Scooter Hobbs column: Wave of goodwill after bowls

Published 6:52 am Monday, January 9, 2023

For LSU players, roughly a dozen of them at least, the Citrus Bowl postgame highlight was getting Drew Brees to autograph their jerseys or gloves or both.

Brees handled it with the patient, smiling aplomb you’d expect of him, even in his role as an interim Purdue assistant coach who just got beat 63-7 by the signature seekers. But you’d have thought LSU safety and New Orleans native Joe Foucha, who had jersey and glove signed, had just hit the Megabucks lottery.

Meanwhile, for Tulane players, the final seconds of their 43-42 Cotton Bowl shocker over Southern Cal sparked an explosive celebration for what was no doubt the most incredible, unlikely comeback victory in a bowl season chock full of both.

It was also pretty thrilling.

Any time your 4-minute rally has to have two touchdowns and work in the elusive safety, any other comebacks are — ho-hum and Tweedledee — fighting it out for second place.

A great day for both schools.

But here’s where it got interesting.

In the midst of the hoopla, there were widespread reports of LSU fans huddled at their own watch parties, switching back and forth between the Citrus and Cotton bowl games, and finally trusting the Tigers’ ever-expanding rout enough to switch over full-time to the Green Wave goings-on.

There were even scattered-to-widespread reports, confirmed, of LSU fans actively cheering on this Green Wave miracle.

No word if any of the Tulane persuasion kept an eye on the Tigers, but they’d be excused for having their hands full with all the back and forth in Arlington, Texas.

No matter. Tulane finally got to sit at the adult table … and punched grouchy old grandpa square in the nose.

If the Wave ever get back down to earth, we’ll probably hear that its faithful were at least ambivalent about the LSU statement shellacking.

But we know many Tigers cheered. In broad daylight.

And some would say that this is where this seemingly perfect day for state college football careened off the rails.

Old-timers from both sides might tell you that this kind of cooperation, bordering on dual-ownership, isn’t healthy for either school.

Somebody needs to stir a dormant pot.

Tulane needs to point out that it beat it a real team, not a Purdue team watered down by opt-outs. You know, the way LSU used that excuse for its misadventures against Kansas State in last year’s Texas Bowl.

LSU could counter that it was nothing of the sort, nowhere near comparable. Also, that the Tigers had key opt-outs this time, too, and furthermore 63-7 is 63-7.

The Tulane rebuttal? It played a traditional powerhouse in a big-boy bowl — not some off-Broadway game featuring Cheez-It shower foolishness at the end.

Come on, LSU, remind them that at least it looked like Purdue was trying to tackle them some Tigers.

Southern Cal looked like it never heard of the notion, maybe one of the worst tackling teams in NCAA memory.

None of that fun stuff happened. Nothing but peace, good will, congratulations and Happy New Year.

About the worst LSU can come up with “one-shot wonders.”

Maybe. Possibly.

But Tulane Athletic Director Troy Dannen told NOLA.com that, “We started this year hoping that this is what we can be. We ended the year knowing who we can be. Going forward now, we can expect this is who we should be.”

So maybe it’s been too long. Whole generations have forgotten. Before Kumbaya parties break out, dare we suggest that these two lovebirds find themselves a football field and duke it out there, just for old times’ sake.

It hasn’t happened since 2009. Since then LSU has stayed in-state to play Southern, Northwestern State (twice), Louisiana Tech, McNeese State (twice), Southeastern Louisiana and almost has a budding rivalry against Louisiana-Monroe with three meetings.

But don’t let LSU tell you the schedule is full up. Those things get rearranged all the time.

In the past Tulane has balked at playing only in Baton Rouge, as the other state schools do, with no return trip. And the Tigers are not going to play a nonconference road game in a 30,000- seat stadium.

Maybe if Tulane agreed to host in the Superdome LSU might perk up.

The Tulane rebuttal? It played a traditional powerhouse in a big-boy, New Year’s Six bowl — not some off-Broadway, Cheez-It production where the end goal is to celebrate with a giant, inflatable snack cracker.

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