Punter Brad Wing celebrates after LSU defeated Alabama, 9-6, in overtime… (Dave Martin / Associated…)
From New Orleans -- Now here's something to get a kick out of. There is a decent chance that the star of the Bowl Championship Series title game Monday night will be a punter.
Actually, not just a punter. An Australian punter.
Could this get more bizarre?
First, we must understand that Louisiana State versus Alabama is unlikely to be anything like the high-scoring bowl games preceding it. The only way these teams will get to a 70-33 finish is if they play for a week. If the guys in Las Vegas set the over-under at 10, they'd get plenty of action on the under.
Part of that rationale is the 9-6 LSU victory over Alabama on Nov. 5. That was in overtime.
Part of it is that both teams play defense like few others in recent years in college football. Other teams attempt to bend but not break. LSU and Alabama don't bend. They don't yield yards. They yield centimeters.
And, for LSU, part of it is that they have Brad Wing punting.
Except for the years of Ray Guy and the Raiders, punters are as high profile in football as key grips are in movies. We vaguely know and care about them. Then, along comes this redshirt freshman at LSU, and college football has a budding rock star.
Wing came to fame in two moments.
Most prominently, he sailed a punt 73 yards from deep in his own territory in the fourth quarter of that Nov. 5 game, getting the Tigers out of trouble and perhaps allowing them their overtime win.
Earlier in the season, he became a YouTube attraction with his run after a fake punt against Florida. He took it 44 yards for a touchdown, and at about the five-yard line extended his right hand in a benign gesture of celebration. Officials called that taunting and Wing became the first player to have points erased for a violation of a new rule.
"I was just excited because I was taking it toward the LSU student section," Wing said Friday, during BCS media day at the Superdome.
He also said that he still doesn't understand all the rules of the game, and that was obviously one of them.
"When a kid gets a football for Christmas in the U.S.," Wing said, "he throws it around. When we get one in Australia, we kick it around."
Three years ago, the high school athlete from Melbourne had visions of a spot on an Australian Rules pro football team. His dad had done that and had a tryout with the Detroit Lions before playing on an NFL Europe team.
But when Wing got cut from his team in Melbourne, he looked for other options.
"I realized it was a big world out there," he said.
His parents had friends in Baton Rouge, La., so Wing asked to go and live with them as an exchange student for his senior year of high school. When his punting became a big weapon for Parkview Baptist High, LSU Coach Les Miles gave him a scholarship, redshirted him last season and unveiled him to the college football world this fall.
The statistical results have been amazing. Wing has had only 17 of his 50 punts returned, for a total of just six yards — or a tad over one foot per return. He has averaged 44.1 yards and had 18 punts go over 50. His accuracy has been more valuable than his distance. He has stopped 23 inside the 20 and 11 inside the 10.
His 73-yarder against Alabama is the third longest in school history and he said he had one go 99 yards in practice this year. "There was a lot of wind and it got a good bounce," he added.
Besides punting with his left foot, which gives the ball a different spin, Wing said his style is unique because of his background in Australian Rules football, where the entire game is kicking from all angles and distances, and always under duress.
"I sometimes take a little longer out there," he said, "because I'm more comfortable kicking with people around me. I can try different things, kick the ball with the toe down so I can stop it, pooch it down there inside the 10, or run a few steps and get a different angle.
"I try to be unpredictable. I want the other team to worry about me."
Wing said that there were no plays in the LSU playbook for him to run on a fake punt, "but if I were doing the playbook, there'd be one in there."
He said that he hadn't gotten into trash-talking because "even if I did, with my accent, nobody would understand a word I said."
During his interview session, seven different men with perfect hair and microphones asked whether he had eaten at Outback Steakhouse. He answered each the same: "Yes, I have. No, it isn't like Australian food. If they say it is, it's a lie."
The seventh answer was preceded by a roll of his eyes. Wing was gradually realizing that being a rock star/punter may not always be such a kick.