Mike the Tiger wouldn’t miss this one, would he?
By JORDAN BLUM
Advocate Capitol News Bureau
Published: Nov 7, 2008 – Page: 1A – UPDATED: 12:05 a.m.
LSU plays its biggest game of the year against Alabama and former coach Nick Saban on Saturday.
The question is: Will Mike the Tiger circle the field before the game after two straight weeks of playing hooky?
“He (Mike VI) hasn’t wanted to cooperate and go into his rolling cage,” said Herb Vincent, LSU senior associate athletic director. “He sticks his head into it and then just retreats back.
“When it’s a 500-pound tiger, there’s only so much you can do,” Vincent said.
“It’s happened occasionally before, but I can’t remember two straight weeks.”
The 3-year-old Mike VI weighs more than 420 pounds — he could eventually weigh 600 pounds — and has proven to be energetic and playful despite his recent pre-game timidity.
Mike VI came to LSU last year and adjusted to his surroundings early in the football season before attending the remaining home games on the way to a national championship season.
Mike VI was doing fine early this season and lapped around the Tiger Stadium field. Vincent said Mike VI was even cooperating in practice runs during the week.
But for some reason he did not want to leave the night house, which attaches to his lush habitat, and enter his travel cage before the Georgia home loss two weeks ago. The same thing happened last week against Tulane.
Vincent said staffers tried coaxing Mike VI with food.
This week, LSU officials may even try to create more space away from the crowd for a “less intimidating” environment at loading time, Vincent said, before adding that nothing has been decided.
Mike’s primary veterinarian, LSU’s David Baker, who rarely participates in media interviews, did not return calls on Wednesday and Thursday.
Ginger Guttner, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine spokeswoman said there are no problems or serious concerns about Mike VI. Missing two games does not signify a trend, she said.
As a typical cat, Mike VI simply prefers doing things on his own terms, she said.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Guttner said.
But is there added pressure going into LSU playing Alabama, which is ranked No. 1 nationally and is led by LSU’s former coach?
Vincent would not bite.
“It’s important we have him (Mike VI) at every game,” Vincent said. “It’s part of the tradition and the LSU Saturdays.”
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