DEVILLE: A historic milestone at Tiger Rag

Editor's note: The 2004 Tiger Rag Football Preview hit the streets yesterday and we are happy to announce we have given our readers a book everyone can be proud of. <br><br> From a poignant recap of last season's championship campaign to the anticipation of the upcoming year, it's all in there for every Tiger fan to enjoy.

I am honored to be the editor of Tiger Rag Magazine.


As the oldest specialty publication which covers LSU, I have the privileged opportunity to do something no other editor has been able to do in the 27 years of the Rag. It is my honor to congratulate Nick Saban and the Tigers on winning the 2003 Bowl Championship Series National Championship. Wow, that felt good!


Actually no one has been able to utter those words, at least not in the last 45 years.

But after years of waiting til next year, next year finally came for the Fighting Tigers as a magical season ended with a 13-1 record and a 21-14 victory over Oklahoma in the most memorable Sugar Bowl in history.


Saban has been officially crowned the undisputable Caesar of the college football empire and not to mention his god-like status in Louisiana and most especially Tiger town. His meteoric rise at LSU has been nothing short of remarkable and in just four years on the job has the Tigers sitting atop the college football world. LSU has been transformed from the hunter to the hunted as every team in America, most notably the 11 members of the Southeastern Conference, will be looking to know the Bayou Bengals from their perch.


Most people are sensible and know that seasons like 2003 don't happen every year. The Tigers will not reign the college football world forever and repeating as national champions is as tough as an overcooked steak. However one can bet that Saban will have the Tigers in the hunt every year – and that's all most folks ask for anyway.


Even when LSU loses its first game since a 19-7 loss to Florida at the midway point of last season and the mystical buzz is finally sobered, do not lose hope. It's hard to stay on top and reality will eventually have to settle in to everyone's mind.


However, no matter what happens in the future, Tiger fans will always have the past. No future disappointment can wipe away memories of LSU's win over Georgia – the Ole Miss nailbiter – the thrashing of the Bulldogs in LSU-Georgia Part 2 – and finally the spine tingling moment of Saban and his Tigers raising that crystal football in the air.


I get chills thinking about.


I'll remember the nervous feeling in my stomach as we awaited the opening kickoff. The excitement of Justin Vincent breaking it for a big one on the first play. The disappointment of the fumble just moments later. Oh the joy when Marcus Spears picked off Heisman winner Jason White for the game-winning score. The goose bumps of pride on the back of my neck when the Golden Band from Tigerland pumped out the Pregame March at the start of the fourth quarter – my goodness what a roar in that Superdome. I'll never forget - eyes clenched tightly when it looked like the Sooners could tie the score late in the game. I'll also never forget the silent prayer, "it's LSU's turn, it's LSU's turn," over and over in my head before OU's Mark Clayton dropped the tying TD pass on fourth down.

I apologize for that walk down memory lane, but I know everyone out there has some sort of unique story about that memorable night.


So let me say again how honored I am to publish this football preview, the only one in Tiger rag history dedicated to the defending national champions.


Hey, speaking of defending national champions, we recently chatted with Dan Borne', the voice of Tiger Stadium. Not only will he introduce the home team as "Your Fighting Tigers of LSU," but this year expect a little lagniappe. I asked Dan what he planned to say, and he responded, "you wouldn't believe how many times I get asked that."


At any rate, he wouldn't release the coveted information, partly because he said he is still trying to script something clever. However, from the man who coined the phrase "it never rains in Tiger Stadium," I'll bet whatever he comes up with will be appropriate.


And finally, we hope you enjoy this year's edition of the Tiger Rag Football Preview. Can't wait to see you all on Sept. 4.


Geaux Tigers,

Matt Deville

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