Ups and downs

Kyle Riviere
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The last two weeks have not a good one in Baton Rouge—at least, not for LSU fans.

It was depressing, humbling and filled with negativity.

To many, the sky was falling. To others, it was simply a time to reluctantly swallow some hard truths.

That’s what happens when your team is pummeled by a program that they usually bully around like a little brother and deliver noogies just for the fun of it.

LSU looked as bad as they could possibly look.

They had over 100 yards in penalties, they dropped passes, they missed blocks, two players were ejected, they gave up 37 points, and throughout the 30-point beatdown, they simply looked undisciplined and overwhelmed.

One strong response from the game came from alum and SEC Network commentator Marcus Spears.

Spears pulled no punches. Instead, he unleashed some harsh words onto his old school.

He said, “Listen…here’s the deal, family. LSU fans, as an LSU alumnus…we aren’t what we think we are. We’ve become a mediocre football team and a middle of the pack, very average, college football program.”

He went on to point out that LSU is just 25-16 in the SEC since 2012.

“That’s average. That’s mediocre,” Spears said. “We’ve got to stop thinking of LSU what we thought LSU was, a 61-percent winning percentage over the last five years. We are no longer a championship team.”

When you first read these comments, they sting. But then you start to think. Then you start to realize that he’s right.

Well, he’s half right.

I don’t agree with everything that Spears said. Some of his criticism is over the top, but he’s certainly on the right track.

LSU is not a “mediocre” team.

When I think mediocre, I think of a 6-6, 7-5 type of squad that routinely gets blown out and barely makes it to bowl games each year.

The Tigers have seen their share of problems over the past five years. There have been some ugly performances mixed in there, but they have never been in any danger of missing a bowl.

In fact, since the 2011 SEC Championship season, they have gone 3-2 in bowl games and have finished in the final rankings four out of the five years.

They have finished ranked 14th the past two seasons.

Also, since 2012, the only teams that have won more SEC games are Alabama (40), Georgia (27) and Florida (28).

Since 2012, LSU is ranked 13th in the country when it comes to overall winning percentage at 71 percent. The only SEC teams that rank higher are Alabama (90 percent) and Georgia (74 percent).

Though the Tigers are clearly not mediocre, Spears is right when saying that they are no longer a championship team.

As he said, we aren’t what we think we are. Right now, we’re not those LSU teams from 2003-2011 that competed for SEC titles and national championships each year.

Those days have passed.

LSU hasn’t realistically competed for championships since 2012.

The closest they’ve come since then was in 2015, when they started the year 7-0 and was ranked fourth in the first College Football Playoff rankings, but it was just a mirage.

The Tigers ended up losing three of their final four games and having to settle for the Texas Bowl.

The program is still one of the premier program’s in the country.

Tiger Stadium is one of the great venues in college football, the fanbase is excellent, the athletic facilities are tremendous, and almost every season, a top-10 recruiting class is secured.

LSU just hasn’t been able to see results on the field.

Coach Ed Orgeron said recently that they need to do a better job of recruiting offensive and defensive linemen. Both areas are extremely thin right now in Baton Rouge.

Over the years, they’ve been able to bring in a laundry list of great receivers, and that has worked against them.

You can’t play all of them, and the ones who weren’t playing transferred. The ones that did play, they weren’t happy with LSU’s vanilla offense.

As a result, over the past two years, the Tigers have lost four big-time receivers in Tyron Johnson, John Diarse, Trey Quinn and Jazz Ferguson.

The receiving corps they’ve been left with lacks experience and depth.

Things can still change.

LSU has a very young team filled with exceptional talent, and many of those young guys are getting baptized by fire this season. They could help the program turn the corner in the future.

Every program goes through lulls from time to time.

Prior to this season, USC hadn’t been a realistic national contender since 2008. It’s been all downhill for Texas since Colt McCoy graduated in 2009.

Miami has steadily declined ever since their national title loss to Ohio State in 2002, and Nebraska has been a shell of itself since 2001.

One day, LSU will get back to where it was not so long ago. Let’s just hope it’s sooner, rather than later.