Until recently, Alabama winning at LSU was an incredibly safe bet despite the reputation of Death Valley as being one of the toughest stadiums to visit in the land. In 2000, LSU snapped their 15 game winless streak against Alabama at Death Valley and they've been in command of the series ever since. LSU has won 5 of the last 6 meetings and I'm pretty sure the world is expecting that stat to become "6 out of the last 7" on Saturday evening.
LSU has rained on Alabama's parade significantly a few times in my time as a fan. In addition to breaking our grip on Death Valley in 2000, it was LSU that snapped Bama's 31 game unbeaten streak that stretched from 1991 to 1993 and LSU also put the death blow to Alabama's undefeated season in 2005 with a 16-13 overtime victory.
I don't see this being the year we reassert ourselves down in Red Stick either. Normally this is a game we'd all be incredibly excited about, but this season just has a black cloud hanging over it. Don't get me wrong, I'll watch the game and yell my lungs out, but I have zero expectation or hope for a positive outcome.
We have three main rivals: Auburn, Tennessee and LSU. In Shula's four years in charge, Bama is 1-9 against those three teams so far. We all have that nagging feeling that he'll be 1-11 when the season's over. If we can't beat two of those teams in a single year, we have no chance of competing for conference titles. We haven't managed two wins against the three teams in four years so far, much less two in the same year.
I invite you to read an excellent diary post by theSnark called The Case Against Shula. For a while, I was in the "we need to hang onto him for one more year" camp, but now, I'm not so sure. I thought it'd prove to other coaches that there was some stability in the position at Alabama and make it a bit more of an attractive job, but I don't think that's the case anymore. Next year's schedule is tougher (out of conference games against FSU and Houston instead of Duke and FIU) and we'll still suffer unless there's a coaching shake up (at least regarding coordinator and position coaches.) Why delay the inevitable? Why not get the ball rolling with a new coach and the mediocre first year that is typically there instead of guaranteeing ourselves a mediocre year next year plus a mediocre one when the new guy takes over? If I'd seen signs of progress instead of backsliding this year, I might feel different. If I thought our 10-2 '05 season wasn't a fluke, I might feel different. I hate the revolving door that's been at Alabama, but does anyone see much improvement coming from Shula? In my opinion, the only way he gets year five is if he dismisses a lot of his current staff. That will tell me he realizes there's a problem, and that is progress.
Check out more bizarre Bama-LSU stats here.