MULE': Look out for cane-toting Auburn fans!

Les Miles was saying it since practice began in August, and there's no question in his mind it was the truth. The complete focus of week one was Louisiana-Lafayette, and the complete focus of week two was Arizona—and not Auburn coming up in week three, widely viewed as potentially the biggest game of the season for both programs.

This is an unusual series in that these two species of Tigers have put on some of the most memorable games in Southern football, and yet there is little animosity between the schools.


But just think of how many exhilarating performances these programs have put on through the years.


At the forefront, the famed "Earthquake" game, perhaps the high point of Tiger Stadium history.


There was the 1969 game, near the beginning of Auburn's Pat Sullivan-Terry Beasley pitch-and-catch combo, in which LSU opened with a trick play that went for a 68-yard touchdown on the first play. LSU prevailed 21-20 when linebacker George Bevan blocked a late extra point.


Then there was the 1970 game when another LSU linebacker, Mike Anderson, called the wrong defense on the goal line but stopped Auburn runner Wallace Clark cold at the 1 in a 17-9 Bayou Bengals victory.


None of those may have equaled the excitement and importance of the LSU at Auburn game in 1908. In that season, in the era of the five-point touchdown, LSU was actually close to achieving "point-a-minute" status. LSU scored 442 points in 450 minutes and surrendered only one touchdown in that season.


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LSU's first great player, "Doc" Fenton

Of the 11 points LSU yielded, two came on a safety at Auburn. The famed "Doc" Fenton, superstar of that Tiger team, said Auburn hardly earned its points in that 10-2 LSU victory. Fenton said, "I was kicking from behind my own goal, and an Auburn tackle broke through to block it. The ball was bouncing around, so I picked it up and was getting ready to run it out when a fan reached over the rope and cracked me over the head with a cane. It knocked me cold."


The 10-0-0 LSU season was marred by finger-pointing by Vanderbilt, then a real Southern power, and Tulane. A whisper campaign of "professionalism" began being waged, particularly after Auburn gave up its only points of 1908 against LSU. The more the Tigers won, the louder the accusations became.


Grantland Rice, a Vanderbilt graduate who was then a sports editor in Nashville, charged LSU with playing with "ringers."


The only charge coming close to the truth, apparently, was that halfback Mike Lally, during the summer while playing baseball in Tonawanda, N.Y., spent time singing in a movie house.


None of the accusations were proven, and LSU was never found guilty of wrong-doing, but the essential clearing of LSU never seemed to quite catch up with the allegations.

As it turned out in some quarters, Auburn, not LSU, was generally recognized as the Southern champion—though it was a distinction rectified by time.


The National Championship Foundation, which examines teams and their accomplishments in the cold light of facts and history, now recognizes that LSU was the national champion of '08.


Still, come Saturday, Tiger fans would be advised to beware of cane-carrying Auburn supporters.




Marty Mule' can be reached at

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