Scott Rabalais: On Devin White’s due, moving the LSU-Ole Miss game and finding a name for a classic game that sticks
Notes on a golf scorecard while I gaze out the window at our beautiful fall weather and lament the fact I’m in here busy at my keyboard …
Underappreciated at LSU
There are few things in the sports world more useless than midseason All-American teams. Still, it’s not right that LSU linebacker Devin White’s name isn’t on any of them.
The likes of The Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and CBS Sports have come out with their midseason accolades and White, the Tigers’ sophomore who leads the Southeastern Conference by a mile with 77 tackles, is nowhere to be found on the first- or second-teams.
There are reasons. White, a sophomore and converted running back, didn’t come to LSU with the national reputation of a Leonard Fournette. LSU’s defense has been better than people think, but nowhere near the unit that led the nation with 16 touchdowns allowed in 2016. And the stain of a blowout loss to Mississippi State and a shocking upset loss to Troy touches everything, even after headline-grabbing wins over Florida and Auburn.
Still, White’s numbers will become impossible to ignore if he can keep up something approaching his 11-tackle per game average (he had 15 tackles against Auburn). Hopefully if that happens, White will earn the accolades he deserves.
A moment in time
Saturday’s LSU-Ole Miss game will be the second-earliest this century (the teams played Oct. 19, 2013 in Oxford). Next year, LSU hosts Ole Miss on Sept. 29, basically swapping dates with the Mississippi State game, which will be in Tiger Stadium on Oct. 20. It will be the earliest LSU-Ole Miss game since Sept. 28, 1940, a 19-6 Rebels win in Tiger Stadium.
There’s a lot of talk in the SEC about traditions when it comes to scheduling. It’s one of the reason permanent cross-divisional rivalries are preserved, like Alabama-Tennessee (a bloodletting scheduled for this Saturday in Tuscaloosa) and Georgia-Auburn. Bama-Tennessee is traditionally the third Saturday in October. LSU-Ole Miss should get similar treatment.
When you think of LSU-Ole Miss, your mind goes to the 1959 Halloween Night game when Billy Cannon ran back the punt in the Tigers’ 7-3 win. The SEC should make an effort to keep the game as close to Halloween as possible, though admittedly this is complicated by the fact LSU has asked for and gotten its open date the week before the Alabama game since 2010.
But, hey, SEC, make an effort. No trick, but a treat, please. Keep LSU-Ole Miss right before or right after Halloween.
What’s in a name?
My late State-Times colleague Bernell Ballard is credited with applying the nickname to LSU’s sharpshooting all-time NCAA scoring champion “Pistol” Pete Maravich. A writer named Hugh Roberts of the Birmingham Age-Herald in 1907 was the first to call Alabama’s football team the Crimson Tide, after Bama battled favored Auburn to a 6-6 tie in a “sea of red mud” following a heavy rain.
Back in 2002, as I sat down to write the column about LSU’s unbelievable victory over Kentucky on the famous Marcus Randall to Devery Henderson tipped pass, I thought, “If I come up with the right phrase, this is what this game could be called.” My wordy mind thought of “Miracle in the Bluegrass,” only to be trumped days later by a poll on LSU’s athletic website in which fans opted for “The Bluegrass Miracle.” Not as poetic, if I may say so, but it’s shorter, and brevity counts for a lot.
Saturday, after LSU wrote the latest chapter in the amazing series that is the Auburn rivalry with its 27-23 comeback win, I decided to call it “The Comeback Game” in my column. Like “The Earthquake Game” in 1988, “The Interception Game” in 1994, the “Bring Back the Magic Game” in 1995 and so on. Makes sense, right? But when I show up Tuesday at player interviews, the Tigers are talking about the “Rally in the Valley?”
Granted, “Rally in the Valley” is catchier than “The Comeback Game,” but that’s in and “Miracle in the Bluegrass” doesn’t make the cut?
Maybe one of these days I’ll be on the right side of history.