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Original Issue

A Good Time to Be a Tiger

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

THERE ARE two sidesto James Carville: the opinionated, excitable Democratic political consultantand commentator on CNN's The Situation Room—and the opinionated, excitablecollege football fan and LSU supporter. After the No. 1 Tigers' win overFlorida last Saturday (page 44)—the first game LSU had played as the nation'stop-ranked team since 1959—SI asked Carville (who also cohosts the XM radioshow 60/20 Sports) to discuss college football and his favorite team. Heimmediately decided to interview the source he most respects on these subjects:himself.

This is beingcalled the Year of the Upset. Any thoughts on the Big Ten team that started itall with that loss to Appalachian State?
No, I'm trying to be relevant here. But in 2004 I said in SI that Michiganplayed uninspired, gutless football. Wolverines fans besieged me with calls ande-mails, calling me an idiot, a jerk and unprintable names. Now they have onlyone word to describe me: prophet.

You're notimpressed 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 of28.6 points against Big Ten opponents. And Duke scored 20 points, snapping a22-game losing streak at Northwestern. Enough said.

How has LSU avoidedfalling into the upset trap?
They have four likely first-round NFL draft picks on defense. If any team wasever built to get through the SEC undefeated, this is it. But I'm scared todeath of Kentucky this week. The Wildcats had two extra days of rest, and wejust played a very physical football game. I'm worried about a letdown.

Do you feelsympathy for the big programs having down years?
Perhaps a smidgen for Florida State, only because Bobby Bowden is one of themost remarkable figures in the history of college football. He is a winner, andhe will play anybody, anytime, anyplace. Penn State has traditionally played asofty schedule. In my opinion, Penn State is the new Michigan.

You and the BCShave a contentious history, no?
The BCS is like the electoral college—a convoluted way to pick a winner. Theelectoral college was a bad idea thought up by great men trying to do a noblething. The BCS is a stupid idea thought up by intellectual midgets trying toprotect greedy college presidents. My dream scenario for the BCS is that Caland BC go undefeated while LSU has a one-point loss. The computers put Cal andBC in the national title game in New Orleans. A slew of enraged Cajuns descendon the city and hang the BCS establishment in Jackson Square. A Louisiana jury,still searching for justice, awards the Cajun mob $500 million in civildamages.

Is it good for thegame to have upstarts like South Florida in theTop 10?
Sure. But let's see. Mississippi State, perhaps the worst team in the SEC, beatAuburn at home. South Florida, the best team in the Big East, beat Auburn athome. So the best team in the Big East is just as good as the worst team in theSEC. I'm impressed.

Is there a goodsports analogy for the candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign?
Golf. In the PGA, there's Tiger Woods and everybody else. In '08 presidentialpolitics, there's Hillary and then the rest of the duffers hacking away in somerough on a different course.

How can you bepassionate about the state university of a state that has voted Republican inthe last two presidential elections?
I leave my politics at the gate when I enter a stadium. Nothing's more annoyingthan someone asking a political question during a sporting event. It's not justimpolite, 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'dlike to say about LSU and the SEC?
It was all said Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Geaux, Tigers! ...

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