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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.

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.

 

“SEC Nation” Visits LSU

By Chucky Colin

The SEC Network’s “SEC Nation” show visited LSU on Saturday for the first time since launching this season. Fans joined Joe Tessitore, Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears, Paul Finebaum and Kaylee Hartung as they discussed the day’s action.

LSU fans were excited as arguably the two most notable pregame college football shows have visited the campus for consecutive games. “College GameDay” brought its show to Death Valley on Oct. 25 as the Tigers faced the then No. 3-ranked Ole Miss Rebels.

First-year LSU graduate student Gary Williams said, “The national media attention adds great excitement to highly anticipated games and it just brings more fuel to the fire.”

This was the Tigers second straight matchup against a top-three opponent.

It was a homecoming of sorts for former LSU Tiger Marcus Spears, who was an All-American and a member of the 2003 BCS national championship team.

Early morning tailgaters made their way over to the set of "SEC Nation"

Early morning tailgaters made their way over to the set of “SEC Nation”

As early morning tailgaters made their way over to the set of “SEC Nation,” Spears received many loud cheers as he openly reflected on his days of playing in Tiger Stadium and the game day atmosphere. He also helped to ignite the crowd as he led the Tiger marching band while it played the school fight song.

Fellow co-host Tim Tebow also garnered many cheers as well as boos while on set. Many fans wore Tim Tebow jerseys and received autographs from him following the show.

The former Florida quarterback said that Tiger Stadium was one of the toughest places to play. He didn’t fail to disappoint Tiger fans as he picked the Crimson Tide to defeat LSU.

LSU Tiger fan Joe Gouisha said, “Whether you love or hate Tim Tebow, he forces you to have an opinion because he is one of the more polarizing figures in all of sports.”

Another fan favorite was Hartung, who is the only female member of the cast. In addition to her normal duties, Hartung was also celebrating her birthday which was Friday.

When referring to Hartung, Tiger fan Astasia Williams said, “ She’s a fresh face and being that she’s from Baton Rouge she has LSU in her blood, which is a great thing.”

The next stop for “SEC Nation” will be Texas A&M on Nov. 15.

College Gameday’s David Pollack talks LSU and Ole Miss (photo gallery)

Video courtesy of Chuck Colin

 

 

Desmond Howard talks to reporters

Desmond Howard talks to reporters

David Pollack talks to reporters

David Pollack talks to reporters

Crowd awaits College Gameday Cast

Crowd awaits College Gameday Cast

David Pollack reads his notes during a commercial break

David Pollack reads his notes during a commercial break

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The hosts of College Gameday discuss the game picks

The hosts of College Gameday discuss the game picks

David Pollack and Kirk Herbstreit on set

David Pollack and Kirk Herbstreit on set

Samantha Ponder and Coach Miles receive make up during a commercial break

Samantha Ponder and Coach Miles receive make up during a commercial break

Samantha Ponder interviews LSU Head Coach Les Miles

Samantha Ponder interviews LSU Head Coach Les Miles

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College Gameday cast interviews special guests "Duck Dynasty"

College Gameday cast interviews special guests “Duck Dynasty”

Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso discuss the game day picks with special guest

Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso discuss the game day picks with special guest

 

 

 

Tigers blowout Wildcats

By Chucky Colin 

The LSU Tigers extended both their overall and SEC winning streak to two games Saturday night as they defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 41-3.

It was the Wildcats worst loss of the season.

LSU jumped out to an early 17-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. It was the Tigers’ most points scored in the first quarter of an SEC game since scoring 21 in the opening quarter against Ole Miss in 2011.

The Tigers were led by senior running back Terrence Magee, who rushed for a team-high 127 yards and two touchdowns. He also made a big contribution on special teams as he returned the opening kick off 49 yards and drew a facemask penalty against Kentucky on the play.

“Every time I get the ball I want to go score,” Magee said. “Obviously that doesn’t happen but that has to be your mindset.”

The Tigers utilized a balanced attack as the offense, defense, and special teams all made big plays to get an early lead.

“I think it’s the best overall game of the year we have had thus far start to finish and how wonderful it was to be in Tiger Stadium,” Head Coach Les Miles said.

While the offense scored on its first two possessions the defense forced two straight three-and-outs, one of which led to a 67-yard punt return touchdown by sophomore defensive back Tre’Davious White.

White also had a punt return of 48 yards and finished the night with 114 total punt return yards.

The touchdown by White marked the first special teams touchdown of the year for the Tigers. It also meant that LSU has scored at least one special teams touchdown in all 10 seasons during Miles’ tenure as head coach.

The Tigers decided to run early and often as the team finished with 303 rushing yards. In addition to a good night from Magee, fellow running backs also chipped as Leonard Fournette scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown and Darrel Williams added 61 yards on 10 carries.

The Tigers also converted more than half of their third-down attempts.

While LSU found success running the ball the Wildcats struggled as they managed only 71 rushing yards on 27 carries.

LSU’s defense stifled the Wildcats all game as the Tigers’ defense forced five three-and-outs as well as two turnover on downs. They also finished the game with two sacks.

The Tigers’ defense was led by linebacker Kendell Beckwith and true freshman safety Jamal Adams. Adams finished with eight tackles and a sack while Beckwith finished with nine tackles despite being knocked out off the game early due to injury.

“I can make bigger plays, not just plays that they need, I can make outstanding plays,” Adams said. “Everyday we are just getting better.”

The LSU defense held Kentucky to 217 total yards on offense.

Wildcat’s sophomore quarterback, Patrick Towles completed 19 of 36 passes for 146 yards with his longest being a 33-yard completion to wide receiver Demarco Robinson.

Kentucky managed just 3.4 yards per play.

“We will not let one game define us,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said.

The Tigers nearly doubled the Wildcats in total yards despite having only 120 passing yards.

Starting quarterback, Anthony Jennings completed just 7 of 14 pass attempts with his highlight being a 32-yard touchdown pass to Travin Dural. He also managed to rush for 53 yards.

Backup quarterback, Brandon Harris saw his limited playing time late in the fourth quarter, but by that time the game had already been decided.

Harris entered for the remainder following a 31-yard run by Anthony Jennings. Harris’ only pass attempt was intercepted in the end zone.

Although this may have appeared to be an inefficient game for the Tiger quarterbacks, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron believes that progress was made.

“Two guys are growing day by day, snap by snap and just maturing and understanding what we’re trying to get done here,” Cameron said. “As long as they’re learning and growing and taking care of the football, both of these guys will be fine.”

LSU will look to increase its winning streak to three games and upset a division foe on Oct. 25 as the Tigers face the No. 3-ranked Ole Miss Rebels.

The Wildcats will face another tough SEC challenge for their next game as they face the No. 1-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Running back, Terrence Magee carries the football(Courtesy of Lsusports.net)

Running back, Terrence Magee carries the football
(Courtesy of Lsusports.net)

Life in the fall without football

 

By Chuck Colin

 

NEW ORLEANS – Dillard University is an institution that is best known for its legacy, prestige and tradition.

What it isn’t known for among today’s sports fans is for fielding a football team.

With HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) traditions come the playing of football on the gridiron and the sweet sound of marching bands in the stands under the Saturday night lights.

However, reestablishing a football program may not be as tough of a task as some think. Not only has the number of college football programs increased, but those teams have experienced some success.

According to the National Football Foundation, the 44 programs that added football from 2008-13 have combined for 10 conference championships and 12 playoff appearances.

Grand View University won the 2013 NAIA National Championship in only its sixth season of play.

This should be a potentially encouraging sign as Dillard operates within the NAIA as well.

A football team could also potentially increase student enrollment, which at Dillard was approximately 1,200 students for the 2013-14 school year, according to U.S. News college rankings. It would also increase the male student population, which is only 29 percent of all students.

Although the Bleu Devils are currently missing out on the football aspect of the college experience, that hasn’t always been the case. According to school archives Bleu Devils football dates back to 1935, which was the year Straight College and New Orleans University merged to form Dillard.

Along with college football comes rivalries. When one thinks of a Dillard University rival, Xavier University instantly comes to mind. The cross town foes have played in the Xavier/Dillard Basketball Classic annually since the 1947-48 season, but also squared off in the Turkey Bowl, an annual football game during Thanksgiving weekend.

The peak of Bleu Devils football came during the 1957-58 season under the guidance of coach Armstead A. Perrio in which the 29-player team won eight of its nine games en route to capturing an undefeated conference title. Their highlight was of course the Turkey Bowl, which the Bleu Devils won 13-12.

Despite not having a football team since 1965, the Bleu Devils have maintained their fierce rivalries and athletic competition in other sports. But there’s just something about school spirit and football.

Imagine the black college football season without the Bayou Classic between the Grambling University Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars, which is the second-most attended HBCU Classic. According to the Southwestern Athletic Conference, over 47,000 fans attended the latest meeting, but attendance consistently reached over 70,000 in its peak years right before Hurricane Katrina.

Coincidentally, Dillard University’s last football game came during the 1964 season in a 38-3 defeat against Southern University. With the Bayou Classic not beginning until 1974, and the game being held annually in Dillard’s backyard at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it makes me wonder, “What could’ve been?”

There’s something to be said about football in the autumn weather, homecoming games, tailgating,and that awesome energy that surrounds campus as game-day approaches.

 

 

 

Tigers’ defense rebounds against Aggies

By Chucky Colin

 

Baton Rouge – After giving up the most yards allowed during Les Miles’ tenure as head coach in its last outing, the LSU Tigers defense played much better Saturday night against the New Mexico State Aggies.

The Tigers only surrendered seven points, while giving up a total of 274 yards.

They forced four turnovers, with the biggest being a 29-yard interception returned for a touchdown by linebacker Kendell Beckwith late in the first quarter. It was the 14th defensive touchdown for the Tigers under defensive coordinator John Chavis.

“We left a lot of doubt out there last week, we really wanted to come in and play dominate LSU defense all night,” Beckwith said.

The defense set the tone early as Tre’Davious White intercepted the Aggies starting quarterback, sophomore Tyler Rodgers, on the opening drive.

“Everybody had a sour taste in their mouth after last week and we just wanted to execute,” White said.

Despite LSU committing four turnovers in the first quarter, the Aggies were held scoreless during that time.

The Tiger defense was able to force three and outs on two of the four turnovers which helped to minimize the damage.

The only defensive breakdown came in the second quarter as Aggies backup quarterback, Andrew Allen, ran for a 79-yard touchdown, but by that time it was too little, too late as the Tigers had already built a 28-point lead.

The second half consisted of much of the same as the Tigers’ defense forced a turnover on the Aggies’ opening drive. From that point on the defense stifled the Aggies while LSU scored touchdowns on each of its third quarter possessions.

The Tigers held the Aggies to 102 total passing yards and 13 first downs, while allowing only 4 of 17 third down conversions.

Head coach Les Miles believes that this effort is one that the Tigers can build on going forward.

“I felt like we played defense like we’re supposed to, minus one play, and we’re improved and looking forward to resuming conference play,” Miles said.

The Tigers will need similar success against the spread offense next week as they travel to play their SEC West rival, the Auburn Tigers.