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LSU Gameday 101

What to expect when coming in for a game.

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a tailgate on LSU’s campus that’s reached some minor levels of renown in a certain corner of the internet. I’m a regular on campus and discounting the COVID season, I haven’t missed a home game since 2012, over a decade ago. Hell, there are some days when I’m on campus for a solid 20 consecutive hours.

But I realize I’m in the minority, and the vast amount of LSU fans only come in for a few games a year, if at all. I also know that a trip to Baton Rouge is high on opposing and neutral fan’s bucket list, so this is a universal guide to all things gameday at LSU. For starters, here a few basic gameday and tailgating things to know about game day:

  1. Game day starts on Friday, as soon as classes end. As soon as the campus gates are raised at 5:00 (sometimes sooner), tailgate setup begins. If you’re not operating a tailgating then I don’t think you’ll need to know the intricacies of this, but if you’re planning on walking around campus I suggest keeping this in mind and waiting until 6:00 to take in the sights.
  2. Parking is a mess. This is my strongest recommendation to you: find where you’re tailgating and get there early, before 10:30 or 11:00 if possible. If you don’t want to pay for parking, I suggest you survey the LSU parking map well in advance of Saturday and formulate your plan of attack beforehand.
  3. If you want to see Mike, see him early. At the end of the day, Mike may be social for a tiger, but he is a cat and gamedays can be overwhelming for him. It’s definitely cool to see a live tiger on campus, but as campus gets more full and his space gets more crowded, the more likely he is to hide or retreat into his habitat.
  4. Cell service will not be great. This is why it’s important to find out where you want/need to be in advance of getting there, because as campus gets more full and becomes the seventh largest city in the state, your cell service is going to get worse.
  5. Other than that, organized anarchy is the name of the game. Baton Rouge police have a presence on campus, but as long as you’re not committing a felony and doing no harm, you’re free to have fun. Open containers, open flames, and open drunkenness are all permitted. Drink and be merry!
  6. Get in the stadium at least 45 minutes before kickoff. Especially if this is your first time in Tiger Stadium. This makes sure you get enough time to get into the stadium, get concessions (remember you can bring in a 32 oz unsealed water bottle!) and get to see Callin Baton Rouge and pregame where the Golden Band From Tigerland plays the four most famous notes in college football.

Now that you’re in the stadium, here are a few things to know about Death Valley and its traditions:

  • You’ve probably heard the legend that Huey Long wanted to expand the stadium but any available money was only allocated for housing, so he build dorms around the stadium with stands on top of them. That’s true, although it wasn’t Long’s idea but rather the athletic directors. However, Long “did help in other ways” with the stadium expansion.
  • Unlike most football fields, where only the yard markers in 10-yard increments are marked, Tiger Stadium also marks the yard lines in five-yard intervals and is one of the few fields in college football to utilize H-style goalposts.
  • It never rains in Tiger Stadium. The closest thing to precipitation Tiger Stadium receives is a stiff dew and humid fog clouds.
  • On successful third and fourth down stops, the Golden Band From Tigerland plays Bandits, a song inspired by the defensive specialist substitutes that played a vital part in their 1958 national championship. When the song plays, the whole stadium, especially the student section, bows to the defense.
  • The LSU band also plays quick tunes after each first down conversion, and before second and third downs, each of which also has its own hand motions.
  • If you miss the pregame salute and Callin Baton Rouge, you’ll get it again at the start of the fourth quarter. The version of Callin Baton Rouge that plays was recorded in Tiger Stadium when Garth Brooks played in a sold-out Tiger Stadium in April 2022.
  • One of the more underrated traditions of Tiger Stadium isn’t the band playing the alma mater after the game, but rather what they play after it. If you’re okay with hanging around, the long song they play is Let Us Break Bread Together, a hymnal with a touching trumpet solo at the end. It’s a very sentimental end to a day where hundreds of people came together to celebrate a shared cultural experience; and win or loss it’s a great reflection on the day and the fact that it’s the people who make the whole game day experience in Death Valley special.