Alabama has faced LSU every year since 1964. However it is only recently that this game gained the undivided attention of the national college football community. But should these two teams be considered rivals? Or are these teams simply bitter division foes with an eye on one prize?
In the spirit of the election season, I present both sides of the argument. Let us know what you think in the comments.
Why LSU-Alabama Is A Rivalry Game
Rivalries are fickle things nowadays. People often wonder year after year if that game is still a rivalry or not; mainly during years where one of both teams are terrible. That’s because some people believe that rivalries are built upon high-stakes games in which a conference or even a national championship is at stake. That’s the way it should start.
Alabama and LSU have been going at it for decades. It’s got a history and a storied past with big games and great memories. Why was Alabama-Tennessee such a big rivalry? Because it was built upon a history and there were times during the rivalry where one or both teams were playing for something bigger than the game itself.
Alabama fans hate LSU, and LSU fans hate Alabama. Hate is what fuels a rivalry. And it’s not just a recent hatred. Every year, I look forward to Alabama facing LSU because I know that will be a difficult game. And the difficult game tends to bring out the worst in us, in a manner of speaking.
Naysayers will note that this rivalry won’t last. Tell that to the current generation of students at the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University. I’m sure LSU students will remember that win over the Tide in Bryant-Denny in 2011 and some former or even current students will remember 2007. Alabama students will remember the 2011 BCS National Championship and the 2008 game in Death Valley. Trust me; these students love football and they won’t forget these games easily.
LSU is a team Alabama loves to hate and vice versa. Let’s make the best of this and make it a yearly battle.
Why LSU-Alabama Isn’t A Rivalry Game
Rivalries are more elaborate than simplly big games. They have to live not just within the current conditions of the rivalry in question, but also live beyond the times when the conditions of the game aren’t exactly blockbuster. Alabama-Tennessee and Alabama-Auburn have both seen their fair share of unranked matchups or games where nothing was at stake, yet the hatred lives on.
I know that all sounds theoretical, but my point is that the level of attention a game gets shouldn’t be the only determining factor in determining what a rivalry is and what isn’t.
All of this is worth noting when discussing the Alabama-LSU series, because over the last five years this game has had general interest among the national and local media. The only real reason this rivalry had marquee value was the storyline of Nick Saban facing his former team, for whom he won a BCS National Championship in 2003. But Saban having a connection to LSU doesn’t mean these teams will hate each other after his eventual departure.
Also, just keeping this as a division game is where it needs to be. Raising it to the level of a rivalry raises expectations unnecessarily, and sends the hype machine into overdrive. These are two really good teams; but take off your present-day glasses and look towards the future. Les Miles and Nick Saban won’t always be at their respective schools. Who’s to say either team will find success after the fact?
Let’s not overdo things and make this game bigger than it actually is.
Do you consider LSU a major rival to Alabama? Or is this just a situation where both teams happen to be good at the present?