Every odd year in this millennium, the LSU football team has won the SEC West—’01, ’03, ’05, and ’07.
Three of those years they went on to SEC titles, and twice to the BCS crystal trophy. Not once did they win the West in an even year during that stretch.
Scheduling had much to do with LSU’s odd-year dominance. In even years LSU travels to Auburn, Florida, and Arkansas, which from ’00 to ’07 had the second, third, and sixth best records in conference play. Playing all three on the road stymied LSU’s bid for the West in even years; getting all three at home, on the other hand, helped LSU win the West in odd years.
Times they are a-changing.
Not since 1999 had a team not named Arkansas or Auburn won the SEC West in an even year—until Nick Saban’s Alabama squad last year. Tommy Tuberville lost his job, partly because of an abysmal offense, and partly due to Saban-inspired panic on the Plains. The very much unproven Gene Chizik now leads the Auburn Tigers.
Arkansas, the other West contender, also slid under first year coach Bobby Petrino. Ole Miss—lead by some guy named Houston Nutt—promptly took their place with a bevy of talent left behind by Ed Orgeron.
Now, in a reversal to LSU’s odd-year fortunes, LSU gets weakened Auburn and Arkansas at home, but must face likely West contenders on the road at Alabama and Ole Miss. The 2009 season is suddenly looking very much like one of the dreaded “even” year schedules.
If history is any indication, LSU faces an uphill battle for West supremacy this year.
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