Scooter Hobbs column: Closing thoughts about Bama

Published 6:02 am Thursday, November 10, 2022

LSU has moved on from Alabama toward Arkansas, of course, as per the scheduling protocol.

Probably a wise decision. Can’t trust those Hogs, and the chilly 11 a.m. kickoff in Fayetteville has already been declared a federal “trap game” in some precincts.

But while the Tigers do their due diligence on the Razorbacks, you are under no such restrictions. You’re in a safe haven here. Furthermore, I have it on good authority that it will not affect LSU’s preparations in the least.

So a few more thoughts on last Saturday’s defining upset before we move on:

— First, there’s Brian Kelly’s decision to go for 2 points, win or lose, at the end. It’s being widely praised for the “guts” he showed, often with racier anatomy substituted in the telling.

Really? I thought it was a no-brainer.

I just hope it didn’t come down to something as boring and clinical as dreaded analytics, which should stay in baseball where they don’t belong either.

Look at the decision this way. LSU caught the big break when it won the OT toss and had the option to play defense first.

After Alabama scored and kicked its extra point, that advantage was no longer there.

Bama had no other choice. If you have the ball first and score a touchdown, you have to kick — if your 2-pointer fails, you make it too easy for the other team to score and simply kick to win.

But if the Tigers had taken the safe route and kicked the extra point after Jayden Daniels’ quick touchdown, then they would have had to take their turn on offense first in the second OT.

And in the second OT, you CANNOT kick an extra point. The new rules require you to go for 2 points.

So you’re about to have to go for 2 points the next time anyway (and then hope it doesn’t get matched). How many good 2-point ball plays do you have? Kelly said he had at least one he truly liked, and it showed. Go ahead and use it right then when it can end the game.

— You do have to admire Kelly’s explanation of the “gamble” to his team afterwards. In fact, LSU fans could take a valuable lesson from it.

He wanted, he said, no one but his players to decide who won that game.

What a novel idea.

In other words, he put the game in their hands — not at the whim of bad breaks, a bad call or two, or the SEC office being in Birmingham, not even a screwy, little-known logic-defying rule that Tigers fans would have sworn forever was invented and whipped out on the spot (maybe by Nick Saban) to deny them a fumble recovery and gift Alabama a field goal on the final play of the half.

LSU fans have moaned for years that all of the above — excuses, a litany of them — were generally at the root of their frustrations with Alabama.

Kelly showed how you solve that.

— Speaking of that rule,

do you think maybe the way it dumbfounded everybody might lead to some sanity on the rule?

To recap, Alabama’s Cameron Latu clearly fumbled near the sideline and LSU clearly recovered in bounds. But in the scramble Latu, with half his body out of bounds, did manage to get a finger on it. That was “illegal touching” because part of his body was out of bounds but he didn’t recover it anyway. LSU clearly did. With all body parts accounted for in bounds.

Yet the moment Latu touched it, illegally, by rule the ball was dead and possession was returned to the fumbling team.

So in effect, the player who did something illegal — and I’m sure Latu is a fine young man and meant no harm — was rewarded with what amounted to a fumble recovery he never came close to making and, in fact, was prohibited from making.

It put the officials in quite an unfair pickle trying to explain the proper execution of a rule that defies explanation to a crowd that didn’t want to hear it.

So, you’re saying that a player who followed the rules and stayed in bounds can’t make the recovery, but the player who broke the rules can be rewarded the ball?

I don’t remember ever seeing it, but surely this has come up before. It’s time for the rules committee to take another look at it.

LSU fans, no doubt, are getting a kick out of the nuclear meltdown in the state of Alabama over a one-point loss that surely — surely — eliminated the Tide from playoff contention.

True, for this year, but I suspect the rumors that LSU’s win marks the end of Alabama and Saban is way premature.

— Now you may return your thoughts to Arkansas and the pursuit of The Boot.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com