BATON ROUGE – For just the third time in history, Louisiana-Lafayette is deeper in the NCAA baseball postseason than LSU and is two wins away from becoming just the third school from Louisiana to reach the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., without the Tigers also there.
Yes, the Cajuns’ greatest athletic year in history continues. No. 1 ranked in USA Today and a No. 6 national seed, ULL (57-8) hosts No. 17 Ole Miss (44-18) in a best-of-three Super Regional beginning Saturday in Lafayette with Omaha on the line, while No. 5 LSU (46-16-1) is home for summer 45 minutes away.
The last time a Louisiana school went to the CWS and LSU did not was Tulane in 2005. The Green Wave also did that in 2001 after beating LSU in a Super Regional in New Orleans. And in 1984, the University of New Orleans became the first entry into the CWS from Louisiana. LSU has made 16 College World Series appearances since 1986, including last year. ULL and LSU were both in the 2000 CWS.
ULL previously went deeper into the NCAA postseason in 1988 and 2007 when the Cajuns reached an NCAA Regional and LSU did not qualify for the postseason. ULL also has a head-to-head victory over LSU in baseball this season – 4-1 in a game shortened to six innings by rain on Feb. 25 at Alex Box Stadium.
ULL also bettered LSU in men’s basketball this season as the Cajuns reached the NCAA Tournament, while the Tigers settled for the National Invitation Tournament. And the ULL softball team reached the College World Series, while LSU’s softball season ended in the NCAA Regional round.
So, there are a few more reasons for LSU fans to root against ULL as the Cajuns appear to be gaining on the Tigers. There is that in addition to the political name fight – the University of Louisiana or the University of Louisiana-Lafayette - that has raged for decades. But LSU fans have a dilemma this weekend in the Super Regional as Ole Miss is not exactly one of their favorite schools either. The Rebels and Tigers had one of the nation’s best rivalries in the 1950s and ‘60s in football, and Ole Miss just upset LSU in football last season, 27-24.
LSU fans were polled via twitter and email this week about the Lafayette Super Regional – Ole Miss or ULL?
“Can they both lose,” LSU fan Adam Skip Cutrer tweeted. “Or can Bianco win, but Ole Miss lose?”
That is impossible as Bianco is Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco, a former LSU catcher and assistant coach.
LSU fan Austin Greenway of Vidor, Texas, apparently has more hate for Ole Miss than ULL. “ULL because Ole Miss can geaux to hell,” he tweeted.
Asked what team he wants to win, Matthew Monte chose none of the above and tweeted, “An asteroid.”
Jason LeBlanc also could not find it in himself to pull for either team. “Meteor strike is the correct answer here,” he tweeted.
Lance Hill, a Mangham native now living in Chicago, could not pull himself to pull for either, either.
“I could never in my good conscious ‘pull’ for Ole Miss as an LSU fan,” he emailed. “My fandom towards schools stops in Baton Rouge. I’m not a fan of either program.”
Lance Holeman will pull for the Cajuns, but they are far from his favorite team. They are merely less hated than others. “ULL, the Taliban and Ole Miss,” he tweeted.
Ben Williams, a political science major at LSU from Covington, let the politics of ULL’s name changing issues - and LSU’s issues with those - govern his choice. And he offered an Ole Miss cheer.
“I think I speak for a majority of students at LSU,” he said. “Even though we can’t stand Ole Miss, we have come to hate UL-L even more. For starters, we can’t stand jerseys saying ‘Louisiana.’ You are not Louisiana, you are Louisiana-Lafayette. Stop trying to be bigger than what you are. They have little man syndrome, and it’s annoying to LSU students. So as of now, Hotty Toddy!”
LSU fan Keith Duke has chosen Ole Miss, but with much difficulty.
“I’m an LSU fan since birth, and I will be going against everything I’ve stood for my entire life this weekend and cheering for Ole Miss,” he said. “My reasoning is simple. I’ve never seen Ole Miss behave in the unsportsmanlike and downright obscene manner that I have seen ULL fans act towards LSU fans, especially at the Box.”
Amy Slate tweeted that she would be pulling for ULL. “ULL fans routinely cheer for our opponents, but we are better than them,” she said.
Crystal Patterson, an accountant in West Monroe, took a fiscal approach. “I am pulling for Ole Miss,” she emailed. “They are in the SEC, and if they win the CWS, then LSU will get more money under the SEC profit sharing plan. I always pull for the conference when LSU is not involved.”
Marti Thomas, the executive pastor at Trinity Bible Church in Lafayette, is an LSU fan, but ULL is a close second.
“I’m pulling for ULL, of course,” Thomas said. “They’re my second favorite team. I’m a native of Baton Rouge, resident of Lafayette, have three degrees from LSU and taught there.”
William Harris, an LSU graduate living in Hoover, Ala., based his choice on family and state pride considerations. “ULL. Why? I wouldn’t normally cheer against a SEC team, but this time I am because my oldest son attends ULL. And I would like to see a Louisiana team make the CWS.”
Others took this same stately approach of all for one.
“ULL. Geaux Louisiana,” tweeted Michael Howell, who has a LSU Tiger as a Twitter logo.
“Absolutely, UL Ragin Cajuns,” tweeted Nicholas Persac. “LSU may not be on the same team as LSU, but we’re playing for the same goal – Louisiana pride