ENGSTER: LSU has best talent in the country

Les Miles has battled his Alabama nemesis exactly the same number of times that Miles’ mentor, Bo Schembechler of Michigan, feuded on the field with hated coaching foe Woody Hayes of Ohio State. Schembechler held a 5-4-1 advantage over Hayes from 1969-78. Miles has dropped to 3-7 vs. Nick Saban after a 30-16 drubbing at Tuscaloosa. Saban’s shade of red is apparently stronger than the scarlet colors that Hayes donned on the sidelines.

Coaching rivalries usually are relatively even to be considered to be of the epic variety. But there are exceptions. Ara Parseghian of Notre Dame was 3-6-2 vs. John McKay of USC when the Irish were dominating everyone else. Notre Dame was 92-11-2 vs. opponents other than Southern Cal during Parseghian’s eleven-year reign at South Bend.

Nebraska’s Tom Osborne was 255-49-3 in 25 years at Lincoln but just 5-11 vs. Barry Switzer of Oklahoma, who was 157-29-4 in 16 years at Norman.

Miles is 110-30 at LSU and 107-23 vs. opponents not coached by Saban, who has won five straight over his cohort in Baton Rouge.

There were a number of observations after the latest debacle vs. the Crimson Tide that Alabama simply has more talent. This is a blatant falsehood. No school in the Saban-Miles Era has stockpiled more talent than has LSU and none has produced more NFL superstars.

Here is the current list of SEC schools and the number of players each has in the NFL.

LSU 43

Alabama 40

Florida 39

Georgia 37

Auburn 32

South Carolina 26

Tennessee 26

Texas A&M 22

Missouri 21

Miss. State 17

Ole Miss 16

Arkansas 15

Kentucky 13

Vanderbilt 7

Saturday provided a classic example of there being no talent gap with Alabama unless it’s tilted to LSU. Leonard Fournette is a better athlete than Bama’s Derrick Henry, but the advantage in this game was Henry, 38 rushes for 210 yards, and Fournette, 19 rushes for 31 yards. LSU’s coaching staff is no doubt doing some heavy duty analysis and soul searching to determine why Henry outrushed Fournette by 179 yards.

The final tally for total yards at Bryant-Denny was Alabama 434-LSU 182. The 252-yard advantage for the Tide was almost as resounding a difference as the 393-118 advantage in yards by Alabama in the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 9, 2012, and advantage for 275 yards by the men in crimson.

LSU possesses a marvelous collection of athletes and should not be dominated by Alabama. Next year will tell the tale as Fournette returns for his junior year which is expected to be a Heisman campaign. Henry will be gone at Alabama, and Saban will be a visitor at Tiger Stadium or coaching in the NFL.

If Alabama wins a sixth in a row, look for big changes at Death Valley.

LSU could survive Tuscaloosa

LSU faces a resurgent Arkansas unit as the Razorbacks travel to Louisiana fresh from a 53-52 overtime victory over Ole Miss. Bret Bielema has turned around a disastrous start that included non-conference defeats to Toledo and Texas Tech.

Arkansas is 0 for 24 in its quest to capture an SEC title, and the Razorbacks are 9-14 vs. LSU since entering the league in 1992. The Hogs are 7-17 vs. Alabama in their SEC tenure.

LSU should handle Arkansas, which last won in Tiger Stadium when Darren McFadden was a player. Alabama has a stern test at Starkville this week. A State upset would rattle the league standings and could leave LSU in command or have as many as five schools with two conference losses if Arkansas scores an upset.

Despite the tumble in Tuscaloosa, LSU is not removed from the national title picture. In 2003, Sabana and Co. survived a 19-7 loss at home to Ron Zook’s Florida Gators. Miles won it all four years later despite a pair of overtime setbacks to Kentucky and Arkansas.

Turmoil at Missouri prompts concern everywhere

The campus newspaper reports that the University of Missouri has 60 black players among its 124-man roster. On Monday, athletes at Mizzou were considering a boycott of Saturday’s non-conference game in Kansas City against Brigham Young, when president Timothy Wolfe resigned. Coach Gary Pinkel, who has led the Tigers for 15 seasons, backed his players.

Black students on the campus at Columbia report racial slurs hurled at them and feces smeared into the shape of a swastika on a wall in a residence hall. Many of the students called for the ouster of Wolfe, who capitulated Monday. About seven percent of the UM student body of 35,000 is black.

A forfeit of the game vs. BYU would have cost the university more than $1 million. Two years ago, Grambling players forfeited a game at Jackson State when they refused to board the team bus in protest over poor facilities.

If a similar episode occurred at LSU, the Board of Supervisors would be spurred into action. A board that has 17 white members and one black member because of appointments by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

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