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Tigers in the NFL - 2019 Update
I update every January the spreadsheet I've been keeping for years to calculate which Tiger teams contained the most future NFL players. Here's the report for 2019.
  • 38 Tigers played at least one game in an NFL uniform this past season - nine less than the all-time high of 47 in 2018. Here they are grouped by position with their years in the league in parentheses.

    Defense (22)
    D-Line (6): Michael Brockers - Rams (8), Davon Godchaux - Dolphins (3), Danielle Hunter - Vikings (5), Arden Key - Raiders (2), Barkevious Mingo - Seahawks, Al Woods - Seahawks (10)
    LB (6): Kwon Alexander - Bucs (5), Deion Jones - Falcons (4), Kevin Minter -Bucs (7), Duke Riley - Falcons (3), Corey Thompson - Bills (2), Devin White - Bucs (1)
    DB (10): Jamal Adams - Jets (3), Morris Claiborne - Jets (8), Donte Jackson - Panthers (2), Tyrann Mathieu - Chiefs (7), Jalen Mills - Eagles (4), Patrick Peterson - Cardinals (9), Eric Reid - Panthers (7), Kevin Toliver - Bears (2), Tre'Davious White - Bills (3), Greedy Williams - Browns (1)
    Offense (16)
    O-Line (6): Will Clapp - Saints (2), La'el Collins - Cowboys (4), Jerald Hawkins - Bucs (2), Ethan Pocic - Seahawks (3), Trai Turner - Panthers (6), Andrew Whitworth - Rams (14)
    WR (5): Odell Beckham - Browns (6), DJ Chark - Jaguars (2), Russell Gage - Falcons (2), Jarvis Landry - Browns (6), Russell Shepard - Giants (7)
    TE (1): Foster Moreau - Raiders (1)
    RB (4): Leonard Fournette - Jaguars (3), Derrius Guice - Redskins (1), Spencer Ware - Chiefs (5), Darrel Williams - Chiefs (2)
  • Tigers who played in the NFL in 2018 but not 2019
    OL Joseph Barksdale
    RB Alfred Blue
    LB Tashawn Bower
    WR Malachi Dupre
    LS Reid Ferguson
    RB Jeremy Hill
    DT Ricky Jean-Francois
    P Donnie Jones
    WR Brandon LaFell
    DL Bennie Logan
    RB Stevan Ridley
    CB Rashard Robinson
    LB Kelvin Sheppard
    DT Kyle Williams
  • Tiger teams with the most future NFL players on them (counting only those who lettered for a given year):

    32 - 2012
    30 - 2013
    29 - 2003 (SEC and BCS Champions)
    27 - 2011 (SEC Champions)
    27 - 2002
    27 - 2001 (SEC Champions)

Final Golden College Rankings for 2019-20
Team Avg. Points Win Loss Opp
Wins
Opp
Losses
Score
Value
Opp
Opps
Road
Win
Home
Loss
Reg.
Seas.
1 LSU 19.06 285.9 15 0 114 0 15.56 456 2.0 0.0 2
2 Ohio State 18.62 260.7 13 1 96 0 22.50 441 1.0 0.0 1
3 Clemson 17.45 261.8 14 0 88 0 19.19 325 1.0 0.0 3
4 Georgia 16.94 237.1 12 2 86 8 13.26 409 1.5 1.0 4
5 Penn State 16.59 215.7 11 2 71 3 10.03 354 1.5 0.0 12
6 Notre Dame 16.48 214.3 11 2 71 6 11.57 302 0.5 0.0 7
7 Memphis 16.33 212.2 12 1 73 5 9.28 364 0.0 0.0 9
8 Oregon 16.32 228.5 12 2 76 9 9.37 296 1.0 0.0 10
9 Appalachian State 16.28 227.9 13 1 76 6 10.82 224 2.5 0.5 11
10 Oklahoma 15.93 223.0 12 2 70 5 7.62 248 2.0 0.0 6
  • "Opps. wins" is the number of victories by the teams the ranked team defeated.
  • "Opps. losses" is the number of losses by the teams that defeated the ranked team.
  • "Opp. opps". is the number of victories by the teams the defeated teams beat.
  • "Score value" is a measure of the margin of victory in relation to the defeated team's number of wins coupled with the margin of defeat in relation to the victorious team's number of losses.
  • "Road win" and "Home Loss" haven't kicked in yet because opponents have to win at least six games to earn a bonus for beating them on the road and opponents have to have six losses before you lose points when they defeat you at home.

Toughest schedule: South Carolina
Easiest schedule: Temple

Conference Rankings
  Conference Avg. Reg.
Seas.
1 SEC 13.281 2
2 Big 10 13.083 1
3 PAC 12 12.597 6
4 Big 12 12.526 3
5 America Ath. Conf. 12.365 4
6 ACC 12.298 5
7 Mountain West 11.747 7
8 Sun Belt 11.343 8
9 CUSA 10.814 9
10 MAC 10.388 10

Avg. means the average score of the teams in the conference (with 12 being the starting point for each game and going up/down depending on whether the team wins/loses).

LSU-Clemson Thoughts with FOLLOW UP
To remove the suspense, I say LSU wins tonight, but it won't be easy.
  • Clemson may have the best defense LSU has faced this season, although Alabama's was mighty good and Auburn's was even better. AUBURN HELD LSU TO ITS LOWEST POINTS TOTAL AND PLAYED THEM CLOSEST: 23-20 IN BATON ROUGE.
  • Clemson's entire front four from last year played in the NFL this year. All were drafted in the first two rounds. This year's line is good but not that good.
  • The only way to slow down LSU's offense is to put pressure on Burrow. I don't see Clemson doing that. 
  • LSU probably won't score 40 points, but they should score in the 30s. X
  • So that leaves it up to the LSU defense to stop Trevor Lawrence & Company more times than Clemson stops Burrow & Company.
  • I'm betting that's going to happen. LSU's defense played much better in the last four games, including Georgia and Oklahoma, because they were fully healthy for the first time since early in the season. 
  • The game may well come down to which team RUNS the ball better. Both QBs can gash the opponent with their feet. LSU has Clyde Edwards-Hellaire. Clemson has an outstanding multi-purpose RB in Travis Etienne, a LA native that LSU snubbed until other schools offered him. Ohio State held him to 36y on the ground but he gained 98y on pass receptions, including a 53y TD, one of two he scored on receptions. He also scored one on the ground. It would be bitterly ironic if Etienne torches the LSU D and leads Clemson to victory. The focus has been on the QBs, but the game may well hinge on which RB has the better night. LSU 165y RUSHING, CLEMSON 160. BASICALLY A WASH.
I'm steeling myself to avoid thinking this entire magical LSU season goes down the drain if they lose this last game.
  • The last game of the 2011-12 season scarred all LSU fans. After having what was described at the time as the finest regular season any team ever had, the Tigers weren't competitive against Alabama in the BCS Championship Game in the Superdome. The 21-0 humiliation negated all the Tigers had done in the first 13 games.
  • But there's hardly any chance this championship game will be like that one. The Bengals will score on Clemson just as they've scored on every other opponent this year. It would be a major disappointment if we lost by 21 points, but it would be more like 42-21 or 38-17. In other words, no shutout. Also, the Bama game wasn't as close as 21-0. The great Tiger D played valiantly to hold the Tide to 21 with no help from the offense, which didn't cross midfield until Q4.
  • Last year, #2 Clemson thrashed #1 Alabama 44-16 in the championship game. Even though Clemson is #2 again this year, they are the defending champions just as Bama was last year. Could we have a scenario where LSU turns the tables on the defending champions the way they did on the Tide - jumping out in front right away to get a solid win?     
  • I'm not that optimistic. I'll say LSU 34 Clemson 31
  • Last word: I pray this game doesn't come down to a bad officials' call or non-call. We can't take any more of those down here.
Bowl Games Wrapup

I run the Bowl Game Pool at my school. Here's info and quizzes from the bulletins that I sent to all the contestants during the contest.

Here’s the conference standings with just one game to go.

Conference
Bowl Teams
Wins
Losses
ACC
10
4
6
American
7
4
3
Big Ten
9
4
5
Big 12
6
1
5
C-USA
8
3
5
Independents
3
2
1
Mid-American
7
3
4
Mountain West
7
4
3
Pac-12
7
4
3
SEC
9
7
2
Sun Belt
5
3
2
  • Best/Worst Predictions of Our Gang of Experts
    Best: 59 of 60 participants chose Florida over Virginia in the Orange Bowl. 
    Worst: Only 9 of us picked Minnesota over Auburn in the Outback Bowl.
    As for the Championship Game, 41 picked LSU, 5 chose Clemson, and 3 had Ohio State.
  • Interesting Quote (in Retrospect)
    "Oklahoma has a much-improved defense compared to 2018—during which it allowed 551 yards and 43.5 points per game over the last six contests. This season, though, the Sooners have surrendered just 330.6 yards and 24.5 points on average." (Bleacher Report before LSU laid 692y and 63 points on the Sooners.)
  • Best/Worst Bowl Performances
    One of the ways to determine which teams put forth the worst/best effort is to compare the point spread to the actual score. This is a two-sided coin, because if a team exceeded the point spread by the most points, the opponent underachieved by the most points.
    Best performance by a favorite: North Carolina was favored over Temple by 6.5 points. The Tar Heels (yes, it’s two words) won by 42, a difference of 35.5 points.
    Which favorite laid the biggest egg? Utah was favored over Texas by 7 and lost by 28. The Utes apparently lost interest after losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game and missing an opportunity to be the #4 team in the CFP. (They would have lost by at least 28 to LSU in that case anyway.)
    What game came closest to its spread and had the favorite winning?
    Western Kentucky was favored by 3 over Western Michigan and won 23-20. In betting terms, that's a "push," which bookies love because no one wins.
  • INTERESTING NUMBERS FROM THE BOWL GAMES
4-0
Record of Louisiana teams: LSU, Tulane, Louisiana Tech, and ULL all won.
42
Largest margin of victory in a bowl game: North Carolina 55 Temple 13
63
Most points scored in a bowl game: LSU 63 Oklahoma 28
0
Fewest points scored in a bowl game: Louisiana Tech 14 Miami (FL) 0
(Guess who got fired the next day.)
5
Years Alabama made the College Football Playoff (every year) before this year
0
Times the #1 seed has won the CFP in the five previous years of its existence
29
Consecutive wins by Clemson
22/0
TDs/INTs thrown by Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence in his last 7 games
564.2
LSU yards per game of offense, tops in the FBS
11.5
Points per game given up by Clemson, fewest in the FBS
151.5
Passing yards per game given up by Clemson, best in the FBS
88
Victories by the 13 FBS opponents Clemson defeated this season
100
Victories by the 13 FBS opponents LSU defeated this season

Quiz

  1. What does the NCAA abbreviation "FBS" stand for?
  2. Match each bowl team with its conference.
  • Air Force
  • Buffalo
  • Charlotte
  • Florida International
  • Georgia State
  • Liberty
  • Navy
  • Utah State
  • Wake Forest

  • Atlantic Coast
  • American Athletic
  • C-USA
  • Mid-American
  • Mountain West
  • Sun Belt
  • None (independent)

Answers below.

Baseball Short Story
A Bizarre Year - 2
George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire, Pete Golenbock (2009)
Read Part 1
Steinbrenner's treatment of Michael bordered on abuse. He kept bringing him in for meetings, ... and he threatened to fire him often, sometimes publicly. On the day Reggie returned from his tests, Michael had a surprise for the reporters. He ... said he was tired of George's phone calls after games and being told it was his fault when they lost. "I don't want to manage under these circumstances. Fire me and get it over with or stop threatening me. I can't manage this way. I've had enough."
Over the next eight days, Steinbrenner kept him hanging. ... He ordered Yankee front office members not to talk to Michael while Steinbrenner called Bob Lemon, living in California, to come back and manage.
After Michael was fired, George said he regarded him as "a son" and asked him to resume his duties as general manager. Michael told George he was a good manager. "Sure you are," said Steinbrenner. "But why would you want to stay manager and be second-guessed by me when you can come up into the front office and be one of the second-guessers?"
George's bizarre logic made sense to Michael, who took the job.
Under Bob Lemon, the team continued to play .500 ball. The Yankees finished the second half of the 1981 season with a 25-26 record. Turns out, Gene Michael didn't do so bad a job after all.
The Yankees met the Milwaukee Brewers in the playoffs. After winning the first two games, the Yankees lost the next two. After the fourth game Steinbrenner stormed into the clubhouse ... and began chastising the team. Rick Cerone had made a baserunning mistake in the 2-1 loss and George said something about it. Cerone had been a whipping boy all year. It started when the catcher, whom George got in a trade from a terrible Toronto Blue Jays team, became dissatisfied with George's contract offer and took the Yankees to arbitration. ... George ... offered $350,000. Cerone felt he was worth $440,000 ... When the arbitrator ruled that Cerone deserved the $440,000, George became furious, charging the catcher with disloyalty to the Yankees, their players, their fans, and to George himself. ...
Cerone blew up ... "I'm sick and tired and I'm not gonna take it anymore," he said. "Fuck you, you fat son of a bitch. You never played the game. You don't know what you're talking about."
"And you won't be playing the game as a Yankee next year," Steinbrenner replied. Then he said, "And we'll find out what you're made of tomorrow." And he stalked out. Teammates congratulated Cerone for saying what many of them had been thinking but didn't dare verbalize.
Steinbrenner's reaction could not have been anticipated. Cerone had embarrassed him in front of all the players, a cardinal sin ... The next day George left a card in Cerone's locker saying the incident should be forgotten. He warned him not to screw up on the base paths again.
The Yankees won the pivotal game against the Brewers and went on to defeat Billy Martin's Oakland A's to win the American League pennant. Their opponent would be the Los Angeles Dodgers.

L-R: Bob Lemon, Rick Cerone, Bobby Murcer, Jerry Mumphrey
The Yankees won the first two games, then lost four in a row.
Reporters and fans were particularly critical of Lemon's managerial moves in game three. George had ordered Lemon to bench Reggie Jackson ... because they were facing the Dodgers' left-hander Fernando Valenzuela. The Dodger ace was leading by a run in the eighth inning when the first two Yankees singled, and Lemon pinch-hit Bobby Murcer for pitcher Rudy May and had Murcer bunt, something critics were sure May could have done. Murcer ended up bunting into a double play.
Immediately after the game, Steinbrenner ... pushed his way into the Yankees' clubhouse. Five minutes later, when the reporters were allowed to enter, Steinbrenner told them, "I didn't say anything."
But when reporters started asking questions, they learned that George had said plenty, criticizing "foolish mistakes." The most foolish mistake was Lemon's ordering Murcer to bunt. George had also ripped into players Jerry Mumphrey and Dave Winfield.
Said George, "There'll be changes tomorrow." ... In game four, Mumphrey was benched, and Reggie returned. Despite a batting slump, Winfield remained the number three hitter. It has been suggested that Steinbrenner ordered Mumphrey benched not because he was 2-10 in the series, but because he was scheduled to be a free agent, and his agent had taken a hard line in the bargaining.
The Yankees lost the game 8-7. ... As Mumphrey stewed on the bench, in the seventh inning he watched his replacement, Bobby Brown ... misplay a routine line drive into a double. The runner ultimately scored from second with the winning run for the Dodgers. ...
After the game, Lemon tried to cover up the fact that George had ordered him to bench Mumphrey. He said he had been "saving" him, though he didn't say what he was saving him for.
After the 2-1 loss in game five, Steinbrenner left the press box and headed for Lemon's office in the clubhouse. He wasn't seen again until 11:30 that night, when he called a press conference at the LA Wilshire Hotel. George's left hand was in a bandage - he said he had broken a knuckle - and he had a bruise on his forehead. He began telling reporters how in the hotel elevator he had fought with two men who had been bad-mouthing the Yankees and the city of New York.
Almost no one believed him. ... Steinbrenner said he cursed at the guy, and there was a brawl. "He hit me in the side of the head with a bottle, and I reacted. I clocked him with my left hand. He fell ... and the other guy hit me in the mouth. I slugged him too. The elevator door opened, and I got off ... and went to dinner." When his left hand began to throb, he called the team doctor, who wrapped it. ...
A Yankees employee who was in LA at the time ... insists there had been a fight in the elevator, though what happened wasn't anything like what George said ... The employee ... was listening to a local Los Angeles radio station when the two Dodgers fans who were involved gave a recitation of what happened ...
Said the employee, "... George was going down in the elevator, and ... one guy was at the elevator and the other guy was in his room when the door opened. The guy at the elevator stuck his foot in the door to hold the elevator for his buddy, and George, being George, said to him, 'Either get in or get out.'
"The guy turned to look who said that, and he recognized George. He called down to his buddy, 'Look who's here.' Once again George barked, 'In or out," and the guy turned around and clocked him.
"My guess is that after George was hit, he pushed the guy out of the elevator. The door closed, and George went down in the elevator." The suspicion was that George hurt his hand when he punched the door of the elevator in anger ...
There was one more great George moment in 1981. After the Yankees lost to the Dodgers in the World Series, George publicly apologized to the citizens of New York. ... Among the Yankee players, Jackson reacted most strongly. "We don't need to apologize," he said. "We lost in the World Series. We have nothing to be ashamed of. ..."
Baseball fans everywhere reacted contemptuously. [Reporter] Joe Flaherty ... was one of them. "We've come to a juncture where we apologize for winning a pennant. That's the insanity of the times. ... Steinbrenner is a vulgar rich man from a small burg, and he has the Big Apple to play in. It's really for the enshrinement of Steinbrenner, not for baseball. ..."
Golden College Rankings - Final Regular Season
Team Avg. Points Win Loss Opp
Wins
Opp
Losses
Score
Value
Opp
Opps
Road
Win
Home
Loss
Last
Week
CFP
Rank
1 Ohio State 18.66 242.6 13 0 91 0 21.38 383 0.5 0.0 1 2
2 LSU 17.72 230.4 13 0 83 0 12.62 325 1.5 0.0 2 1
3 Clemson 17.15 223.0 13 0 72 0 18.74 293 0.5 0.0 3 3
4 Boise State 16.22 210.9 12 1 71 5 8.48 234 0.5 0.0 8 18
5 Oklahoma 16.19 210.5 12 1 69 4 7.62 236 2.0 0.0 9 4
6 Georgia 16.17 210.2 11 2 69 8 10.95 305 1.5 1.0 4 5
7 Notre Dame 16.11 193.4 10 2 61 5 9.41 246 0.5 0.0 7 14
8 Wisconsin 16.10 209.3 10 3 64 6 13.22 313 1.0 0.0 5 11
9 Memphis 16.02 208.2 12 1 64 6 13.22 313 1.0 0.0 11 15
10 Oregon 15.93 207.1 11 2 64 8 9.19 204 1.0 0.0 16 7
  • "Opps. wins" is the number of victories by the teams the ranked team defeated.
  • "Opps. losses" is the number of losses by the teams that defeated the ranked team.
  • "Opp. opps". is the number of victories by the teams the defeated teams beat.
  • "Score value" is a measure of the margin of victory in relation to the defeated team's number of wins coupled with the margin of defeat in relation to the victorious team's number of losses.
  • "Road win" and "Home Loss" haven't kicked in yet because opponents have to win at least six games to earn a bonus for beating them on the road and opponents have to have six losses before you lose points when they defeat you at home.

Toughest schedule: South Carolina
Easiest schedule: Temple
Largest jump from last week: Miami (OH) (12 spots)
Largest drop from last week: Central Michigan (10 spots)

Conference Rankings
  Conference Avg. Last
Week
1 Big 10 13.181 1
2 SEC 13.142 2
3 Big 12 12.795 3
4 America Ath. Conf. 12.543 4
5 ACC 12.476 6
6 PAC 12 12.460 5
7 Mountain West 11.841 7
8 Sun Belt 11.591 8
9 CUSA 11.077 9
10 MAC 10.532 10

Avg. means the average score of the teams in the conference (with 12 being the starting point for each game and going up/down depending on whether the team wins/loses).

Football Short Story
Nobody Works Harder
It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium, John Ed Bradley (2007)
The 1979 LSU Tigers faced #1 USC in Tiger Stadium. It was already known that would be Coach Charlie McClendon's last season at LSU. Bradley played guard.
When it was over, I raised a fist and beat the ground until Big Ed [OT Stanton] put his arms around me and helped me to my feet. I could've kept punching the turf all night, but it wasn't going to change anything. Back in high school, Coach Guidry had told me never to walk off a football field unless I was physically unable to run, so I buckled my chinstrap and started for the locker room, jogging in the weary way of a man who didn't have a play left in him. As I passed under the goalpost, a group of kids began yelling at me from the seats at field level. I removed an elbow pad and tossed it to them, adding the other one and my hand pads when more kids showed up to beg for souvenirs. I'd have given them everything and walked into the locker room naked, but the equipment manager, I knew, wouldn't have taken kindly to my largesse. At the metal door that led to the chute, I stopped and spoke to a student trainer about my chest. There was blood on my jersey and he wanted to know how I'd made out. "I did fine," I lied. Then I turned and had another look at Tiger Stadium.
Thousands of fans were still in their seats, beating their heels against the aluminum bleachers and cheering us on, even though our game with top-ranked USC had ended. We'd lost 17-12 when the Trojans scored with only 32 seconds left on the clock, ruining our dream of pulling off the biggest upset in school history. Somebody needed to tell the fans that the wrong team had won and it was time to put away their whiskey flasks and go home. ...
Maybe I imagined it, but no sooner had I asked the question than the crowd erupted with more noise. You like to make the home folks happy, but you typically don't do that unless you win. Going back to my days as QB of the Opelousas Junior High Cavaliers, I couldn't recall any fan who ever stood and cheered for me when I left the field a loser. Tonight had changed my understanding of what it meant to win.
In the days leading up to the game, even local oddsmakers had predicted that USC would beat us by twelve points. The Trojans, widely advertised as the finest collection of football talent ever assembled on a college team, had All-Americans and future pro stars on both sides of the ball. In fact, the 1979 Trojans had twelve future NFL first-round draft choices and 31 overall picks.
Charles White and Marcus Allen were the team's running backs; they each would win the Heisman Trophy before graduating to the NFL. T Anthony Munoz would become an eleven-time Pro Bowl selection with the Cincinnati Bengals and a member, in 1998, of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. G Brad Budde would win the Lombardi Award and play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Dennis Johnson, a future Minnesota Viking, was the Trojans' best LB, and Dennis Smith and Ronnie Lott played in the secondary. Smith was a ferocious hitter, but Lott, a junior, was the most physical DB the college game had ever seen. He'd spend 14 seasons in the NFL, most of them with the San Francisco 49ers, where he would play on four winning Super Bowl teams and become famous for punishing licks that forced fumbles and knocked out lights.
By contrast, no one had heard of our guys outside of Louisiana towns like Plaquemine, Baker, Bossier City, and Ville Platte. So how could we have played USC so close? I had no trouble with that one: We had Mac.
LSU had been fielding football teams since 1893 and playing games at Tiger Stadium since the first phase of construction was completed in 1924. Fans for the home team had witnessed Billy Cannon's Halloween night punt return for 89y and a TD against Ole Miss in 1959, and they'd watched as Bert Jones passed to Brad Davis in the EZ with time expired to beat the Rebels in 1972. They'd seen Tiger greats like Steve Van Buren and Y.A. Tittle, Jimmy Taylor and Tommy Casanova. Now they had the USC game to remember.
The game hinged on a face-mask penalty against Benjy Thibodeaux, one of our DTs who, from my vantage point on the sideline, looked wholly innocent of the crime. [Editor's note: The video of the game shows he was guilty.] We were leading 12-10 with about two minutes left to play, and USC's final drive to the EZ would've ended if not for the call. Schooled since infancy on the consequences of displaying "unsportsmanlike conduct," I was never one to blame losses on the officiating, but tonight I felt ripped off.

L-R: John Ed Bradley, Coach McClendon shakes hands with Ronnie Lott, Benjy Thibodeaux
I left the field and went inside the stadium, where everything was quiet but for the clatter of shoulder pads dropped into open lockers and the occasional profanity shouted by a teammate who'd wanted things to end differently. I stood at my own locker and undressed, all the while resisting an impulse to run out on the field again and yell for the other side to come back for more. "Let's play a fifth quarter and see who wins this time," I wanted to say. "Come on, damn you. Show us what you're made of."
I wrapped my middle with a towel, walked back to the chute, and stood on a scale. I was down to 222 pounds, 21 lighter than when I'd suited up. That was nearly a tenth of my body weight, lost in the time it took to watch a couple of movies. It was also 60 lbs lighter than one of the USC nose guards.
I pulled on a T-shirt that said LSU FOOTBALL and stepped into a pair of gym trunks and flip-flops, and then I reported to the weight room where reporters were interviewing players and coaches. "I've been going to ballgames since I was in school here," one of the older newspapermen told me, "and it ranks up there with the greatest ever played in Tiger Stadium. It surely was the loudest. They'll never forget this one." ...
I waited until he was finished writing in his notebook. "But we lost tonight," I said. "The other guys won."
"Tell those people that." And now he pointed a pen upward, indicating the fans still beating their feet against the metal seats above us in the stadium.
More than anything, we'd wanted to win it for Coach Mac. Refusing to acknowledge the many other factors that had led to his ouster, we'd had it in our heads that a victory over the country's most celebrated team might be enough to prompt the Board of Supervisors to extend his contract another five years, or at least until he reached a more suitable retirement age. If we could humble the Trojans, I'd told the guys at practice that week, how could the school let him go? Now, with the loss, I felt as if we'd let him down.
"I guess it wasn't meant to be," Big Ed said later in the dorm.
"I guess God wanted something else for us," I answered, even as I lay on my bunk and wondered if God really played a role in the outcome of football games, including those as big as ours with USC.
Unable to sleep, I staggered out in the hall and waited with some of my teammates for curfew check. They were sitting on the carpeted floor in a loose arrangement on their knees and shoulders, others wrapped in bandages. A few had deep, open cuts on their arms and abrasions decorating their chins and foreheads. Like me, they'd been unable to get their bodies to shut down, and they knew that to sleep meant to wake up tomorrow with the game result freshly printed in the newspaper, thus making it irreversible. At this moment it still seemed that if we held on to the night, we held on to the possiblity that our fate could be overturned. Benjy wouldn't get the call, the Trojans wouldn't punch it in, Coach Mac wouldn't lose his job after 27 years. If there was any fairness in the world, we'd get what we earned rather than what was dealt.
At half past two, a dorm monitor came by and announced that Mac had suspended curfew for thenight, as a gift to us. I hopped to my feet and walked from room to room, knocking on doors and shouting "No curfew, no curfew tonight." Only a couple of players took me at my word. They came out, pulling on their jeans and shoes and stumbling toward the exits. The rest told me to go away.
Toward dawn I found myself seated in the grass on the levee with a girl I knew. ... As the sun came up, I got to my feet and started down the grade to the Impala parked on a River Road turnaround. The girl, following close behind, stopped about halfway down and slapped her legs. "Mosquitoes 'bout to eat me alive," she said.
Somehow I knew I'd never recover.
Answers to Quiz
1. Football Bowl Subdivision

2. Air Force Mountain West
Buffalo Mid-American
Charlotte C-USA
Florida International C-USA
Georgia State Sun Belt
Liberty Independent
Navy American Athletic
Utah State Mountain West
Wake Forest Atlantic Coast

About This Site
This site is devoted primarily but not exclusively to college and pro football. The unique feature of this site is the publication each fall of the author's rankings of all FBS college football teams and similar rankings for the NFL. I live in New Orleans and am a graduate of LSU and Florida State. So I present a Southern and particularly an SEC point of view but one that is reasonably objective. I also publish a Football Magazine five or six times a year with stories from the past and a periodic Baseball Magazine with a similar format. During the winter and spring, there's a Basketball Magazine.

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Basketball Short Story: Early Pro Basketball
Tiger Den Basketball Post-season games - 1979
NBA Finals - Game 7: 1960
Season in Time - 2: CCNY 1949-50
Basketball Quiz - NCAA Scoring Leaders
Tiger Den: 1965 Super Bowl
Saints Saga
: Unexpected Uplifting Victory
Seminoles Sidelines: First FSU Football Game
Super Bowl XIV - Rams vs Steelers
Football Profile: John Heisman - 2
Short Story
: Quite a Plane Ride
How Well Do You Know the Rules?
Football Quiz

 

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