Unusual Events set up Historic LSU Season Opener
In folklore and in fact, it might someday be hard to separate Appalachian State’s season-opening upset of Michigan in 2007 from Appalachian State’s season-opening visit to LSU this weekend.
The Tigers, who will entertain the Mountaineers at 4 p.m. Saturday, are fully versed in the specifics of Appalachian State’s 34-32 shot heard ’round the college football world nearly a year ago.
“We see a lot of the Michigan film,” LSU coach Les Miles said Monday at a news conference to discuss his fourth season opener as coach of the Tigers.
That Miles, a Michigan man, has studied his alma mater’s stunning loss to Appalachian State is but one in a series of connect-the-dots plot lines tying this weekend’s matchup to various stops on the road map of history.
Miles, of course, played and coached at Michigan. After the Wolverines lost to Appalachian State in the Big House, Miles became the most widely discussed potential candidate to replace Lloyd Carr as Michigan coach.
Instead, Miles stayed at LSU, famously denying a report that had him taking the Michigan job as his Tigers prepared to play Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game.
Michigan eventually hired Rich Rodriguez, whose West Virginia team followed LSU’s victory against Tennessee with a shocking loss at Pittsburgh, opening the door for the Tigers to play for the national championship.
The same Rich Rodriguez long ago showed Jerry Moore the finer points of Rodriguez’s spread-formation football. Moore put his own touches to the hottest trend in the college game and coached Appalachian State to the past three national championships in the former Division I-AA.
Those are just some of the moments on history’s timeline that will echo Saturday in Tiger Stadium when LSU, the reigning national champion of the Football Bowl Subdivision, meets Appalachian State, the reigning national champion of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Here’s one you may have forgotten: LSU was supposed to open the 2007 season at home against Appalachian State, but the prospect of a Thursday night ESPN game at Mississippi State became more attractive to LSU.
Appalachian State had to find another opponent. Michigan obliged.
On Sept. 1, 2007, LSU was two days removed from its 45-0 victory at Mississippi State. Miles and his staff were in their offices preparing for Virginia Tech when word filtered down the hall of a brewing shocker in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Miles didn’t see any of it live, but he later watched highlights, including the final play of the game.
“Michigan lined up to kick the field goal to win the game,” Miles said, “and it didn’t work out that way.”
A game many casual fans considered a Michigan tune-up for bigger and better things turned out to be a humbling defeat for the Wolverines.
“That’s a great example for our team,” Miles said.
It’s certainly a timely one.
Considering Michigan regrouped in time to end the season with a victory against Florida, the reigning national champion at the time, the gravity of Appalachian State’s accomplishment is impossible for the Tigers to deny.
Just in case, LSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa has been hammering his charges with the theme of respect for the Mountaineers.
“We have to match that mentality and not take this team lightly because they’re a great team and they haven’t won multiple national championships for no reason.”
LSU will pay Appalachian State $750,000 to play in Tiger Stadium, including $100,000 in compensation for forcing the Mountaineers to scramble for opponents on multiple occasions, LSU officials said.
An LSU schedule conflict caused the schools to scrap the original playing date — this season — and agree to play in 2007, Ausberry said. Then the chain of events began that led to the historic upset in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The increasingly common shuffling of schedules then prompted LSU to ask Appalachian State to move the game to 2009. Then, in the spring, with ESPN helping to put back the deal it helped negate previously, the schools settled on this year’s opener as a showcase national TV game.
Miles acknowledged the Mountaineers don’t seem intimidated by any team.
“They play well year after year,” Miles said. “I think Jerry’s done a great job in guiding the program. Certainly, they’re in position to play strong against anybody. They have a great football team. It’s not specific to any division. They have a good football team.”
Another Football season is upon us! WOOT! It seems that another hurricane decided to disrupt the Tigers, as well. The kick-off has been bumped up to 10am due to Hurricane Gustav! Hope you like beer in your cheerios!
Everyone has been hitting the stores for supplies with the storm looming... I just hope they're not out of beer – with the Tigers playing tomorrow, Labor Day weekend to celebrate, and hurricane partying to do – we're gonna need a lot!
On the political front, Obama stirred the welfare millions last night with a rousing speech sure to go down in history - provided that you overlook the empty promises and blatant contradictions... basically pure BS, but he sure knows how to dish it up right!
Additionally, McCain announced today that the hot governor from Alaska, Sarah Palin, will be his running mate. She's much easier on the eyes than Dick Cheney, that's for sure! Excellent strategy on his part!