LSU’s quarterback position is understandably popular topic
The LSU football program is obviously very popular in Louisiana, not to short change the south, the country and the world. It is popular brand at its peak.
There are many topics in the sports world that resonate throughout our state but LSU football is always near the very top of the list. I want to take it a step further and narrow the topic to the LSU quarterback position since it is a great unknown as the Tigers embark on a national title defense.
I have been in the Baton Rouge media for over 25 year after my start on the north shore at the old WARB 730AM in Covington. I have been involved in radio, television and print/written formats. In my effort to stay current in this ever-changing world, I am now heavily involved on the internet and particularly social media.
The number one topic of discussion in Baton Rouge and beyond about LSU has been (and likely always will be) the quarterback position. Going back for many decades perhaps starting after WWII, the QB has been a key element to the best Tiger squads. Warren Rabb led the 1958 Tigers to the national championship. Even though Billy Cannon was the star of that team and did win the Heisman Trophy a year later, Rabb’s play and leadership were crucial.
Since then, the quarterback position has been the focus of conversation. Former LSU coach Charles McClendon certainly had his share of outstanding quarterbacks and was known for rotating players behind center. He once told me that he did that because he had so much talent, and he believed the differences in each quarterback helped make the team better.
Bert Jones was the first LSU signal-caller to garner national exposure as TV and media coverage of college football exploded in the early 1970’s. Tommy Casanova was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1971, helping Jones get some attention as a special talent. Keep in mind however that Jones rotated with Paul Lyons (in keeping with McClendon’s philosophy) but the Ruston Rifle was still named All-American in 1972.
All forms of media had stories and debates on the LSU quarterbacks since then. The conversation in the local watering holes (prior to the explosion of sports bars), at the dinner table, at work, and the high school games have always included the LSU quarterback position. Did the chicken or the egg come first? Who knows? But there’s no hiding the importance of the of trigger man on offense.
In the next couple of decades prior to the explosion of the internet, the position remained a priority in both good and bad times. It would not be possible to list all of the outstanding Tiger quarterbacks and backups, but rest assured the LSU football enthusiasts and historians could name them all. Yes, many times the backup would be very popular, especially if the starter was not performing well. That’s football tradition at this point.
Alan Risher snapped an 11-game losing streak to Alabama in 1982. The Tigers won 20-10 in Birmingham in what would be the last Tigers-Tide game with Bear Bryant on the sidelines.
Tommy Hodson burst on the scene in 1986 and earned SEC Freshman of the Year acclaim on an conference title winning squad. He was All-SEC for four years. Yes, McClendon was no longer the head coach but Hodson rotated with the more seasoned Mickey Guidry early in his career. I do remember “Hodson for Heisman” posters and bumper stickers at a time when that kind of marketing was crucial to promote a star athlete.
Even as the Tigers had a few down years in the early 90’s, the quarterback position still was the topic at the top of the list. Perhaps the QB’s were given too much blame at times when it was clear the problems for the Tigers ran deeper. At times, excessive blames and credit comes with playing the marquee position.
Herb Tyler led Gerry DiNardo’s teams and helped get the Tigers back into the national spotlight in the mid-to-late 90’s. The light was brightest in 1997 when the Tigers beat the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators in Tiger Stadium. Tyler was huge key to that win.
The huge debates about the quarterback position was a component in the unraveling of DiNardo’s tenure at LSU. Rohan Davey, Craig Nall and Josh Booty were all on the team. All three went on the play in the NFL. Obviously, the talent was abundant. Who should play? Figuring that was was never easy at the time.
DiNardo told me some interesting stories about the behind-the-cenes conversations that most people were unaware were taking place. Perhaps in modern social media days, more would have been aware. Maybe that would have helped Dinardo weather the storm of consecutive losing campaigns.
Nick Saban landed JaMarcus Russell, who redshirted in 2003 when LSU won the national championship. Russell went on the be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. It was Matt Mauck who led the Tigers to that first BCS championship and Matt Flynn, Russell’s backup, was next to lead LSU to glory.
The internet explosion was happening. Added to the traditional media, the world wide web helped the topic of the LSU quarterback position topic seal its place on the top of the discussion list.
Flynn led the Tigers to another national championship in 2007. The quarterback conversation continued to flourish on all platforms. You can’t win the title without the right man at the controls of the offense.
Certainly, we all saw the impact of Joe Burrow for LSU. The history-making quarterback won the national championship and the Heisman Trophy. He capped his college career as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Now Tiger fans want the next Burrow. The QB hype only grows.
LSU football has been in a holding pattern now due to the pandemic. However, the discussion still continues. It starts with the quarterback position. Myles Brennan, Max Johnson, T.J. Finley – welcome to the conversation!
I do think we will have college football this fall. When will it start? How many games? How many fans? Those are big topics right now. Yet, as always, let the LSU quarterback position conversation continue!
Please check out my podcast “Talkin Sports with TK” (available on many platforms). Feel free to email me at email@example.com.
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Tommy Krysan has over 30 years of experience as a sportscaster in radio and television. He has been a columnist for Crescent City Sports since its inception. In 2019, he launched his “Talkin Sports with TK” podcast, available on all major platforms. Tommy loves baseball and all sports. He loves to cook, listen to music, play golf and have fun….