Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Carl DuBois on being a Tiger

I saw this in The Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper) this morning, and I thought about posting it if only for the enjoyment of myself and TCL, who is the only other known LSU fan who's a regular Wisdom reader.

But now that most of south Louisiana is reading the Wisdom (thanks, TCL!), I figure more folks might enjoy this. If you don't understand, that's ok. You have to be special to be an LSU fan.
Maybe you've heard countless tales about LSU's national championship football season of 1958 as long as you can remember, and you wondered if anything like that could happen in your lifetime.

Maybe, during LSU's struggles in the 1990s, you took solace in how Skip Bertman built a baseball program that won five national titles, and you thought of the possibilities if a football coach with a vision and a plan of that caliber would awaken the sleeping giant across Nicholson Drive.

Maybe you stayed until the bitter end of the 58-3 loss to Florida in 1993, because that's what true fans do. Maybe you booed at the end of the first half of the loss to Ole Miss in 2001, because you believe you purchased that right when you bought your season ticket.

Maybe you wanted to Help Mac Pack. Maybe you cried when Paul Dietzel left.

Maybe the Golden Band from Tigerland's pregame fanfare always gives you goose bumps. Maybe you own the CD. And the cassette.

Maybe you swelled with pride when a national announcer acknowledged the existence of a player from your hometown. Maybe you cringed every time ABC's Chris Schenkel pronounced Opelousas as if it were a breed of horse.

Maybe you once thought the magic was back, but the trick was on you.

Maybe you miss Cholly Mac and wish you could tell him.

Maybe you'll have two friends videotaping the Sugar Bowl for you, as backups, just to be sure. Maybe you beat the odds and struck gold in the ticket lottery, but your best friend didn't, and you wish there were something you could do.

Maybe you inherited your season tickets from your parents, and you choke up when you imagine how excited they would be Sunday. Maybe you will go to church that day for the first time in years, maybe near the Superdome.

Maybe New Orleans was an annual vacation spot for your family, and you watched the Dome mushroom out of the ground from nowhere and thought it was so cool to think about football indoors, which your mom never allowed.

Maybe you're old enough to remember the first play in Saints history, John Gilliam's 94-yard kickoff return, and you remember thinking, "This is going to be so great!"

Maybe you've often said New Orleans would implode if the Saints ever played a Super Bowl in the Dome. Maybe you're thinking that would pale in comparison to the improbable: LSU playing there for a national championship.

Maybe you stop and nearly pinch yourself each time you hear someone -- maybe you -- saying "LSU" and "national championship" in the same sentence, one that doesn't use the past tense.

Maybe you can't seem to stop humming the Michigan fight song.

Maybe you knew Jeff Boss. Maybe you wish you did.

Maybe your breakfast of champions on work days is a Little Debbie oatmeal pie and day-old coffee reheated in the microwave, because if it's good enough for Nick Saban ...

Maybe you can't wait for Sunday to get here. Maybe you want time to slow down so the moment can last forever. Maybe you know you might never pass this way again.

Maybe your boss already suspects you'll call in sick Monday. Maybe she will, too.

Maybe you bought your daughter a Matt Mauck jersey for Christmas. Maybe she's twice his age. Maybe you hope LSU changes the campus speed limit to 18 mph, in honor of Mauck's jersey number, as Ole Miss did for Archie Manning.

Maybe your children will tell their children stories about Mauck and Justin Vincent the way your parents told you about Warren Rabb, Billy Cannon and Dietzel.

Maybe you're a street musician who is unaffected by it all, except to say you're puzzled by the influx of people in purple and gold asking if you can play "Hold That Tiger" or "Hey, Nick Saban" on your accordion.

Maybe your story is as original as a snowflake. Maybe you're a walking cliché. Maybe you wouldn't know a red zone from a blue-light special, but you heard this is the biggest LSU football game in 45 years, and you don't want to miss it.

Maybe you still can't wrap your mind around it all. Maybe it's big because it's the next game.

If you've read this far, it's a given you've waited a long time for this. Win or lose, enjoy your slice of it. Don't sweat the small stuff. Worry about the things you can control. Play within yourself. Focus on the details. Stay in the moment. Take advantage of your opportunities. Find a designated driver.

Maybe nobody needs to tell you what this game means to LSU fans in the big picture. Maybe, just maybe, we've helped you with some of the details.
This piece was only ruined by the headline "Sunday an exciting day for fans". Damn sports desk. I came up with better headlines when I worked as a State-Times intern.

The article

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