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LSU vs. Alabama: A Q&A With Former Tigers' QB Josh Booty

Josh Booty is a legend in Louisiana. He threw 126 touchdowns at Evangel Christian Academy, won a State title and every national award imaginable, and also was a 4-year All State selection in baseball. He committed to playing football and baseball at LSU. But the Florida Marlins drafted him in 1994 (5th overall pick) and offered him a $1.6 million signing bonus if he didn’t play football. So he toiled in the Marlins’ organization for four years, won a World Series ring (1997) and then was released. He went to LSU and was the QB for two years (1999 and 2000). In 2000, his coach was Nick Saban. I spoke with Booty this week about the Alabama-LSU game. Independent of all that, Booty dated (married?) Rachel Reynolds, who used to be on the LSU track team and is now a Barker Beauty/swimswear model. I didn’t ask him about her.

Q: Are you going to Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa?

BOOTY: Unfortunately not. I’m here in Dallas and were launching a sports performance and nutrition company on Nov. 15 (website: Atleta Nutrition), so I’ve been really busy. Plus, it’s hard to get to Tuscaloosa on short notice, and the hotel situation there is crazy. If it were at LSU, I’d definitely be there.

Q: What are your thoughts on the dual QB thing Les Miles has going on with Lee and Jefferson? As a QB, how would you feel in that scenario?

BOOTY: Well it was unfortunate for Jefferson when all that stuff went down in the preseason. He shouldn’t have been where he was at. It was a wrong place, wrong time situation. But he had to be punished. I think everyone deserves a second chance, and I’m glad they took him back.

Lee had a rough freshman year when he wasn’t ready and [Ryan] Perriloux went through all of his crap, but you’ve got to give it to Jarrett for sticking around. I’m happy for him. I’ve hung out with him and he’s a great kid.

Me? I would hate the quarterback swapping if I was the starter. The thing is, it happens everywhere now. With the wildcat and all these new offenses, everyone’s bringing in a QB for a play here or there. So it’s not that big of a deal. Jefferson comes in and has a different style, so I don’t think Les rotating them is a problem. And sometimes, you can hurt a defense that way.

Q: You played for Nick Saban in 2000, his first year at LSU. What do you recall from his arrival?

BOOTY: Fiery competitor. Detail oriented. He changed the whole culture as soon as he got to LSU. From the fanbase to recruiting to winning … and he brought in really good guys around him. We had some ups and downs when he got here, and didn’t have a perfect season because we had a lot of issues to resolve. We even had some racial issues at the beginning and trust issues, and most of that stemmed from the bad situation we had the year before.

I still remember the first time he met with us. He was announced as our coach, and then he walked out and said, “Guys, I’m here to win a National Championship.” He came in believing and knowing it was going to happen. I love Saban and respect him, and off the field he’s a wonderful man. On the field, he’s such a tough competitive guy, the good guy in him gets lost. But he did turn that program around, and Les has benefited from it.

Q: Any football memory stick out from your time with Saban at LSU?

BOOTY: In 1999, when Gerry DiNardo was the coach, we got beat by Alabama in a game we weren’t even supposed to keep close. I think they were 10-point favorites and we had the ball inside the 5 with 10 seconds left and and I tried to sneak it in but was stopped on the one inch line. It was a heartbreaking loss for the team and I was just crushed. [Video below.] The next year Alabama came into LSU and hadn’t lost in Baton Rouge since [1969] and we beat them, 30-28. That was a great win to be a part of. [Video below]

Q: Who has the coaching advantage? LSU is a 5-point underdog and Las Vegas had this game as Alabama -9 back in the summer.

BOOTY: I think this is LSU’s best team ever – not to take anything away from the title game. I think Les is the kind of coach who will surprise you, and Saban will be prepared for you. If I’m a betting man, it’s hard to go against Nick Saban. But Les has a knack for pulling out something you were not expecting. And I saw a stat that Les is 6-2 against Alabama.

I’m not surprised Alabama is a favorite since it is playing at home and has the best running back in the country and the better offensive line – by a little. I don’t think Alabama would have a bad day, seeing as it is playing at home. I think the line may have [dropped from the summer to now] because LSU has surprised some people with how deep and talented they are. They lost their best defensive player and special teams player in Patrick Peterson (5th pick in the NFL draft), and they’ve come back with a stronger secondary and have been great on special teams.

 

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