Now, at a serious occasion like a
funeral or a formal dinner, I would prefer the word Cajun. At the Spanish Town
Mardi Gras ball in
Cajun is the more tasteful term. In fact, it has become a brand name for a spicy type of cooking and music.
One can get a bad Cajun chicken sandwich at a chain restaurant in Chicago that the folks there will think is wonderful, but you're not going to get any Illinois dishes at even the worst restaurants in Louisiana ... like a Red Lobster.
Funny thing is, Cajun used to be a four-letter word, much like some think Coonass is now. It has to do with the origins of both words. But in truth, the origin of any word means little as far as its usage now. There are some bad words now that actually have more acceptable origins, but that doesn't mean one should use it.
The word "Bitch," for example, used to just mean a female dog. And in fact, in ancient Christian Europe, "Bitch" was one of the most sacred titles of the Goddess Artemis-Diana, leader of hunting dogs. Cajun women are known as loyal, but call one the "B-word" and see what happens.
The bad thing about Coonass was, is, and always will be the last syllable, and no history lesson on the word can change that. That's why it's not acceptable in certain situations.
Former Saints quarterback Bobby "Cajun Cannon" Hebert of Cutoff may have said it best.
"A Coonass can call a Coonass a Coonass, but it might not always be a good idea to call a Coonass a Coonass if you're not a Coonass yourself," he said.
Which brings us to the term "Hillbilly."
Saban didn't actually say "off the record," but if you hear the tape, it's obvious something is about to be said that shouldn't be (in good taste) used. One of the reporters was from the Miami Herald, which made several mistakes in covering Saban's exit from LSU and his exit from the Dolphins, and he gave the tape to a radio station. And all hell broke loose.
All Saban did was re-tell a story
he was told by LSU Board of Supervisors member Charlie Weems, who is a mentally
balanced person and has thus remained good friends with Saban regardless of
where Saban works and regardless of the fact that Saban is recruiting Louisiana
and prior commitments as coaches everywhere do. Remember, Les Miles recruits
prior commitments and players from
Weems was walking around
Weems later shared that story with
Saban, and Saban shared it with the reporters from
And Saban is more of a Coonass himself than you might think.
Saban brought food for the media to
his press luncheon once. It was from
After his first prolonged
recruiting trek around the state as LSU's coach, he mentioned that some of the
rural settings and homes reminded him of his small-town life growing up in
Saban is also a very good story
teller, which is Cajun patent. His story of how he landed Andre Rison at
Saban also owns a dog, which is
very Cajun or Coonass. Lizzie is a Boxer who, during the SEC Media Days in
Asked if Boxers were one of the smarter breeds, Saban delivered one of the best quotes of his career as quickly as a Coonass: "If you call eating her own (expletive deleted) smart, then yeah."
As I wrote it down laughing, Saban
said, "Don't use that." I'm sure a
During a recent interview with
"How's Guilbeau's dog?" Saban asked after the interview. You see, he is human, and he pronounced that Coonass name correctly.
Isabelle's fine, Coach. Thanks. But she's upset about all this business about Coonass and Saban.
Reader David Maxwell said it best in a recent e-mail:
"I travel throughout the state on my job," he wrote. "The many Cajuns I know are snickering about the latest attack on Saban. They proudly refer to themselves as 'Coonasses.' Everywhere throughout the Acadiana and bayou region you see Coonass T-shirts and bumper stickers proclaiming their pride. They have taken a word intended to be an insult and turned it into one of pride and accomplishment.
"Attack Saban for the many things he deserves attacking for. We need to show the class that he has not and let this one drop."
Glenn Guilbeau covers LSU and the
Southeastern Conference for Gannett News Service. Read him at
www.LSUbeat.com or in the
Shreveport Times, Monroe News-Star, Alexandria Daily Town Talk, Lafayette