6/17/19 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Yesterday I enjoyed hearing from many of you about our three-year review of LSU baseball stats and Mike Detillier’s three-part series on football that we ran last week. If you’ve been traveling and missed any of that, you can always navigate back to those reports using the “Continue Browsing Reports” link toward the bottom of this page. As promised, I’ve selected a half-dozen of your messages to share today, along with my responses. Let’s jump right to it.
DANDYDON.COM MONDAY MORNING MAIL CALL - JUNE 17, 2019
From Kary: Scott, First and foremost Happy Fathers Day. You know I've completely avoided the CWS on TV because well if it's not LSU it just isn’t as much fun to watch. Disappointing the more I think about it. I have been on the bandwagon for a new head coach lately like some folks. And your 3 yr review shows some validation to that. Grass is not always greener, but being complacent isn’t any better. Example: Les Miles. Oodles of talent, expectation, and let downs. I would hate to see LSU baseball fall to a 2nd or 3rd tier team. Advice: hire the absolute top hitting coach in USA…
My Response: Thank you, Kary. Let me start by saying that I’ve heard from a ton of folks who make the Les Miles/Paul Mainieri analogy. LSU football saw its offense get stale while Miles remained ultra loyal to his good friend, Cam Cameron. It may very well have cost Miles his job. Likewise, LSU baseball has been relatively stale the past two years and Coach Mainieri suggests no coaching change will be made and that he’ll stick with a former player as hitting coach. I see the similarities and I get it.
Personally, I too think LSU would be better served by having the top hitting coach in the country. But here’s where there’s a big difference in the Miles/Mainieri scenarios. Miles could have fired Cameron and hired a big-time offensive coordinator relatively easily. Mainieri does not have that same option. Unlike in football, baseball teams are only allowed two paid assistants. LSU’s hitting coach the last two years is Sean Ochinko, a solid former LSU catcher/first baseman who works as a volunteer. It’s hard to fire a volunteer, and even harder to entice the nation’s top hitting coach to work as a volunteer. To bring in a new paid hitting coach, Mainieri would have to fire either pitching coach Alan Dunn or Recruiting Coordinator Nolan Cain. Now, an argument could be made that Mainieri should do just that and hire a new paid assistant who can handle two of the three primary coaching responsibilities. Based on Coach Mainieri’s comments, I don’t expect him to do that this year.
From Leon: I was disappointed to hear CPM say he planned no coaching changes for next year. I find it outrageous that he would rather have an administrator as a coach over a top tier batting coach. Baseball is a funny game when the team is hitting, everyone gets better, especially the pitchers. Would be interested to know how many top tier teams don’t have a batting coach.
My Response: Leon, I too would be very interested in knowing how many top-tier teams don’t have a paid batting coach, but that would take more time to research than I’m willing to spend on this Father’s Day. But I am willing to do a quick google search and look at the four SEC teams who made it to the CWS – Mississippi State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Auburn.
Mississippi State has a paid hitting coach, Jake Gautreau, who serves as the recruiting coordinator, hitting instructor and infielders coach. Likewise, Arkansas has Nate Thompon, who serves as recruiting coordinator and hitting coach. Vanderbilt is in the same boat with Mike Baxter as the Commodores’ hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. As for Auburn, its two paid assistants, Karl Nonemaker and Gabe Cross, handle recruiting and hitting, respectively, and they use Steve Smith as a volunteer pitching coach. So, to answer your question, all four teams have a paid hitting coach.
From Boyd: I seem to be confused about the play when FSU had bases loaded, and the next batter grounded out to the 1st baseman and the throw was thrown home for the double play. The catcher’s foot was on home plate, but he continued to try and tag the runner coming home from third but dropped the ball. I thought the bases were loaded, and runners could not run back to their base. What am I missing? Secondly, LSU had the Number one Class for pitchers, and we ended up with (9) on injured reserve list. Did these players or some of them come in injured, or did summer ball cause some of those injuries?
My Response: Two good questions, Boyd. In the FSU game, the reason the tag was required at home is because the out at first had already been made, thereby removing the force-out at the plate. As for your second question, yes, some of the pitchers came in with existing injuries. Nick Storz and Easton McMurray immediately come to mind, and I think there were another one or two who were hurt after they committed but Mainieri honored the commitment, which I resect.
From Daniel: Have the summer league assignments for this year been announced?
My Response: Yep. Here ya go:
From Bob: Scott, I'm still not understanding how this offer and commitment thing works. I know LSU football offers a lot more than 25. How do they tell these kids that you invited them to your party but because you found some better friends and just enough cake for three wide receivers they can't come?
My Response: Bob, Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger wrote a good article about this last February. In it, he points out that “for the 2019 cycle alone, the 65 programs in Power 5 conferences made more than 15,000 scholarship offers in order to secure what is expected be about 1,600 signees. That’s an average of about 237 offers per school per year, a 100-offer increase from the average in 2012.” It’s really mind-blowing when you think about it. Obviously, most of the offers are not fully committable. Sometimes the staff tells a player they are only taking two at his position and are looking at others, so time is of the essence. Other times, the offer may be contingent on things like a strong camp showing, improvement in the classroom, or a strong senior season. In other words, there are almost always conditions in place that give the staff a way out. The trick is to do it in an ethical way with clear communication. So far, Ed Orgeron has been outstanding in that regard.
From Najy: Seems to me LSU is on par with Bama and Clemson in recruiting most positions EXCEPT QB and DL/OL. That, to me, has been the primary difference in any perceived or real talent gap between the schools. What is your prediction as of today as to who gets the remaining slots in this years’ recruiting class?
My Response: Najy, I pretty much agree with your statement about QB & DL/OL recruitment being the big difference. Les Miles was a great recruiter, but his focus was on the skill positions and his QB recruits never really panned out. Ed Orgeron understands this and appears to be doing a much better job at recruiting for the trenches and at quarterback. Last year, Orgeron signed three OLs rated as four- or five-stars, and a four-star QB in Peter Parrish. This year, Orgeron has commitments from two big-time QBs in four-stars Max Johnson and TJ Finley but hasn’t yet secured pledges from the “big-uglies” he’s after. Getting those elite linemen will be priority No. 1 for Orgeron between now and signing day. I’m not going to give you my predictions for who gets the remaining slots (I’m saving that topic for another day in this long offseason) but I will tell you that Louisiana’s three elite defensive tackles – Jacobian Guillory, Jaquelin Roy, and Jalen Lee – and offensive tackles like Ty’kieast Crawford, Chad Lindberg, Marcus Dumervil, and Paris Johnson, will be primary targets. Adding five “trenchermen” of that caliber would go a long way in closing the gap you mentioned between LSU and those other two schools.
Thanks to all who chimed in.
With 75 days remaining until LSU football kicks off the season against Georgia Southern, you might think you know what today’s countdown topic will be. In several previous years, we’ve gone with one of the all-time craziest plays in college football history, the 75-yard Hail Mary from Marcus Randall to Devery Henderson known as the Bluegrass Miracle. But instead of writing about it again this year — don’t worry, you can revisit that memorable play here — we decided to look at a somewhat obscure statistic from last season: LSU’s 75 percent fourth down conversion rate. LSU converted nine of 12 fourth down attempts a season ago to lead the conference in this statistic. And make no mistake about it — some of those fourth downs were enormous. How about when the Tigers went 4-for-4 against Georgia in an all-LSU rout? Ed Orgeron decided before the game that if LSU approached a 4th and 1 in the game the Tigers would hurry to the line and go for it. It was only fitting as this game was one week after LSU elected to kick a field goal on fourth-and-short in a loss to Florida. And that ate at Orgeron all week. “I was a little pissed with myself for not going for it at Florida,” said Orgeron after LSU’s 36-16 win over No. 2 Georgia. “We didn’t do a good job with game management there. So I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to go for it.’” The Tigers embodied that personality all year long, especially at the quarterback position. Burrow had a tough mindset that carried over into big games. Following that huge Georgia win, Burrow said, “4th and 1 is all mindset. You can’t block it right every time, because they’ll usually have an extra guy in the box. But if you have the right mindset, you’ll go get that yard.” If that doesn’t fire you up this morning, I’m not sure what will. And in case you’re getting the itch to revisit LSU’s greatest performance a season ago, look no further: LSU Highlights Over No. 2 Georgia
In closing, here are a couple of good “father and son” reads that I wish I would have had for you yesterday. Still, very good reads if you have the time. This one is by my friend and DandyDon contributor Jake Martin of the Ouachita Citizen: Like Father, Like Son: Graves duo share special bond over playing days; and this one is by Wilson Alexander of The Advocate: Paul Mainieri faces his first Father's Day without his best friend and mentor — his dad, Demie
Lastly, I want to thank my beautiful bride, Heather, for putting up with me for 24 years and for being such an outstanding mother to our three beautiful daughters. We’ll celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary tonight, and then celebrate it again in a couple of weeks during our séjour en France. I’m a lucky man.