Once upon a time there was no LSU football. Who’d-a-thunk, the first team was formed by a chemistry professor! First season, played one game, lost 34-0, to Tulane. The early history of LSU football is cause for modesty. There was a season cancelled for an outbreak of yellow fever. In a 1908 game, the LSU punter was knocked unconscious, whopped over the head by a spectator’s cane. In 1914 Texas A&M gave LSU a southern beat down, 63-9. We finally got a coach with a pedigree, Biff Jones, but he resigned after a heated argument with Gov. Huey P. Long, who insisted on giving the team a halftime motivational speech.
Early LSU football, were thin times, for glory.
Good times arrived in the 1950’s. Won our first SEC Championship under Bernie Moore. Won our first national championship under coach Paul Dietzel. Many readers will recall the long tenure of Charlie McClendon.
In 1980 LSU began a run of 8 coaches in 20 years, trying to get back to SEC and national relevance. Football glory returned under a coach that we once revered, and now despise, Nick Saban, who led us to our second national championship in 2003.
Les Miles led LSU to its third championship, in 2007.
For All The Alumni That Timed It Wrong
What a multitude it must be, all those LSU students who were at the right place, but at the wrong time…
My nephew, Bryce, picked a fine year to be a LSU freshman. When Bryce announced he was headed there last fall, neither he (nor anyone) had any idea the team would be this good. Of all the coaches LSU has had, they’ve never had one like Coach O, and the jury was still out…
Bryce sniffed out an edge in a school promotion. Attend school events, win points. Go to all the football games, even the duds. Hit the basketball games, guys and girls. The less you wanna go, the more points you get.
Bryce kept adding those points, and LSU kept winning…
Soon after the LSU-Oklahoma game, he gets an email, all those events he’s attended, all those points, he’s earned a seat for the national championship! It’s going to cost him a $1 transaction fee.
The ticket has a face value of $600. He’s immediately offered $1000.
Wondering What I’d Do…
When I was his age… I’d have thought about The Hassle. The getting there. The traffic. I’d have thought about What If It’s A Bad Game. I’d have thought about What If I’m Sitting Near Obnoxious People. I’d have thought about I Could Just Watch This On TV. And I’d have thought about the money…
$1000 minus the buck transaction fee, at that age… Maybe I’d hold firm, at first. And then the offers go up. $1200. $1400. Next stop, $2000…
I texted him to find out his thinking. “What’s your current thinking about your ticket? Keep or sell?”
Bryce, “No way I’m selling.”
Me, “I’m relieved to hear! Me from years ago, I’d take the cash. Glad you’re smart “sooner.” It’s a gamble. If they lose badly (OU-ish) then you’ll regret it, but I respect the “bet.” You’re betting on making a great memory. Proud of you.”
To which Bryce responds, “Between being a fan of the team, my seats, student section atmosphere, it being NOLA, and being a National Championship, this will most likely be a top 5, maybe top 3 sporting events I’ll ever attend in my life. Especially with a win. For a true sports fan, money can’t replace that…”
To which I reply, “Good gray between your ears.”
He’s tailgating at 8:30 in the morning. Still tailgating when he sees a caravan of serious looking vehicles pass by. It’s the President and the Secret Service…
He’s inside at 4:30, doesn’t sit down. “I was standing from tailgating ‘till bed.”
Game starts, was he nervous? “First quarter,” which is helped by some keep-it-close points and cured “when we scored going into halftime.”
We Just Saw You On TV!
He’s getting calls and texts during the game, from people back home. His seat: it’s just to the left of the goal posts, camera prime, every time LSU scored the cameras would pan the LSU student section, and there Bryce was, bottom row, just ate up within the moment.
It’s Death Valley loud, with a national championship at stake, inside a closed domed stadium. That kinda loud.
There are celebrities everywhere. Movie stars. NFL players. ESPN personalities. President and First Lady. You can’t get this many celebrities, quantity, concentration, even at Bama games, and he’s right-there, the game feels close enough to reach out and touch it…
He stayed in the dome “until they ran us off.” He’s been standing since he arrived this morning. Gotta go, gotta go, so where do they go, the French Quarter, to walk, walk, walk…
Asleep at 4AM. Tired. All body tired.
Would he do it again? “O yeah!”
Being All In
I respect his hustle.
I respect that he put memories over money.
As for being “all in”, I can learn more from him, than he from me.
Many a LSU alum knows the nearly years, nearly good, but not nearly enough. It’s a gift of right place, right time, and Bryce honored it, on behalf of all fans who can only wish from our past and watch from our distance…
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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is dedicated to the mystery and miracle of how a team like that comes to be, and our appreciation for being able to witness it, even if just on TV… Uncle P can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.