It's official now. First - here's the article. Second - What is your opinion? Post your thoughts below. =============================== LSU to play I-A state schools in football By SCOTT RABALAIS Advocate sportswriter After decades of looking the other way when it came to every in-state opponent except Tulane, LSU has finally decided to play ball with its closest Division I-A neighbors, if not yet its closest rivals. LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman announced Monday an unprecedented string of games against in-state football teams. Over the next eight seasons, the Tigers will take on Tulane, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, UL-Monroe and Louisiana Tech on a rotating basis. The series begins next season when ULL visits Tiger Stadium on Oct. 5. The Ragin' Cajuns will also come to Baton Rouge on Sept. 9, 2006. LSU also has games with Louisiana Tech in 2003 and 2007, ULM in 2004 and 2008 and Tulane in 2005 and 2009. "Forty years ago, Adolph Rupp was the basketball coach at Kentucky," Bertman said as he opened LSU's weekly football news conference. "He said there's no reason to play anybody in-state. You have everything to lose and nothing to gain. "That just isn't true anymore." All games will be in Baton Rouge except the 2005 LSU-Tulane contest in the Superdome. The games with Tulane were previously scheduled, as was this year's Tigers-Green Wave game on Sept. 1. LSU and Tulane met almost every year from 1893 until 1996, but the Tigers have not taken the football field against another in-state opponent since Southeastern Louisiana in 1949. LSU and ULL haven't met in football since 1938. LSU and Tech haven't played since 1941, while LSU and ULM have never played in football. In more than 30 years at ULL, Athletic Director Nelson Schexnayder said he never thought this day would come until he and LSU began talking this summer. "My attitude has always been that when it's advantageous for both schools to play we would reach an agreement," Schexnayder said. "We didn't have to go to the legislature to make it work. "I have tremendous respect for coach Bertman in leading the LSU baseball team and now with the (LSU) athletic department. I'm thankful for his work in this regard." Louisiana Tech Athletic Director Jim Oakes said he was surprised and pleased when Bertman called him a few weeks ago about the prospect of a football series. "Skip Bertman deserves a lot of credit for making these games possible," Oakes said. "We're certainly excited to have a chance to play in Tiger Stadium." ULM Athletic Director Bruce Hanks could not be reached for comment. Bertman said LSU coach Nick Saban and Chancellor Mark Emmert supported the scheduling move. "I think it's a good business decision for the institution," Saban said. "Maybe at some point in time we won't be able to win one of those games. But to keep the money in-state and help some of those institutions and create interest for our fans, it's all very positive for us." Each school will receive a $400,000 guarantee to come to Baton Rouge. Under a previous contract, LSU paid Utah State $550,000 for a game here last month. "ULL will net $395,000 because all they're going to do is take a bus over here," Bertman said. "They're going to net the same amount of money as if they took a plane and went to Florida and got beat." While LSU will pay out less in guarantees, Bertman also expects the school to make more money. He talked about 3,600 unsold tickets for the Utah State game (paid attendance 87,756) and how he expects these games to fill more seats. "That's $130,000 (in unsold tickets) because the stadium wasn't filled," Bertman said. "Worse than that, there were less than 80,000 people in the ballpark. Those people who aren't there of course can't help you buy groceries." Bertman acknowledged that there would be opposition to the plan, but dismissed it in the name of the greater good it would bring to LSU and its sister Louisiana schools. "No. 1, we are a charity," Bertman said. "There are no tax dollars. We're not the Saints. The state doesn't give us any money. In addition, I think these people will fill the ballpark. "Second reason, that's what flagship universities do. Flagship schools don't worry about, 'What if we lose?' Flagship schools don't worry about, 'Are we helping the opposition?' Flagship schools stand up and do what they're supposed to do. If somebody else should benefit in the state, one of our opponents, that's good too. "We have to have a higher plane. We can't not play ULL because we hate them. We can't reach our goals thinking like that. Our goals are focused on us." LSU had to drop a number of non-conference opponents to fit these games into the schedule. Central Florida was canceled for next year's ULL game, along with future dates with San Jose State, Tulsa, Troy State and New Mexico State, Bertman said. ULL postponed a game with Oklahoma State to accommodate next year's LSU contest. Schexnayder said current Oklahoma State and former ULL Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips understood the importance of the LSU game to the Cajuns' program and accommodated the request. There is one stipulation in LSU's contracts with its in-state opponents: They must maintain their Division I-A status or there's no kickoff. The NCAA is considering tougher requirements for I-A membership, which Bertman said would go into effect before the 2006 season. Currently, ULL, ULM and Tech fall short of one or more of the proposed new I-A criteria. All have said they will take steps to ensure their continued membership. As for other future scheduling issues, Bertman said it was possible that LSU would one day play ULL, ULM or Tech away from home, particularly at a neutral site like Shreveport. LSU also has home-and-home series scheduled with Virginia Tech (2002 and '04), Arizona (2003 and '06) and Notre Dame (2008 and '09). Bertman said LSU is negotiating to schedule games with Maryland, North Carolina and Colorado. ============================================ Personally, I am all for it. I have heard all of the arguments for and against it, and I am still for it. I won't repeat all of the pro arguments, but basically all of the arguments against it are that we might lose and it would hurt recruiting. I just don't think that will happen. First of all, I doubt we will lose. Second, even if we lost one occasionally I don't think it will matter. If a kid is good enough to play in the SEC at LSU, do you really think he would rather play at a school that is barely in Div-I? If he is good enough to play at LSU, do you really think that he would choose ULALA or LA Tech because they beat us one year out of 10? I just can't believe that any serious football player would think that another state school is better for them even if they beat LSU once. What do you think?