It has been a week of extremes for the Tigers

Kyle Riviere
Leonard Fournette rushed for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns in his freshman campaign. Photo by Matt Cashore.

Just like their last-second 31-28 loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl, the past week has featured some drastic ups and downs for the LSU football program.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, there have been more downs. It has created an aura of negativity that has many asking if the program is at a "crossroads."

Many fans think things have gone "stale" in Baton Rouge, and a big spark is desperately needed.

These emotions didn't just appear out of thin air. They have been there all season.

They were there when LSU gave up 570 yards and 34 points in a home loss to Mississippi State. They were there when they were dismantled, 41-7, at Auburn, and they were certainly there when the Tigers were blanked, 17-0, by Arkansas.

But they came to a head last Tuesday as the heavily-favored LSU squad gave up 263 rushing yards and 31 points in yet another bowl loss. To make things worse, Notre Dame was being led by first-time starter Malik Zaire.

The LSU offense showed signs of life they failed to show much of the season as they piled up 449 total yards.

Anthony Jennings found a new reliable target in tight end DeSean Smith as he caught four passes for 66 yards.

Leonard Fournette rushed for 143 yards and two scores and added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

But there were still things that left LSU fans scratching their heads--like the offense's inability to score in the final quarter and a half. And though Fournette was gashing the Irish defense, he was only given 11 total carries.

The Tiger defense had come on strong at the end of the year and actually finished as the top-ranked unit in the SEC, but they struggled against Notre Dame.

They gave up 436 total yards and allowed the Irish to collect 11 third-down conversions. A few of those conversions came on Notre Dame's final drive as they spanned the field and kicked a last-second field goal to win it.

Things became even bleaker the next day when defensive coordinator John Chavis decided to leave LSU for SEC West rival Texas A&M.

Chavis took over the Tiger defense in 2009 and turned them back into a perennial power. His 2011 unit that featured Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne and Barkevious Mingo is arguably the greatest defense in school history.

The move caused an instant domino affect. Within a couple of hours of Chavis' departure, outside linebacker Kwon Alexander announced he was skipping his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. Not long afterward, defensive back Jalen Collins did the same.

Defensive end Danielle Hunter is said to be the next underclassmen to jump ship. Only time will tell.

As far as recruiting goes, the Chavis move lost them some prospects that were on the fence--most notably, cornerback Justin Martin. Martin was admittedly leaning toward LSU but after "The Chief" switched schools, so did Martin. He committed to Tennessee.

Now the Tigers are on a heated coaching search for Chavis' successor. In the past decade, LSU has had some great defensive coordinators that included Will Muschamp and Bo Pelini.

The Tigers reportedly contacted former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik about the vacant job, but he was already on his way to North Carolina.

Some of the other candidates for Chavis' old position have been Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, former Arizona Cardinal and USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley and former Ole Miss head coach and Louisiana native Ed Orgeron.

But as bleak as things have been, there have been some bright spots in the past week.

For one, the Tigers can always hang their hats on the fact that Fournette will be back next year after having a very productive freshman season that saw him rush for 1,034 yards and 10 scores.

To increase the young talent pool, last week, the Tigers got a commitment from the top-ranked receiver in the state and second-ranked receiver in the country in Warren Easton's Tyron Johsnon.

Explosive Catholic running back Derrius Guice had been on the fence the past couple of months when it came to his LSU commitment but last week, he made it known that he was staying loyal to the Tigers.

Along with these two players, record-setting U-High running back Nick Brosette should be headed to Baton Rouge, and the nation's top cornerback prospect Kevin Toliver II will soon be enrolling at LSU.

Of course, after such an unproductive year in the passing game, there is an ample amount of negativity surrounding the Tigers' quarterback situation.

Jennings just hasn't progressed, and true freshman Brandon Harris hasn't seen any significant action since the disastrous loss to Auburn back in early October.

However, there has been some rays of hope coming in this week for LSU fans.

There have been reports that both Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller have expressed interest in transferring to LSU. Because they will be graduates, both would be eligible to play in 2015.

Miller was one of the top Heisman candidates in the nation before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury during the summer. While he was out, backups T.J. Barrett and Cardale Jones have stepped up and had huge years.

He is reportedly considering Florida State and Oregon as other possible destinations.

As for Golson, he has started two seasons at Notre Dame. He helped lead them to the national title game back in 2012 and this season, he was a top Heisman candidate before hitting a late-season slump.

Because of that slump, the Irish started Zaire in the Music City Bowl, and it appears they will be going with Zaire in the future.

Golson struggled with the turnover bug this season, but he still threw for over 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns.