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The Voice of Tiger Stadium

By Kyle Huber

Over the decades, many new faces have been a part of LSU football. Players, coaches, fans, students, have come and gone through the years.

However, there has been one constant in Tiger Stadium, and that is P.A. announcer Dan Borne.

Borne, who is in his 29th season as the voice of Death Valley, first began his broadcasting career doing play-by-play baseball for Nicholls State from 1964-68, while he attended the university.

Sid Crocker, who worked at a local TV station, was the P.A. Announcer when Borne made his first trip to Tiger Stadium’s press box. Borne says that Crocker told him, “Take a good look, you might be doing this one day.”

When Sid retired after the 1985 season, Dan wrote LSU a letter telling them he would like to be considered for the position.

After hearing nothing for months, then LSU Sports Information Director Jamie Kimbrough invited Borne to meet with him and several colleagues.

“When I arrived, they were very courteous and said, ‘Ok, you can have the job,’ ” Borne said. “I answered, ‘Thanks, but why?’ Jamie said, ‘Because nobody else asked.’ ”

The P.A. announcer gig is not a one-man show, Borne explained. During the games, Borne has two spotters that help him with the game.

Borne has experimented with different spotters throughout the years, and prefers female spotters to males.

“Women spot, but men coach,” he said. “The guys instead of giving me the number of the person who made the run, catch, or tackle, will generally say we should have run ‘52 slant right,’ and of course I don’t want to know that.

“It’s hard to get guys to focus on the game because they think they can coach better than the coach, and the women only care about the numbers.”

So to get all the information correct, Borne listens for his spotters to give him the numbers of the key players on the play, information from press box announcer Jimmy Manasseh, and gleans the stadium’s three video boards to double-check he’s correct.

Over the years, Borne has coined several phrases that have become staples in Tiger Stadium.

Once the coin toss result is announced, Borne announces the weather forecast for the game, with his signature line “Chance of Rain …” in which the crowd responds as one, “NEVER!”

Borne would come to games as a young boy with his aunt and sit in the south end zone.

“From the time I can remember, my aunt would always kid about the fact that it never rained in Tiger Stadium,” Borne said.

The older he got the more he used to hear people say this.

He is not sure of the origin of the saying, but Borne has not always used the now famous phrase.

“I used to give the weather cast pretty straight up, and one day, just unplanned, I just said ‘Chance of rain…never,’ and it just kind of caught on,” he said. “Now people expect it and shout it back.”

Borne continues to be a key aspect of the atmosphere at Tiger Stadium, and ignites the LSU fans throughout the games.

“I just think how blessed I’ve been over the years and how grateful I am to LSU for keeping me around,” he said. “I’ll always appreciate that!”

As long as Borne continues to be the P.A. announcer, it will truly never rain in Tiger Stadium.

Chance of Rain…NEVER!

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

By Jalisa Jones

 

The other day, my perusal of the internet brought me to an open online forum called TigerDroppings.com, which included a thread about whether Bayou Classic should still be televised.

As a proud alumna of a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and fellow member of the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC), I was bewildered and felt undervalued.

The forum asked legitimate questions regarding the benefits of the game, the profit margin of the network (NBC) that broadcasts it, and the game’s effect on the tourism industry. However, some of the posts to the forum included derogatory and frankly racist comments.

Of these off color topics, the one that angered me the most was one that asked, “Is black college football relevant?” Given the topic of the forum, one would assume that the poster was referring strictly to HBCUs, but given the placement of his comma I would assume he was referring to all “blacks” in college football.

I came up with an idea to solve the discrepancies on whether “black college football” is relevant: denying black men in college the opportunity to play football. Take all of these money making, powerhouse teams, and strip them of their African-American players.

To be fair, lets start with the team whose cult-like fan base is the primary audience of the site: LSU.

Goodbye, Leonard Fournette, Anthony Jennings, Jalen Mills, and all of the 80-something black players on the team. The result would be barely enough players for a Saturday 7-on-7 match-up at the local BREC park.

The same would hold true for about 90 percent, if not more, of the nation’s college football teams if their black players were taken away. With that being said, does one really need to ask how relevant these players are?

Is the real problem here Southern and Grambling’s airtime on NBC, or that their records surpassed that of the Bayou Bengals?

Their playing seems to bother some, but it shouldn’t.

To tell these players that you don’t think their college football team should be televised undervalues the hard work these young men put into playing for schools that have been rooted in the black community. In addition, this game is a recruitment tool for both programs, not to mention so important to the fan bases of both schools that the programs have forfeited Football Championship Subdivision playoff eligibility to keep the Bayou Classic going.

The Bayou Classic has been a tradition and an in-state rivalry well before it was popularized in 1974. Current students, future students and alumni of both schools, benefit from not only the game but also the events prior such as the College & Career Fair; Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Program and the Capital One Bayou Classic Business Challenge.

The exact amount of earnings from the game’s broadcast isn’t apparent, but I would infer NBC values the Bayou Classic because of its extension in 2013 to broadcast the game for the next three years, as stated by the Advocate. Tourism in New Orleans this year brought in over 200,000 people to the city, as hotels booked up, and cars stretched for miles from every direction.

Although your opinion on black college football is allowed via the First Amendment, expressing it toward student-athletes whose choice in school does not meet your preference should be barred because you have no problem with “black college football” when your African-American quarterback wins you the game. LSU fans should recall a time when LSU was not that good and see how they would have felt if their rivalry games between Alabama or Arkansas were pulled from broadcast television outside those markets.

So with that being said, LET THOSE KIDS PLAY!

A Tiger Returns Home To Give Back

By Serena Crawford

A Louisiana native, a two time SEC champion, with one national title, and two time super bowl champion. Corey Webster who grew up in a small town outside of New Orleans by the name of Vacherie began to catch the eye of in state college football coach Nick Saban, while playing as an all-state quarterback at St. James High. Webster was recruited out of High School as a wide receiver, however went on to become one of the top defensive backs in college football. Being one of the Defensive Backs who began LSU being considered the DB-U of college football. During Webster’s time at LSU under Saban he had the honor of not only winning two conference championships and one national championship, but as well being named a Jim Thorpe award semi-finalist two years in a row. Which is the highest honor a defensive player can be considered for in college football.

In 2005 Webster was drafted by the New York Giants, where he went on to win two super bowl championships. In the NFL that’s a near impossible achievement for any NFL player. Webster played his last year in the NFL for the Giants in 2013. Soon after Webster decided to return back home to Louisiana.

However his reasons for returning back to Louisiana instead of staying in New York may surprise many who do not know him.

“I will always have ties to Louisiana and I want to impact the next generation in Louisiana in a positive way,” Webster said.

Currently Webster is making constant efforts in order to impact this generation and the next. This past year he attended his first semester at LSU as a Graduate Student in order to receive his Master’s in Liberal Arts.

“I’ve been a lifelong learner and education is very important to me,” Webster said.

Even though he is involved with other professions and endeavors he believes attending Graduate School will only assist in the professions he currently obtains.

“I want to be very educated on everything I have going on. Like my financial information, CWF Foundation, and other organizations I contribute my time and effort to. So, I’m always willing to learn as much as I can,” Webster said.

Since being in the NFL Webster has been involved in the act of giving back. While playing for the Giants, Webster was involved in many charities such as Thanksgiving food drives for chosen families and donating coats to under privileged kids in New Jersey, just to name a few.

Webster has brought back the spirit of giving to Louisiana. He not only assists in helping with his high school alumni and LSU, he is currently involved with POPB. Program on Personal Branding which gives former professional athletes the opportunity to learn how to leverage their association with the NFL to launch their next career. Life after the NFL. This program began in 2010 as Webster works along two other colleagues. Dray Louviere who is currently an LSU graduate student, and Dr. Thomas Karama a professor in the LSU Marketing Department.

Louviere assist’s in planning the POPB seminars for former and current athletes.

“Corey has been our connection in finding former players that need assistance now that they are finished with their profession football careers,” Louviere said.

Louviere had many commemorating things to say about working alongside Webster.

“Corey brings experience and knowledge of what the players that come through our seminar have gone through. Corey really displays a passion for this program because he just wants to help former players succeed in their future endeavors,” Louviere said.

Louviere notices that because of Webster joining the POPB, that the program has grown enormously,

“Before Corey joined the program, we had a missing piece that we needed in order to be successful. Now that Corey is part of the program, he brings us the connection to all of the players that need assistance because those players trust Corey,” Louviere said.

The POPB most recent client was former LSU Tiger Marcus Spears, assisting in his brand with his current position at the SEC Network. Spears a former teammate of Webster’s at LSU. Both Webster and Louviere only see this program continuously growing. Many could agree that they aren’t looking for praise for their efforts, conducting this program for self-benefit, they really want to help others.

“The next generation is the future so it’s vital that I invest in it. More people should live their lives with the future generations in high importance that would ultimately help transform the world into a better place” said Webster.

Currently the POPB is also assisting in forming a brand for student athletes.

Webster will influence not only the next generation, but also his peers and those who came before him can look up to his actions and follow in his giving footsteps. Many may not realize that most players who decide to retire from the NFL or if their careers come to an end to unfortunate circumstance, aren’t sure which direction to take in order to obtain a career.

Because the money that they were making while playing in the NFL won’t last forever, so there has to be a backup plan set in place. The Program on Personal Branding will allow for these former professional athletes to figure out what career path to take after football.

Webster and his colleagues are making efforts to make sure that these athletes have a life after football. Many people in the business aren’t really concern with such things. That says a lost about Webster and his character, being that he wants to do all he can in order to help others.

Support increases despite down year for Tigers

By Chucky Colin

Despite the LSU Tigers finishing the 2014 regular season with an overall record of 8-4, ticket sales and fan support did not waver. The 2014 season marks only the third time during Les Miles’ tenure that the Tigers will not win at least 10 games.

 

A stadium full of Tiger fans gets pumped up for the Alabama game.

A stadium full of Tiger fans gets pumped up for the Alabama game.

According to Brian Broussard, an associate athletic director and head of ticket sales and operations, this is the second highest year ever in terms of tickets sold ever.

The only season that generated more ticket sales was the 2011 season, in which the Tigers were undefeated during the regular season. The Tigers finished 13-1 with their loss coming against SEC West foe Alabama in the national championship game.

Ticket sales increased with the new seating available with the expansion to Tiger Stadium. All premium seating, which includes the club and suite levels, sold out. According to LSUsports.net, the capacity of Tiger Stadium prior to the expansion was 92,560.

That would currently rank as the ninth largest in college football in terms of capacity. Tiger Stadium’s current capacity is 102,321 which ranks, as fifth largest in terms of capacity.

Although there were more seats to fill, the attendance and overall capacity increased. The average attendance for a LSU Tiger football during the 2014 season was 101,723, which is 99.4 percent of capacity. For the previous season the average attendance was at 98.8 percent of capacity, which is approximately 91,500 people.

With the expansion and high attendance rates LSU generated nearly $30 million in ticket sales. Although a large number of tickets are sold they are distributed in a specific way.

Fourteen percent of tickets are sold to students (Approximately 53 percent in relation to the size of the student body.).  Approximately seven percent of all tickets are designated for visitor seating, while the remaining 79 percent of seats are for season ticket sales, recruiting, football player families usage, coaches, etc.

Ticket prices are determined by many variables, which include the opponent, day of the game, prices of games from schools within the SEC and throughout the nation.

Ticket sales can not be projected for next season. The impact that the 2014 season will have on 2015 season ticket sales can not be foreseen at this time.

As for the Tigers 2014 bowl game, they will be facing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-5) in the Music City Bowl. The game will be played in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Tigers come into this game off of a previous bowl victory in which they defeated  the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2014 Outback Bowl. That game was played in Tampa, Florida.

Despite LSU having a better record in 2013, it has already sold more tickets for the Music City Bowl versus Notre Dame than for the Outback Bowl.

“Both are great cities, but the history and name recognition Notre Dame brings far outweighs anything else,” Broussard said.

An Inside Look Into Football Scheduling

By Joe Trinacria

With the recently implemented College Football Playoff system, the importance of schools having a strong out of conference schedule has increased greatly.

In order for teams to look their best in the eyes of the playoff selection committee, a signature win against a tough non-conference opponent goes a long way.

Just look at how this year’s “final four” selection was made. Ohio State, which had never been ranked higher than No. 5 all year, slipped into the four-team playoff bracket on the final selection day due to its overall strength of schedule and total quality wins.

Year in and year out there will be a number of top programs with similar records, most likely one-loss teams, all fighting for the last few spots in the final four. The only way for the committee to distinguish these teams is by examining the collective competitiveness of their opponents, and how well each team played up against it.

Verge Ausberry, LSU’s Senior Associate Athletics Director and supervisor of football scheduling, explains that there are a variety of factors to consider when selecting the best non-conference opponent.

“First of all, we look for a quality BCS opponent that is going to give us a good game and draw up some national interest,” Ausberry said.  “For the fan base, you want to have a good game.  Most fans aren’t going to want to come see some of the mid-level teams that we play.  Those are the games that parents bring their little kids to.  The fans want to see us play somebody more on our skill level.”

If any fans out there are thinking that you’ll soon be seeing less of UL-Monroe, New Mexico State, or any of the other “cupcake” programs that LSU has played in recent years – think again.  These games will continue as always to help the program rack up some easy wins, but expect to see at least one decent non-conference match-up for the Tigers each year.

In choosing an opponent from another power conference, fitting the game on the schedule is another logistical barrier for Ausberry.

“The way you place an out of conference game is important – it can’t just be dropped anywhere on the schedule,” Ausberry said.  “If you did that you’d be playing Texas one weekend and then a team like Auburn the next.

“Early games make the most sense for both teams, because if you end up losing you can still come back and win your conference.  That would be good enough to get you into the playoff.  The national champion is probably going to have one loss in today’s game.”

Neutral sites are a great way for out of conference opponents to make some money for their program and share national exposure and other benefits.

LSU played a neutral site game at NRG Stadium in Houston this past season against Wisconsin, and will be traveling up to Lambeau Field in Green Bay to take on the Badgers in 2016.

“Neutral site games help our brand, are fun for fans, and always get us national television exposure,” Ausberry said.  “Houston, Dallas and New Orleans are areas that have strong alumni connections to LSU and we’re comfortable playing there.  It’s good for recruiting and for our fans outside of the Baton Rouge area.  We talk about LSU being a national brand, being bigger than Louisiana.  We want to be at the top, and scheduling top non-conference games helps us get there.”

The current quality non-conference game schedule for LSU is as follows:

2015 – @ Syracuse University

2016 – @ University of Wisconsin (Lambeau Field in Green Bay)

2017 – vs. Syracuse University

2018 – vs. University of Miami (AT&T Stadium in Dallas)

2019 – @ University of Texas

2020 – vs. University of Texas

Former Nicholls State star looks to make even bigger impact off-field

By Chucky Colin

 

Courtesy of Nicholls State University Athletics

Courtesy of Nicholls State University Athletics

THIBODAUX – Despite suffering a major knee injury at the beginning of his senior season and questions about his future in football, former Nicholls State University running back Marcus Washington is making huge contributions off the field.

Washington suffered the injury on Oct. 10, 2013 in a game against Northwestern State.

He was in the midst of having one of the best games of his collegiate career as he finished with 77 yards rushing and a career-high three touchdowns.

Although his season and collegiate career ended prematurely, Washington has stayed involved in the Nicholls State community and has used his rehab process as a form of motivation.

“Once the injury occurred it allowed me to take the time out to learn what motivates me to actually push back to get back on the field,” Washington said. “I am finally getting different types of motivation and also finding time to focus on myself.”

The missed time has allowed Washington to help others and rededicate himself to football.

Following his injury, Washington became a student-coach for the Colonels. He was responsible for helping his fellow running backs. After graduating in the summer of 2014 he was hired as the running backs coach and special teams coordinator for the Thibodaux High School Tigers.

The Tigers finished the regular season with a 10-2 record and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs before losing to Scotlandville, 27-15.

Washington says that this coaching experience and his players helped him grow. Although he has played football his entire life, Washington admits that coaching has been an adjustment and that the initial transition was not as smooth as he would have liked.

“I actually never wanted to be a coach, so when I went into coaching I didn’t know what to expect,” Washington said. “My first few days I was quiet just observing and not saying much, but once I got to know my players that’s when I discovered Coach Marcus.”

During this time Washington leaned on his close relationships. He sought advice from his old coaches as well as family and friends.

Washington says that his grandmother has been his inspiration throughout both his life and football career. He says that the strong relationship is a result of him being the youngest of five children.

In the midst of Washington’s sophomore season at Nicholls State, his grandmother died. Although this was a tough time for him, he continued to play football. He said that football meant everything to her and his family encouraged him to play.

Washington has a tattoo of his grandmother’s name with a dove located on his chest.

“It represents my heart and sunshine, which is what she was to me,” Washington said.

Washington also acknowledges his younger nephew as an inspiration. Washington’s nephew mimics many things of his uncle which include playing the same sport, wearing the same jersey number, playing the same position and having the same hairstyle.

He also credits his parents, specifically his father’s military background, for helping to instill a strong work ethic within him.

Washington says that he soon discovered that he had the potential to be his old coach’s protege. In order to emulate the success of his former coach, Washington said that he tried to reenact many things that his former coach did. This included running the same drills in practice and “doing almost everything step by step just like him.”

This not only pushed Washington be a better coach, but it also revealed what was required of him if he wanted to be successful and have a positive impact on his players.

“The good thing was getting to understand my kid’s backgrounds, and noticing I’m not just a coach but also a life coach, a mentor, a brother, or even a father to some,” Washington said.

Washington said that the relative closeness in age to his players allows him to relate to them more than the average coach. Because of this, Washington is one of the first people that   the players approach when they are in need of advice. He believes that this helps their relationship and it’s something that he is thankful for.

In addition to being a football coach, Washington also serves as the coordinator of minority recruiting at his alma mater. He is responsible for giving campus tours and visits to prospective Nicholls State students. Washington believes that the passion that he had as a student and football player at Nicholls has helped his transition as a faculty member.

“Throughout my tenure at Nicholls I became a big fan of the university and began loving everything about Nicholls,” Washington said. “The experience of going through a university and then working for a university is very exciting.”

Washington said he believes giving back to the community is important because it can change a young person’s life for the better.

“To help someone else in need gives me a smile inside nobody can take away,” Washington said. “I want to become old and have several young men and women email or call me and tell me thank you, because without me they wouldn’t be as successful as they will become.”

He says that being able to help a student as both a coach and counselor is something that makes him very proud. He also likes the aspect of now being colleagues with his former professors.

Although Washington is still rehabbing from his serious knee injury, he is still pursuing a career as a professional football player. He currently is training for his pro day and tryout, which will begin in March. If he doesn’t receive an opportunity by next season, Washington will continue his coach career and pursue a Master’s degree in sports management.

Despite missing majority of his senior season, Washington is satisfied with his collegiate career.

“I will forever be in the record books, and everyone will remember who Nicholls running back No. 44 Marcus Washington was,” Washington said. “I achieved my awards as well school wise and nationally, so I am able to say I had a successful career.”

He finished his Nicholls State career with the 21 total touchdowns and 1,827 rushing yards, the eighth most in school history. He also was an all-conference running back in 2011.

 

The Use of Racial Mascots in Sport

By Kyle Huber

 

In the last few years mascots used in athletic programs have come under scrutiny due to their derogatory perceptions. The most common cases are mascots derived from various Native American symbols.

Mascot names include a variety of Native American language such as Indians, Braves, Redskins, Warriors, Chiefs and various tribal names.

Many teams utilize Native American rituals in their cheers and mascot outfits, such as the tomahawk chop, dances, war chants, drum beating, war-whooping and symbolic scalping.

These behaviors are deeply rooted in the Native American culture and many believe these behaviors illustrate the Indian culture as comical and cartoonish.

There are two different views on the use of these racial mascots.

Those who support the use of these mascots claim the images are meant to honor Native Americans, show the power and toughness of them and to enhance athletics by fostering such identities.

Those in opposition find them disrespectful and give false identities to the culture of the Native Americans, by portraying Indians as aggressive fighters and ignore the contemporary lifestyles many Native Americans partake.

The U.S. Commission of Civil Rights in 2001 condemned the use of Native American images and mascots by sports teams, stating such use of mascots, logos and nicknames were disrespectful and stereotypical of the Native American culture.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) also condemns them claiming, “Negative Indian stereotypes- especially those perpetuated by sports mascots- affect the reputation and self-image of every single Native person and foster ongoing discrimination against tribal citizens.”

Florida State University (FSU) has formed a relationship with the Seminole Tribe, who allow the school to use the Seminole imagery as a tribute to their tribe.

Florida State’s mascot is a depiction of Seminole Chief Osceola, portrayed by a student who is a tribe member of the Florida Seminoles, and the fans use the tomahawk chop cheer.

In 2005 the NCAA condemned college mascots who used Native American symbols by prohibiting, “colleges or universities with hostile or abusive mascots, nicknames or imagery from hosting any NCAA championship competitions,” also banning of displays of hostile references by mascots, cheerleaders, dance teams, band and team uniforms at NCAA championships.

So schools can keep their Native American mascots, but cannot not display them at any championship events.

In the past forty years, several universities have changed their school mascots and nicknames.

In 1973, Stanford changed their “Indian” imagery and changed to their school color, Cardinal. In 1975, Syracuse changed from “Saltine Warriors” to “Orangemen,” but changed again in 2004 to “Orange.”

In the 90’s Marquette’s changed from “Warriors” to “Golden Eagles” and Miami University, Ohio changed from “Redskins” to “Redhawks.”

Some of the more recent name changes include the University of Louisiana-Monroe change from “Indians” to “Warhawks” in 2006, and the University of North Dakota dropped their nickname the “Fighting Sioux” in 2012 and currently do not have a nickname.

In 2007, the University of Illinois Fighting Illini got rid of their dancing Indian mascot, Chief Illiniwek.

Northwestern State Demons still use Native American imagery within their program.

Since 1960, the winner of the Northwestern State – Stephen F. Austin football game wins the Chief Caddo trophy.

The trophy is a 7-foot-6 wood carving of Native American Chief Caddo, to honor the Native Americans who first settled in the two communities and provided safety for the early settlers.

There are fewer teams with Native American imageries in professional sports, including the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks, Kansas City Chiefs and most scrutinized, Washington Redskins

The Redskins have had their mascot name since 1933, when the club’s name was changed from the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins.

In 1992, Suzan Harjo and six other Native Americans filed a petition to the Trial Trademark and Appeal Board (TTAB) to terminate the use of Redskins by the club.

The TTAB issued a cancellation of the mascot, but in 2003, a District Court reversed the decision, due to the TTAB’s lack of evidence of disparagement, allowing the Washington Redskins to keep their name.

The most recent outcry has been from President Obama, who said that if he were the owner of the Washington Redskins, he would consider changing the name. However, Redskins owner Dan Snyder has continuously stated that he will not change the name.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) says, “The Washington Redskins are the worst…There is nothing more disrespectful or demeaning than to call an Indian a redskin.”

In 2002, the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) asked all news organizations to stop reporting on sports teams who used Native American imagery.

The Oregonian and the Minneapolis Star Tribune have both discontinued the use of nicknames that are deemed offensive in their publications.

Several football broadcasters and analysts have also stopped using the term “Redskins.”

Analysts Tony Dungy and Phil Simms have elected to simply call the team Washington. “I will personally try not to use Redskins and refer to them as Washington,” said Dungy.

Others such as Boomer Esiason, Jim Nantz and Troy Aikman, say they will continue to call them the Redskins as long as it is their team name. “That’s the name of their team and that’s what I am going to use,” said Esiason.

In 2002, Sports Illustrated took a poll of Native Americans on their beliefs on the use of Native American mascots in sports.

The magazine concluded that the majority of Native Americans were uninterested in the topic and in many instances supported the “honor” aspect of the use of mascots.

There are other ethnic groups that are used as mascots, including the Norte Dame Fighting Irish, Hofstra University Flying Dutchmen, Bethany College Swedes and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.

The use of “Cajuns” has been protested by African American activists over the years.

In 1997, Louis Farrakhan protested that the state funding of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette used, “African American and Creole tax dollar to promote a white culture.”

The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) has also had to change school imagery. Since 1936, Ole Miss has used the nickname of Rebels.

In 1983, Chancellor Porter L. Fortune prohibited the official use of the Confederate flag on campus, although the students and community continue to display the flag.

They also removed Colonel Reb, an imitation of a white plantation owner from the Civil War era, as the college’s mascot and in 2010 introduced a black bear named Rebel as his replacement.

With the public becoming more aware and sensitive to these racially derogatory athletic symbols, many organizations and universities have done away with them.

“Two-thirds or over 2,000 ‘Indian’ references in sports have been eliminated during the past 35 years,” says The National Congress of American Indians.

This is an unfortunate negative aspect that has overshadowed the many positive influences sports play in today’s society.

Hopefully we will soon be able to find a solution to this on-going debate and worry more about the team performances rather than their names.

LSU In The NFL

By Jessica Busada

(Photo from Saturday Down South)Former Tigers Tyrann Mathieu, Odell Beckham Jr., Patrick Peterson, Jeremy Hill and Jarvis Landry

(Photo from Saturday Down South)
Former Tigers Tyrann Mathieu, Odell Beckham Jr., Patrick Peterson, Jeremy Hill and Jarvis Landry

At the beginning of this season LSU had 43 former players on NFL rosters. Many of them are making a name for themselves in their rookie season.

Around the NFL tweeted, “Dolphins drafted a keeper in Jarvis Landry. Has been a big difference maker for his offense.”

According to NFL.com, Jarvis Landry currently has 63 receptions, 573 yards and five touchdowns. He is 23rd in the NFL for total receptions.

Odell Beckham Jr. made an amazing catch that caught the attention of all sports fans and is currently the “Best of the Best” on “SportsCenter.” The internet went crazy immediately following the catch.

“That has to be the greatest catch I have ever seen,” NBC’s Chris Collinsworth tweeted.

“There is your play of the year, maybe of the decade, whatever. That is just impossible,” NBC’s Al Michaels said.

“It is spectacular, and it’s truly Odell Beckham. I saw him and Jarvis make catches like that in practice all the time,” LSU coach Les Miles said in response to Beckham’s catch.

On Dec. 7, Beckham had his sixth straight game with at least 90 receiving yards. No other player had an active streak of more than two games entering that Sunday.

Two former LSU players set a NFL record on Nov. 17. Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue became the first rookies from the same college to rush for 150-plus yards on the same day in NFL history.

Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger set records in his rookie NFL season. With 345 passing yards he became the fifth former LSU football player to throw for 300-plus yards in a NFL game and the first since Matt Flynn in 2012.

Mettenberger became the fourth LSU quarterback to start on Monday Night Football in his game against the Steelers on Nov. 17, according to LSU’s football twitter page.

The rookies are not the only former Tigers catching the attention of fans with their success.

Former Tiger Brandon LaFell is in his fifth season of professional football. He is ranked 34th in the NFL for total receptions with 57. LaFell has 753 yards and seven touchdowns.

Bennie Logan is now in his second season of professional football and is ranked 18th out of all NFL defensive linemen.

It is clear that LSU produces football stars with major talent setting them up for success in the NFL.

 

 

Luke Boyd: A Football Path Like No Other

Untitled

By Joe Trinacria

To say that the road Luke Boyd took to playing big-time college football at LSU was the road less traveled would be an understatement.

Most student-athletes start their playing careers at 18 years old, not 27.  Most do not have to worry about juggling the responsibilities of class in addition to that of a husband and father.  Most are not staff sergeants in the United States Marine Corps and Afghanistan War veterans.

Boyd, however, is all of those things.  He may be the “old man” and resident badass on the Tigers, but in the locker room Boyd is just one of the guys.

“Some of the guys I’m close to on the team will tease me and say I look old when I have a little stubble on my face,” Boyd said with a laugh.  “But they’re not so bad usually.”

Unlike the stars roaming the field for the Tigers every Saturday, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound wide receiver was not a heavily sought after prospect coming out of high school.

There was no pile of recruitment letters filling up his family’s mailbox, and no Division I coaching legends were wandering the halls of Stafford, Virginia’s Colonial Forge High School with hopes of coaxing Boyd towards their program.

“I always knew that I was destined to play college football,” Boyd said.  “Even though I had great numbers coming out of high school, there was no Wes Welker or other little guys making plays in the NFL at the time.  No matter how big your heart was, big schools just weren’t going to take a chance on a guy my size back then.”

After receiving offers from mostly smaller local programs, the LSU walk-on began his collegiate football journey by playing Division III ball at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.

Boyd was unhappy with the level of competition at Fairleigh Dickinson, and in 2006 he decided to follow his high school girlfriend (and now wife) Tina to Baton Rouge.  Tina was a track and cross-country runner at Savannah State University in Georgia, who at the time had recently transferred to LSU to run for the Tigers.

Unable to afford the cost of tuition for himself to attend LSU, Boyd worked a series of odd jobs when he first started living in Baton Rouge.  Whether it was working for a moving company or laying floors or landscaping, nothing seemed to fit him quite right.

Boyd eventually obtained his real estate license, but once he discovered that he lacked the passion for selling houses, his next career move would put him on a course of action that would drastically alter his life.  In May 2008, Boyd shipped out for boot camp after enlisting in the Marine Corps.

“It certainly was a culture shock,” Boyd said of his first arrival on the base.  “The Marines break you down completely and build you back up as a new man with discipline and goals.  It’s not just lessons that you bring with you to the football team; it’s something that gives you perspective every single day.  Joining the Marine Corps was the best decision of my life.”

Boyd achieved the rank of sergeant after less than two years of service and was deployed to Afghanistan for active-duty in 2010.  While overseas, he worked as a tactical service data technician, setting up air traffic control towers over the countryside to produce ground and air pictures of the terrain.

Understandably, Boyd prefers not to speak in-depth about his time in Afghanistan, but offered, “We took care of business over there and we were fortunate enough to not have any casualties in our unit.”

After his tour of duty had concluded, Boyd returned home and was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California.  The base had a Marine football team that played against other military and law enforcement teams in the area, which he joined.  In his first year, Boyd starred as a speedy wide receiver, winning league MVP honors in 2011.

As a reward for this achievement, Boyd was given the chance to attend the 2012 NFL Draft in New York City, where he announced the Seattle Seahawks’ third-round selection of quarterback Russell Wilson.

Not one to let opportunity pass him by, Boyd met LSU head coach Les Miles in Radio City Music Hall’s green room.  Miles was in attendance to support former Tigers receiver Reuben Randle, who had just been drafted by the New York Giants in the second round.

Before the draft, Boyd had recently been accepted into the Marine Enlisting Commissioning Education Program (MECEP), which allows veterans to attend the college of their choice free of charge in exchange for remaining on active-duty as an instructor for an on-campus ROTC program.

“I was thinking to myself, man if I could go to school anywhere I would go to LSU and try to walk on,” Boyd said.  “And this was my chance!”

Boyd chatted with Miles about football, and was encouraged to get in touch with Sam Nader, the coordinator of LSU’s walk-on program.  After Nader and other members of the coaching staff reviewed his Marine football highlight film, Boyd was officially invited to walk on to LSU’s football team.

Now while this part of the story may call to mind Rudy, arguably college football’s most famous walk-on player and inspiration behind the 1993 film, Boyd puts any similarities to rest quickly.

“I’m fully capable of playing at this level,” Boyd said in response to the comparisons.  “Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken my fair share of licks too.  I can remember the first hit I took at practice was from Lamin Barrow on a crossing route.  I may not have the same speed as I did when I was a young man, but I certainly can hold my own out there.”

It is a walk-on’s often thankless job to help the starting players grow by giving it everything they’ve got, all the time.  Boyd credits his time in the Marines as helping him to persevere.

“On the field, discipline-wise, I’m able to get through anything football can throw at me,” Boyd said.  “All the times you are pushing, fighting, thinking that you can’t go further, the Marine Corps gave me the knowledge that I have more to push.”

Being a student-athlete at a Division I school is a full-time job.

Most fans don’t understand the true commitment it takes day in and day out to be a part of team at that level, with workouts and practices and film study.

“Me and my wife joke that football at LSU is a 40-hour work week,” Boyd said.  “All of the football I had been a part of before was just practicing and some film study.  Playing at this level is definitely a full load, but it’s an experience I would ever trade in.”

A typical day for Boyd begins at 5:30 a.m., where he supervises the Southern University ROTC program until around 7 a.m.Then it’s off to campus for scheduled workouts before class.

Football practice begins at 2 p.m., and Boyd usually doesn’t get home until around 6:30 for dinner.  He spends most of his time at home playing with his 2-year-old daughter, Natalie, before she heads to bed.  After that, Boyd shares some downtime with his wife before he has to hit the books and do it all again the following day.

“I can micromanage a 24-hour time frame to get so much done,” Boyd said.  “When you’re going through basic training there isn’t a moment you aren’t doing something.  You learn to use every minute to do something productive.”

The payoff for Boyd is simple – it’s you, the fans, rocking Tiger Stadium on Saturday nights in Death Valley.

“The first time running out onto that field was an out of body surreal experience,” Boyd said.  “I remember having one of those ‘Am I really here?’ moments, running out and trying to take it in at the same time.

“After you’ve done it a few times it turns into this really amazing feeling.  You just want to get out there and get the crowd pumped up and have them pump you up.  It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.”

Even if he never gets the chance to check into a game for the Tigers, Boyd has cherished his experience with the team.

“I always believed I was good enough to play, but I never thought it could work out as great as this,” Boyd said.  “Sometimes I wish I could’ve played back in my prime. Things hurt a little longer now and I’m not as quick as I once was, but everyone’s got a different path.  Even with the way it worked out, I’ll always have this great story to tell my children and grandchildren some day.”

Ray Rice: could the Saints forgive and forget?

By Lindsay Rabalais

Ray Rice could be moving to New Orleans after being reinstated to the NFL.

Rice, a running back who previously played for the Baltimore Ravens, was suspended from the NFL in September after TMZ released a video of him dragging his fiancée (now his wife) out of a casino elevator after he had knocked her unconscious.

On Nov. 28, Rice won his appeal in arbitration and was reinstated to the NFL.  He is currently a free agent, but there has been speculation about where he will play next – or if he will play again at all.

On Nov. 30, ESPN reported that the New Orleans Saints had inquired about signing Rice.

Head coach Sean Payton quickly shot down the rumor.  “I think I would know if we’re interested in signing any player.  But those are the ‘Sunday splash’ reports,” Payton told reporters.

Still, anything is possible.

If the franchise was considering signing Rice, they would deny knowing anything, according to Kristi Williams, former Vice President of Communications for the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry.  “If the Saints were looking at Rice, they would claim ignorance,” Williams said.

Payton’s response was not an outright denial of the Saints’ alleged interest in Rice, and another team has yet to sign him.  As of now, anything could happen.

If Rice were to don black and gold in the future, what kind of reaction could Tom Benson and his franchise expect?

When TMZ leaked the video of the incident in the elevator on Sept. 8, it started a national conversation about domestic violence.  The hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft dominated Twitter in the following days, with survivors of domestic violence sharing their stories.  Scores of editorials were written about Roger Goodell’s bungling of the situation.

The debacle made many football fans – especially female fans – question their enthusiasm for the game and for the NFL.

“As a woman, it makes me question how I can support the NFL,” said Claire Biggs, a Louisiana native and Saints fan.  “The NFL is a nonprofit organization.  How many other nonprofits would be able to function in this way?  … I definitely feel less inclined to watch or participate in anything the NFL does.”

The NFL attempted to rehabilitate its image by partnering with organizations that work to prevent domestic violence and serve victims, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.  In October, NFL players also began appearing in PSAs for No More, an organization that aims to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

Still, this solution might have been too little, too late.

Williams said that the NFL should have had a crisis public relations plan in place for if a player was ever accused or convicted of a violent crime like domestic violence.  “Timing is everything with PR and crisis response,” Williams said.  “I equate it to bad clock management in a football game.”

It also does not help the NFL that football has a reputation – whether deserved or not – for promoting violence.

Statistically, the hours after the Super Bowl yield the highest nationwide numbers of reported domestic violence incidents in any given year, according to Amanda Tonkovich of the New Orleans Family Justice Center, an advocacy organization that works to prevent domestic violence.

Tonkovich also pointed to the aggressive nature of the game.

“Sports inherently has this masculine tendency.  We don’t cry, we don’t get hurt, we kill the other team.”

Still, Tonkovich believes in the power of the NFL as an agent for social change.

“If they take domestic violence seriously, it will send a message to youth and start a conversation,” Tonkovich said.  “Since this has been in the media, we’ve had more survivors come forward and share their stores, or talk with their families.”

Although Williams criticized the NFL’s response to the debacle, she doubts there would be serious public relations consequences for the Saints if they were to sign Rice.

She said that although there could initially be some backlash, most Saints fans would eventually accept him, given his talent on the field.

“Football is important to Louisiana, and we love to win,” Williams said.  “It’s a drug.”

Williams pointed out that sports fans also love a comeback.

“This whole state is about redemption, and it would be a perfect place for [Rice] and his family to land.”

However, some of the Saints’ fan base would almost certainly be unhappy with the decision.

“It’s too soon for me,” said Jennie Armstrong, a lifelong Saints fan.  “I’m not ready to give him a chance, and I don’t want him anywhere near my team.”

Biggs also said she would be angry if the Saints signed Rice.  Although she can see the value of giving someone who is truly remorseful a second chance, Biggs does not think Rice is sorry for the incident in the elevator.

“Unfortunately, I can’t be that optimistic where Rice is concerned, especially after seeing the video and reading the transcripts from his interviews,” Biggs said.  “Bringing on Rice would communicate a message that the Saints, as a team, value players over women who are abused.”

Tonkovich said the Saints could probably expect a mixed reaction from fans if they were to sign Rice.

“We live in a big football culture.  But I think there would be a lot of outrage, especially in the domestic violence advocacy world,” Tonkovich said.  “Especially if he was signed without going through any kind of batterer intervention program … Especially when New Orleans and Louisiana already have high rates of domestic violence.”

Williams suggested that Rice could actually be a powerful tool in the fight to end domestic violence, if he partnered with local advocacy groups.  She said Rice could become like Michael Vick, who plays quarterback for the New York Jets and was arrested in 2007 for operating a dog fighting ring.  Vick has since become an advocate for animal rights.

Tonkovich also said that it could be beneficial for domestic violence advocacy if the Saints signed Rice.  If he were to take serious steps toward rehabilitation, he could serve as an example to other domestic abuse perpetrators that they can change.

“We also don’t want to see abusers as, ‘this is how they’re always going to be’,” Tonkovich said.  “There needs to be some pathway to rehabilitation.  Because abusers will always be a part of our society, whether they are football players or not.”

Williams emphasized, however, that Louisianans would quickly turn on Rice if he were to abuse his wife – or anyone else –again.

Williams pointed to other athletes who have only been in hot water once, such as Tennessee Titans quarterback and former LSU player Zach Mettenberger, who plead guilty to two sexual battery charges in 2010 (the charges stemmed from the same incident).  Mettenberger has never been accused of any kind of sexual assault since then.  Because he is not a repeat offender, Williams said, most people have either forgotten about the charges or do not hold them against him.

Rice cannot make the same mistake twice, Williams stressed.  “There is a limit to how much people believe in your redemption.

“You only get one mulligan.”

 

Business Impact of LSU Football

By Lauren Lenox

Schools all across the country are relying on other outlets to subsidize athletic departments. Louisiana State University is one of the seven schools that does not receive subsidies from other sources.

According to USA Today Sports, out of the 228 NCAA Division I schools, there are only seven schools who do not receive subsidies from anywhere else to remain afloat.

In addition to, LSU Athletics is one of the 23 athletic departments that is self-sustaining which relies solely on self-generated funds. However, LSU’s Athletic Department does not receive any additional funds or tax dollars from the state nor from the academic side of the school.

Furthermore, the LSU Athletic Department does not receive money from student funds like most schools. Instead, the athletic department provides over $7 million annually to the university academically to assist with educational needs.

In 2013, LSU Football brought in roughly $37.5 million directly through ticket sales, guarantees and parking to the athletic department. The remaining assets came from tradition funds, SEC Network, and smaller areas such as concessions and radio.

Ticket sales make a huge impact on LSU Athletics. For the last 10 years, season tickets have been sold out helping to generate the $32 million the athletic department receives.

According to LSU Athletics Business Coordinator, Matthew LaBorde, the LSU football team is a huge asset to not only the athletic department but to the university. The benefits of football help to create a great branding opportunity to promote athletics which in turn helps to create more attention towards the university.

“LSU is a brand in itself. Everyone who sees those three letters knows who we are. It puts us on a higher platform above others,” said LaBorde.

During the past decade, LSU Football’s success has brought a lot of attention to the school. With the media exposure, it has helped to shape a new brand for the university.

LSU Athletics Marketing Director, Daniel Nunes, shared how LSU Football does not need to be branded because it is a brand in itself.

“It’s (LSU Football) the porch to LSU Athletics just like LSU Athletics is the porch to LSU. It’s (LSU Football) the largest national brand,” said Nunes.

Many reasons one can attribute to the LSU football team is the increases in LSU’s student enrollment each year as well as higher graduation rates.

LSU students appreciate when the Tigers play at home. It is a chance for people to come together and to create an atmosphere like no other.

The students have been known to devote more time to the football team if the team has a successful season.

Even more importantly, LSUSports.net shared how LSU Football helps out with local businesses economically in and around the Baton Rouge area. This football program attracts people from all of the country bringing business to the local businesses surrounding campus.

LSU Football has been attributed providing about 4,000 jobs in the Baton Rouge Metro area.

Dr. Loren Scott, from Loren C. Scott and Associates, Inc., helped to breakdown the economic impact that LSU football has made on the state of Louisiana and the Baton Rouge Metro Area.

“There is a diverted spending issue associated with LSU football between state impacts and the Baton Rouge Metro,” said Scott.

In 2012, there were more than 1.5 million people in attendance at LSU Athletic events. This concludes that on a typical night in Tiger Stadium there were more people than there are living in 49 of the 64 parishes in the state.

In 2013, the average LSU out-of state fan spent about $237 in the state of Louisiana and of that amount, $169 was spent in the Baton Rouge Metro.

During the 2013 season, in-state LSU fans from outside of the Baton Rouge area spent about $62.8 million and of that $47.7 million was spent in the Baton Rouge Metro.

LSU Athletic Director, Joe Alleva, explained how LSU Athletics has made an economic impact on Louisiana and the city of Baton Rouge.

“We are partners with the community. LSU Athletics has a huge financial impact on the Baton Rouge community,” said Alleva.

In 2012, civic groups who helped on game days received about $815,000 as support for their establishments.

Disadvantages also come into play when talking about LSU Football. One of the main disadvantages to the athletic department is the student section.

The LSU student section is a huge factor because they will be future donors someday. They show a poor reflection of becoming a future donor by leaving games early and not wanting to preserve traditions. The athletic department depends on these future alumni to help provide funds for future athletic facilities and other major expenses.

The disadvantage that LSU football has on the community is that game days are huge events which cause changes to day-to-day routines.

For example, after big games the Event Management Department has to shut down roads and create a plan of contraflow to control the amount of people trying to leave the stadium.

Another disadvantage of football is the huge impact it makes on schools. For example, when LSU played at Mississippi State on a Thursday night in 2012, the school was shut down due to fans tailgating around the campus.

Also, the amount of work that goes into planning and preparing for a game is an excessive amount. LSU Athletics prepares months in advanced for the football season. There are about 2,765 people who work on a LSU Football game day.

Recently, the University of Alabama-Birmingham had to get rid of their football team due to the fact that the athletic department was struggling to keep its program operational. If LSU were to shut down its football program, the athletic department budget would decrease from $110 million to $20 million.

Hypothetically, of the remaining $20 million, only $5 million comes from ticket sales from the remaining sports. LSU’s Athletic Department could almost be viewed as an independent franchise.

With that being said, the athletic department relies heavily on the $80 million it generates from LSU football and would not be self-sustaining without the sport.