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2007 BCS Champions

2007 BCS
National Champions

2003 BCS National Champions

2003 BCS
National Champions

1958 National Champions

1958
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NCAA Baseball Championships:

1991
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1996
1997
2000
2009

 

DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.

5/31/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU baseball team received some great news yesterday when the NCAA baseball tournament national seeds and brackets were announced and LSU was named as the No. 8 national seed. The other national seeds were (1) Florida, (2) Louisville, (3) Miami (Fla.), (4) Texas A&M (5), Texas Tech, (6) Mississippi State, and (7) Clemson. As you can see, the SEC was awarded an unprecedented four national seeds, which is just further testament to what a dominant conference it is.

Home-field advantage is huge in NCAA tournament play, and as a national seed LSU is guaranteed to host a super regional two weeks from now if they take care of business in their regional this weekend. The four teams participating in the Baton Rouge regional this weekend are (1) LSU, (2) Rice, (3) Southeastern Louisiana and (4) Utah Valley.

LSU’s first game of its regional will be Friday at 2 p.m. against Utah Valley. I don’t know much about the Wolverines except that they finished the season as the Western Athletic Conference tournament champions and played two teams that LSU also played this year – Sacramento State and Ball State. Against those common opponents, Utah State went 3-2 while LSU went 4-2. As for who LSU will send to the mound for Friday’s contest, that has not yet been announced. The regional will continue Saturday and Sunday, and will finish on Monday if necessary. (See schedule below.) The winner of the Baton Rouge Regional will face the winner of the Raleigh Regional, hosted by NC State, in next weekend’s Super Regional action. 

Here’s the complete Baton Rouge Regional schedule. You’ll notice that none of the games will be televised. All the games, however, will be streamed online by ESPN3, accessible via the Watch ESPN app or at espn3.com., with Lyn Rollins and Ben McDonald on the call.

Friday, June 3
Game 1 - 2 p.m. - #4 seed Utah Valley vs. #1 seed LSU (ESPN3)
Game 2 - 7 p.m.  - #3 seed Southeastern Louisiana vs. #2 seed Rice (ESPN3) 

Saturday, June 4
Game 3 - 2 p.m. - Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser  (ESPN3)
Game 4 - 7 p.m. - Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner (ESPN 3) 

Sunday, June 5
Game 5 – 2 p.m. - Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser (ESPN3)
Game 6 – 7 p.m. - Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner (ESPN3) 

Monday, June 6
Game 7 – 7 p.m. - Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser (if necessary – ESPN3) 

As I mentioned yesterday, Regional tickets are on sale to LSU baseball season ticket holders until 5 p.m. CT today. Regional ticket booklets, good for all games, are $100 (suites and Champion's Club), $75 (gold field box, gold grandstand and grandstand) and $50 (bleachers and standing room only). All parking passes are $60. Any available all-session booklets will go on sale to the general public Thursday, June 29, at 8 a.m. Any available individual-session tickets will go on sale to the general public Friday morning at 8 a.m.

When the LSU team met to watch the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement on ESPNU, Coach Mainieri dished out postseason awards to two of his players. Below is a press release issued by LSU’s Sports Information Department about the honors.

POCHÉ, FRALEY RECEIVE LSU POSTSEASON AWARDS

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU coach Paul Mainieri honored on Monday two of his players – junior pitcher Jared Poché and junior outfielder Jake Fraley – during the Tigers’ postseason gathering at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

The team met to watch the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement on ESPNU.

“Jared and Jake have made a tremendous impact upon the LSU baseball program for the past three years,” Mainieri said. “They’re obviously great ball players, but they also are outstanding young men that represent our state on a first-class level. I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to serve as their coach.”

Just before the tournament field was revealed, Poché received the Wally Pontiff Jr. Scholar Athlete Award. Pontiff was an all-SEC third baseman at LSU who played for the Tigers from 2000-02 and died tragically in 2002 due to a heart abnormality. The award was presented to Poché by Pontiff’s father, Wally Pontiff Sr.

Poché, a native of Lutcher, La., is a kinesiology major who has pitched in the Tigers’ weekend starting rotation in each of his three seasons, compiling 25 career wins. This season, Poché is 7-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 84.2 innings, and he has recorded 67 strikeouts.

Legendary former LSU coach Skip Bertman then presented Fraley with the Skip Bertman Award, which goes to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of the LSU Baseball program. Bertman directed LSU to five national championships during his coaching tenure (1984-2001), and he served a highly successful seven-year term as athletics director.

Fraley, a native of Middletown, Del., is hitting .321 this season with nine doubles, five triples, three homers, 31 RBI, 54 runs and 26 stolen bases. A three-year starter in the LSU outfield, he is No. 2 in the SEC this season in steals, No. 4 in triples, No. 6 in runs scored, No. 8 in hits (78) and No. 10 in walks (34).

Now, with 95 days until LSU football’s season opener vs. Wisconsin in Lambeau Field, let’s switch gears and continue our countdown to Game Day. In today’s installment of our 100-day countdown, we’ll look back on 1995, the year Gerry Dinardo helped restore LSU football. The ’95 season was a special one to me and probably most LSU fans who can remember that year because the Tigers snapped a record-worst six straight losing seasons. Dinardo, who landed prize recruit and Carencro native Kevin Faulk, began promoting LSU football with his “Bring Back the Magic” campaign, and early in the season, that “Magic” was in full force when an electric Tiger Stadium crowd witnessed LSU upset No. 5 Auburn, 12-6. Unfortunately, after a 3-1 start to the season, the Tigers would go just 1-3-1 over their next five games, including an ugly 10-3 loss at Alabama that resulted in senior quarterback Jamie Howard getting benched in favor of Herb Tyler. Behind the true freshman Tyler the following week, LSU hammered Ole Miss 38-9 in Tiger Stadium, which is still LSU’s last home win over Ole Miss by more than 7 points.

With its bowl hopes on the line against No. 14 Arkansas, who came into the game 6-1 in the SEC, LSU put in their most complete performance of the season in a 28-0 shellacking. Unsung hero Kendall Cleveland rumbled for 102 yards and three rushing touchdowns, and LSU’s defense held the Razorbacks to just 144 total yards. (Wouldn’t it be nice to see the D stuff the Hogs like that in 2016?)

With its sixth victory, LSU earned an Independence Bowl berth against Michigan State and first-year coach, Nick Saban. Kevin Faulk dominated with an LSU bowl record 234 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Eddie Kennison returned a kickoff for a 92-yard touchdown and Gabe Northern returned a 37-yard fumble for a TD as the Tigers dominated the second half in a 45-26 victory, the school’s first bowl win since 1987. I suspect that the Tiger talent witnessed by Saban in that late December contest was a factor in attracting him to take over the LSU job after Dinardo was fired during the 1999 season.

Although DiNardo’s magic didn’t last as long as he or Tiger fans had hoped it would, there’s no denying that he left his mark on the LSU program. The energy he brought to Baton Rouge sparked a resurgence of fan interest and prompted LSU officials to add 11,000 seats and 70 suites to the East side of Tiger Stadium, setting the stage for the next great period of LSU sports history which endures to this day - a period I call the Golden Age.

Mentioning the “Golden Age” above reminds me to share with you this closing tidbit that was shared by LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette: LSU is the only school in the nation with its teams competing in the NCAA baseball tournament, the Women's College World Series, the NCAA men’s and women’s track and field championships and “match play” in NCAA men’s golf. It’s certainly a great time to be a Tiger!


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5/31/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU baseball team received some great news yesterday when the NCAA baseball tournament national seeds and brackets were announced and LSU was named as the No. 8 national seed. The other national seeds were (1) Florida, (2) Louisville, (3) Miami (Fla.), (4) Texas A&M (5), Texas Tech, (6) Mississippi State, and (7) Clemson. As you can see, the SEC was awarded an unprecedented four national seeds, which is just further testament to what a dominant conference it is.

Home-field advantage is huge in NCAA tournament play, and as a national seed LSU is guaranteed to host a super regional two weeks from now if they take care of business in their regional this weekend. The four teams participating in the Baton Rouge regional this weekend are (1) LSU, (2) Rice, (3) Southeastern Louisiana and (4) Utah Valley.

LSU’s first game of its regional will be Friday at 2 p.m. against Utah Valley. I don’t know much about the Wolverines except that they finished the season as the Western Athletic Conference tournament champions and played two teams that LSU also played this year – Sacramento State and Ball State. Against those common opponents, Utah State went 3-2 while LSU went 4-2. As for who LSU will send to the mound for Friday’s contest, that has not yet been announced. The regional will continue Saturday and Sunday, and will finish on Monday if necessary. (See schedule below.) The winner of the Baton Rouge Regional will face the winner of the Raleigh Regional, hosted by NC State, in next weekend’s Super Regional action. 

Here’s the complete Baton Rouge Regional schedule. You’ll notice that none of the games will be televised. All the games, however, will be streamed online by ESPN3, accessible via the Watch ESPN app or at espn3.com., with Lyn Rollins and Ben McDonald on the call.

Friday, June 3
Game 1 - 2 p.m. - #4 seed Utah Valley vs. #1 seed LSU (ESPN3)
Game 2 - 7 p.m.  - #3 seed Southeastern Louisiana vs. #2 seed Rice (ESPN3) 

Saturday, June 4
Game 3 - 2 p.m. - Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser  (ESPN3)
Game 4 - 7 p.m. - Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner (ESPN 3) 

Sunday, June 5
Game 5 – 2 p.m. - Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser (ESPN3)
Game 6 – 7 p.m. - Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner (ESPN3) 

Monday, June 6
Game 7 – 7 p.m. - Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser (if necessary – ESPN3) 

As I mentioned yesterday, Regional tickets are on sale to LSU baseball season ticket holders until 5 p.m. CT today. Regional ticket booklets, good for all games, are $100 (suites and Champion's Club), $75 (gold field box, gold grandstand and grandstand) and $50 (bleachers and standing room only). All parking passes are $60. Any available all-session booklets will go on sale to the general public Thursday, June 29, at 8 a.m. Any available individual-session tickets will go on sale to the general public Friday morning at 8 a.m.

When the LSU team met to watch the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement on ESPNU, Coach Mainieri dished out postseason awards to two of his players. Below is a press release issued by LSU’s Sports Information Department about the honors.

POCHÉ, FRALEY RECEIVE LSU POSTSEASON AWARDS

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU coach Paul Mainieri honored on Monday two of his players – junior pitcher Jared Poché and junior outfielder Jake Fraley – during the Tigers’ postseason gathering at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

The team met to watch the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement on ESPNU.

“Jared and Jake have made a tremendous impact upon the LSU baseball program for the past three years,” Mainieri said. “They’re obviously great ball players, but they also are outstanding young men that represent our state on a first-class level. I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to serve as their coach.”

Just before the tournament field was revealed, Poché received the Wally Pontiff Jr. Scholar Athlete Award. Pontiff was an all-SEC third baseman at LSU who played for the Tigers from 2000-02 and died tragically in 2002 due to a heart abnormality. The award was presented to Poché by Pontiff’s father, Wally Pontiff Sr.

Poché, a native of Lutcher, La., is a kinesiology major who has pitched in the Tigers’ weekend starting rotation in each of his three seasons, compiling 25 career wins. This season, Poché is 7-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 84.2 innings, and he has recorded 67 strikeouts.

Legendary former LSU coach Skip Bertman then presented Fraley with the Skip Bertman Award, which goes to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of the LSU Baseball program. Bertman directed LSU to five national championships during his coaching tenure (1984-2001), and he served a highly successful seven-year term as athletics director.

Fraley, a native of Middletown, Del., is hitting .321 this season with nine doubles, five triples, three homers, 31 RBI, 54 runs and 26 stolen bases. A three-year starter in the LSU outfield, he is No. 2 in the SEC this season in steals, No. 4 in triples, No. 6 in runs scored, No. 8 in hits (78) and No. 10 in walks (34).

Now, with 95 days until LSU football’s season opener vs. Wisconsin in Lambeau Field, let’s switch gears and continue our countdown to Game Day. In today’s installment of our 100-day countdown, we’ll look back on 1995, the year Gerry Dinardo helped restore LSU football. The ’95 season was a special one to me and probably most LSU fans who can remember that year because the Tigers snapped a record-worst six straight losing seasons. Dinardo, who landed prize recruit and Carencro native Kevin Faulk, began promoting LSU football with his “Bring Back the Magic” campaign, and early in the season, that “Magic” was in full force when an electric Tiger Stadium crowd witnessed LSU upset No. 5 Auburn, 12-6. Unfortunately, after a 3-1 start to the season, the Tigers would go just 1-3-1 over their next five games, including an ugly 10-3 loss at Alabama that resulted in senior quarterback Jamie Howard getting benched in favor of Herb Tyler. Behind the true freshman Tyler the following week, LSU hammered Ole Miss 38-9 in Tiger Stadium, which is still LSU’s last home win over Ole Miss by more than 7 points.

With its bowl hopes on the line against No. 14 Arkansas, who came into the game 6-1 in the SEC, LSU put in their most complete performance of the season in a 28-0 shellacking. Unsung hero Kendall Cleveland rumbled for 102 yards and three rushing touchdowns, and LSU’s defense held the Razorbacks to just 144 total yards. (Wouldn’t it be nice to see the D stuff the Hogs like that in 2016?)

With its sixth victory, LSU earned an Independence Bowl berth against Michigan State and first-year coach, Nick Saban. Kevin Faulk dominated with an LSU bowl record 234 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Eddie Kennison returned a kickoff for a 92-yard touchdown and Gabe Northern returned a 37-yard fumble for a TD as the Tigers dominated the second half in a 45-26 victory, the school’s first bowl win since 1987. I suspect that the Tiger talent witnessed by Saban in that late December contest was a factor in attracting him to take over the LSU job after Dinardo was fired during the 1999 season.

Although DiNardo’s magic didn’t last as long as he or Tiger fans had hoped it would, there’s no denying that he left his mark on the LSU program. The energy he brought to Baton Rouge sparked a resurgence of fan interest and prompted LSU officials to add 11,000 seats and 70 suites to the East side of Tiger Stadium, setting the stage for the next great period of LSU sports history which endures to this day - a period I call the Golden Age.

Mentioning the “Golden Age” above reminds me to share with you this closing tidbit that was shared by LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette: LSU is the only school in the nation with its teams competing in the NCAA baseball tournament, the Women's College World Series, the NCAA men’s and women’s track and field championships and “match play” in NCAA men’s golf. It’s certainly a great time to be a Tiger!

5/30/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The first thing I’d like to do is wish all of you a Happy Memorial Day and ask that you take a moment to remember family members, loved ones, neighbors, and friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom and our country. Let us never forget that today’s holiday is not simply about a day off of work or a family barbecue, but is a special occasion meant to honor the countless military men and women who bravely gave their lives protecting the freedoms we enjoy each and every day. 

As expected, the LSU baseball team received official word last night that it will play host to an NCAA Regional for the fifth year in a row and the 24th time in school history. The Baton Rouge Regional teams and the entire 64-team NCAA Tournament field, as well as game times, will be announced this morning at 11 a.m. CT during a selection show televised by ESPNU. Of course, Tiger Fans will be watching anxiously to see if LSU is awarded a top-8 national seeding for a fifth consecutive year. For those of you who might not know, National Seeds get to host not only a Regional in the opening round of the tournament but also a Super-Regional in the next round, assuming they make it that far. 

I might be a little biased, but LSU deserves a top-8 seed. Not only has LSU won 14 of its last 16 games, including going 4-2 last week against teams ranked No. 1 in at least one poll, the Tigers are also No. 7 in the NCAA’s latest RPI. Most years, this would be a no-brainer; LSU would be in. But this year, there are three SEC teams with a higher RPI than LSU and a total of seven league schools in the top-12. Texas A&M, Florida and Mississippi State seem like shoo-ins for national seeds, and the NCAA has never awarded more than three SEC teams a national seed since this tournament moved to its current format in 1999.  This year, however, there are signs that the committee is making decisions based on merit without concern for overstocking the SEC or the southeastern part of the country. An unprecedented seven of the 16 regional host sites chosen this year are from the SEC, which makes me think having four, or even five, national seeds from the conference is not out of the question. For what it’s worth, D1Baseball.com has LSU as a top-8 seed in its most recent projections, and those guys are always on top of their game. As soon as the official seedings are announced this morning, I’ll tweet the news to those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter, and then I’ll post the bracket in tomorrow’s update.

If you’re an LSU baseball season ticket holder who would like to purchase tickets to the regional, you’d better act fast. Regional tickets are on sale to LSU baseball season ticket holders until 5 p.m. CT today, May 30. Regional ticket booklets, good for all games, are $100 (suites and Champion's Club), $75 (gold field box, gold grandstand and grandstand) and $50 (bleachers and standing room only). All parking passes are $60. Any available all-session booklets will go on sale to the general public Thursday, June 2, at 8 a.m. Any available individual-session tickets will go on sale to the general public Friday morning at 8 a.m.

In other baseball news, the SEC All-Tournament Team was announced yesterday and not a single LSU player made the cut. A&M lead with five players on the team, followed by Ole Miss (3), Florida (2), Mississippi State (1) and Vanderbilt (1). To me, this speaks to a point made by the broadcast crew during one of LSU’s games last week, which went something like this: LSU doesn’t have a single player in the lineup who really strikes fear in an opponent, but collectively, there’s no team scarier than these Fighting Tigers.

Turning to softball, LSU learned that its first opponent in the Women’s College World Series will be No. 2 seed Michigan. The contest will take place this Thursday at 8:30 pm CT and will be televised by ESPN2. You might recall that it was Michigan who eliminated the Tigers in Oklahoma City last year. As they say, revenge is sweet!

Now let’s continue our countdown to the start of the 2016 LSU football season, which is 96 days away, by remembering a special year in Tiger history. Some of you may be thinking that I’m referring to 1996, the year when LSU won its first 10-win season since 1987 with a 10-7 Peach Bowl win over Clemson. That would be a good one, but let’s go back 100 years further to 1896 and take a look at the first truly great LSU football team, which was also the first to use the nickname “Tigers.” Note: Some of you longtime readers might recognize this topic from a previous countdown, but I hope you’ll agree that many of our chosen topics, like this one, are worthy of a repeat.

According to Herb Vincent’s book, “LSU Football Vault: The History of the Fighting Tigers (College Vault)” naming college teams after animals was commonplace at that time, but the significance of “Tigers” for LSU ran deeper. The most accepted origin of the name dates back to the “Louisiana Tigers,” which was the name of a regiment in the Civil War made famous in the Valley of the Shenandoah, but history also shows four other Louisiana military units bore the name of Tigers in the Mexican War and Civil War.

The 1896 LSU Tigers went undefeated in six games, including three conference wins, to share the co-championship of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association with Virginia. The Tigers were even featured in a story in Harper’s Weekly, which gave LSU its first national recognition as a football program. It was also in 1896 that LSU replaced a Yale man with a Harvard man as its head coach. Allen Jeardeau took over the reins of the LSU program, and he was fortunate to have at his disposal a talented back named Edward Robinson who went on to become an LSU Hall of Famer.

In the 120 years that have followed that fascinating year in LSU history, the great men and women of the United States of America military have endured over 50 battles including two World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietman War, the Gulf Warm and the ongoing War on Terrorism, all so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. Many of these freedoms we take for granted, such as the freedom to assemble for a glorious night of football in Tiger Stadium, 100,000 strong, without fear or trepidation.

A lil lagniappe in closing: I know that many of you will be firing up the pit today for a traditional Memorial Day barbecue. If you’re looking for a good seasonal side to go along with your chicken, ribs, burgers or hot dogs, might I suggest this Cajun Dirty Rice (Rice Dressing) with Eggplant?

5/29/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that LSU lost to Florida, 1-0, and for just the second time since 2012 will not be playing in this year’s SEC Tournament championship game. As I tweeted after the game, I’m still awfully proud of these Tigers for the way they played in their last 16 games, and that stretch of sizzling play should give the NCAA selection committee a lot to think about when selecting seeds for the upcoming tournament. We can pretty much bank on LSU being chosen as a Regional host site, and I’d like to think that winning 14 of the last 16 games, including four wins over teams that were No. 1 in at least one poll, would be enough to earn LSU a top-8 national seed. In just about any other year it surely would be, but with the SEC being as stacked as it is this year, things are far from certain. Regional hosts will be announced tonight at 7:30 pm CT and the top-8 National Seeds will be announced during the Selection Show Monday morning at 11 am CT on ESPN.

In yesterday’s game, Caleb Gilbert got the start for the Tigers and was outstanding. The freshman from Hoover, Alabama, limited Florida to one run on five hits in a career-long 5.2 innings with three walks and three strikeouts. After the game, Coach Mainieri told the media that Gilbert’s performance was enough to solidify his role as the Tigers No. 3 pitcher heading into NCAA tournament play. LSU relievers Doug Norman and Riley Smith were also outstanding as they shutout the Gators and held them hitless for the final 2.1 innings. There are many positives to take away from LSU’s weekend play, but the most encouraging is that LSU’s pitching staff is really clicking on all cylinders right now.

While LSU’s pitching certainly did its part yesterday, LSU’s offense couldn’t provide any run support despite out-hitting Florida, 6-5. The Tigers mounted a threat late in the game as Kramer Robertson led the ninth with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and then reached third on pinch-hitter Brody Wofford’s groundout. Beau Jordan stepped up to the plate with two outs and a chance to be the hero but flied out to right field for the game’s final out.

Here are the game’s video recap/highlights and complete boxscore.

“I can’t emphasize enough how proud I am of our team,” Coach Mainieri said after the game. “We are disappointed, believe me. We came here to win a championship and came up a little bit short of that, but the first three games here were amazingly thrilling, and the last three weeks have been amazingly thrilling. I think our team is about as primed as we can possibly be to enter the NCAA Tournament.”

If LSU still gets chosen as a National Top-8 seed, then yesterday’s loss will have meant nothing and might turn out to be a blessing in disguise since LSU now has an extra day to rest its pitching staff. Still, it just doesn’t seem right that Florida is playing today and the Tigers are not, despite both teams being 3-1 in the tournament with losses against each other. The formatting of the SEC Tournament, which resorts back to single elimination in the semifinal round, has bitten LSU in the pants before. You might recall that LSU was undefeated in last year’s tournament before getting eliminated by Florida in the semifinals in a one-run game. 

Now for the good news…. Coach Beth Torina’s LSU softball team defeated James Madison two times yesterday to advance to the Women’s College World Series. In the first game, the Tigers got a seven-inning, five-hit shutout in the circle from Allie Walljasper and scored two runs in the fourth to earn a 2-0 win and force a winner-take-all Game 3 later that afternoon. In the second game, Coach Torina went with Sydney Smith in the circle and the freshman did a good job of battling through adversity and limiting the Dukes to two runs on four hits. The contest went down to the wire in a classic nail-biter as the Dukes had the bases loaded with 2-outs trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh before Walljasper, who entered in relief in the fifth inning, shut things down with a huge strikeout. Before yesterday, James Madison had not lost a home game all season, so for the Tigers to do what they did, with their backs against the wall in two must-win situations, tells you just about all you need to know about the relentless fortitude of these Fighting Tigers. 

Recap of First Game | Video Highlights | Boxscore
Recap of Second Game | Video Highlights | Boxscore

I don’t think enough can be said about the outstanding job Coach Beth Torina has done with her Tigers. With yesterday’s win, she now has the most WCWS appearances by an LSU head coach (3), and is the first coach to lead the Tigers to back-to-back trips to Oklahoma City. Just as six weeks ago no one would have anticipated Coach Paul Mainieri’s baseball team being where they are today, the same can be said for Torina’s Tigers who had hit a midseason slump before winning 21 of their last 25 games. Both Tiger coaches – Torina and Mainieri – deserve major props for pushing all the right buttons and getting their teams to where they are today.  

Turning to our football countdown, with 97 days until LSU’s season opener vs. Wisconsin in Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s look back on the 1997 season.  In what was Gerry Dinardo's last winning season, the Tigers finished with a 9-3 record just like last last year. What made the season especially memorable for me was one of the most exciting LSU games I’ve ever witnessed – the Tigers’ 28-21 win over No. 1 Florida that snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Gators. If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare and want to get pumped up about LSU football, you can relive that historic moment by watching this video in our Media Gallery

Another thing I remember about the ’97 season is that it showcased the potential of Cecil Collins. Nicknamed “Cecil the Diesel,” Collins rumbled for over 622 yards in just four games, including an amazing 8.3 yards per carry. His 232 rushing yards in LSU’s 31-28 loss at home vs. Auburn is one of the most memorable performances by an LSU running back in school history. 

After Collins suffered a season-ending injury at Vanderbilt, Kevin Faulk took over the reins at running back and didn’t disappoint by recording his second consecutive 1,000 yard season (1,144) in just nine games. Faulk was dominant in a 168-yard, two-TD performance in a 27-0 road victory over Alabama. Still, the Tigers suffered a devastating home loss the following week to Notre Dame (24-6). In what is rare in college football, the Tigers were awarded a rematch with the Irish in the 1997 Independence Bowl. With Faulk hurt early in the contest, sophomore Rondell Mealy had the most impressive performance of his career with 222 rushing yards, which included two critical touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a 27-9 win over Notre Dame. 

After the season, Alan Faneca, who would earn first-team All American awards, declared early for the NFL draft and was selected in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, LSU would suffer back-to-back losing seasons in 1998 and 1999, which would cost Dinardo his job at LSU. With the hiring of Nick Saban, the Tigers would rebound in 2000 and build what is considered as the Golden Age (2000 to 2011 or present, depending on who you talk to) of LSU football history.

Stay tuned, Tiger Fans, as tomorrow we’ll remember another very special season in Tiger history, although it might not be the one you’re expecting.

 

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