Tag Archives: feature

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.

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.”

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.

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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Four Tigers Receive All-SEC Honors

By Joe Trinacria

While Les Miles and his No. 23 LSU Tigers have been hard at work preparing for their Dec. 30 Music City Bowl matchup against Notre Dame in Nashville, Tennessee, several members of the team have been selected for All-SEC honors by the Associated Press.

Senior left tackle La’el Collins was named to the All-SEC first team, while both junior linebacker Kwon Alexander and senior safety Ronald Martin Jr. made All-SEC second team.

Rounding out the list of honorees for the Tigers was junior offensive guard Vadal Alexander, who was recognized as an honorable mention.

Collins, who was named to the coach’s second team All-SEC last season, stepped up his game in 2014 and anchored the LSU line in the trenches.

Collins was one of the Tigers’ iron men on offense, starting all 12 games and paving the way for LSU to rush for a total of 2,634 yards this year.

Alexander was one of the most feared Tigers on the defensive side of the ball, and rightly so given his excellent playmaking ability.  He led the team with 79 tackles, posting highs in both solo (32) and assisted (47) categories.  Alexander also possessed a strong nose for the ball, contributing two forced fumbles.

Martin is a graduating player that Tiger fans are surely going to miss.  He was one of three LSU players tied with two interceptions this season, none more memorable than when he picked off Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace in the closing seconds to preserve the 10-7 upset win over the Rebels.

When he wasn’t causing turnovers (he also had two forced fumbles to go with his interceptions), Martin was laying punishing hits that made opposing receivers think twice about going over the middle.

The loss of Collins on the offensive line will be tough for LSU, however Alexander is ready to follow in his footsteps and take over as leader.

Alexander has the experience as a veteran player, and already was a key cog on the Tiger line this past season.  The one game that Alexander missed for LSU was against Arkansas, which also happened to be the worst rushing performance the Tigers had all season.