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Fake History: What if Arizona State had beaten LSU in 2005?

Our second piece in a series of hypothetical college football histories.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

In the first edition of our fake history series, we took a look at what might have happened if Arizona State had hired Norm Chow instead of Dennis Erickson. In this piece, we wonder how the college football landscape might look if LSU had lost to the Sun Devils to open the 2005 season. Using not one, but two blocked kicks that were returned for touchdowns, the Tigers topped the maroon and gold by a score of 35-31 at Sun Devil Stadium. So we must ask ourselves, what would have happened if Arizona State pulls out a win in that game?


Les Miles opens his first year in Baton Rouge with back-to-back losses, and things don't get much better after that. The Tigers struggle to gain momentum after an 0-2 start and Miles eventually decides to part ways with offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who he had inherited from the team's previous coaching staff.

Oregon OC Gary Crowton is strongly considered for the job after a 10-2 record in his first season with the Ducks, but Miles decides that one good year isn't enough for the LSU job. He decides instead to bring his former boss and longtime Colorado coach Bill McCartney out of retirement, keeping Crowton in Eugene for years to come.


Fisher ends up doing fine for himself after being let go by the Tigers, but he does not end up in Tallahassee as Bobby Bowden's coach-in-waiting. The Seminoles struggle in the years following Bowden's retirement, and while they are still in the running to land a highly-touted quarterback by the name of Jameis Winston, the blue chip prospect ends up taking his talents to Palo Alto. Winston earns the starting job as a true freshman and Stanford does not miss a beat after losing Andrew Luck to the NFL.

The 2012 season is a dream for the Cardinal as their new quarterback turns close loses at Washington and Notre Dame into victories. Winston stays humble after a close win against the Fighting Irish and they eventually go on to run the table. A blowout of Alabama in the national title game caps a 14-0 season.


Back down in the bayou, Miles and McCartney struggle in 2006, and Bo Pelini's defense is not doing much better. Miles needs to make more changes, and Pelini is next to go. Lucky for him, Louisville decides to hire their old line coach and current USC defensive coordinator, Nick Holt, as Bobby Petrino's replacement. That leaves an opening in Los Angeles, and Pete Carroll jumps at the chance to grab an old friend in Pelini.

The Trojans win 32 games over the next three seasons before Carroll leaves town just as crippling sanctions are about to hit the program. It is announced three days later by athletic director Pat Haden that Pelini has been promoted to his first ever head coaching job.


After being passed over for the LSU job, Crowton and Mike Bellotti put together a few solid seasons in Eugene. There are no conference championships, but Bellotti is happy enough with the status of the program that he names Crowton his successor after stepping down following the 2008 season.


Athletic director Greg Byrne took the Arizona job in 2010, leaving Mississippi State in the process. He fires Mike Stoops a few months later, and decides to ask Bulldog coach Dan Mullen if he wants to rejoin him in Tucson. Mullen agrees and uses his New Hampshire connections to get an innovative but under-the-radar assistant coach named Chip Kelly to be his offensive coordinator.

Fast forward two years and Mullen is off to the NFL, leaving the Wildcats for the Philadelphia Eagles. Not wanting their high-powered offense to be tinkered with, Byrne keeps the next hire in house and gives Kelly his first job as a head coach. His team wins the Pac-12 twice in three seasons, giving Arizona its most successful stretch in its 115-year history.