About a month back, the following series of videos were brought to my attention. It being the heat of football season, I thought it best to leave these for a quieter time in the schedule, and there is hardly a better time than now. A quick check shows that these videos have shown up around the LSU corners of the internet already, but if you haven't seen them, you're in for a treat.
What follows is a PBS documentary from the early 80's called Men Of LSU. It is an amazing time capsule of the culture (and sometimes horrendous styling) of the LSU fan base in the early stages of what would become the dark times of LSU football.
(apologies for the sound problem, but this is the only section of the film where it occurs)
So much to notice in this first clip. The man in the field in the title sequence is standing in what is now a paved parking lot, but he would be now be shouting at a wall on the other side of the tracks where the massive Cholly Mac practice facility was later built. The man in the Chinese Bandit costume likely saw the bandits play in person. The radio station itself is WSMB, which used to be a big sports station in New Orleans before WWL bought them. Peter Finney may have been born with that full head of grey hair (he's still writing for the Times-Pic) It's almost quaint to see the "LSU Varsity Club" in the years before TAF would become the fundraising behemoth it is today. Can you imagine Les Miles and a couple of players driving a greyhound out a lakeshore cookout?
Gumbo, beer, and hot air balloons would make for a helluva tailgate today. The parade of crazy folks is interesting, but almost seems tame compared to today's standards (are those your door-punching relatives Jrlz?) Someone reading this knows where in New Orleans East those amazing Tiger doors are and I hope they have survived the years. By amazing coincidence, the last few minutes of this segment focus on the personal collection of Jack Andonie. Jack's "hobby" would grow to such proportion in later years that it became the basis of the Andonie Musem, LSU's on-campus sports Hall-of-Fame.
Words cannot describe how sweet that van is, even if it did cost $30K in the 80s. Even back then, defensive players and kickers were as celebrated in the fan base as they are now. I consider myself pretty versed in LSU football history, but this is the first time I've ever heard the Cap Gandy story. OBLIGATORY HUEY LONG STORIES. I've got no idea what's in that guy's trunk, but I'm guessing some of it aint legal. Oh Man, Snapbacks! Yes, drinking and driving was legal back in the 80's, but only if you were on your way to the game. I'm pretty sure Chalmette still doesn't have a college.
And now for the best part of this film. Those great/terrible old band uniforms. The tailgating scenes could have been shot last month for all that's changed since then. 3 or 4 hours? Nowadays those campers show up on Thursday. Death Valley used to have hedges, and I'm glad we don't anymore. Jerry Stovall really got the short end of the stick back then. A former Tiger great, thrust into a head coaching gig after the sudden death of Bo Rein with only a few years experience as an assistant. Like many wounds of the past though, I think the fan base has largely forgotten his coaching days (the following decade of Arnsparger, Archer, and Hallman also helps remove some of the blame) Stovall got elected to the College Football Hall of Fame recently and is the odds on favorite to be the next Tiger to have his number retired. That locker room is so cramped it's laughable. Ah, those old golden girl outfits. After some brief investigating, I've been able to determine that the game this is being filmed at is the 1982 season opener vs. Oregon St. (a 45-7 romp for LSU) It was the start of Stovall's best year, ending in a 1 point loss to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Axel's looks like a damn good place to eat.