Article Citadel lands money game vs. SEC champ Jeff Hartsell, The Post and Courier 1/26/02 10:53AM Mazzie Drummond is looking to lead the Bulldogs into Baton Rouge. Citadel athletic director Les Robinson said the Bulldogs would not schedule a major money game for next football season "unless we hit a home run." On Friday, Robinson hit a grand slam, announcing that the Bulldogs will open their 2002 season at Louisiana State, the defending SEC and Sugar Bowl champion. The Citadel will receive a guarantee of $425,000 for playing Sept. 7 at LSU in Baton Rouge, La. "The bases were loaded," Robinson said. LSU, which will open its season Sept. 1 against Virginia Tech, had to fill a hole in its schedule after Bowling Green backed out of its game with LSU. Robinson learned of the opening via e-mail about two weeks ago, and was immediately on the phone with LSU athletic director Skip Bertman. The Bulldogs put off game with Newberry to accommodate LSU contract was signed this week. "This game fits with our long-term plan for football scheduling," Robinson said. "We want to play a name opponent when we can, we want to play these kinds of games for recruiting." Robinson said that between the 2002 and '07 seasons, the Bulldogs now have games scheduled with LSU, Duke, Maryland and North Carolina State. Asked if the $425,000 was the biggest guarantee The Citadel has received, Robinson said, "I can't imagine one bigger. I never signed a bigger one when I was at N.C. State, East Tennessee State or here at The Citadel." The Bulldogs now have 11 games scheduled for next season. They will play non-conference games at LSU (Sept. 7) and at Wyoming (Oct. 5) and at home against Delaware (Sept. 14), and an eight-game Southern Conference slate. The Citadel had to put off its game with Newberry until the 2003 season. Robinson said a 12th game for the season's final weekend (Nov. 23) still is possible. For Bulldogs coach Ellis Johnson, the schedule change means The Citadel goes from opening at home against Newberry to opening at LSU, which impressed the nation by ringing up victories of 31-20 over Tennessee in the SEC championship game and 47-34 over Illinois in the Sugar Bowl. The Tigers finished with a 10-3 record (5-3 in the SEC) last year under coach Nick Saban. "These are games we have to play, and it is obviously about money," said Johnson, whose first Citadel team opened a 3-7 season with a 35-7 loss at Georgia Tech last year. "But these also are games our kids get excited about. They see it as a challenge, and I like these games as openers. It gives them something to get motivated about to work hard over the summer." Johnson is very familiar with LSU from his days as defensive coordinator at Alabama, LSU's rival in the SEC West, and is friends with Tigers assistant Charlie Harbison, a former Crimson Tide coach. "I think LSU and Florida are the two most talented teams in the SEC, and the SEC is as tough as any conference in the nation," Johnson said. "So you put two and two together, and LSU is one of the most talented teams in the nation. "Playing a team like this will help our program. We'll get a lot of exposure in the media and we just hope to show up decently." The non-conference schedule of LSU, Division I-A Wyoming and perennial I-AA power Delaware is a difficult one. "It's a hard schedule, but we're still a building program," Johnson said. "If we can get to the point where we are in the top half of our conference and shooting at the playoffs, then playing such a demanding schedule might concern me. But right now, this will help our program build." LSU will be able to count a victory over I-AA The Citadel toward the six victories it needs to be bowl-eligible next season, according to Bertman. Johnson said Citadel spring practice is set for Feb. 19 to March 19. He also said that he plans to promote from within to replace secondary coach Keith Jones, who left for Navy, though he's not ready to make an announcement. Another new assistant could then be hired to fill out the staff.