Sure there are bulldogs, buffaloes and even a burst-orange longhorn named "Bevo" gracing the sidelines of major college football games across the country. But without a doubt there is no more intimidating mascot in college football anywhere than Mike the Tiger.
Introduced to the student body in 1936, Mike I reigned for 20 years giving way to four more Mike's. Mike V, in his 16th year, has ruled over Tiger athletics since 1990.
But what about the other Mike?
The costumed Mike the Tiger mascot
has grown in popularity throughout the years and is nearly as popular as his
ferociously furry companion. Mike can be seen dancing up and down the sidelines
of football and basketball games, acting out funny skits, posing for pictures
with small children, cheerleaders and other Tiger fans. Even on rare occasions,
Mike can be seen being lowered through the ceiling of the
The story of the official Mike's rise to prominence is well documented in the history of Tiger lore dating back seven decades to the mid 1930s. However, the other Mike's story may not be as well-known.
The year was 1959. While the football team was fresh off a national title, the Tiger basketball team left something to be desired. LSU was in the midst of a losing season and few fans turned out to see coach Jay McCreary's team in action.
Trying to drum up fan interest,
Tiger band member Sylvain Tauzy (at the time a freshman from
The skits were such a success they
caught the eye of band director Thomas Tyra. Tyra, who had previously been the
band director at Northwestern, dreamed up the idea of creating a costumed Mike
the Tiger mascot, similar to Northwestern's Wildcat that stalked the sidelines
Tyra approached Tauzy with the idea
and he ran with it. Tauzy said he would make his own Tiger costume, but ran into
difficulties constructing the head. Finally, Tyra contacted a costume company in
The plan was kept very quiet and the target date was the 1959 football season opener set for Sept. 19 versus Rice.
When Mike's cage was rolled onto
the field, Tauzy was hunkered down inside tying his best to portray the real
Shortly thereafter, people realized it wasn't the real Mike. However, fans warmed up to the masked figure who became a fixture on the Tiger Stadium sidelines.
Tauzy remained in his capacity as Mike the Tiger until 1961. His official record as the costumed mascot was an impressive 24-7-1.
The tradition continues to this day as Mike the Tiger is very much a part of the Gameday activities. Sadly, however, Tauzy passed away on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at the age of 67.
Sylvain Tauzy was born in
Tauzy, the man behind the Tiger mask, will be missed by all.