DEVILLE: Season opening observations

Well, it's about time. After three months of writing about football when there wasn't actually any football being played, that all changed last Saturday. The college football season opened last Saturday and did so in Baton Rouge with the LSU Tigers thumping the ULL Ragin' Cajuns 45-3 before a crowd of 92,362.

Well, actually it wasn't that many people; that's just how many tickets were sold. It was probably more like 85,000 and change.


At any rate, my first football Saturday of the season began rather quietly at home. This being the first football season in which I am married, the events of game day have changed a bit.


While I never was much of an all-day tailgater before my sports writer days, I did enjoy getting to campus in the early afternoon for several hours of enjoyment.


It is strange, though, how your priorities change.


Saturday morning, I awoke to chores in the yard. I dug up and replanted a tree in our yard that had been on the injured reserve list since Hurricane Katrina. I followed that with a trip to Home Depot for topsoil and mulch to re-landscape the area.


Upon returning home, I spent an hour or so cleaning out the garage before I grabbed some lunch and headed to the patio to try and catch some of the Michigan -Vanderbilt game on the tube. I watched as the Commodores faded in the fourth quarter—as always—and then flipped the channel just in time to see Grambling have its second extra point of the game blocked in overtime as the Tigers lost to Hampton 28-27.


By then, it was nearing 4 o'clock and was time to head down to campus for the game. I did manage to stroll around the stadium tailgating area and take in some sights and make some interesting observations.


Upon arrival, I did notice that Lot A on the west side of Tiger Stadium had been completed. Three days earlier, I had been on campus and observed a parking lot half-filled with dirt and standing water from rain earlier in the week. I later saw associate athletic director Herb Vincent, who laughed about "the long hours" that went in to finishing the project on time.


You can read on page 16 about our featured tailgate party in this issue. As I made my way to the "Party on the Hill," I observed several signs fans were holding.


Two in particular stood out:  "The Cajuns put the ‘Laf' in Lafayette" and "ULL—Typical for the school that gave us Blanco."


LSU fans never lack creativity.


Upon entering the stadium, I noticed many LSU celebrities on the sidelines, the first being outgoing LSU system president William Jenkins. Later on, there was David Toms chatting with LSU golf coach Chuck Winstead and LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri, who was introduced to the Tiger Stadium crowd between the first and second quarters.


It's obvious Tyrus Thomas hasn't gotten enough of LSU. Although he may have gone to the NBA, the former Tiger standout and catalyst of last year's Final Four team was on hand Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.


And speaking of basketball stars, how could you miss Shaq?


LSU All-American and three-time NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O'Neal was in town for his charity golf tournament and was on the sideline for Saturday's game. O'Neal, who was wearing a shirt big enough for eight grown men, was introduced to the crowd just before halftime. He spent some time on the field visiting and taking pictures with fans. Later Saturday night, O'Neal was spotted at Walk-Ons Bistreaux and Bar, a restaurant located near Tiger Stadium that is packed to the rafters following home games.


The LSU Pregame show has now been altered, thanks to a long-running tradition by the students of calling the opposing team a**holes to the tune of the song "Tiger Rag." Dr. Frank Wickes and LSU chancellor Sean O'Keefe agreed to replace the first portion of the song with "Hey Fighting Tigers," which didn't deter the students from continuing the tradition.


Upon leaving the press box to go down to field level in the fourth quarter, I learned that there is most definitely alcohol served in the new Stadium Club seating area inside the new West Upper Deck of Tiger Stadium.


As I rode on a jam-packed elevator leaving the press box, the doors opened at the 200 level where three highly intoxicated young ladies tried to press their way onto the elevator car. When the marshal told them there was no room, one of the young ladies belted out, "Well thanks for your hospitality!"


What a class act.


Finally, as I left the stadium late Saturday night, it was obvious all of the ULL fans were jammed onto Nicholson Drive trying to access I-10 West downtown. Traffic was at a virtual standstill for over an hour on Nicholson (later, I heard almost everywhere).


At any rate, a new football season is upon us and after one week, the Tigers are 1-0 with a decisive victory. Can't wait til week two.




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag magazine. Reach him at

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