Delusional Optimism, LSU Style

Each year, it seems that LSU football loses a ton of talent and we are left to wonder if this will be the beginning of the end of the Tigers’ run of success that began way back in the last decade under Nick Saban.  As the Valley Shook put up a good post recently describing this annual phenomenon:

Before the 2010 season, popular wisdom was that The Decline had begun at LSU. The Tigers had failed to win 10 games in either of the past two seasons, and both Arkansas and Auburn had seen their win totals increase for the past two seasons. Of course, those win totals had never exceeded LSU’s, but still. Miles was doomed and the LSU Golden Age was at its end.

Reflecting this opinion, the assembled media at SEC Media Days voted LSU to finish fourth in the West prior to the 2010 season. LSU had never finished fourth in the West under Les Miles, and this was a clear statement from the SEC media: the good times at LSU were at an end. The Decline was here.

That’s when one lonely blogger predicted LSU would win 10 games in 2010, for the simple reason that LSU was loaded with talent and had a track record of success. He then gave the piece a tongue in cheek title: Delusional Optimism.

LSU won those ten games and finished second in the West, behind the eventual national champion Auburn Tigers. In 2011, the SEC media picked LSU to finish second in the West. LSU won the SEC title. In 2013, the SEC media picked LSU to finish third, and LSU finished secondin the West.

Okay, the media did pick LSU to win the West in 2012, but that was before Mathieu’s suspension which caused the AP poll to re-vote and drop LSU from the top spot. LSU still finished second in the West, the only time Miles has failed to live up to the general media’s expectations.

That’s a good effort at putting things in perspective.  Generally speaking, folks assume the decline of LSU football is at hand, but each year, Miles’ team tends to out perform expectations.

I have to admit, this doubt of the Tigers is occurring again this year and I’m part of this camp.  I wouldn’t imagine a huge drop off for LSU, but it seems reasonable to give an account for the huge losses of talent that have occurred over the last couple of seasons.  ATVS would like to disagree, though:

Well, we’re back to doing what we do best: running it down your throat and relying on the defense to make stops. The high roster turnover has one major positive: there’s only three three-year lettermen on the roster. The BCSCG really is in the past. LSU goes back to being the team it has always been under Miles which, frankly, make me feel more comfortable. I know this team. I know this style of play. And I like it.

I don’t totally disagree with this logic, but I’m not sure, for this season at least, that this logic makes sense.  Usually in the SEC, you figure a stout, talented defense, plus a meat-grinder running game would equate to wins and championships, but lately, the irrational is becoming the norm.  Teams are HUNH-ing, trying to out-hustle and out-score opponents and defense is an after thought.  Basically, I’m not sure if LSU can keep up with some teams, despite their talented roster.