
Ohio State is implementing stadium-wide beer sales for this football season after permitting sales in select areas of Ohio Stadium in 2015. The move at Columbus has resulted in a $300,000 expense item for the Ohio State Police Department, but beer sales are expected to easily offset the cost of security for the Buckeyes.
Additional revenue will be sent to Ohio State’s Center of Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Recovery with any remaining funds dispensed to the general fund for athletics.
Ohio State is the 35th school to permit beer sales. West Virginia University boasts $500,000 in revenue from its pro-beer policy.
LSU is bypassing millions in beer money by not peddling it at Tiger Stadium. At least not in the stands. Beer flows like the Mighty Mississippi in the suites of Tiger Stadium where Crown is the drink of choice.
It is inconsistent for suite holders to enjoy a privilege not available to patrons in general seating at Death Valley. The SEC could give fans a slight break on escalating ticket prices by opening the spigot on beer consumption at football games and at other athletic events.
The presence of beer at LSU football games is as common as betting on the Tigers is away from campus. Both activities are illegal, but for some fans they are an integral part of the college football experience. There might actually be less consumption of beer if it became legal on Saturday nights, and LSU would reap the benefits.
The SEC does not permit alcohol sales in regular seating, but 17 of the 34 colleges that sell beer at football games are located in a state with an SEC school. Tulane has been selling beer at its games for decades with UL Monroe and UL Lafayette also joining the suds club.
Beer has been sold at Cajun Field since 2009 with Ragin’ Cajuns Genuine Louisiana Ale marketed to UL fans. The sale of beer at Lafayette was prominent at Cajuns’ baseball and basketball games for several years prior to its availability at football games.
The NCAA does not allow alcohol to be sold the general public at its championship events.
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