GeauxTigerNation writers Gary Laney and David Helman share their thoughts on issues regarding LSU sports:
1. What should LSU do with its Thanksgiving weekend game?
Gary Laney: I love that it appears that a renewed LSU-Texas A&M rivalry appears to be in the works for a season finale. It's a more natural rivalry than LSU-Arkansas in that there is a geographic tie with Interstate 10 and Houston being primarily an Aggie city, but also a prime destination for LSU alumni.
The LSU-Arkansas rivalry always felt forced. The two states border each other, but Fayetteville is almost in Missouri and Oklahoma and LSU is near the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi. These two schools don't really relate to each other.
I'm also glad Joe Alleva seems to be shooting down the notion of the Aggies and Tigers playing on Thanksgiving night. They should play on Saturday. Nobody wants to lose the holiday to the football game and the Friday after Thanksgiving is quarterfinals night for Louisiana high school football and round three in Texas and, if you haven't heard, high school football is kind of big in those states.
David Helman: Maybe it's because I'm younger, but I seem to be one of the few that loves LSU's season finale rivalry with Arkansas. Sure, the SEC kind of forced it, and the Golden Boot is a little bit hokey. But there's no denying the drama the Razorbacks and Tigers have brought to the weekend's final season -- particularly in the last decade.
Hogs-Tigers has been arguably one of the league's best rivalries in that stretch, with Arkansas winning two games on last-second touchdown passes, while LSU has taken an overtime win in 2010 and a thrilling, back-and-forth affair in 2006. And of course there will be no forgetting the all-timer, triple-OT game in 2007.
It might not be the most passionate rivalry, but it has been a phenomenal way to end the season.
2. What does LSU baseball need to do to get back to Omaha?
GL: Find an identity. They were mostly a pitching-and-defense team this year. But their defense was average, at best, in the outfield, especially after center fielder Chris Sciambra was lost for the season with a neck injury. And defensive teams are usually also effective running teams on offense. But the Tigers, who lacked outfield speed, had anything but an effective running game and often ran themselves out of innings.
The Tigers will continue to have plus arms with Aaron Nola taking over on Friday nights and Ryan Eades back on Saturdays and Chris Cotton back in the bullpen. For it to work, LSU needs to be solid defensively up the middle. JaCoby Jones and highly-regarded freshman Alex Bregman may be the new middle of the infield and have to play to a high standard. The Tigers will be fine with Sciambra healthy in center field and defensive ace Ty Ross back at catcher.
DH: I saw a graphic on TV during Florida's super regional that blew my mind. Heading into the College World Series, the Gators' roster had hit 75 home runs. LSU's total? A mere 41. Nobody expects gorilla ball to return to Baton Rouge with the changes to the bats at the NCAA level, but it is clearly a myth that the new bats have killed college offenses.
It's a bit simplistic, but the hitting needs to get better. By season's end, Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes were the only LSU starters batting above .300, and Katz was the only guy with more than five home runs on the year. Even with next-level pitching, the offense will have to be more reliable to reach Omaha.
3. What Tiger football recruits are most likely to move into the next ESPN 150?
GL: I'm looking at Hayden Rettig, the quarterback from Los Angeles who is currently at No. 202 on the ESPN 300.
Rettig missed the bulk of his junior season with a torn ACL. He'll be back from the injury this year and if he can put together the kind of season one would expect from a player with his tools in a spread offense, I wouldn't be surprised to see him make enough of an impression to move up the list.
DH: I'm very excited about a couple of in-state guys in Chuck Baker and John Diarse. The two wide receivers sit just outside the ESPN 150 at No. 175 and No. 198, respectively. Both players have the potential to be big-time playmakers in 2012.
Diarse's qualifications at Class 4A powerhouse Neville are well known, but I've talked to Baker's coaches at Salmen and they plan to make it a priority to air the ball out to their 6-foot-3 target this season. The Spartans' quarterback situation didn't allow for that last season, but Baker could be due for a big year that could put him on the map.