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|LSU takes top 10 spot in cup|
The two schools that border the Southeastern Conference are battling it out for rights to be the king of sports in the SEC.
Florida has had a stronghold on that distinction the past several years, but LSU is gaining ground.
Another record-setting and historical season in LSU athletics was capped off when the school recorded its second straight top 10 finish in the Learfield Sports Director's Cup with a No. 9 showing among all Division I institutions.
Stanford won its 15th straight Director's Cup title with a total of 1,455 points, followed by North Carolina with 1,184.25 points and Florida with 1,172.75 points. Southern Cal (1137.75) and Michigan (1131.80) rounded out the top five.
LSU's ninth-place finish comes on the heels of last year's No. 8 national finish, which marks only the second time in school history that LSU has posted back-to-back top 10 finishes in the Director's Cup. LSU finished No. 10 in consecutive seasons in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
LSU scored points in 18 of a possible 20 sports, a first in school history. In all, the Tigers sent all 20 of their teams to NCAA post-season play in 2008-09, also a first in LSU history.
And this on the heels of a rare down season in football.
With Paul Mainieri putting LSU back at the top of the baseball world and Trent Johnson energizing the men's basketball team, there is no reason to believe LSU cannot crack the top five in the next couple of years.
In addition to its national championship in baseball, LSU posted top 10 national finishes in five other sports in 2008-09. The LSU men's indoor track and field team finished fourth in the national meet, followed by a fifth place showing by the Tigers at the NCAA Outdoor Meet.
The Lady Tiger track and field team placed sixth at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Meet, while LSU gymnastics squad finished six at the national championships after reaching the NCAA Super Six for the second consecutive season.
Leading the way in terms of Director's Cup points for LSU in 2008-09 was its national title in baseball, which awarded the school 100 points for the first place finish. LSU also picked up 80 points for a fourth place finish in men's indoor track and field; 75 points for a fifth place finish in men's outdoor track and field; 73.5 points in the sports of women's gymnastics and women's indoor and outdoor track and field for six place finishes in each of those sports.
In seven of nine years this decade, Florida has been the highest-ranked SEC school in the annual Directors' Cup, which ranks programs based on success in all sports. LSU has never finished first among SEC schools. Georgia and Auburn each have as many or more national titles than LSU and Florida. But none have come in the four most popular sports — football, men's basketball, women's basketball and baseball.
LSU's other Director's Cup points came in the following sports: women's golf (64.5 points) women's swimming and diving (58.5 points), women's basketball (50 points), men's basketball (50 points), men's tennis (50 points), women's tennis (50 points), softball (50 points), men's swimming and diving (46 points), football (45 points), men's golf (39.5 points), women's soccer (25 points), and volleyball (25 points).
Something tells me Stanford puts a lot of emphasis on women's sports. And it pays off.
Other Southeastern Conference teams in the top 25 in the final standings include Georgia at No. 18 with 866.5 points, Tennessee at No. 23 with 746.25 points and Arkansas at No. 25 with 730 points.
LSU has won 13 national titles in six different sports this decade, including two championships apiece in football and baseball. Florida has six national titles in four sports, including two championships each in football and men's basketball.
The team of the 1990s in football was Florida with five SEC titles and one national championship, Steve Spurrier's teams revolutionized the conference with their offenses.
As for this decade, LSU and Florida have two Bowl Championship Series national championships and three SEC titles. LSU has played in one more SEC championship game than Florida; Florida has played in one more BCS bowl than LSU.
Florida holds the head-to-head advantage this decade, 5-4. LSU has a slightly better overall winning percentage, .769 to .750.
Kentucky was the team of the 1990s in basketball, while Florida holds that title in the 2000s. With John Calipari at Kentucky, the Wildcats should regain their prominence in that sport.
Pat Summitt has been a step ahead of LSU in women's basketball and that trend should continue.
LSU has made a push this decade with five Final Four appearances and three SEC titles so far.
LSU was the team of the 1990s in baseball under Skip Bertman with four national championships and six SEC titles. The Tigers should defend the crown, given their SEC-high two national titles and five College World Series appearances this decade. But it was looking dicey for a while.
Bertman won a national title in 2000 before LSU dipped off the national radar. Smoke Laval went to the College World Series twice and had one SEC title from 2002 to '06. What has that guy got to be thinking now?
Georgia has four CWS appearances and two SEC titles. South Carolina won three SEC titles and went to the CWS three times earlier this decade. Florida reached the 2005 title game. But LSU, under current coach Paul Mainieri, bounced back with back-to-back CWS trips and the 2009 national title.
So who's the best?
Give it to Florida for the 2000s.
But don't count LSU out for the next decade.
Time will continue to tell.