Tiger Tangents: Tales from the Stands, Pt. 1
In such a slow time of year for college football, I hearken back to my college days for memories of football seasons' past. Here are three that popped into my head first.
1. My first LSU road trip ever was to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in 1995. Man, that place is weird. It's like a state funded summer camp/cult.
The game was forgettable, though, as the Aggies rushed all over LSU that day for the victory. One thing I'll always remember, though, is that it was hot. Really hot. The scoreboard showed the temp on the field at 113 degrees. It was barely better in the stands. The humidity didn't help.
While my friends and I tried to cheer our team on, there was a break in the action. At that point, an LSU fan with no shirt on and a painted purple letter "S" on his chest dejectedly walked up the stands to his seat. The letter was fading from the sweat, but it was apparent this guy was part of a set of three letters.
A voice in the visitor section blurted out, "Hey 'S,' you missing a couple of friends? Where's 'L' and 'U'??"
He shrugged his shoulders and replied back, "'L' and 'U' got arrested."
It made me sad and proud at the same time.
2. The 1997 game with Auburn was a great one. No. 10 LSU vs. No. 12 Auburn in what was becoming a great series since LSU stole the previous two games. AU started the game with a 14-0 lead before LSU stormed back to tie it.
RB Cecil Collins had a fantastic night during the see-saw battle that ended heartbreakingly for LSU 31-28.
That was a tough loss for me. I hated that we lost that one. It stung badly and I knew it was going to be a long night of second-guessing and thinking of what could've been.
I was in the student section that night with friends, and as we slowly filed towards the exits, I saw a big mountain of a person sitting alone by himself hunched over.
He was huge; he probably could've helped block for Cecil that night. He had his head in is his hands, and this guy was just weeping. Weeping like he just lost a loved one, or like he got taken for everything in a divorce, or weeping like it's his first night in Shawshank.
Anyway, as we passed by him, my buddy whispered, "He must have bet a testicle on this game."
He was weeping like a guy who was going to be de-testicled. That was the simile I was going for.
I don't know if it was sympathy for that guy or what, but suddenly I didn't feel so bad that we lost. To this day, I can't shake from my memory the pure heartache that emanated from this beast of a man. And if someone were to ask me what pure sadness looked like, I would tell them this story.
3. In 1996, the Tigers headed to Atlanta to the Peach Bowl to face Clemson. We had some great seats for this game as we sat right in front of some die-hard Clemson fans. Everyone else around us were just guys with corporate tickets from their local businesses in Atlanta. No one really seemed that fired up or was donning either of the schools' colors.
The Clemson fans were a little bit older than us but very friendly guys. The cool thing about a bowl game was that they sold alcohol. We decided that since both groups of us were drinking, we'd make the game a little more interesting. We all agreed to buy a round for the opposite team when they scored.
I am by nature not a guy who would EVER bet on or against his own team. I just can't do it. But I figured since we were doing it as a group and we felt confident we were going to win anyway, I didn't see the harm.
So the game was soon to start and we all looked forward to beer and football. We were very excited because the only thing better than beer is free beer. But alas, the football gods cared not for our drinking plans.
The game was an offensive clunker. The final score ended up being 10-7 LSU. By the third quarter, we were starting to make bets on whoever gives up a first down buys a round. Or penalty on your team, buy us a drink. But it wasn't the same.
I haven't bet on my team since, friendly wager or not.
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