"People... I have seen the finale of thousands of lives, man. Young, old, each one so sure of their realness. You know that their sensory experience constituted a unique individual with purpose and meaning. So certain that they were more than biological puppet. The truth wills out, and everybody sees. Once the strings are cut, all fall down."
- Rust Cohle, True Detective
Life can be a cruel mistress. One day you're toast of the bayou sittin' pretty. The next your ass is being run out on a rail. The next destination? Could be Maryland. Could be Hell. I'll allow you to decide which is worse.
I sat down with Billy Gomila from the stellar SB Nation LSU site And the Valley Shook. Curious to start the name of a website with a conjunction, but all's fair in love and Cajun country. Whet your appetite because ol' Billy boy knows his football and damn good food.
Good Bull Hunting: Thanks for joining us. It's been tumultuous in your neck of the woods. 16 days ago LSU was ranked No. 2 in the country. Today, there is very real talk that Coach Les Miles is going to be fired. Two part question - 1. What the fuck? 2. What do you make of this?
And the Valley Shook: I wish I knew the answer to 1. This team had looked like the most dominant running attack in the country, and I know that people didn't think that was the right gameplan against Alabama, but I think you have to be who you are and LSU tried that and it went as poorly as it could have possibly gone. Nobody saw this offensive line failing to get so much as a yard's worth of push.
From there, I think we saw the kind of emotional letdown that seemed natural, plus an over-correction to a more spread game plan against Arkansas. And then last week, the emotional high just crested, and things finally fell apart.
2. I think it just comes down to whether or not you believe that Miles can pull this team out of this tailspin going forward, through the offseason with what would feature another offensive coordinator hire. I'm not totally sure of it myself, and I think the administration's belief has finally broken. And the way this has played out, they basically have to fire him, or give him some sort of extension to avoid an obvious lame-duck situation.
GBH: mmmm duck. Do you have a solid duck recipe? I'm sorry I'm not talking about this week's game yet, but there is obviously more pressing news in Baton Rouge. If Miles is axed, who does LSU go after? Would Jimbo Fisher really be an improvement? He's less interesting than Les, talks way too fast, and has hair plugs. Is this on or off brand?
ATVS: In terms of a resume, I'm not sure LSU could find anybody better than Fisher, and I think he's definitely the first choice. After that? I have no idea, and I think that's what scares me most of all.
GBH: There are grumblings around Leonard Fournette. It doesn't make much sense. Remove the Alabama game, and he's had 91+ yards in every game this season. Broadly speaking, what is the state of the LSU offense? Does Fournette need help from the line or passing game? (Not against A&M, mind you. He'd run all over us behind a line made of scarecrows). Remember, this is a safe place.
ATVS: Definitely the offensive line. Honestly, Brandon Harris hasn't been that bad. He needs to improve mind you, but he throws a nice deep ball and doesn't make many mistakes -- one of his interceptions against Ole Miss was a tipped ball and he only threw his first one of the season against Alabama. The offensive line that had been completely demolishing defensive fronts simply...stopped.
GBH: I guess you could say the offensive line was comprised of... paper TIGERS. Ho boy, that's NPR humourist wit, Gardsy. Where was I? Ah yes. With all the emotional swings over the last couple weeks, what do you think the mood and atmosphere will be like Saturday night at Tiger Stadium?
ATVS: Oh hey, more things I don't know. I think we'll either see a full house and a geeked up crowd ready to see Les' final game, or a 75,000 mausoleum. And I don't think there's anything in between those two extremes.
GBH: My grandpappy told me a Cajun mausoleum is more fun than a Baptist party, so there's that. As we all know, Kevin Sumlin shocked the SEC world over the off season when he poached John Chavis from LSU. Do you think Chavis' absence has significantly impacted the LSU defense this season? What do you miss about John Chavis?
ATVS: Not that much, to be honest. A lot of the issues this defense has were coming on the backs of some poor recruiting and talent management by Chavis. LSU just has a really thin front seven and another young secondary because Chavis failed to sign linebackers, and a lot of defensive backs and linemen that have been passed up by younger guys. Has there been some issues with big plays? Yeah, but not as much as you might think -- it's just that ALL of them have resulted in touchdowns.
GBH: Your comment about Chavis and linebackers gave me pause. You see, the state of Texas no longer produces linebackers. That production has been sent to China. Let's get down to brass tacks and obesity, shall we? Here at GBH, we have a fondness and appreciation for Louisiana cuisine. What are the staples on your Thanksgiving spread?
ATVS: OYSTER. DRESSING. Only weirdos stuff things into turkeys. And you can find a recipe right here.
GBH: You, sir, are a goddamn treasure. What's the craziest thing you've seen a fan do inside (or outside) Tiger Stadium?
ATVS: Refuse to drink anything.
GBH: At the time of this writing, LSU is a 5.5 point favorite over A&M. How do you foresee Saturday night unfolding? Are we going to see an emotionally deflated or emotionally charged Tiger squad?
ATVS: No idea. A few weeks ago I would have been sure this would be an emotional game due to the presence of Chavis on the other sideline and just the number of Texas kids that LSU has on the field. Now? I'm sure the Tigers will be emotional -- they looked jazzed up to play last week against Ole Miss, too. But will they be focused? Will we see another mistake-filled effort? Its just so hard to see anything good right now.
And I'm not sure it would even matter if the Tigers found a way to win this one, either. Which may be the biggest shame of it all.
GBH: ALL IS PEACHY IN BATON ROUGE, FOLKS. Thanks, Billy, for joining the show. I'm sure whatever you are preparing for Thanksgiving is better than the standard fare of dry turkey and flimsy sides.