From the Bird’s Nest: Ten things I love about college sports in Louisiana
Sometimes, it's the little things.
Having lived here in this state for all of my adult life, I've come to enjoy many things about the state of Louisiana.
And some of them have to do with college sports.
Below is a list of things I really like about college sports here in the state. Some of them you've undoubtedly noticed, some perhaps not.
But I like em all. Yes, I ranked them. Just my personal preference.
When ULM decided to drop the Indians' mascot and chose the Warhawks, I thought it was a good move. And, they made a good choice of their visual mascot as well. "Ace" pretty much tells the story of who the Warhawks are. In the Sun Belt, where a Pioneer is a Falcon, a Blue Raider is a flying jackass and a Hilltopper is a blood clot, it's refreshing to see that "Ace" is a Warhawk.
9. Chief Caddo
It's the trophy given out each year to the winner of the game between Nortwestern State and Stephen F. Austin State. Natchitoches vs. Nacogdoches. What makes this so much cooler than that hideously ugly boot that LSU and Arkansas share is the fact that the trophy is seven and a half feet tall and weighs nearly 350 lbs.
The agreement on the trophy came in 1960. The two schools agreed that the losing school would chop down a tree from its nearly forest, deliver it to the winning school and a permanent trophy would be made out of the tree. It's been awarded every year since 1961.
My question is this: If the visiting school wins the game, how in tarnation to they get the trophy back to their campus?
8. Bill Franques' voice
He is the voice of LSU baseball. For years now, Franques has served as the public address
announcer for LSU home baseball games at Alex Box Stadium. And, I haven't heard anyone in college baseball that does it better. Franques' velvet tones are crisp, concise and accurate. He interjects just a tad of excitement when introducing the home players without ever going over the top. Franques also serves as the team's sports information director and the color commentator on road games for the radio network. I'm tellin' ya, I'd pay big bucks to have a voice like that.
7. Tech's Hoop Troop
If you're going to play in a band, who says you can't have fun...a lot of fun. Louisiana Tech's Hoop Troop jogs into the Thomas Assembly Center, plays one cool song after another, harasses the opposing team and does it all quite irreverantly. I've never heard another band play "Hava Nagila" on a regular basis. And, their playing and singing of "It's Hard to be Humble" after a Bulldog or Lady Techster win makes you laugh, even if you're team just lost.
6. The Louisiana Flag
Shortly after changing it's name in 1999, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette decided to go with a state theme in its pregame show. They incorporated "Jambalaya" and the Louisiana state song "You are my Sunshine" to its pregame tradition. But nothing says "We are Louisiana" more than the unfurling of the world's largest Louisiana flag. Manned by the Chi Omega Christian Fellowship, the huge pelican with the motto "Union, Justice, Confidence" takes up nearly a third of the football field. You don't see it during inclimate weather for obvious reasons, but if the Cajuns want to seize the "Louisiana" brand for its athletic teams, there's little they could do that's a bigger statement than this one.
5. Tulane's "Hullabaloo" Chant
Every time the Greenies score in football or baseball, a group of fans begin the chant "A-one, a-two, a helluva Hullabaloo." They then go into a chant that makes absolutely no sense to anyone who isn't a die-hard fan. In fact it makes no sense to some that ARE. This goes back to at least 1924.
Okay, you ready?
Ah one, ah two, a helluva Hullabaloo. Hullabaloo 'Ray 'Ray, Hullabaloo 'Ray 'Ray, Hoo-ray, Hoo-ray, Vars-uh, vars-uh Tee-ay, Tee-ay! Tee-ay! Vars-uh, vars-uh Tee-ay, Tee-ay, Tee-ay TULANE.
Now, say it ten times fast. And, watch those fans who don't know the chant try to follow those that do. Pretty entertaining.
4. Jolie Blonde
There's absolutely nothing Cajun about McNeese State University. Heck, even the city of Lake Charles is a lot more Texas than it is Louisiana. But the Cowboys have "Jolie Blonde." Perhaps the most famous Cajun song ever has been adopted by MSU as their "unofficial" fight song. They play it after every touchdown and every victory. The fans sway along and even if you're on the other team, you want to dance. McNeese does have an official fight song, but most fans and foes identify this song with Cowboys' success.
Everywhere I go in college baseball, they play "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the seventh inning stretch. It's tradition. Can't argue with that. But it's rare that I go somewhere and people actually get into the song. At Louisiana's M. L. "Tigue" Moore Field, the seventh inning stretch means only one thing: It's time for John Fogerty. And, it's time to sing along. There's something about a couple of thousand fans singing "Put me in Coach, I'm ready to play," at the top of their lungs that probably intimidates the opposition the first time they experience it. College baseball has a tenth man. They reside at "The Tigue."
2. LSU's Opening Fanfare
It's been the same for as long as I can remember. The rhythmic drumming as the Golden Girls and the Golden Band from Tigerland begin their pregame march. Then the drumming stops. Then, the four notes that send 90,ooo people into a froth: HOLD THAT TIE-GER! And, at Tiger Stadium, all hell breaks loose. Can't tell you how many times I've heard it over the years. Still makes the hair on my arms stand up. And I'm not even a fan.
1. The Grambling/Southern Bands
Had to rank them both number one. The "best band in the land" and the "human juke box" personify just how much fun a band can be. Crazy marching antics combined with playing really popular songs really loud make the GSU and SU bands unparallelled in the state. And, when they get together to battle in the Bayou Classic it is, more often than not, just as entertaining as the game. Wait, make that MORE entertaining.....