LSU's Mike the Tiger back after a lengthy absence

LSU's Mike the Tiger returns to Death Valley after a lengthy absence. David Ching/ESPN

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Mike the Tiger is back on LSU's sideline.

After an absence of more than a year, Mike VI decided to load into his trailer prior to Saturday's LSU-McNeese State game and made his way to the sideline for the first time since the 2013 season.

Mike's absence has been a bone of contention among Tigers fans who value the animal's presence in his traditional game day spot, close to the tunnel where opponents enter and leave the playing field.

David Baker, the LSU professor who serves as Mike's primary veterinarian, said he has certainly heard the complaints from frustrated fans.

"There's all kinds of people yelling and hollering, sure," Baker said while stationed near the tiger's trailer prior to Saturday's game.

However, Baker explained that it's entirely up to the tiger whether he will enter the trailer and attend the game.

"It's very delicate," Baker cracked. "We open the gate and he either gets in or he doesn't."

The LSU-McNeese game marks the 33rd time in 58 games since Mike VI became the mascot in 2007 that he has loaded into his trailer for a game. He did not attend a game in 2014, came to three games in 2013 and four in 2012.