It's been a remarkable weekend for Tiger Nation.
Saturday began with reports that head coach Les Miles was, indeed, heading back to his alma mater Michigan to take his dream job. But by the end of the night, LSU had won the SEC championship, Miles had made it clear that he wasn't going anywhere and, thanks to the continued curse on No. 1 and 2 ranked teams, the Tigers' hopes of playing in the national championship game had new life.
Today, those wishes became official.
The Tigers will face Ohio State in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on Jan. 7 for the national championship. The game comes four years after LSU won its second national title in the same stadium by beating Oklahoma.
I must admit that my thoughts in the wake of last week's overtime loss to Arkansas (read them here) were a bit harsh. I still think Miles called the wrong play at the end of that game, just as he has at several other key moments this season, but I'm glad he's staying on as LSU's coach. Hopefully, his decision will give the Tigers the long-term coaching stability that we've craved for more than a quarter century.
I won't repeat the details of how LSU landed in this most coveted position after such a chaotic season. But if you have a few minutes to spare you might find it interesting to look at the way voters in the Harris Poll (a critical component of the BCS formula) cast their final ballots.
The panelists are a mishmash of sports-media members, former coaches and players, and others with ties to college football. It was essential for LSU to finish among the top two in the poll to secure a spot in the championship game.
Here are some of the more interesting ballots cast for LSU: (Background info on voters courtesy of Rivals.com)
- Craig Morton, former NFL and Cal player, ranked LSU 11th. (Georgia 2nd)
- Dr. Terry Schmidt, dentist and member of Ball State's football team in the early 1970s, 10th. (Hawaii 2nd)
- Paul Schneider, radio host for KBOI 670 AM in Boise, 10th. (Hawaii 2nd)
- Budd Thalman, former sports information director for Penn State, 6th. (USC 2nd)
- David Housel, Auburn athletic director from 1994-2004, 5th. (Georgia 2nd)
- And if you think the Tigers got a lot of love from everyone with ties to LSU or the SEC, think again. Bill Arnsparger, LSU's head football coach from 1984-86 and Florida athletic director from 1986-92, ranked LSU 5th. (Kansas 2nd)
Thanks Bill. With friends like you, who needs Nick Saban.
These voters ranked LSU No. 1:
- Brian Dohan, Los Angeles Daily News reporter.
- Bob Dunlevy, former West Virginia player.
- Boomer Esiason, NFL analyst for CBS Sports, former NFL quarterback and former Maryland player .
- Blair Kerkoff, reporter for The Kansas City Star.
- George Lapides, radio host for 560 AM in Memphis.
- Ray Melick, columnist for The Birmingham News.
- Denny O'Brien, East Carolina reporter for Bonesville.net.