Ah, conspiracy theories. They even make good copy in the Southeastern Conference. The person who makes the SEC schedules is SEC Executive Associate Commissioner Mark Womack. Womack graduated from Tuscaloosa High and Alabama. So, of course, Alabama always has the easiest schedule. I guess most people don’t realize those schedules are made about 100 years before they actually play them. Okay, that was a huge exaggeration. But so are some of the theories. But if that were the case, well it backfired. LSU and Alabama have both had open dates prior to their meaningful meetings in the past. Two years ago, Womack was the second-highest paid SEC employee at $384,268 in total compensation. I’m sure it’s more than that. No, not because Alabama is siphoning him more money. This season, Alabama possessed the SEC’s only schedule where opponents won less than 50 percent of last year’s games. The NCAA’s strength of schedule is impacted of course by West Virginia’s and Florida’s 4-8 seasons, as well as Tennessee’s 5-7 season. The Crimson Tide scheduled WVU when the program looked like it was ready to take off, and the Gators should have a much better team than last year. Of course, when Alabama’s strength of schedule was determined, Mississippi State and Ole Miss were not ranked as two of the top teams in the nation. And Arkansas is no longer a doormat. Of course, everyone in the SEC West is going to play every other team in the SEC West. That’s a tough schedule on its own. Getting back to my original point, schedules are made far in advance. Here is LSU’s through 2025. 2014 vs. Kentucky; 2015 at South Carolina; 2016 vs. Missouri; 2017 at Tennessee; 2018 vs. Georgia; 2019 at Vanderbilt; 2020 vs. South Carolina; 2021 at Kentucky; 2022 vs. Tennessee; 2023 at Missouri; 2024 vs. Vanderbilt; 2025 at Georgia.
(Permanent opponents in 2014: Home – Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State; Away – Arkansas, Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida. Sites alternate home and away through 2025.) So how tough is that 2020 schedule? You just can’t say. Look two or three years ago at Ole Miss and State and look now. I guarantee you Nick Saban would rather have the bye before hosting Mississippi State than playing at LSU this year. Florida will not be down for long. The Gators will bring in someone like Dan Mullen and be contenders again in no time. Which brings us to the state of LSU football — you knew I would get there eventually. The Tigers are down, and attrition has a lot to do with that. But programs like LSU should not be re-building. Check your top 10 each year for the past 10 years and you will not see a big difference in school names. Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida State, Auburn, Stanford and Georgia are regulars there. LSU was until this year (rebuilding). Apparently they have not be rebuilding at the above schools the past five or six years. And if the players LSU lost were that good, why didn’t LSU win the national championship? Miles had one of his best recruiting years last year. But you can bet that Leonard Fournette, Malachi Durpe, Brandon Harris and possibly a couple of others will not be around for their senior year. That’s why recruiting is so crucial, and it is very important for LSU to bring in another top class. But with the success of Ole Miss and Mississippi State and the exciting style of play of Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M, that’s going to be tougher and tougher. LSU cannot afford to let players such as Landon Collins, Cameron Robinson, Dak Prescott and Speedy Noil get away. Granted, LSU reeled in the majority of top players from the state. But with the changing face of college football, the Tigers cannot afford four or five-loss seasons to keep the state’s top players interested. And you adapt to what is going on in college football. I believe Brandon Harris is your quarterback of the future. Bring him off the bench until he gets more comfortable. Anthony Jennings is a good back-up quarterback in the SEC, but Harris is going to take you to the next level. Playing him, then sitting him an entire game is not going to help his confidence. Sit him for a series if he gets rattled, but adapt to his style. There’s still a lot to play for. The win over Florida was huge, even against that Gator team. A loss there would have been devastating. There were some great plays by some outstanding athletes, from senior Jarmauria Rosco, sophomore Travin Dural to freshman Fournette. The biggest play to me was by senior Ronald Martin after Rashard Robinson allowed Demarcus Robinson to run by him in the final minutes of the game for a 72-yard pass to the LSU 2-yard line. After being turned around twice, LSU’s Robinson grabbed Florida’s Robinson, who still was pushing toward the goal line. Martin came along with a big hit to knock Robinson out of bounds at the 2-yard line. LSU’s defense came up big on two plays and go lucky when tight end Tevin Westbrook dropped a TD pass, forcing Florida’s Frankie Velez to kick a game-tying 18-yard field goal with 1:49 left. Without Martin’s hustle play, Florida wins that game. And LSU’s season goes down the drain. And possibly a good recruiting class as well. And that’s the best antidote to attrition.