Has It Really Been 20 Years? – From the Bird’s Nest
Twenty years? Really?
When the athletic season came to a close for Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns, it marked the end of the 20th year I've covered the Cajuns on the radio.
Now, I did some television work before that. About eight years worth.
But I'm a radio guy. And, I've now been doing the Cajuns on the radio for half of my broadcasting career.
I remember the first game like it was yesterday.
We boarded the team plane and headed to Knoxville, Tennessee for a meeting with the Volunteers. When we landed we went to the stadium. Back then we carried a huge piece of equipment when we went on the road. And we wanted to set up early.
Someone from the University met Don Allen and me while we were doing the setup. It was a nice, spacious booth. He wanted to know if we wanted the big window in or out.
"Out," Don told him.
That night the University of Tennessee sent out a van to pick up the media covering the Cajuns on the trip. It was Bruce Brown of the Advertiser, Don, Dan McDonald and me. I don't remember if anyone from the TV stations were there. They brought us to "Ye Olde Steakhouse," a pretty well-known establishment. Tennessee's athletic director stopped by to visit. Dinner was great. Tennessee picked up the tab for the food and beer.
The next day we went to the stadium and when we got to our booth, there was no way to tell there was ever a window anywhere in sight. I was pretty impressed and Don saw it on my face.
"It's not always like this," he said.
He was right. But it was a helluva way to start.
That first year saw a tough season for Cajuns football and a third place finish for the Cajuns in basketball. We didn't do a lot of baseball back then, only twenty games or so and I didn't go to the conference tournament. Don did that solo. That's because I was in Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Women's NCAA regionals. And, my first year ended in Oklahoma City with the Lady Cajuns and their first trip to the Women's College World Series.
I've seen a lot of good and a lot of bad in Cajuns sports over those years. I was there for Jake and Brandon. I was also there for 6-27. I watched Marty celebrate a championship. Jessie and Robert, too. I also sat through a couple of twenty loss seasons.
I saw Cajuns softball suffer the toughest two losses in their history. It was 1994. Those games won't make the list. But the regional they won where no one thought they had a chance will.
I've failed to make the conference baseball tournament. But I've been to Omaha. That's a pretty good tradeoff.
I'm currently compiling a list of my twenty best moments in my twenty years of doing the Cajuns' radio broadcasts. And, each of them will be featured in separate blogs over the next few weeks. There won't be a blog every day. There's some vacation time in there where I hope to be nowhere near a computer. But, before I begin, here are some ground rules I'm using in compiling my list.
First of all, I had to be present. There are some games I've missed, especially in softball since Steve Peloquin has been taking that duty for the better part of the last decade.
And, I had to be behind a microphone. I was at the regional final this year when Mike and Stef took care of Stanford. But I can't include it because I wasn't working that day.
And, remember, these will be MY twenty happiest moments. They may not be yours. And, they may not be in the order you would put them in. There are no wrong answers here.
As I compiled the list, it turned out the four major sports at UL are all represented. I wasn't being politically correct. They all deserved to be on my list.
So....get ready to re-live some of the good times in Cajuns sports over the last twenty years. Hopefully I'll jog a memory or two and put a smile on your face.
Because, on my list, the Cajuns always win.