THERE ARE two sides
to James Carville: the opinionated, excitable Democratic political consultant
and commentator on CNN's The Situation Room—and the opinionated, excitable
college football fan and LSU supporter. After the No. 1 Tigers' win over
Florida last Saturday (page 44)—the first game LSU had played as the nation's
top-ranked team since 1959—SI asked Carville (who also cohosts the XM radio
show 60/20 Sports) to discuss college football and his favorite team. He
immediately decided to interview the source he most respects on these subjects:
This is being
called the Year of the Upset. Any thoughts on the Big Ten team that started it
all with that loss to Appalachian State?
No, I'm trying to be relevant here. But in 2004 I said in SI that Michigan
played uninspired, gutless football. Wolverines fans besieged me with calls and
e-mails, calling me an idiot, a jerk and unprintable names. Now they have only
one word to describe me: prophet.
impressed with the Big Ten?
If Franklin Roosevelt was a Big Ten fan, he'd refer to Sept. 15, 2007, as the
"day that will live in infamy." On that Saturday, powerhouses Akron,
Buffalo, Citadel, Central Michigan and Florida Atlantic scored an average of
28.6 points against Big Ten opponents. And Duke scored 20 points, snapping a
22-game losing streak at Northwestern. Enough said.
How has LSU avoided
falling into the upset trap?
They have four likely first-round NFL draft picks on defense. If any team was
ever built to get through the SEC undefeated, this is it. But I'm scared to
death of Kentucky this week. The Wildcats had two extra days of rest, and we
just played a very physical football game. I'm worried about a letdown.
Do you feel
sympathy for the big programs having down years?
Perhaps a smidgen for Florida State, only because Bobby Bowden is one of the
most remarkable figures in the history of college football. He is a winner, and
he will play anybody, anytime, anyplace. Penn State has traditionally played a
softy schedule. In my opinion, Penn State is the new Michigan.
You and the BCS
have a contentious history, no?
The BCS is like the electoral college—a convoluted way to pick a winner. The
electoral college was a bad idea thought up by great men trying to do a noble
thing. The BCS is a stupid idea thought up by intellectual midgets trying to
protect greedy college presidents. My dream scenario for the BCS is that Cal
and BC go undefeated while LSU has a one-point loss. The computers put Cal and
BC in the national title game in New Orleans. A slew of enraged Cajuns descend
on the city and hang the BCS establishment in Jackson Square. A Louisiana jury,
still searching for justice, awards the Cajun mob $500 million in civil
Is it good for the
game to have upstarts like South Florida in theTop 10?
Sure. But let's see. Mississippi State, perhaps the worst team in the SEC, beat
Auburn at home. South Florida, the best team in the Big East, beat Auburn at
home. So the best team in the Big East is just as good as the worst team in the
SEC. I'm impressed.
Is there a good
sports analogy for the candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign?
Golf. In the PGA, there's Tiger Woods and everybody else. In '08 presidential
politics, there's Hillary and then the rest of the duffers hacking away in some
rough on a different course.
How can you be
passionate about the state university of a state that has voted Republican in
the last two presidential elections?
I leave my politics at the gate when I enter a stadium. Nothing's more annoying
than someone asking a political question during a sporting event. It's not just
impolite, it's criminal. If Les Miles goes 5 for 5 in fourth-down conversions,
I don't care who he votes for.
Anything else you'd
like to say about LSU and the SEC?
It was all said Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Geaux, Tigers! ...