Tag Archives: features

Support increases despite down year for Tigers

By Chucky Colin

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chucky Colin

 

Courtesy of Nicholls State University Athletics

Courtesy of Nicholls State University Athletics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

LSU vs. Alabama Photo Gallery

Excessive Celebration

LSU fans rush the field after the Tigers upset Ole Miss on Oct. 25.

LSU fans rush the field after the Tigers upset Ole Miss on Oct. 25.

By Lindsay Rabalais

If Tiger fans take their celebrations onto the field Saturday after the game against No. 4 Alabama, LSU will have to pick up a much heftier tab than they did after the Ole Miss game.

After the Tigers upset No. 3 Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium on Oct. 25, hordes of fans triumphantly swarmed the field.

LSU appeared to accept the inevitable.  Police officers did not line the gates at the base of the student section as a preemptive strike against stampeding fans, not even after LSU safety Ronald Martin intercepted the ball with two seconds left in the game.

The Athletic Department also fully accepted the price tag of the celebration: a $5000 fine for violation of the SEC’s access to competition area policy.

Athletic Director Joe Alleva addressed the fine shortly after the Tigers’ triumphant victory.  “I hope I have to spend it again two weeks from now,” he said.

Alleva quickly changed his tune, however.  He released a statement on Oct. 28 instructing fans to not enter the field after the next football game against Alabama.

“I encourage everyone to celebrate great LSU victories within the seating areas of the stadium, and not on the field … We would never endorse the ‘storming of the field’ by our fans – it is a violation of the protocol established by the Southeastern Conference.”

The monetary cost of storming the field for the second time this season is almost certainly a major concern of Alleva’s.

The SEC fined LSU $5000 for its first infraction.  The fine for a second violation would surge to $25,000.  In the event of a third violation, the University would owe a $50,000 fine, according to a CBS Sports report.

LSU’s athletic budget is currently $109 million, according to a report from USA Today.

The $5000 fine for the post-Ole Miss game celebrations represented the first time LSU has been fined for storming the field.  According to CBS Sports, the SEC’s policy against entering the competition area was enacted in 2004.  The last time LSU fans rushed the field was in 2001, after LSU defeated Auburn in Tiger Stadium.

The potential cost of storming the field goes beyond the SEC fine.

It is certainly foreseeable that a fan could be seriously hurt in the rush to the field.

Furthermore, the University would face a host of liability issues if someone became injured, especially if the athletic director encouraged spectators to rush the field.

Rushing the field after a hard-fought victory is a storied component of LSU lore, from the fans who tore down both goal posts after LSU upset No. 1 Florida in 1997 to those who speckled the field in purple and gold on Oct. 25.

However, a $25,000 fine for rushing the field is unprecedented.  The costs – monetary and emotional – of an injured fan would be even higher.

If the Tigers defeat Alabama on Saturday, the Athletic Department will almost certainly take steeper measures to ensure fans keep the festivities in the stands.

A good (twelfth) man is hard to find

By Lindsay Rabalais

 

“The difference between LSU and Ohio State fans is that Ohio State stays for the entire game.”

I was recently discussing college football with a colleague from the Buckeye State when he made this bold – yet astute – observation.

It doesn’t matter whether the Tigers are up or down, whether they’re blowing out the opponent or up against the wall, whether they’re playing a powerhouse conference opponent or a “rent-a-win” team.

The fans will not stay in the stadium. And there is no common denominator to explain what the issue is.

The beginning of the third quarter has signaled a mass exodus throughout this season. LSU’s famed student section is always virtually deserted by the time Tiger Band plays the “Alma Mater” at the end of every game.

At the beginning of the third quarter on Saturday night, the LSU fans are going ...

At the beginning of the third quarter on Saturday night, the LSU fans are going …

Death Valley is consistently ranked as one of the best stadium atmospheres in college football. Paul “Bear” Bryant, legendary coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, once remarked that playing in Tiger Stadium is “like being inside a drum.”

In February 2014, ESPN.com crowned the LSU student section as one of its top five SEC student sections.

“The roar from the students after those three most intimidating notes … in college sports play from the Golden Band from Tigerland will send shivers down your spine,” wrote ESPN.com’s Edward Aschoff. “LSU students … create the SEC’s most electric environment when the lights come on and the sun goes down.”

LSU’s students are not only some of the country’s loudest, but frequently also the most colorful. The student section is notorious for concocting cheers with – to put it delicately – rather adult language.

So why is it that a fan base known across the country for being raucous and rowdy can’t stay for the entire football game?

photo 2 (1)

… going …

Could it be that folks become bored when LSU is clearly blowing its opponent out of the water?

Consider the Mississippi State game on Sept. 20. The game wound up as anything but a blowout, at least from LSU’s vantage point. The Bulldogs routed the Tigers for the overwhelming majority of the game, yes. Still, the Tigers could have conceivably won the game, thanks to a late rally in the fourth quarter.

Despite the thrilling drama unfolding on the field, the stands were largely empty.

LSU is famous (slash infamous) for its gripping fourth quarters. Fans who leave early risk missing historic plays, like the touchdown LSU scored after time ran out to defeat Tennessee in 2010 (in case you left that game early, the Volunteers were flagged for having an extra player on the field).

Maybe the problem is that this is a “rebuilding year,” and it’s tough to get fired up about a team that isn’t doing well.

First, let’s get something straight: LSU is having, by most schools’ standards, a fine season. Plenty of teams – and fan bases – would be thrilled to only have two losses at this point in the season, both to highly ranked SEC opponents.

Moreover, I give you the Sam Houston State, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State and Kentucky games. The Tigers pulverized all their non-conference opponents at home, defeating Sam Houston State 56-0, Louisiana-Monroe 31-0 and New Mexico State 63-7. Finally, they dominated Kentucky on Saturday night 41-3.

If the problem is fans who don’t like to watch a losing team, there is no reason for them to disappear from the stadium when the Tigers are giving them exactly what they want – a shellacking of the opponent.

...gone before the end of the game.

…gone before the end of the game.

Finally, I submit to you that the LSU Tigers – for better or worse – help form Louisianans’ identity about themselves.

“There is no other state university more important to their state than LSU is to Louisiana,” political strategist and devout Tigers fan James Carville once said. I would wager that that statement includes the LSU football team.

Speaking as a lifelong Louisianan and LSU fan, when the Tigers are doing well, it just feels like order has been restored to the universe and everything is OK.

In Louisiana, LSU football is like the weather. Stuck in an elevator with that coworker whose name you can’t remember? Just bring up last week’s LSU game. Instant icebreaker.

Ours is a fan base that loves to talk about how steeped in tradition we are, how die-hard we are – we bleed purple and gold.

So let’s back up that talk.

I’m a realist. I get that sometimes your pregame activities catch up with you, and your headache is forcing you out of the stadium. I can certainly understand needing to get on the road to get back to Beaumont, Biloxi or Bunkie – especially if you have sleepy/cranky/antsy children to contend with.

But if it’s the third quarter and you have nowhere to be, consider staying put. Resist the peer pressure of those around you who are bolting from the stadium. Half of the stadium begins to file out during halftime, so you really aren’t beating traffic by leaving now.

Do it for yourself – by leaving early, you potentially cheat yourself out of some truly theatrical football from this “fourth-quarter team.” Stick around after the game and let Tiger Band’s a capella version of the “Alma Mater” give you goosebumps.

Do it for the team – the young men on the field truly feed off of the crowd’s energy. They showed up, and so should you.

Do it to show the nation what I know to be true: this is a passionate fan base that loves their team and loves football. And, yes, we are certainly that vocal fan base during pregame while we’re watching hype videos and singing along to “Calling Baton Rouge.”

But we are just as loud and just as present by the time the clock runs out at the end of the game – no matter the outcome.