Category Archives: Feature Stories

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.

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

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.”

Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette

By Jessica Busada

When news breaks involving LSU football, Michael Bonnette is the contact media outlets need. The news will not be official without the confirmation from the school’s Sports Information Director.

At times this news is negative and other times positive, but either way Bonnette is first to know what is happening.

Michael Bonnette is in his 15th year as LSU’s Sports Information Director. He is currently in his second year as Senior Associate Athletic Director.

Including his time as an Associate Sports Information Director, Bonnette is in his 21st year with the LSU athletic department.

LSUsports.net states that his 2012 LSU Football media guide was named “Best in the Nation” by CoSIDA. This is one of the several awards he has received from the organization and in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association annual writing contests.

Bonnette is also an LSU graduate in the class of 1993. He formerly served as the president of SIDs for the Southeastern Conference and is currently the vice president for SIDs for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

Outside of work, Bonnette is husband to Robin Arnaud Bonnette and father to three sons, Peyton, Grant and Max. Family is a major part of his life.

The most difficult part of his job is, “maintaining good balance between the demands of work with that of being a good parent and husband,” Bonnette explained.

“During football season, this is a seven days a week job and it’s easy to get caught up with your work life and forget about what’s going on at home.

“Being a good parent and husband is very important to me and in order to do both, you have to have a great staff, which I’m fortunate to have,” Bonnette said.

Bonnette is a Lake Charles native who was introduced to the media relations profession at a young age. The profession has found a place in several members of the Bonnette family’s lives.

Retired McNeese State Sports Information Director Louis Bonnette is Michael’s father. Louis is also a member for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame.

The field at Cowboy Stadium in Lake Charles was named Louis Bonnette Field after Michael’s father.

Michael’s brother Matthew Bonnette followed their father in the position of Sports Information Director at McNeese State in 2012.

It is easy to see that working in sports media relations is a profession the entire Bonnette family has grown to love.

Michael Bonnette serves as the chief contact for LSU’s nationally ranked football team as well as overseeing all publicity activities for the 21 sports sponsored by the LSU athletic department.

Bonnette explained his position as, “I serve as the media liaison between Coach (Les) Miles, our players and the media. LSU’s image and brand is one of the biggest in college football, so everything we do has to keep that in mind.”

“We prepare the coaches and athletes on what to say and try to give them pointers on what not to say. We basically help manage image and the brand of LSU football,” he said.

The most rewarding part of his position is, “the relationships that you make with players, coaches, media and fans. It is fun when LSU wins because it makes so many people happy and it’s exciting to be part of that,” he said.

Being the LSU Sports Information Director for 15 years has given Bonnette the chance to experience some of LSU Football’s most exciting moments.

“Winning two national titles is obviously a great memory. And being able to go to the Heisman Trophy ceremony with Coach Miles and Tyrann Mathieu was a once in a lifetime memory,” Bonnette said.

“LSU football gave me the opportunity to go the White House twice, the NFL Draft six or seven times and travel the country,” he said.

“I am very fortunate to have been to some of the places that I have gone and it is all because of LSU football and the success that we’ve had here. I am very lucky.”

Bonnette has worked with multiple student workers and full time workers and they will basically all tell you how wonderful he is at his job and to have as a boss.

He has worked to take what could be an overwhelming and stressful job and turned it into an enjoyable one.

“Michael has made a strong impact on me since the day I started working in his department. I have always said he has one of the toughest jobs in the country as the media contact for LSU football and it has been incredible getting to see it first hand,” third-year student worker Brandon Berrio said.

“Going to work every day does not feel like a job because of our office dynamic. He has created a fun environment but still expects the best out of everyone in our office. That balance is something I will take away once I graduate,” Berrio said.

“Michael is the best boss I have ever had because he did not micromanage people and he cared about you as a person,” said former Associate Sports Information Director Bill Martin, now SID at Mississippi State. “Working with a program like LSU that is on the national media spotlight every day of the year is a tremendous challenge but fun at the same time.

“And he made the job fun because none of us took ourselves too seriously, especially when you are around each other more than you are around family and work seven days a week in season.

“Les Miles has spent 10 seasons at LSU and Michael has crafted a likeable image of Les where the national media gravitate to him,” Martin said.

Working with the media is extremely important and the smallest mistake can cause major problems for an entire athletic department and possibly the university as a whole. Bonnette has been very successful as the LSU Sports Information Director, and LSU athletics is lucky to have him.

Photo by Chris Parent Michael Bonnette and Les Miles with the media

Photo by Chris Parent
Michael Bonnette and Les Miles with the media

Coach Les Miles, Odell Beckham Jr and Michael Bonnette at the 2014 NFL Draft

Coach Les Miles, Odell Beckham Jr and Michael Bonnette at the 2014 NFL Draft

Top 10 Rankings: Football Movies

By Kyle Huber

10. North Dallas Forty

The first movie on the list is loosely based off the Dallas Cowboys of the early 1970’s and shows the life of an aging receiver, played by Nick Nolte, who is battered, addicted to pain killers, and battling issues on and off the field. The film has some comedic aspects and provides the realism of professional football in the 70’s.

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9. Any Given Sunday

This movie, which boasts a stellar cast and a long list of former and current NFL personalities, brings viewers into the modern day realms of professional football. From the aging head coach who has to deal with a demanding owner, an over the hill quarterback, and a highly touted rookie, one can see the similarities seen in the media today about the NFL. This hard- hitting movie gives the behind-the-scenes look into an empire that is a professional football team.

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8. The Blind Side

This film is the most recent on this list, and tells the story of NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher. Oher is taken in from the streets by a wealthy white family during his high school days and becomes part of the family. The Blind Side is a family friendly movie that’s message goes beyond the game of football and is a heartwarming tale of perseverance through love and care.

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7. The Longest Yard

Coming in at number 7 are both versions of The Longest Yard. In both the 1974 original and 2005 remake, former quarterback Paul Crew finds himself in jail and is tasked to form an all- inmate football team to play against the prison guards that oversee them. The 1974 film stars Burt Reynolds as Crew, and in the 2005 flim Adam Sandler handles the same role. Both films have almost identical plots, characters, and outcomes. Both casts are full of star actors and star athletes from each time period. The films have great lines, characters, and are a comedic enjoyment for any football fan.

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6. Brian’s Song

Brian’s Song is the oldest film on this list, having been released in 1971. The movie is based on the true story of Brian Piccolo, a running back for the Chicago Bears in the 1960’s. The movie tells the story of the friendship between Piccolo and Gale Sayers, and their time together while playing football for the Chicago Bears, up until Piccolo’s death. An outstanding film that will make even the toughest football fan or player shed a tear.

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5. Friday Night Lights

This movie takes place in Odessa, Texas, a small town in that is racially divided and economically dying; however, there is one night that gives the town something to live for, Friday Night. The film follows the home town high school football team, The Permian Panthers, as they battle through the 1988 season. Whether you ever played under Friday night lights yourself or not, anyone should be able to appreciate this film.

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4. The Program

The Program introduces viewers to the behind closed doors views of a college football team. The film follows the fictional ESU Timberwolves as they deal with the pressures of college football, such as alcohol and drugs, steroid use, boosters paying players, and academic cheating. Many of the issues we see today in college football are showcased in this film.  This is not a heart warming football movie, this is a hard-nosed movie that shows the ugly side of college football,  but it’s a very telling movie which more people should pay attention to.

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3. The Replacements

If this were a Top-10 of football comedy movies, The Replacements would be at the top. It tells the story of the The Washington Sentinels, a fictional professional football team, whose players have gone on strike, so they must now find replacement players to finish the season’s last four games. The film’s best attribute are the actors and witty characters who make up the replacement players, including quarterback Shane Falco played by Keanu Reeves. This movie will have you laughing through the end, so even the least of football fans can enjoy.

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2. Remember the Titans

Just missing the top spot is Disney’s Remember the Titans. This movie could very well be number 1 in many polls, due to it’s family friendly viewing and positive social impact. It is based off the true story of the 1971 T.C. Williams Titans, a racially integrated high school football team in Virginia. With new African-American head coach Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington, the team becomes the unifying symbol for the community as the boys and the adults learn to depend on and trust each other. This is a very powerful film that is touching, uplifting, motivational and inspiring. It will make you laugh, cry, and cheer out loud. Certainly a must see!

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1. Rudy

Coming in at No.1, which should be no surprise, is Rudy. Arguably the best sports movie of all-time, Rudy has captured audiences since it’s release in 1993. The film is based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger and his dream and journey to play football for Notre Dame. Having been told he was too small to play football or not smart enough to make it into Notre Dame, Rudy’s determination to overcome the odds makes this one of the most influential movies ever made. If you have never seen this classic, you are most likely not a sports fan, and if you are a sports fan and have never seen it, then do yourself a favor and do so immediately. The message of the film is to never give up on your dreams, no matter how big or far out of reach they may be.

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Movies that didn’t make the list, but have Louisiana ties.

 

1. Everybody’s All- American

The first movie on this list is the 1988 film, Everybody’s All-American. This movie stars Dennis Quaid and Jessica Lange. In the film Quaid plays Gavin Grey, who is an All-American football player at the University of Louisiana. A large portion of the movie is filmed on LSU’s campus and Tiger Stadium. It also includes LSU’s mascot, fight songs, and other LSU symbols within the movie. The movie has some good football action in the beginning, but tapers off throughout the movie; however, it is interesting for LSU fans to see the old uniforms and traditions of the Tigers in that period. 

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2. The Waterboy

The next Louisiana football movie is Adam Sandler’s, The Waterboy. In this slapstick comedy, Bobby Boucher, played by Sandler, goes from the team’s waterboy to the star linebacker for the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs. This movie has some decent hard hitting football action, but it is meant more for comedic purposes. I do warn people from Louisiana that you must have a good sense of humor, since the movie does not make Louisianians out to be the smartest individuals, but none the less it is funny movie and worth to watch.

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3. When the Game Stands Tall

The final movie in this list is When the Game Stands Tall. This movie was just released a few months ago, and shows the journey of  the De La Salle High School Spartans in Concord, California on their record shattering 151-game winning streak. While this movie is about a California team, the movie was shot in Louisiana, and even includes former LSU Tigers as actors such as Josh Jasper, Daniel Graff, Marlon Favorite, and Skyler Green. So there are plenty of reasons to go catch this film if you are from Louisiana.

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LHSAA split playoffs diminishes competition, worth

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By Annie Ourso

A New York Times article on Nov. 19 featured the East Iberville football team out of St. Gabriel, Louisiana.

The squad of less than 20 had not won a single game for the second consecutive season, yet the Tigers were headed to the Class 1A playoffs.

All teams should share in the excitement of making playoffs, though, right? Everyone deserves a shot at the championship, don’t they?

East Iberville, 0-11, traveled five hours to lose 48-0. Four players decided to not even make the trip.

You tell me what’s exciting or deserving about that.

But East Iberville is not to blame. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association is.

The Times writer called it an “unintended consequence” of the LHSAA’s 2013 decision to split football playoffs based on public and private, or non-select and select, high schools.

Unintended may be the wrong word.

Supporters of this new system had to know a situation like East Iberville’s would happen. The public-private split diminishes competition and the significance of making playoffs and winning championships. It fosters the everyone-deserves-a-trophy mentality.

The LHSAA has raised the number of championships from five to nine and the number of playoff games from 155 to 217. In the postseason, public schools play in their Class 5A-1A divisions, while private schools compete in new Divisions I-IV.

The split, however, is not totally unreasonable. After all, LHSAA member-school principals voted 152-67 to keep the split in February. Some explanation must be behind this.

And there is: Public schools have grown tired of an uneven playing field.

Private schools are able to draw in students from outside the traditional attendance zones that limit public schools’ enrollments. Certain private schools are also accused of recruiting to garner the best athletes.

These practices have led to football powerhouses like John Curtis of River Ridge, which has won 25 state titles.

So the public school argument is understandable. The proposed solution, however, is not.

Splitting playoffs for public and private schools not only waters down the competition; it makes winning less meaningful.

The new system gives more teams a chance to win, but it’s unrealistic. In the real world, you cannot simply change the rules and reduce the competition to achieve success.

The playoff split could also be for economic gain – more games equal more money. But for the sake of the students and all that is good, I hope money is not the secret motive behind the LHSAA’s decision.

In the end, the bad outweighs the good in the split playoffs system. Now, you may ask, how else can we remedy the high school football woes?

Start at the root of the problem: recruiting. The LHSAA prohibits recruiting, of course, but it could do a better job at monitoring it.

Dutchtown High coach Benny Saia offered a viable alternative to the split playoffs system, according to The Advocate on June 20, 2013.

To solve recruiting issues, Saia suggested the LHSAA consider a system in which each school has its membership renewed every two years based on a vote of other member schools.

“There’s no question that something needed to be done,” Saia said. “There are (private) schools from Baton Rouge who come into Ascension Parish for players. And there are public schools who do some of the same things. But that’s not every school out there. My problem with this system is that you’re punishing some people who don’t deserve it.”