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A Good Time to Be a Tiger
James Carville
October 15, 2007
With LSU ahead in all the polls, a famous fan reflects
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October 15, 2007

A Good Time To Be A Tiger

With LSU ahead in all the polls, a famous fan reflects

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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: himself.

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.

You're not 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 damages.

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! ...

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