LSU can't win this one
For the Franklin County Times
What a miserable week to be an LSU fan. No upside at all. It will end badly, win or lose Saturday as dusk descends on Bryant-Denny Stadium.
LSU fans are still stuck with Les Miles. At least, for now.
After 34 games under Miles – 29 of them victories – the LSU Nation still doesn't know whether to be proud of their head football coach or completely embarrassed by him. One minute, he's a knight in shining armor. The next minute, he's the crazy uncle you keep hidden in the upstairs attic.
LSU fans are thirsty for blood. They want revenge. They want to put a good old-fashioned Cajun beat-down on Nick Saban to prove he made a mistake nearly three years ago. They want to prove a point with a thousand points of light. They want to mask their insecurities and feelings of helplessness with Miles by getting a pound of flesh from Saban. It makes no sense, but then again, we're talking LSU fans here.
As Saban reviews film this week and sees the All-Americans he recruited, the enormous talent on both sides of the ball, it would only be natural to feel pangs of regret. That's not Saban. He is not someone who looks back. Besides, pocketing $10 million for his two seasons in Miami and another $4 million per year in Tuscaloosa will likely help him get over any regret.
Saban is about the challenge, the process. He had already proven he can turn Louisiana on its head. He didn't need to prove anymore at a place that had been so mired in mediocrity (eight losing seasons in 11 years before he arrived).
As for this Saturday, something tells me he's looking forward to the challenge rather than being intimidated by it or worried. There is no pressure on him Saturday. Saban knows he's a better coach than Les Miles. He knows LSU would still be Ole Miss without him.
Besides, his Alabama team is the underdog. While fans are optimistic, you won't hear too many national experts boldly predicting Alabama will win this week. Sure, the Tide can find its way to Atlanta. Sure, this Alabama team has already looked better than anyone imagined. However, the heat is on Miles, who with a loss Saturday would be wise to take the midnight train straight to Ann Arbor.
It's not that he would have a difficult future in Baton Rouge with a loss to Saban. He would have none.
So the game is on. In a season of mind-blowing upsets, one of the most anticipated matchups of the year is living up to the hype.
Saban vs. Miles.
LSU vs. Alabama.
The oddsmakers now favor LSU by more than a touchdown.
But Nick Saban has already won. He's at Alabama now looking forward. In spite of a lofty ranking and a scorching hot shot at the national title, LSU fans continue to wallow around, wondering what could have been had Saban stayed.
Paul Finebaum is a guest columnist for The Franklin County Times. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.