Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Saturday Night Slant Has A New Home!


I'm very pleased to announced that the Saturday Night Slant now has a new home as part of the Blougin network of sports bloggers.  Bloguin has plenty of sports blogs dedicated to various teams and topics, and I encourage you to check out any that strike your interest. 

I'm very appreciative of the team at Bloguin for giving me the opportunity to join up with a talented group of writers.  They did a fantastic job designing my new site, and you'll immediately notice the new and improved look and feel of the site. 

The address for the new site is easy to remember at

Not only does the new site look and feel better, but it offers a lot of new features, both for me and you.  Most notably, the new site will have a forum where you can post messages, ask questions, or respond to any my posts or articles. 

I will continue to have an e-mail newsletter feature to alert subscribers via e-mail when new articles are posted.  If you're signed up for the e-mail feature at the old site, I have already signed you up at the new site.  For anyone else interested, just enter your name and e-mail address in the box on the right hand side of the new site and click "Subscribe".   That's it.  You're all set.

I will send out the first e-mail newsletter on Thursday sometime.  If you don't receive it, shoot me an e-mail at and I'll get you squared away.

I will keep the old site active, and this post will be my last.  I'll leave this on the front page for anyone who stumbles across it and for any stragglers who haven't found their way over yet. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Expansion Settles Down; Big-12 Survives; CWS Field Set


Just days after it appeared the Big-12 would completely crumble, it now looks like it's going to hang around....for a while anyway.

A late push by the Big-12 Commissioner has apparently convinced all of the remaining ten schools to commit to staying in the conference.  A new TV deal will apparently make the deal lucrative enough to entice each school to remain.

Texas A&M was calling the shot on this one because they were strongly considering joining the SEC.  Had they decided to leave, the Big-12 likely would have crumbled as a nine team conference could not have worked.  For that reason, I'm sure the Aggies faced an incredible amount of political pressure to stay on board with the Big-12.  But they also faced the prospect of finally getting out of the shadow of Texas and joining the best and most powerful conference in college athletics.  At the same time, they could have, for once, dictated what happened to the University of Texas.  They had the chance to be bold but in classic Aggie fashion...they caved to the pressure.  I really believe that Texas A&M missed a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the fortune of their athletic department.  Now, they'll probably continue to wallow in mediocrity.  Suit yourself.  Those east Texas recruits will continue to help LSU win football games.

In the short term, I think we'll see the PAC-10 add one more team, probably Utah, to bring their total to 12.  Then, they can play a conference championship game and enjoy the financial benefits of doing so.

Each Big-12 team will play a nine game conference schedule, and they will not play a conference championship game.  They will function exactly like the PAC-10 has functioned for the last several years.

So, is all of this over with?

Not so fast.  The Big-10, which started all of this, said some time ago that they were looking to possibly expand past 12 teams.  They have been awfully quiet since adding Nebraska, and I think many are making a mistake by assuming the Big-10 will stand pat.  You could still see them raid the Big East (Rutgers, Syracuse, UCONN) or the ACC (Maryland), and it could start a similar domino effect that was rumored over the weekend.

For fun, here is what the Big-10 could look like if they stick with what they have:


Ohio State
Penn State
Michigan State


In case you missed the Twitter update on Monday, LSU pitcher Austin Ross has signed a contract with the Brewers and will not return to LSU in the fall.

The College World Series is set, and I'm glad to say that I'll be there this weekend to take in some of the action.   Here is how the first weekend of games shapes up:

(1) Arizona State vs. Clemson
TCU vs. Florida State
(3) Florida vs. (6) UCLA
South Carolina vs. Oklahoma

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Latest On Expansion


Between USC getting hammered by the NCAA and all of this expansion and conference realignment, college football has never been so prominent in the month of June.

Rumors on expansion have been running rampant, and it has been tough to sift through everything.  But I tried my best.  Here is what we've got.

- Nebraska is leaving the Big-12 and joining the Big-10, effective for the 2011 season.
- Colorado is also leaving the Big-12 and is joining the PAC-10, tentatively effective for the 2012 season

The PAC-10 is also trying to court Big-12 South members Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M.  That would give the PAC-10 a total of 16 teams.  They would reportedly form two divisions.  One would consist of those five teams along with Colorado, Arizona, and Arizona State.  The other division would consist of USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Washington, Washington State, Oregon, and Oregon State.

However, Texas A&M and the SEC may be throwing a wrench into those plans.  Texas A&M prefers the SEC over the PAC-10, and the SEC seems open to taking them.

Meanwhile, the Big-12 conference commissioner is doing everything he can to keep the remaining 10 members of his conference in tact.  However with a conference needing 12 members in order to hold a conference championship game, it does not appear that this option is financially tenable when compared to the option of leaving for another conference.   However, the commissioner is doing all he can to sell this angle.

Suddenly, Texas A&M and the SEC hold all the cards.  Even if the remaining schools in the Big-12 want to stay put, Texas A&M's decision could dictate what happens.  If they pull the trigger and decide to bolt for the SEC, then the others would certainly take off to the PAC-10.

Oklahoma is the source of many rumors as well.  They also appear to be considering the SEC in place of the PAC-10, and it has been reported that the SEC is pursuing them.  

What about the Big-10?   After all, they started this whole thing.  They added Nebraska last week to give them 12 teams.  They now have enough to host a conference championship game.  Are they going to stop at 12 though?   Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, UCONN, Missouri, and Maryland continue to be rumored additions to the conference.

The SEC and Big-10 could have a bit of a standoff.  Aside from Texas A&M and Oklahoma, the SEC may be looking to expand further, possibly to 16 teams.  If they do, they'll almost certainly be looking east in efforts to expand their television empire.  Teams like Virginia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Miami will be rumored additions.  However, the SEC does not want to openly raid the ACC or Big East.  But if the Big-10 strikes first and the ACC or Big East is in shambles, the SEC will have no problem adding teams at that point.

Mostly what we have is a lot of rumors and an unsettled situation.  But expect a lot more to come this week.  The biggest thing to watch is what the Big-12 South schools, especially Texas A&M, decide to do.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

LB Kyle Prater transfers to Rice; Southern Pigskin thoughts expansion



Sophomore linebacker Kyle Prater has decided to transfer to Rice according to this article.  Prater was way down the depth chart for LSU, and it looked like he would be a career special teams player and reserve.  With LSU needing to get down to 85 scholarships by the fall and with the staff trying to make room for as many of the talented 2011 prospects as possible, this move makes sense for both parties.


I have not had time to put together all my thoughts on all of the expansion talk.  That may be best because by the time I get something written, things are likely to change.  With big announcements expected to come Friday concerning Nebraska and the Big-10, I may let the dust settle over the weekend before posting something.

However, I know you want to read about it right now.

Check out what my Southern Pigskin brothers have put together.

B.J. Bennett, one of the best writers around, gives his thoughts on expansion.

Also, Brandon Rink provides his insight on expansion as it relates to the SEC and ACC.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

MLB Draft Report - Day 2; Southern Pigskin Features



In Day 2 of the Major League Baseball Draft, LSU fared pretty well.  The following players and prospects were chosen on Tuesday:

C Micah Gibbs - 3rd round  (pictured)
OF  Leon Landry - 3rd round
INF Garin Cecchini - 4th round
P Kevin Gausmann - 6th round
P Austin Ross - 8th round
1B Blake Dean - 8th round
OF Lucas Leblanc - 11th round
SS Jacoby Jones - 19th round
OF Austin Southall - 19th round
P Ryan Eades - 19th round

I think we have three categories of players:  those that are definitely gone, those that are likely to stay, and those that are on the fence.

Here is what I think LSU is looking at:

P Anthony Ranaudo
2B Delino Deshields Jr.
P Cam Bedrosia
C Micah Gibbs
OF Leon Landry
P Austin Ross
INF Garin Cecchini

SS Jacoby Jones
P Ryan Eades

P Zach Lee
P Kevin Gausmann
OF Lucas Leblanc
OF Austin Southall

Late Tuesday night, some reported that Garin Cecchini had already signed a contract but I could not find anything official.  Regardless, I fully expect him to sign if he has not already.  

Normally, I would expect any first round pick to sign; however, both Zach Lee and the Los Angeles Dodgers are in unique situations.  Because of that,  I still give LSU a fighting chance to ultimately land Lee.  Meanwhile, Lee has arrived at LSU and enrolled in summer classes along with the rest of the incoming true freshmen.

Kevin Gausmann was selected in the sixth round.  That is very high, but it is significantly lower than most expected him to go.  Because Gausmann expected to go much higher, he has a higher dollar amount in his head as far as what it will take for him to sign.  Here is an article on Gausmann's thoughts on the draft and his future.  I give LSU a chance at landing him, though not a great one.

The best news of the draft was when shortstop Jacoby Jones fell all the way to the 19th round.  Jones was expected by most to be selected in the top 5 rounds.  It now seems that Jones will end up at LSU, and he's someone that can compete for playing time immediately, perhaps at third base.

Even though we'll be fully ramped up for football season, when the August 15th deadline for draft picks to sign comes and goes, I plan on doing a full look ahead to the 2011 baseball team.


I've got a couple of new pieces up on Southern Pigskin as Justin Davis and I continue to get together on ranking the top players in the SEC West.

Over the last few days, we have ranked the quarterbacks as well as the wide receivers.

LSU had a strong showing on the wide receiver list.  Go to Southern Pigskin and check out everything going on over there.  It's a great site to read up on everything going on in the SEC and ACC.

Monday, June 7, 2010

MLB Draft Report; LSU Holding Camp



The first round and compensation round took place on Monday night.  Here is how the LSU players and prospects fared:

First, Anthony Ranaudo (pictured) was selected 39th overall by the Boston Red Sox.  The Slant wishes him the very best in his pro career.

Delino Deshields Jr. was selected eighth overall by the Houston Astros, and he'll certainly sign.  He never seriously considered attending LSU, and this is no surprise.

Pitcher Cam Bedrosian was selected 29th overall, and he's expected to go play pro ball.  I don't expect much drama with his contract situation.

In a bit of a surprise, LSU quarterback and pitcher signee Zach Lee, was selected 28th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers.  My first instinct was that no team would have selected Lee so high unless they had assurances that he would bypass LSU and sign.  However, I learned about a rule Monday night that if a team does not sign their first round pick, they are awarded a first round pick the following year.

The Dodgers are reportedly in some financial trouble.  Many, including Kevin Goldstein from Baseball speculate that the Dodgers selected Lee with no intention of signing him.  The strategy would be to wait and use the pick next year.  He even put 5-1 odds that the Dodgers sign Lee.  We'll see.

We now play the waiting game with Lee to see if he signs by August 15th.

I'll update again after Tuesday as the draft continues.


LSU is currently hosting a number of prospects on campus as part of the first of two summer camps.

A lot of the eyes were on the quarterbacks as all in-state prospects were on hand in efforts to earn an offer from the Tigers.  The consensus was that Catholic HS's Zack Oliver was the best of the bunch and that he would be the one to ultimately earn the offer.   However, Clinton's Stevie Douglas is competing neck and neck with Oliver and putting on a good show.  Haughton's Dak Prescott is also making a name for himself and has caught the eye of the coaches.

In addition to the in-state quarterbacks, South Carolina's Justin Worley is on campus and competing.  Worley has some big-time offers from places like Tennessee, Notre Dame, Stanford and Florida State.

South Carolina defensive back Ronnie Martin is on campus and reportedly standing out as the top defensive back in attendance.  Martin has an offer from LSU and is very high on the Tigers.  He also recently received an offer from Nebraska and South Carolina.  The offer from the Gamecocks may prove difficult for LSU to overcome, but hopefully Martin has a good visit.

LSU Commitment Trevon Randle is attending camp and reportedly doing very well.  Some rumors have been swirling that Randle could be re-considering his commitment to LSU, but that does not appear to be the case.

Thought not at LSU's camp, Tampa, FL quarterback Phillip Ely received an offer from LSU recently.  Ely has performed very well at a number of camps this summer and has earned offers from the likes of Arizona State, South Florida, Michigan State, Rutgers, and others.  LSU's offer stands out as one of Ely's best, and that will hopefully put the Tigers near the top of his list.  I love Ely as a prospect.

East St. John defensive back Floyd Raven attended a camp at Ole Miss and really put on a show.  He ran a 40-time of 4.44 and measured at 6'2".  He will likely shoot up the rankings.  He is scheduled to attend LSU's second camp in July and he could very well earn an offer at that time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

LSU's Baseball Season Ends; Major League Draft Preview



LSU lost 4-3 to UC Irvine on Sunday, ending a bizarre season for the Tigers.  The Tigers came out smoking this year, owning a 32-6 record and Top 5 ranking near the end of April.  But then the wheels came off, and LSU lost 13 of their next 15, including an embarrassing 9-1 loss to Tulane.  The Tigers seemed to get their act together by winning six of the next seven including four in a row to win the SEC Tournament.  That brought us to this weekend's regional.  The Tigers competed, but missed several opportunities at the plate and ultimately bowed out.  

The season has to be considered a disappointment considering the high pre-season ranking and the way the first half of the season played out.  A few things contributed to the team not meeting expectations.  

First was the injury to Anthony Ranaudo's elbow early in the season.  Not only did Ranaudo miss about a month but once he returned, he never matched the expectations we all had for him based on how he played last year.  The team was counting on him to be the rock of the pitching staff this season and when that didn't happen, the staff found itself in disarray.  

On offense, the team was hitting the ball well but they were not producing the power numbers of the last two seasons.  Blake Dean had a very good season, but the home runs just weren't there in 2010...for whatever reason.  The team also struggled to find the right guy at third base.  Wet Delatte and Beau Didier both gave it a shot without much luck.  Grant Dozar then took over for a while.  Regardless, the offense was producing.  But then, left fielder and leadoff man Trey Watkins injured his elbow.   That left another hole in the lineup, and it forced the batting order to be re-shuffled.  The offense stopped producing as much.  

Once the losing streak started, the attitude of the team changed and it proved difficult to break out of.  Eventually, they did. Austin Ross pitched well down the stretch and helped settle the pitching staff.  Also, Mason Katz and Alex Edward played well at left field and third base respectively.  Their late season performance gives us something to look forward to next year.  

Speaking of next year, the Major League Baseball draft starts on Monday night, and it will be of great interest to LSU Baseball (and football) fans.   As far as returning players to LSU's roster, I did a piece on that last month.  


With the draft starting tomorrow, I thought I'd re-visit LSU's players and prospects and their projection for the draft.  

Anthony Ranaudo will almost certainly be a first round pick tomorrow.  While he was at one point considered a Top 5 pick, he's now more likely to get selected around #20 overall.  Regardless, he has almost certainly thrown his last pitch as an LSU Tiger, and I wish him well.  

Micah Gibbs
is also projected to be a first or second round pick.  That means he's almost certain to have played his last game for LSU.  

Things get more interesting after those two.  

Leon Landry is projected to be a high round draft pick and may go as early as the fourth round.  If picked anywhere in the top eight rounds, which seems like almost a certainty, then Landry will probably go pro.  

Austin Ross
is a real wild card.  He is highly thought of by Major League scouts and could go as high as the sixth or seventh round.  Ross pitched well down the stretch this season, which is encouraging.  It would be nice if he could return to LSU's staff next year.  Right now, I'd give it a less than 50% chance that he returns.  

Blake Dean should be picked somewhere between rounds five and ten.  

Now, we'll take a look at LSU's incoming freshmen.  Not much has changed with these guys since my report last month.  Here are the guys to keep an eye on:

Pitcher Kevin Gausman from Colorado looks like he's going to be a first or second round pick.  However, his stock has dropped some recently, and the word is out that his commitment to LSU is very strong and that he's very serious about playing college baseball.  You can bet that if a team takes him high, they have received word from him that he's willing to sign.   I'd put him in the "Doubtful" category as far as him coming to LSU in the fall.  But if he drops into the later part of the second round, then it will be interesting.  

Pitcher Cameron Bedrosian from Georgia looks like a first or second round draft pick, and I think it's highly doubtful he plays for LSU next year.  

Infielder Delino Deshields Jr. has every intention of signing a pro contract and likely only committed to LSU in order to gain leverage in his negotiations with whoever drafts him.  I wouldn't get too excited about having him at LSU next year.  

Infielder Jacoby Jones from Mississippi currently has a second or third round projection right now, and he also has a strong commitment to LSU.  He is described as a very raw shortstop, but he could make an immediate impact at LSU next year.  The Tigers return Austin Nola, but he could certainly compete for a spot at third base or in the outfield.  

Infielder Garin Cecchini (pictured) from Barbe high school is another guy who could be drafted in the top five rounds, maybe as high as the third.  Cecchini injured his knee in March which did not help his draft status, although it has been rising of late.  One site even has Cecchini going in the first round.  He's also considered to have a strong commitment to LSU.  He could fill an immediate need for LSU next year at either third or first base.  

University High school outfielder Austin Southall could be picked somewhere in the top ten rounds and is one to watch.  Hopefully, he'll slide and ultimately end up at LSU.  
 Lastly, there is Zach Lee from Texas who, as we know, is LSU's quarterback recruit for the Class of 2010.  Based on talent alone, Lee is one of the Top 50 prospects in the draft.  However, teams know that Lee is seriously considering both sports at LSU.  That could push him farther down the draft.  One recent report from ESPN suggested that Lee has put word out that he's willing to sign.  I have a feeling that his situation will drag out until August.  At this point, call it a coin flip as to whether Lee plays for LSU next year.  

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Regional Preview



LSU is the #2 seed in what many consider the most difficult of the 16 regionals this weekend.  The regional consists of the #6 national seed and host team, UCLA.  But it also consists of the defending national champs and the #6 national seed from 2009 in UC Irvine, who was the runner-up in the Big West Conference this year.   Kent State will also be there to try and pull an upset.

LSU will open up Friday at 4:00 against UC Irvine.  The winner of that game will face the winner of the game between UCLA and Kent State.  Whichever team wins their first two games will be in the driver's seat to win the regional.  Here is an in depth look at both UC Irvine and UCLA.

UC Irvine (37-19,  17-9 in Big West Conference)

Cal Irvine enters the Regional ranked #21 in the most recent Baseball America poll, two spots higher than LSU.   UCI plays typical West Coast baseball in true "Small Ball" fashion.   They rely on strong pitching, patience at the plate, moving runners, and manufacturing runs.

The Anteaters don't impress at the plate.  They bat just .304 as a team with only 33 home runs on the season.  To compare, LSU bats .320 with 75 home runs.  Furthermore, their team on base percentage is the lowest of the top three teams in the regional.  In a bit of a surprise, UC Irvine has no real stolen base threats on the team.

They do have a couple of individual players that should be a concern at the plate.  First baseman Jeff Cusick is hitting .379 with 8 HRs and 56 RBIs.   Cusick generally bats third or fourth in the Anteaters' lineup.  Third baseman Brian Hernandez bats .333 with 4 HRs and 42 RBIs and also hits in the middle of their lineup.

Cal Irvine wins games with their outstanding pitching.  All three of their starting pitchers have at least eight wins and ERAs under 4.00.  Against LSU, they are going to throw lefty Daniel Bilbona, who looks like their top guy.  Bilbona is 9-2 with a 2.10 ERA.  He has 100 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 90 innings.  He only allows opposing hitters to bat .208 against him.   Needless to say, LSU has their work cut out for them.

It does look like the Anteaters' bullpen is vulnerable.  Closer Kyle Necke has four losses and a 4.61 ERA while allowing opposing batters to hit .308 against him.  If the game is close in the late innings, the Tigers certainly still have a chance to make things happen.

UCLA  (43-13, 18-9 in PAC-10)

UCLA has consistently been ranked in the Top-10 this year, and they enter the tournament ranked #8 in the most recent Baseball America poll.   The Bruins also like to win games with pitching and "Small Ball", but they're a bit more capable at the plate than UC Irvine.

As a team, UCLA hits .309 with 52 home runs.  They don't have any big boppers in the lineup as their leading home run hitter is catcher Steve Rodriguez who has eight.  They do have some other standouts.

First baseman Dean Espy leads the way with a .359 average, 7 HRs, and 45 RBIs.  Freshman Beau Amaral is batting .343.   And watch for shortstop Niko Gallego who is 21 of 22 in stolen bases.

Like UC Irvine, UCLA relies on pitching to lead the way.  And UCLA has some seriously good pitchers. They have a pair of dominating starting right handers, who happen to be tied for the PAC-10 lead in strikeouts.  Both guys are power pitchers with great stuff.

Gerrit Cole is 9-2 with a 3.27 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 96.1 innings.  Freshman Trevor Bauer is 9-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 101 innings.  The good news?  Both guys, especially Cole, have a tendency to give up some walks.

 It's unclear who the Bruins will throw in their game against Kent State, but they'll probably save both Cole and Bauer for the later games.  If LSU wins their first game, they'll likely face one of these guys.

LSU  (40-20, 14-16 in SEC)

Head Coach Paul Maineri is going to start Austin Ross on Friday against UC Irvine.  I really like this move and think it's the right one.  Anthony Ranaudo threw a pretty intense three innings on Sunday in the SEC Championship Game, and the extra day of rest is probably best for him.  But aside from that, Austin Ross has been LSU's best pitcher over the last few weeks.

In his last four starts, Ross has a 3.95 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 27.1 IP.   Most impressive, he has only given up 18 hits in those 27 + innings.   Ross has shown the best control on LSU's staff lately, and that will be important against a team like UC Irvine who thrives on walks.  Lastly, Ross is reportedly the Tigers' best fielder from the pitcher position.  That can prove helpful against the Anteaters who like to bunt.

If the Tigers can manage to win their first game, they'll be a very confident bunch going against UCLA (most likely), and they'll be doing so with their ace on the ace who seems to finally be regaining his form.

I wouldn't expect any changes in LSU's lineup on Friday.  I fully expect Mason Katz to be in left field and Alex Edward to be at third base.

All in all, some great baseball should be on display this weekend.  

What else to look for this weekend?  LSU's regional is paired with the Cal State Fullerton regional.  If a team other than Fullerton wins that regional, then LSU can host a Super Regional at Alex Box stadium if their season is still alive.  

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Southern Pigskin: SEC West Top RBs


I teamed up with fellow Southern Pigskin columnist Justin Davis in efforts to rank the top players at each position in the SEC West.  This is the first part in a series where we'll cover each position group.  Justin also covers the SEC West for Southern Pigskin with his focus being on the Alabama Crimson Tide.

You can check out the article right here. Releases Initial Top 100



For those interested in recruiting rankings, released their initial Top 100 list.  Prospects from the state of Louisiana fared very well in these initial rankings.  Here are the Louisiana players and where they were ranked:

#6 OT La'el Collins - Redemptorist HS (LSU Commitment - pictured)
#16 RB Kenny Hilliard - Patterson HS (LSU Commitment)
#18 WR Jarvis Landry - Lutcher HS (LSU Commitment)
#19 OL Gregory Robinson - Thibodaux HS
#33 DT Anthony Johnson - O.Perry Walker HS (LSU Commitment)
#62 ATH Odell Beckham Jr. - Newman HS

It's a bit surprising that Evangel DE Jermauria Rasco was not included.  I suspect that he, along with St. Paul's DT Mickey Johnson and Redemptorist RB Jeremy Hill will be just outside the Top 100.

To compare, here is how the Louisiana prospects stack up in the rankings:

#12 OT La'El Collins - Redemptorist HS (LSU Commitment)
#22 DE Jermauria Rasco - Evangel HS
#29 DT Anthony Johnson - O.Perry Walker HS (LSU Commitment)
#83 WR Jarvis Landry - Lutcher HS (LSU Commitment)

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is the #1 player in the nation according to both sites.

ESPN will be releasing their rankings on Wednesday.


Saturday Night Slant - LSU Sports & Recruiting