LSU Football In Position To Heal The State Again


       Les Miles coached his first game in Tiger Stadium on a Monday night.

       It was Sept. 26, 2005, less than a month after Hurricane Katrina destroyed southeast Louisiana and days after Hurricane Rita devastated southwest Louisiana.

       After Katrina, LSU’s campus served as an emergency center for hurricane relief operations. The Tigers’ first game, a home contest against North Texas, was delayed until later in the season. Their second game, against Arizona State, was moved from Baton Rouge to Tempe, Ariz. The Tennessee game was pushed back from Saturday, the day Rita hit, to Monday.

       Nothing seemed right. This was punctuated when Tiger Stadium announcer Dan Borne welcomed fans to “Monday Night in Death Valley.”

       The Golden Band from Tigerland conducted their normal pre-game routine, then took a moment of silence for hurricane victims and played “Walkin’ to New Orleans” by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Fats Domino, who was displaced and sleeping on LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell’s couch.

       Borne then solemnly, addressed the crowd, “On this evening, we vow to move forward under a common flag because this is LSU football; this is Tiger Stadium; and this is Louisiana.”

       In his first season at LSU, Miles led the Tigers to the SEC West crown with a 10–1 regular season record and wins over 15th ranked Arizona State, (11) Florida, (16) Auburn and (4) Alabama before crushing (9) Miami, 40–3, in the Peach Bowl.

       LSU Football’s success in 2005 helped Louisiana recover through its darkest days after monstrous storms.

       Now, the Tigers will be looked to help heal the state outward from Baton Rouge.  

       On July 5, two white Baton Rouge policemen shot to death Alton Sterling, a black man, alleging he tried to pull a gun on them during an arrest. Parts of the struggle from different angles hit the internet and went viral immediately. In the following days, another black man was shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota and, in Dallas, a sniper targeted police offers at a demonstration protesting the shootings.

       On July 9, Baton Rouge Police in riot gear, wearing gas masks and carrying rifles, confronted and dispersed protestors in a neighborhood near Interstate 110. Protestors claim they had the permission of a homeowner to collect in her front lawn.

       This week The ACLU of Louisiana sued the BRPD in a federal lawsuit saying they violated the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights by using excessive force, physically and verbally abusing protesters, and making wrongful arrests to disperse the crowd.

       Each of these cases, which have once again reawakened debates about racism, opportunity, and empathy in the United States, will be worked through our legal system.

       In the meantime, we all need to work toward coming together. Part of that will happen when LSU’s football season kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 3 against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., and again Saturday, Sept. 10 against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

       When the Tigers win, people feel good and things seem to be better. And by preseason predictions, it appears LSU fans will be very happy this season.

       Soon it will be “Saturday night in Tiger Stadium,” and hopefully the return to some sense of normalcy will be aided when the only colors that matter to the majority of Louisianans are Purple and Gold.



Categories: The Pennant Chase