Tiger Den Archives – X

Streak Buster: LSU @ Auburn - 1970



Q1 action


Art Cantrelle


Wayne Dickenson


Andy Hamilton


Mark Lumpkin


Gerald Keigley


Chris Dantin


Lee and Jones encourage the defense


Bill Norsworthy


McClendon talks to Lee in Q4


Mike Anderson


Buddy Millican

The article by Alf Van Hoose in The Birmingham News the day after#14 LSU played #5 Auburn began like this.

AUBURN, Oct. 24, 1970 - Foul weather, a pass interference penalty in the end zone, and an ornery LSU all visited umbrella-domed Cliff Hare Stadium Saturday afternoon.
And LSU won a football game 17-9 - an upset in weather perfect for same.
Auburn's 5-0 1970 start and Ralph Jordan's 19-year homecoming vic­tory string were other casualties on a rainy, muddy, gloomy afternoon for most of a record 62,392 folks surrounding the dark arena.

LSU fans remember the game because of the late goal line stand by their Tigers and, in particular, the tackle in the breach by LB Mike Anderson.

Charlie McClendon's Tigers came into the fray on a four-game winning streak fol­lowing a shocking 20-18 upset at the hands of Texas A&M in the opener at home.

  • Q1
    A record home crowd of 62,301 didn't let the chilling rain that had begun that morning dampen their enthusiasm.
    LSU returned the opening kickoff to their 31. Senior QB Buddy Lee (Zachary LA) repeatedly handed the ball to junior RB Art Cantrelle (Lake Charles) to work the ball to the Auburn 45. From there, sophomore Wayne Dickenson (Hattiesburgh MS) lofted a lazy punt that slithered to a halt on the 6.
    The Plainsmen's first snap resulted in a fumble when QB Pat Sullivan and FB Wallace Clark misfired on a handoff and junior LB Richard Picou (Gonzalez) recovered on the 8.
    After a 2y gain by junior WR Andy Hamilton (Ruston), Lee rolled to his right and lofted a pass over two defenders into Hamilton's hands in the EZ. Lake Charles senior Mark Lumpkin's PAT made it 7-0 just 4:10 into the contest.
    Undaunted, Sullivan brough Auburn right back with an effective short pass­ing game. However, when he reached the LSU 35, senior DT John Sage (Houston) deflected a pass, and junior S Tommy Casanova (Crowley) made a diving INT at the 37.
    After LSU punted to the 26, Sullivan gained 38 with one flick of his strong right arm, completing a sideline pass to his favorite receiver Terry Beasley. But a 4y run and two incompletions forced a punt that died on the LSU 7.
    On second down, a jarring tackle separated Cantrelle from the ball, and Johnny Simmons recovered at the 16.
    LSU got a break when Sullivan threw behind a wide open Beasley on first down. Then a draw and a screen netted only 3. So 5'6" Gardner Jett drilled a 29y FG to cut the lead to 7-3 with 1:15 on the clock.
 
Auburn's Bob Brown tries to stop a pass from Buddy Lee in the rain.
  • Q2:
    Two minutes into the period, Sullivan cranked up a drive from his 33. He did most of the damage with passes to his RBs sandwiched between runs by Clark and Mickey Zofko. But the drive bogged down at the 18, bringing on Jett for a 34y 3-pointer to whittle the lead to 7-6.
    Led by backup QB Bert Jones, the visitors embarked on an 85y drive to ex­tend their lead. Three running plays gained 14 before Jones found sopho­more SB Gerald Keigley (Greenville MS) for 23. A screen to junior SE Ken Kavanaugh Jr. (Fort Washington PA) got 14 more to the AU 34. Jones lofted the ball into the EZ for either Hamilton or Dickinson, but they and three Auburn defenders went up for the ball together. The pass fell incomplete, but the home team Tigers were slapped with an interferene penalty to put the ball on the 1. It took two tries, but Cantrelle slashed off the left side for a 13-6 lead. Then came perhaps the weirdest play of the strange afternoon. Holder Paul Lyons (sophomore, Midland TX) fumbled the snap. So Lumpkin picked up the pigskin and rolled to his left. He threw the ball into a crowd where a couple of players batted it until Lyons grabbed the ball at the 1 and dove over for two points. LSU 15 Auburn 6 with 4:21 remaining to halftime. Auburn fans had to wonder if it just wasn't going to be their day.
    LSU reached the Auburn 24 in the remaining time on a 21y Lee-to-Kava­naugh aerial, but Ken lost the ball on a fumble.

Lee carries against Auburn
  • Q3: Auburn took the kickoff and drove 86y in ten plays before settling for their third FG of the afternoon. The key play was a long pass to Beasley streaking down the right sideline. He made one of his patented sensational catches to the 12. But with their backs to the wall, the LSU defense rose up again. Under a heavy rush, Sullivan threw two incompletions. Then he found Beasley open in the EZ, but the ball squirted through his fingers. So Jett made the score 15-9.
    As the period drew to a close, the rain finally stopped, but the field remained a muddy gumbo.
    A favorable exchange of punts put LSU in business at the Auburn 40. A third down piling penalty produced a first down at the 22. Jones then handed to sophomore RB Chris Dantin (Baton Rouge) eight straight times, including a fourth-and-inches conversion from the 13.

  • Q4: LSU continued its march toward what looked to be an insurmountable lead. But on fourth-and-2 at the 3, the defense stopped Dantin a yard short.
    Yet LSU added to its lead anyway two plays later. Trying to throw out from the EZ, Sullivan was tackled by Sage and junior DT Ronnie Estay (Larose) to make it 17-9 with 14:05 remaining. It was the first sack of Sullivan all year.
    A pair of INTs and a couple of punts moved possession back and forth until Auburn reached the LSU 47 with six minutes to go. But Sullivan threw a poor pass that senior S Bill Norsworthy (New Orleans) picked off at the 31.
    Midway through the period, the sun came out, and the mud began caking on the players' uniforms.
    But after failing to make a first down, LSU lined up to punt. A disastrous snap caused Dickinson to try an ill-advised pass that fell incomplete and turned the ball over to Auburn on the 31.
    Sullivan pounced on the opportunity and fired a 23y to Beasley to the 8. AU then tried to run the ball down the throat of the nation's #1-ranked rush de­fense that had not yielded a rushing TD all season. Clark carried twice over the left side for 3 and 2y. On third down, Zofko tried the middle but lost his footing after a 1y gain. So the game came down to 4th-and-1. Sullivan fed Clark the pigskin off RT, but senior LB Mike Anderson (Baton Rouge) met the ball carrier in the hole and, helped by senior DE Buddy Millican (Baton Rouge) and Sage, stopped him for no gain to give LSU the ball with 2:40 left.
    The Bengal Tigers gained one first down before having to punt to their 49. Sullivan connected with Beasley to the 21, but time ran out.

Several Tigers provided outstanding performances.

  • Cantrelle set a new school record with 32 carries, splashing for 95y. Dantin added 54 on 18 attempts.
  • LSU ended with only 14 passing attempts thanks to the weather conditions and the fact that they played with a lead the whole game.
  • The Tiger defense held Auburn to 296y total offense, almost 200 less than their SEC-leading average.

Postgame

  • McClendon: I'll tell you this. Auburn has a great football team. If you can beat Auburn, you can beat anybody. This is the greatest win we've ever had because this win is now. Charlie said the LSU dressing room "was the most exciting I've ever seen." Our kids had been confident all this week. They respected Au­burn, but they felt they could beat them, and they went out and done it. Mac's news conference abruptly ended when his players pushed him into the showers, clothes and all.
  • "Shug" Jordan: There is no point in talking about the rain or the field. LSU played on the same field we played on. Both teams had some problems, but LSU just went out there, went to work, and beat us. There were two keys plays. One was the fumble on our first play from scrimmage. The other was the pass inter­ference call in the end zone. I'm not questioning the call. I'm just saying it was a key play. LSU did a great job of ball control. And when we backed them up, we couldn't keep them there. We didn't have much field position, but that was be­cause they didn't let us have any.
  • Auburn LB Mike Neel: I just knew right up until the final minute we would win it. All we needed was one break, but the weather conditions made it impossible for us to come up with that one big play.

The 1970 LSU Tigers won the SEC championship, walloping Ole Miss in the finale 61-17 for a 6-0 conference record.

  • Their only other defeat in the regular season was 3-0 at Notre Dame.
  • The #5 Tigers lost a 17-12 battle to #3 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
Dazzling Debut: Coach Jerry Stovall

Jerry Stovall's first year as LSU coach started shakily.

  • To start with, Jerry wasn't supposed to be the Tigers' head man for the 1980 season.
  • AD Paul Dietzel had chosen Bo Rein, the head coach of North Carolina State, to succeed Charlie McClendon, who was forced out by the Board of Supervisors after 18 seasons.
  • But just 42 days after his hiring, Rein died in a plane crash returning from a re­cruiting trip to Shreveport.
  • So Dietzel turned to his former player, Stovall, to take over. Jerry inherited the staff that Rein had hired.
    As director of LSU's Varsity Club, Jerry had accompanied Bo on every night recruiting trip outside Baton Rouge until the fateful one.

The 1980 Tigers started 2-2.

  • They lost to Florida State 16-0 in Stovall's debut, then beat Kansas State 21-0.
  • The Bengals edged Colorado 23-20 in their third straight home game.
  • A trip to Houston brought a disappointing loss to Rice 17-7 - the first victory by the Owls over the Tigers since 1966.
  • Throughout the four games, LSU was plagued by an astounding 20 center-QB exchange fumbles.
  • Frank Broyles, the former Arkansas coach and current AD who doubled as a TV commentator, expressed disgust that a team in a televised game botched three snaps from C. That's the kind of thing that should be as natural as blinking your eyes, sneered Broyles. When told what he said, Stovall agreed. I agree with him, and you can believe that we're working to eliminate the problem.

The Tigers couldn't afford to botch snaps, even if they recovered the ball, in Stovall's SEC debut against the undefeated Florida Gators in Gainesville.

  • After an 0-10-1 disaster in Charley Pell's first season in '79, the Gators had beaten California 41-13, Georgia Tech on the road 45-12, and Mississippi State 21-15 to rise to #18 in the AP poll.
  • LSU would have one break in that Chris Collinsworth, a two-time all-SEC flanker and a pre-season All-America pick, was not expected to play. He had been on crutches all week because of a technicolor bruise suffered when a Bulldog DB planted a helmet into his thigh. I don't see how in the world he would be able to play, said Pell. I know he won't be able to practice, and I don't see how he could do anything in a game without practicing.
  • But the Gator QB figured they really wouldn't need him. Southpaw Bob Hewko, one of eight sophomore offensive starters, said, Georgia Tech covered Chris; so we threw to the TE [Chris Faulkner]. Mississippi State jumped all over Faulkner; so we threw to the wideouts. We have plenty of receivers. We'll throw to whoever they don't cover.

One LSU assistant looked forward with extra relish to meeting the Gators.

  • Assistant head coach Pete Jenkins had coached the Florida D-line the year before.
  • But he leaped at the chance to come to Baton Rouge. I've dreamed all my life of coaching at LSU. In 1967, I sat up here in Tiger Stadium when Alabama played LSU. One of my dreams then was to coach at one of those schools. I think LSU has got to be one of the greatest places on earth to be a football coach. If it hadn't been for Jerry Stovall and LSU, I wouldn't have left Florida.
  • His top two D-lineman tried to talk him out of leaving. I told them it was LSU and that it might never come around again. And that Jerry Stovall was a very special person to me. I wanted to help him do what he wanted to do at LSU.

It isn't often that a team fumbles 12 times, losing five, but wins - on the road no less, and handily.

  • Eight of the fumbles came in the first half, five on snaps.
  • Gene Lang fumbled the opening kickoff at the goal line, then recovered and got out to the 14. Then QB Robbie Mahfouz, making his first collegiate start, couldn't get the handle on the first three snaps.
  • At that point, Stovall looked to the sky. I was thinking, Lord, I don't understand this. We've been working so hard. It can't be happening again.
  • Jerry substituted Alan Risher at QB and replaced C John Watson with freshman Mike Gambrell after the first series.
  • Fortunately, the defense, rechristened the Chinese Bandits by Stovall, domina­ted a Florida offense that averaged 33 points per game.

The Bandits recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass in Q1 to put LSU up 10-0.

  • Three plays into UF's first possession, Ramsey Dardar pried the ball loose from Hewko, and George Atiyeh recovered at the 31. With Risher and FB Hokie Gajan gained the bulk of the yardage, LSU moved to the 13 from where David Johnson booted a 30y FG with 8:21 on the clock.
  • Minutes later, Hewko dropped back to pass at his 36. But the rushers deflected the pass which traveled end over end into the hands of nickel back Tommy Boudreaux at the LSU 45. He returned the ball to the 25 but a clipping penalty moved the pigskin back to the UF 40. Two plays later, Risher lofted a 31y pass into the corner of the EZ where Tracy Porter caught the ball between two de­fenders. It was a corner route, a kind of delay, Alan explained. I stepped up in the pocket, and Tracey kind of broke the route and went behind the DB. I just tried to lay it up and let him get it. Porter: The CB pushed me. But we're taught to make the catch no matter what, so I just made sure that I got it in my hands. ... I knew I didn't have much room, but as I was falling down, I saw the end line go past, and I knew I just had to drag my feet.
  • That play was the only highlight for either offense in the first 30 minutes of action.
  • The best the Gators could do was missed FG attempts from 49 and 62y. To com­pound matters for the home team, Hewko left the game with a knee injury when hit by DE Lyman White during the scoreless second period.
  • Pell's backup, Larry Ochab, was only 5-10 compared to Hewko's 6-3 and was also slower. So all he could do was drop back and pass.
  • LSU D-coordinator Greg Williams responded by inserting a fifth D-back and ro­tating the down linemen to keep pressure on Ochab. The five D-backs lined up in a row deep in the secondary. We did that to keep the QB from getting a prerread on our defense, explained Williams. It was a little thing, but it worked well.

The Tigers put the game away with a 10-play, 78y drive in Q3.

  • RB Jesse Myles, held to 0y on two carries in the first half, sparked the advance with a 21y dash. Risher connected with TE Malcolm Scott for another 24. In be­tween, Risher fumbled at the UF 41 when tackled by Dock Luckie. But a face mask penalty on Luckie negated the turnover. He gave it a pretty good yank, said Risher while rubbing his neck after the game. The ball came loose then. Myles did the scoring honors from the 2 behind FB Mike Montz's block to make it 17-0.
  • But Florida capitalized on still another turnover to get on the board. After the Tiger D held after the kickoff, freshman Eric Ellington let the punt ricochet off his chest at the 9 where David Norwood recovered. One play later, Ochab looped a ball over CB Alvin Thomas into the hands of Collinsworth, who didn't start but saw extensive action. 17-7 with5:42 to go in Q3.
  • The Gators' momentum continued when Jude Hernandez fumbled on the first offensive play after the kickoff, and Florida recovered at the 20. But the Bandits forced a 36y FG that sailed wide right.
  • The Tiger offense quickly marched down the field to the 10 in four plays, the chief of which was a 44y scamper by Myles. But Jesse fumbled the ball away at the 8.
  • After forcing a punt, the Tigers took over in good field position. Then, you guess­ed it, Risher fumbled the ball away at the UF 47 after scrambling 6y after trying to pass.

As Q4 began, the Gators had moved to the LSU 32.

  • But a pair of super defensive plays by CB Chris Williams forced a 48y FG try that missed.
  • Risher then led the clinching TD march, Myles taking the pigskin the last 6y, part of the 148 he compiled on the ground in the second half.
  • Florida managed only 164y despite getting five turnovers. The Tigers awarded a game ball to Pete Jenkins.

Postgame

  • Stovall: I'm not surprised with the outcome of the game. I told the coaches this morning that I felt that the team was in the best frame of mind theyhave been in all year. ... We made a lot of mistakes, and it wasn't a pretty win, but it was a big, big victor, to say the least. It was the first time that we've had some consistency offensively, though we did make some mistakes. Defensively, well, this is the best they've played this year.
  • Risher: I can't believe that we fumbled as much as we did and still scored 24 points on Florida. We had some good breaks and some good defense. Alan revealed his feelings going into the game. I can't lie to you. I was feeling pretty down eary in the week when I found out I wasn't starting, but then I just decided to stay ready. May­be I would get a chance to come in and be the spark. Risher completed 8 of 12 for 65y and carried the ball 18 times for another 33. The offensive line had just a su­per game. They were really firing off. I thought they handled Florida's defense pretty good. Did he give the offense a quick pep talk when he first entered into the game? Nah. I didn't say anything about it. I wasn't sure myself. That thing [the snap] has to be automatic. I wasn't thinking about it anymore.
  • Myles explained why he was able to break loose in the second half. We started going to more of our cutback stuff. The offensive line was really knocking people off with that. They opened some big holes in the line. ... THis was our first Southeastern Conference game and we really got ready for it. This feels good. It feels great.
  • Dardar: The defensive line was pretty fired up to play Florida. Coach Jenkins coached here last year, and we just wanted to show him that he didn't go from good to bad. He went from good to better. ... He really had us prepared. Our game plan was perfect. Everything they told us Florida would do, they did. That gives you a little confidence ... I've said it before, and I'll say it again. We're got ourselves one smart defensive line coach.
  • Pell on the Tigers: They've fumbled 39 times and they're 3-2. So they must be pretty salty. ... They're probably the best 3-2 team in the country.
  • Collinsworth: I would never have believed that anybody could fumble 12 times and still defeat us. We've been taking advantage of those kind of mistakes all year. But not today.

The 1980 Tigers also won their next three SEC games before losing to Alabama and Mississippi State on their way to a 7-4 record that wasn't good enough to earn a bowl invite.


Bo Rein


Jerry Stovall


Charley Pell


Bob Hewko


Pete Jenkins


Gene Lang


Alan Risher


George Atiyeh


Jesse Myles


Chris Williams

Profile: Leonard Fournette
Tiger Rag's 2014 LSU Football Preview has a revealing article about Leonard Fournette.
Leonard Fournette
  • David Johnson, coach at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans from 2009- 11, knew he had something special when he heard that one of his 8th graders had been banished from his local playground football league. The parents drew up a petition to remove him from the league. So Johnson let Fournette play on the freshman team, a move that didn't cost the young man any eligibility since the LHSAA "eight-semester rule" doesn't apply to freshman teams.
  • After Leonard's first game on the fresh­man team, during which he played RB, TE, and DE, Johnson received a call from the opposing school claiming that he had used a senior. "They just couldn't stop the kid. I had to call and say he was only in eighth grade," recalled Johnson.
  • After seeing Leonard play his first varsity game as a freshman, LSU Recruiting Coor­dinator Frank Wilson, himself a St. Aug. alumnus, told Mr. Fournette that his son would end up as the No. 1 recruit in the country and to get ready for the onslaught of recruiters.
  • Johnson was a coach who liked to throw the ball and had done so in his first year at St. Aug., 2009. But when Fournette joined the team, the coach changed his offense, particularly in the last two minutes of each half. "I just handed him the ball four or five times, and he took us 90 yards."
  • With St. Aug. trailing at halftime of Fournette's first varsity game, the freshman RB took over the team in the locker room and gave the pep talk.
  • Through all the adulation, Leonard didn't change. Wilson: "You look at the amount of press and prestige he's gotten in high school, to see him bear that and handle it the way he has is exceptional. It's rare. He isn't an arrogant young man - he has a work ethic, he's selfless, he's humble. ... We forewarned him and helped quip his parents to prepare for it [the recruiting madness]. They're such grounded people as a family , and they just took it in stride. On the perimeter, it was total mayhem. But for us and the family, we were on the same page."
By the Numbers
7,619
Yards gained by Leonard Fournette in four years at St. Augustine High School.
88 Touchdowns by Fournette in high school.
4 Times Fournette made All-District.
2 Times Fournette won the Gatorade Louisiana Player of the Year, the first player in state history to win the award twice.
5 Number of Louisiana players named USA Today National Player of the Year: Josh Booty, Travis Minor, Brock Berlin, Ryan Perrilloux, and Fournette
"I know how it all got started."

Terry Bradshaw on cover of Sports Illustrated
Terry Bradshaw, Louisiana Tech

 

 

Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw
Bradshaw as a Steeler


Top of Page

That quote comes from Terry Bradshaw's autobiography.
  • He's referring to the perception that he was dumb, a poor student who couldn't get a high enough score on the ACT to accept LSU's offer of a football scholarship.
  • The story starts after his senior football season (1965) at Woodlawn High in Shreveport.
When some offers started to come in after my senior season ..., I had no idea how to handle the situation. I was a very naive kid and easily influenced. ... Everything sounded great. Everyone was convincing. Someone would ask me to go to a certain school and right off I wanted to go. ... I could have gone to LSU, Florida State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Christian, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, maybe SMU and a few others that slip my mind.

Terry grew up an LSU fan.

I loved LSU then and I love LSU now. I'll always be a Fightin' Tiger fan. I used to listen to the LSU games on the radio and went down there one time when I was a sophomore in high school and saw LSU play Tulane ... It was exciting to be wanted by LSU.

So what was the problem?

At first I thought it'd be nice to play major college ball. But down deep I knew I was scared of big-time competition. I really had no confidence in my ability.

Another problem for Terry was the fact that his predecessor as Woodlawn QB, Trey Prather, was already at LSU.

I didn't wanna go there because he was my idol and maybe because I thought I'd wind up playing behind him again as I did in high school. Anyway, LSU wasn't noted for putting the ball in the air that much.

Still, Terry felt pressured by LSU alumni.

  • A family friend, Ken Hanna, really wanted Bradshaw to become a Tiger.
  • Not wanting to displease, Terry signed a letter of intent with LSU.

But that meant he had to take the ACT test.

Now, here's how the part about my being dumb got started. I went down to LSU and took the College Boards ACT test and I flunked it. I wasn't even trying. But I was such a naive kid at the time I didn't know what I was doing to myself. How could I know then that some­one would spread the word around that I was too dumb to get into LSU, just because of a sour-grapes situation and because I decided to enroll somewhere else?

Bradshaw returned to LSU to play in the annual high school all-star game that summer.

  • By that time, he had decided to go to Louisiana Tech although the LSU coaches were still trying to sell me on LSU.
  • Worried that Tech might pull their offer because of his indecision, Terry signed with the Bulldogs.
  • He took the ACT again and passed.

Some of the LSU coaches spread the word that I was too dumb for LSU, and that's always made me mad, because I've always gotten good grades in school. When I was in college I went to class, I studied, and I got good grades. Back then, I was afraid that if I passed the test, it would have meant I had to go to Louisiana State. It's haunted me all my life. It may be the biggest mistake I ever made.

Reference: Terry Bradshaw: Man of Steel, Terry Bradshaw with David Diles (1979)
Profile: Young Bussey - I
Young Bussey was a highly touted player out of Texas who lettered at LSU 1937-38-39 in football and in '37 and '38 in basketball.
  • Young was already a legend in the Houston area while still in high school.
  • Always a rebel, he chose LSU over all the Texas schools that salivated at the thought of him in their backfield.
  • Young played on the Chicago Bears' 1941 NFL Championship team before joining the Navy.
  • His unit participated in the landings in the Philippines in 1944, during which a Japanese shell hit his landing craft. His body was never found.

Bussey was born into a large family in 1917.

  • The youngest of seven brothers and three sisters, all of whom idolized and spoiled him, Bussey excelled in everything he undertook.
  • As his biographer, Ralph B. Cushman wrote, Pick a sport, any sport - football, basketball, boxing, wrestling, baseball, or track - and Young would beat you. Basketball was his favorite.
  • After his father died when he was 11, Bussey made money singing at wed­dings and social events.
  • By age 12, Young had developed physically so far ahead of his age group that his teacher had to rig the softball teams during recess to keep him from dominating the game. She gave him the least talented boys, but his team still won. As a result, he developed into a champion of the underdog, protecting kids who were bullied.
  • Highly intellligent (he would earn an engineering degree at LSU), he exhibi­ted all the signs of what today would be diagnosed as ADHD, which made him a restive student whose mind wandered. On the athletic field or court, he would do things on a whim, to the despair of more than one coach.
Bussey could have excelled on high school teams even while in junior high.
  • He went 10-0 on the mound with a blazing fastball and wicked curve.
  • On the court, he liked to play what a later age would call "run-and-shoot" basketball.
  • He didn't develop as quickly in football until his older brother "Frog" taught him how to pass and kick.

Young wanted to attend Jeff Davis High School in Houston.

  • The head coach was an old family friend, Roy Needham, whom Bussey revered.
  • When he heard Young was coming to his school, Roy made it clear to him that he would never play for him until he changed his showboat attitude and became a team player.
  • Young's response was basically, OK, coach. I'll go someplace else and beat your team every chance I get!
  • What Needham may not have known was that Young had become acquainted with Dizzy Dean, a young P on the Houston Buffs, the Texas League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, while hawking drinks and peanuts at the ballpark during the summer of 1931.
  • Naturally attracted to someone so self-confident, Young admired the way Dizzy wrapped the press around his little finger with a steady stream of quotes. And Bussey certainly agreed with Diz's dictum that It ain't braggin' if you can do it.

Teenaged Young Bussey
Young Bussey on his high school team

 

 

 


Dizzy Dean, Houston Buffs

Young enrolled at San Jacinto High in January 1933.
  • His reputation preceded him since sportswriters had already written about his athletic prow­ess.
  • Having had little success in sports, the campus looked forward to a change in fortune, especi­ally on the basketball court where Bussey had excelled in amateur leagues stocked with ex­college players and high school grads.
    Two of Bussey's classmates at San Jacinto would achieve great fame.
    Walter Cronkite, future news anchor for CBS, played in the band and edited the school news­paper.
    Denton Cooley, an outstanding basketball and tennis player, became a world-renowned heart surgeon. Cooley later admitted he had been awestruck by Young Bussey's athletic ability.
  • With basketball season in full swing, Young played immediately for Coach Walter Hodges. Bussey flashed his ball-handing skill and unorthodox but accurate shooting ability.
  • But it wasn't long before Young took over the team, a situation that exacerbated Hodges' drinking problem.
  • Bussey participated in track in the spring while making top grades in a college-preparatory curriculum.
  • He also achieved notoriety for his ragged clothes. The non-conformist wore tattered jeans and a faded, sleeveless football practice jersey almost every day, even in the coldest weather.

Come fall, Young joined the football team and its new coach, Wylie Summers.

  • Summers' junior high squad had absorbed a pasting from Young's team the year before.
  • The freshman first impressed his coach with his aggressive play as a T on defense. However, he got into frequent scuffles when angered by blind side hits during scrimmages.
  • Summers wisely alerted Frog Bussey, who told his younger brother to stop acting like a dumb country hick.
  • Bussey became a vital cog in San Jacinto's line as the Bears had their best season in years, ending with a 2-0 victory over perennial power Reagan High.

Summers changed Bussey to a new position the following season.

  • In a sour mood after losing the season opener and fed up with Young's independent ways, which included pushing the coach aside to teach fellow linemen the proper technique, Sum­mers asked Bussey at practice to demonstrate how to pass the football.
  • Intended as a means to put the sophomore in his place, the request backfired because Young stunned everyone with his missile-like passes that made the receivers' hands sting.
  • Starting at TB the next game, he ran for three TDs to spark an easy victory over Conroe High.
  • The following week, Ball High of Galveston upset San Jacinto by distracting the cocky TB with chatter, what today would be called "trash talking."

That set the stage for the big game with Reagan.

  • More than 8,000 packed Buff Stadium where Bussey had watched Dean perform so many times. Bussey ran and passed San Jacinto to a 33-13 victory.
  • His signature play came at the end of the first half when the Bears got an untimed down at the Reagan 33 because of a penalty.
  • As the Houston Chronicle reported: Bussey made the best of his only chance, a long pass, and he connected with Mims who dashed over the goal line. The play [was] one of the most sensational ever seen on a high school gridiron here ...
  • A brawl broke out as the teams shook hands after the final whistle. The fighting extended under the stands and into the parking lot.
  • Several players pummeled Bussey until his sister Juanita charged onto the field. Still, Young, who played without a helmet in another act of rebellion, had cuts and contusions all over his face and head.
  • Later in the season, another record crowd saw Jeff Davis upset San Jacinto, a bitter pill for Bussey to swallow.

By the end of the season, Young Bussey had become one of the most widely heralded athletes in Texas.

Continued below ...

Reference: Young Bussey, Young Stud: An All-American Legend, Ralph B. Cushman (1993)
Top of Page

Profile: Young Bussey - II
Katie Lee Bussey couldn't believe the news coming from the radio beside her bedside Sunday evening, September 8, 1935.
  • U.S. Senator Huey P. Long of Louisiana had been shot in an assassination at­tempt at the State Capitol building in Baton Rouge.
  • The news meant more to her than to the vast majority of people outside the state of Louisiana.
  • She had only recently met Senator Long but had talked to him by telephone sev­eral times during the past year.
  • The subject of their conversations was her son Young, the most heralded athlete to come out of Texas to date.
  • A widow since March, she wondered, What would happen to the promises Huey made to her in exchange for her son's agreement to play football and basketball for LSU?
  • The former Governor of Louisiana had also assured Mrs. Bussey that two of Young's brothers would receive LSU scholarships as well.
  • Long died two days later, leaving the future of the Bussey boys up in the air.

Young Bussey
Since Young Bussey had publicly committed himself to play for LSU, most schools had stopped recruiting him.
  • A brilliant student, he craved an education. He had developed his ath­letic skills as a means of obtaining a college degree that his family could otherwise not afford.
  • His older brother Webster counselled him to put out word that he was no longer bound to any commitment to LSU.
In the meantime, Bussey still had his senior year of high school ahead of him.
  • Fans of San Jacinto High School in Houston looked forward to the 1935 season as they had no other because their team, at last, had a chance to contend for state laurels.
  • However, the optimism was shattered when popular coach Wylie Summers announced his resignation, effective after the opening game against Corpus Christi.
  • News quickly spread that Summers' resignation had been ordered by the school superintendent after pressure from an influential citizen whose son had been relegated to the bench by the coach.
  • The San Jacinto team, playing to save their coach's job, held the mighty Buccaneers to a scoreless tie.
  • The players' next action took the entire state was surprise. They went on strike!
  • It's not clear whether Young, the undisputed team leader, concocted the strike plan himself. But at the very least, it would not have happened without his approval.
  • More than 3,000 tickets had been sold for the next game at Beaumont. With the team still not practicing by Wednesday, school officials were said to be planning to suit up members of the ROTC.
  • Young, who relished the spotlight, issued periodic news releases.
  • The majority of people expressing an opinion favored reinstatement of Summers after a reprimand. But one prominent businessman demanded Bussey's expulsion from school along with any players who followed his lead.
  • Finally, the principal asked Summers to meet with Bussey and convince him to end the strike. The former coach told Young and the entire team that he had resigned of his own volition and could not rescind his decision.
  • The players reported to the new coach for practice on Thursday for the game on Friday night. The new man allowed Young to formulate the game plan and run the practice!
  • You'd expect a team with so little preparation to lay an egg. Instead, San Jacinto thumped Beaumont 31-0, adding to Bussey's reputation.
  • Proclaimed "the greatest forward passer Houston has ever seen," Young led the Golden Bears to victory after victory until they ran into one of the state's power­house teams, Greenville High, coached by future college mentor Henry Frnka. Self-confident to a fault, Young interrupted a pep rally in progress at the host school and took the microphone to introduce his team. The manner in which he comported himself impressed the rival audience. Greenville handed San Jacinto its first loss, 13-7. The home team was aided immeasurably by Bussey's ejection during the game after he protested a 15y penalty on him for a smashing tackle on the home team's star back. Frnka even apologized for the poor officiating after­wards.
  • After winning their final game, the Bears qualified for the state playoffs but were defeated in a torrential rain in Port Arthur 6-0. Young constantly complained about the "hometown cooking" of the officials, including a yellow flag for offsides that mysteriously appeared just as he completed a TD pass.

Young now turned his attention to basketball, his favorite sport.

  • He repeated as District scoring champion despite playing only half the season following football as San Jacinto went undefeated in the games he played.
  • Record-breaking crowds attended every game.
  • Typical of the Bussey Circus was a game against rival Jefferson Davis High in the finals of a tournament in Huntsville. Before the game, officials asked Young to cease his betting with the crowd, and he agreed. But at halftime, with the score tied, Young asked a friend to take any bets he could cover on San Jacinto to win. The friend ran up $30 in markers, a considerable sum in that era. After Young rallied his team to a last-minute win, sheriff's deputies had to hold back hostile fans angry over losing their money!






During the spring of 1936, more than fifty institutions of higher learning expressed a desire to help Bussey continue his education.
  • SMU provided him with an all-expense trip to the Rose Bowl to watch the undefeated Mustangs play Stanford.
  • Hometown Rice made a strong pitch. The state's flagship school in Austin tried to convince him that becoming a Longhorn would en­hance his future as a businessman in the Lone Star state.
  • But Young, assured by LSU AD T. P. Heard and Coach Bernie Moore that they would deliver on all Long's promises, stood by his commitment to LSU.
  • The immediate result was that all three Houston newspapers snubbed Young. No more free publicity.
  • Bussey was also left off the South team for the annual All-Star game that summer until clamor from irate fans forced the coaches' association to add him to the team, an action that caused an immediate spike it ticket sales.
  • The coach of the South team was none other than LSU mentor Bernie Moore. Asked by a reporter if he liked what he saw of his recruit, Moore replied, I'm not too sure he needs any coaching from me. He is certainly an intelligent and talented young man. I'm just glad he's on my side.
  • The North won the contest 13-0. The only threat by the South came when Bussey completed a 30y pass to the enemy 13. But an interception ended the advance.
Young now traveled to Baton Rouge to begin his college career.

Continued below ...

Reference: Young Bussey, Young Stud: An All-American Legend, Ralph B. Cushman (1993)
Top of Page
Profile: Young Bussey - III


Young Bussey


Bernie Moore


Jack Torrance


Mike Chambers with his namesake


Joel Hunt

Young Bussey arrived on the LSU campus in September 1936 with high expecta­tions.
  • The Texas schoolboy legend not only expected to achieve greatness on the gridiron but also looked forward to being treated like royalty by the campus community.
  • After spending a week with Bernie Moore, who coached him in the Texas All-Star game less than a month before, Bussey couldn't find the LSU head coach on his own campus. Young told friends this was what you'd expect "for the yoyo champion from Bobo, Texas."
  • The freshman's attitude presaged a difficult relationship between him and his head coach.
Bussey was assigned Ken Kavanaugh as his dorm roommate.
  • An end from Little Rock, Ken came to LSU because Moore promised him he could play baseball, which Ken considered his best sport. In contrast to his roommate, Kavanaugh was not recruited by Huey Long and in fact never met the late Louisiana Senator. Ken insisted he didn't receive anything above the regular scholarship offered at SEC schools.
  • Ken admired his roommate's wardrobe, which ranked as one of the finest in Louisiana. However, since LSU students wore ROTC cadet uniforms on cam­pus, the togs stayed mostly in the closet.
It didn't take Young long to cause a furor on campus.
  • "Baby Jack" Torrance, a 325-lb giant, had lettered as a tackle at LSU in 1931-32-33. He was also part of the five-man LSU track team that won the NCAA championship in 1933. (Glen Davis wasn't the first LSU athlete to be called "Big Baby.")
  • After winning the Gold Medal in the shotput at the 1936 Olympic Games at Berlin, Jack came home to Baton Rouge and held a press conference at which he announced that he was launching a career as a heavyweight boxer.
  • Torrance's manager/PR man, Herb Brodie, left the conference and went directly to the Athletic Dorm where he offered $3 per round to anyone who would get in the ring with his fighter.
  • Finding no takers, Brodie was leaving when someone mentioned that Bus­sey would make an excellent sparring partner. When Young arrived, he turned down the offer but changed his mind when some barracks mates called him chicken.
  • Promised $12 if he lasted four rounds, Young immediately spent $10 on a pair of alligator shoes that he charged at a local store.
  • The next day, a large part of LSU's student body crowded into the hot and humid gym to see the cocky Houston freshman get his comeuppance from Baby Jack.
  • The bout didn't last two rounds. Young battered the slow moving giant with a barrage of blows that bloodied Jack's nose and open a cut over his eye. A vicious right in Round Two dropped Torrance to the canvas, at which point Brodie jumped in and stopped the barrage.
  • Herb sent Bussey into a rage when he refused to pay for more than two rounds. It took Young's brother and several freshman teammates to keep the victorious pugilist from inflicting the same beating on the manager.
  • Young thus ended Jack's boxing career before it started.

Another giant who clashed with Young was 300-lb trainer Mike Chambers, so popular that the school mascot brought to campus in October 1936 would be named for him.

  • Chambers ruled the locker room by intimidation. He was unimpressed by Bussey's reputation and the triumph over Torrance didn't earn his respect either. Mike told several players that Young wasn't worth a fraction of what Senator Long promised him.
  • Bussey described Big Mike as a "cruel, sadistic, and cowardly bastard" in a letter to his sister. It was inevitable that two strong egos would not get along.
  • Chambers refused to tape Bussey's ankles before freshman football practice and wouldn't let his assistants do so either. Assistant coach Joel Hunt, Young's self-appointed guardian, did the taping to avoid a showdown.
  • When freshman Coach J. B. Whitworth (later Bear Bryant's predecessor at Alabama) complained to Moore and AD T. P. Heard about Chambers' bad treatment of Young, Heard assembled the entire coaching staff and trainers in his office to work out the difficulties. It was decided that Hunt would look after Young and try to improve his attitude.
  • A former All-American RB at Texas A&M and a Lone Star State legend in his own right, Hunt worked with Young to improve his punting. He also taught Bussey the art of moving laterally. In high school, Young simply ran over tacklers, but he wouldn't last long doing that in college.
  • The irrepressible Bussey soon started asserting himself on the freshman team just as he had in high school. During a lull in practice one day, Young directed several teammates to lie up and run passing patterns. When Whit­worth blew his whistle to assemble the team, he breathed a sigh of relief when Bussey joined the group without hesitation.

Even after the staff meeting in his office, AD Heard continued to worry about the disruption Bussey might cause.

  • He told Coach Moore to move Kavanaugh out of Young's room so that the "worldly" Texan wouldn't corrupt the "innocent" Arkansan.
  • Given no explanation for the switch, Ken wondered if his friend Young had asked for the change. Meanwhile, Bussey, finding his roomate packing up, imagined Ken wanted to get away from him.
  • Only when Kavanaugh's father came to Baton Rouge and demanded an ex­planation from Heard did the two players learn the real reason for the transfer.

Bussey started at TB when the freshmen opened their season in Hammond against Southeastern Louisiana. An above-average crowd of 800 turned out that evening.

  • Bussey engaged in a punting duel with his SLC counterpart during the first half.
  • Early in Q3, a blocked punt on the Baby Bengals' 25 led to the first score of the game.
  • During the final period, a series of passes from Young to Jabbo Stell moved LSU to the 6, where a fumble derailed the onslaught.

The Tiger frosh played their second and final game two weeks later against Tulane in New Orleans.

  • Nearly 2,000 fans at Old Tulane Stadium saw LSU gain a hard-fought 13-0 victory.
  • "Bussy," as several LA newspapers referred to him, was mentioned as one of the standouts for LSU although Young wasn't directly involved in the two TDs. He did punt out of bounds on Tulane's 9.

The 1936 LSU varsity won their second straight SEC championship, finishing the regular season 9-0-1 before losing to Santa Clara in the Sugar Bowl.

Tiger fans looked forward to the ballyhooed freshman class joining the varsity in '37.

Continued below ...
Profile: Young Bussey - IV
Having lost 13 of his first 22 players from 1936 to graduation, LSU Coach Bernie Moore looked to his sophomores to help fill the void.
  • The two first-year varsity men who attracted the most buzz were E Ken Kavanaugh from Arkansas and triple-threat TB Young Bussey, a Texan.
  • Kavanaugh took over a starting terminal position immediately while Bussey backed up Pinky Rohm at LH.
  • Moore planned to substitute his players in units, giving the A and B teamers equal time.
Bussey made a smashing debut in the opener against Florida in Tiger Stadium, a newly enlarged horseshoe seating 45,000.
  • After a scoreless Q1, the Bs started Q2. Bussey took a punt at his 10 and returned it 28y. Then his unit moved smartly down the field with Young finishing the march with a 2y plunge over RG. However, his PAT boot failed.
  • In Q4, Bussey, under a heavy rush, flicked his wrist and fired a dart to his buddy Kavanaugh who leaped high to snare the ball for a 37y gain to the 2. Young did the honors from there, then kicked the final point in the 19-0 victory.
  • The following week, LSU defeated the Texas Longhorns in Baton Rouge 9-0. Young was more conspicuous for his defensive play in this contest.
Next, the Tigers traveled to Bussey's hometown to meet the Rice Owls.
  • Louisiana Governor James Leche arrived a day early and took a taxi to Young's home to surprise his mother. The Governor also asked the Rice Athletic Department for help in meeting Bussey's demand for 100 free tickets, promising repayment when the teams met in Baton Rouge the following year.
  • The Houston newspapers beat the drums for the return of the local hero. The day of the game, the Post ran a full-page picture of Bussey under the caption Bussey's Comin' Home. No other visitor to the city, be he president of the U.S. or a military hero, received such an honor.
  • The Post also included Young's brother Glynn in a story. A member of the Tiger team as part of the "Bussey package" Huey Long promised the Texas star for enrolling at LSU, Glynn was only 5'7" 140 lb.
  • The B Tigers scored both TDs in LSU's 13-0 victory over the Owls.
  • Bussey rankled his coach when he decided to stay with his family in Houston and not travel with the team back to Baton Rouge. He didn't return to school until late Monday night.

The Tigers continuing rolling for another week.

  • LSU pitched their fourth straight shutout, Ole Miss the victim in Baton Rouge 13-0.
  • The following Saturday, the Tigers traveled to Nashville to meet Vanderbilt in 39° weather. The Commodores scored early in the game on a "hidden ball" play that become illegal in the future. Trailing 7-0 with three minutes left, Bussey went on a passing rampage, finally hitting Jabbo Stell on a 19y scoring play. But a bad snap from C prevented Bussey from putting the ball down for the tying kick. The defeat ended a streak of 13 straight conference wins for the Bengals.
  • A loss always emboldens the second guessers. Fans and the press question­ed why Moore didn't play Bussey more.

The Tigers vanquished their remaining five foes.

  • Bussey threw three TD passes in the 52-6 romp over Loyola of New Orleans. He also intercepted a pass and punted beautifully.
  • Against Mississippi State, Young threw a 39y scoring strike to Kavanaugh and scored himself on a triple lateral play. He topped off the evening with a long pass to Ken, then hit Jabbo Stell for the final TD of the 41-0 romp. Two days later, the Morning Advocate gushed: Bussey has one of the most power­ful passing arms football has ever known - he tossed one 63 yards to Kava­naugh ... against Mississippi State. The play gained 48 yards from the line of scrimmage, but Young was 15 yards back when he cut 'er loose.
  • LSU held off Auburn the following week. With the Louisiana Tigers nursing a 3-0 lead early in Q4, Bussey punted to the Alabama Tigers' 6, where it hit an Auburn player before being recovered by a gold-shirted Tiger. Two plays later, LSU led 9-0. But aided by a string of penalties, Auburn quickly drove to a TD to cut the lead to 9-7. When LSU couldn't get a first down, Young boomed a punt to Speck Kelly at the Auburn 26. He broke loose and raced all the way to the LSU 20, where a great defensive play by Bussey saved the game. He drove through two blockers and cut down Speck. The LSU D pushed the visitors out of FG range on the next three snaps.
  • After coasting over Northwestern State 52-0, the Tigers traveled to the Big Easy for the annual clash with Tulane. The Bussey-Kavanaugh combo struck again for 31y to the TU 9 to set up the go-ahead TD. Later, Young hit Ken in a group of Greenies in the EZ in the 20-7 triumph.

The Tigers' 9-1 record earned them an invitation to the Sugar Bowl.

  • The players were unhappy with the selection since this was the third straight year LSU played in the Sugar Bowl. To make matters worse, they would be playing Santa Clara, the same foe from a year earlier.
  • The result was another lackluster performance that resulted in a 6-0 loss. Moore gave the first team most of the playing time, claiming that he wanted to reward his seniors.
  • The large Bussey family contingent who journeyed to the Crescent City for the bowl game complained to their host, Seymour Weiss, owner of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. Seymour, a big LSU supporter, promised, "If Young doesn't get to play more next season, we'll be looking for a new coach."

Bussey put away his football gear and turned to his favorite sport, basketball.

  • He joined the team a month late. After a week of practice, he suited up for a game against Tennessee.
  • By the time Coach Harry Rabenhorst told Bussey to enter the game in the second half, LSU trailed by 21 points. Young refused. "It's too late. I can't pull it out for you."
  • The dumbfounded coach launched into a tirade in which he vowed that Bus­sey was through at LSU. Young smiled and said, "I don't think so."
  • Rabenhorst tried to make his promise stick, but AD Skipper Heard and Coach Moore stuck by him. In fact, Bernie was happy that Young wouldn't be playing basketball any more.


Young Bussey


Pinky Rohm


Continued below ...
Profile: Young Bussey - V
 
1938 LSU "A" Team; Young Bussey is #16.
After his teams lost only two regular season games in his first three years as head coach, Moore's fourth Tiger squad proved to be a major disappointment.
  • The consensus in the press was that Bussey would have to raise his running and punting to the level of his passing. And early reports from preseason practice were encouraging for both skills.
  • Sophomore Earl Graham pressed Bussey for the starting job but an injury in the opener against Ole Miss set him back.
  • The two-TD underdog Rebels of new coach Harry Mehre came to Baton Rouge and upset the Tigers 20-7. Bussey scored LSU's only TD in Q4 but overall did not have a good evening al­though his defensive play was praised.
  • He bounced back in the 20-0 triumph at Texas the next week. Then he led the drive that culmi­nated in the winning FG in the last seconds against Rice the following week. However, he suf­fered a knee injury that caused Moore to hold his leading ground-gainer out of the breather against Loyola (NO) the following week.
  • Bernie sent Bussey to New Orleans to get checked by an orthopedic surgeon. But nothing was simple with Young. Instead of using the money he was given to take the bus, he hitch­hiked to the Crescent City, arriving after the doctor's office closed. He didn't help matters by visiting the Rice team that was in town to play Tulane and giving an interview with Houston reporters while smoking a cigarette. He also smoked in the stands at the game the next day.

Ole Miss scores against LSU; Bussey is #16.


Coach Bernie Moore


Young Bussey 1938


Ashford Simes


Governor Richard Leche

Moore made a stunning announcement the Monday following the Loyola game.
  • Young Bussey today was formally dropped from the varsity football squad of Louisiana State University for breaking squad training rules. That's all I have to say on the sub­ject.
  • When pressed for explanation, Bernie said: Just say it was for non-cooperation with our squad training rules, that's all.
  • Bussey told a Houston reporter that he was quitting school. My athletic scholarship has been cancelled by T. P. Heard, athletic director. He admitted to breaking training rules by smoking cigarettes but cited another reason for his dismissal. The trouble started a month ago when I attempted to form an "L" club of lettermen as a players union. ... We get so little time to study after football practice that I don't believe one can play football and get the most out of classwork. The boys were behind me in the move, but I don't want to cause any trouble. ... When I tried to organize football players here, officials of the athletic department said they were 100 per cent back of the idea after the season was over, but they didn't want the club organized now ... I may have violated a training rule, but 11 others are doing the same thing. Another player was caught viola­ting the same rule, and all they did was to make him stay in the football players building at night. ... After the Rice game, I wanted to quit the team on account of my studies, but the boys argued me out of it. I went to L.S.U. because it has one of the best petroleum engineering courses in the country. I had offers from Tulane, Columbia, Southern California, and Ohio State. ... Monday, Coach Moore asked me about breaking a train­ing rule, but the first thing I knew about being fired from the squad was when they or­dered me to take my clothes from ... the football players dormitory.
  • By the next day, Bussey's tune had changed. Now he denied trying to form a players union. That's just a story someone made up. And he was staying in school. Now that I am not going out for football, I will have more time to devote to my work in petroleum engineering. My athletic scholarship was withdrawn, but I have been talking to friends, and they have said they will help me. No one man is so important to a football team, and I am sure the Tigers will go through the rest of the season without a defeat.
  • What Young didn't say was that his brothers were also stripped of their scholarships that were part of the package deal that brought the Texas star to Baton Rouge.
  • Meanwhile, the LSU Board of Supervisors extended Moore's contract through the 1941 season, thus lending support to his dismissal of Bussey.

All this turmoil came as the Tigers prepared to face the only team to defeat them in the 1937 regular season.

  • Determined to prove they could do quite well without their troubled TB, the Tigers upset the Commodores 7-0. Three times the Purple and Gold defenders intercepted passes in their own territory to thwart Vandy advances.
  • The lone TD was scored by Young's friend Ken Kavanaugh, who snagged an aerial at the back of the EZ from sophomore Ashford Simes, a high school teammate of Bussey in Houston.
  • The following Saturday, the Tigers lost to Tennessee 14-6 in Knoxville.
  • They returned to Baton Rouge and lambasted Mississippi State 32-7 November 5.

Two days later, Moore had another startling announcement that made the front pages of the Baton Rouge newspapers.

  • He reinstated Young to the team, stating: In my opinion, Young Bussey has suffi­ciently apologized to the university for his lack of cooperation and has thoroughly adjus­ted himself. I feel that he merits another chance. ... Bussey stayed in school after his suspension, kept up his studies, and in every other way acted as a normal student. ... When I suspended Bussey, I conscientiously felt that I was doing the best thing for the squad and for him. Now I take the responsibility of taking him back. He's my problem, and, if he fails, I will take the responsibility.
  • Bussey pronounced himself very happy to be back on the squad.

What wasn't discussed was the involvement of Governor Richard Leche behind the scenes.

  • First, he invited Young to stay at the Governor's Mansion. Then he sent his limosine to Houston to bring Young's mother to Baton Rouge.
  • She apparently impressed upon Young the importance of regaining the scholarships that made a college education possible for her three sons.
  • The governor put in a good word for Bussey with Coach Moore, who was not per­suaded to rescind his action.
  • The factor that changed his mind was the intervention of team captain Barrett Booth and other seniors. While publicly backing the suspension, Booth asked Moore to give Bussey another chance.
  • This allowed the coach to reinstate Young without losing face with his squad.
Bussey made the trip with the team to Auburn for the next game.
  • Rusty after three weeks of inaction and with his knee not fully healed, he played ineffectively in the 32-7 defeat.
  • Trailing 14-6 in Q3, LSU got good field position on a punt return. So Moore rushed Bussey into the game. He threw for a first down, then fired his next aerial right into the hands of a Plains­man. To make matters worse, Young was hurt on the play and assisted from the field.
  • However, as the score mounted against the Tigers, Moore put his best passer back in the game, but Young threw three more INTs before the game mercifully ended.

Young saw action in the 32-0 romp over Southwestern Louisiana Institute.

  • Entering the game with the score 19-0, he ended a promising drive with an INT.
  • He finally directed a scoring march in Q4, contributing some good runs.

Bussey made the news reports of the finale against Tulane but in a negative way.

  • The 1938 renewal of the ancient rivalry (1893) enhanced the reputation of neither school.
  • Bill Keefe of the Times-Picayune called it one of the roughest games ever played between the two teams - a game which wound up in the most disgraceful exhibition of hoodlumism that ever marred this annual contest which, for years, has been a clean and sportsmanlike affair.
  • With the Green Wave dominating on their way to a 14-0 victory, the fray turned ugly in Q4 with slugging and other instances of unnecessary roughness. Finally, in the last minute, Tu­lane C Bernie Smith tackled Bussey, and the two engaged in an exchange of punches. Play­ers of both teams - and even coaches and cheerleaders - threw punches. Finally, the fisticuffs were broken up and the two players who started the melee shook hands. When the game ended shortly afterwards, the teams shook hands as usual.
  • However, many fans of both sides had jumped onto the field in the last minutes of the contest. When a crowd of Tulane rooters charged to take down the goal posts at the north end of the field, hundreds of Tiger supporters on the field moved down to prevent the removal of the posts. A vicious free-for-all ensued. Because most of the state police had gone to their posts on the highways lo handle the traffic, the handful of officers left on the field could do nothing to stop the riot. Dozens of men and youths of both factions were battered, stomped, and in­jured. Small groups continued to skirmish until midnight using sugar cain sticks from the nearby fields.
    Coach Moore watched the riot from the tunnel at the north end of the stadium. There must have been 15,000 people on the field throwing punches. After a while no one paid any attention to the national anthem. One thing I'll never forget. When the fighting was at its peak, a little blond cheerleader ran out of the milling throng over to where I was standing. Her clothes were torn and she was bleeding from a cut on the face. "Coach," she told me, "ain't we having fun?" Then she turned right around and ran back to join those crazy folks.

L: LSU-Tulane Action; R: Tulane star "Jitterbug" Kellogg scores.

Continued below ...

Reference: Young Bussey, Young Stud: An All-American Legend, Ralph B. Cushman (1993)
The Fighting Tigers II: LSU Football, 1893-1980, Peter Finney (1980)
Top of Page
Profile: Young Bussey - VI


Coach Bernie Moore 1939


Young Bussey 1939


Ken Kavanaugh catching a pass vs Holy Cross


Tigers deplane


Ogden Baur

George Halas and his 1941 Bears
L-R: Chicago Bears coach George Halas, Young Bussey, Bob Snyder, Ken Kavanaugh, Dick Plasman in 1941

As Young Bussey entered his senior year at LSU, observers had reason to conclude that he had not lived up to the hype in his first two seasons on the varsity.
  • Coach Bernie Moore decided to switch Bussey from TB to QB, which in those days meant blocking back in the single wing.
  • Moore laid it on thick with Young, praising the graduated BB, Barrett Booth, as "the finest blocker who ever laced on a shoe" and challenging the replacement to fill those shoes. Bernie had had his troubles with Young but knew that the headstrong Houstonian liked challenges.
  • Moore told the press, In Pete Cajoleas and Young Bussey, I believe we have two of the best blocking backs we ever had at L.S.U. Bussey, in my opinion, will gain three times the recognition as a blocking back that he gained as a passer. And he was a good passer.
  • But many felt that Moore's real reason in moving Young to the new posi­tion was precisely to keep him out of the limelight as a follow-up to the deal with Governor Leche that reinstated Bussey to the team late in the 1938 season.
  • If Moore hoped that the "demotion" would cause Young to quit the team, his plan backfired. Instead, he filled his new spot with zest. A preseason article in the Times-Picayune said that Bussey seems to be getting a great kick out of his new chores as blocking quarterback, and he is revealing some smashing blocking for his mates that few figured he could produce. Right now, Bussey is well out in front of the other blocking backs, and is one dead-certain starter against Ole Miss ...

The highlight of the 1939 season was the game against Holy Cross in Massa­chusetts following the disappointing 14-7 loss to the Rebels to start the season.

 
  • The Tigers became the first southern team to fly to a game.
  • Young wrote home that the team was dressed "fit to kill" for the trip and sent snapshots showing himself and teammates decked out with new snap-brim hats.
  • LSU surprised the haughty Easterners and the nation with a convincing 26-7 victory.

Bussey didn't make the headlines or even the game writeups while playing BB, contradicting Moore's contention that he would get "three times the notoriety" that he had as a passer.

  • After starting 4-1, the Tigers dropped their last four games to record their first losing record since 1923. It also marked the first time that Bussey had played on a losing football team.
  • Many LSU fans wondered if their Tigers would have done better had Bus­sey remained at TB.

Since they were not playing in a bowl game, the Tigers were free to play in post­season all-star games.

  • Bussey, E Ken Kavanaugh, and G Ogden Baur received invitations to par­ticipate in the annual Blue-Gray football classic in Montgomery. A second letter, this one from coach Ray Morrison of Vanderbilt, told Young that he would carry the brunt of the Gray's passing offense. Some suspected that the most coveted Tiger, All-American Kavanaugh, insisted that his friend Bussey be part of the squad as a necessary condition for the big E's own participation.
  • Morrison, an early proponent of the passing game at Vanderbilt, worked Young and particularly his throwing arm back into shape following the three-week layoff after the regular season. However, Bussey negated most of the conditioning by partying round-the-clock.
  • The AP article about the game revealed the underlying purpose of Champ Pickens' all-star game in the very first paragraph. The south regained in some measure Saturday prestige lost in the 1860's to Yankee cannon and musket at Gettysburg when a squad of picked Dixie college stars routed northern football masters, 33-20 in Montgomery's second blue-gray gridiron classic.
  • Young came in with a whole new unit to start Q2 and, on the second play, heaved a 30y pass to his "glue fingered teammate," Kavanaugh, who ran the remaining 20 to the EZ to put the Gray ahead for good. Ken was probably on the second team just to be Bussey's target. Ken grabbed another TD pass - not from Young - for the final south tally in the 33-20 triumph.

In the meantime, the NFL staged its fifth draft on December 9.

  • The Chicago Bears took Kavanaugh in Round 3 (#22) and Bussey in Round 20 (#187).
  • Young's excitement at getting a chance to show the NFL what he could do was tempered when he received a letter from Bears owner-coach George Halas in­forming him that he would try out for a position as BB/LB.

It didn't take Bussey long to irritate Halas as he had every other coach he played for.

  • The first day of training camp, Young was giving an interview to a Chicago report­er when Halas abruptly halted the session. When the LSU grad asked why, Papa Bear replied, "Rooks don't give interviews unless they're cleared by me."
  • Undaunted and apparently not cognizant of Halas's place in pro football as one of the founders of the NFL, the brash rookie later followed the head man into the coaches' dressing room to inform him that he, Young Bussey, intended to be his QB ahead of all-pro Sid Luckman.
  • Braggadocio won't get you a roster spot. In September, the Bears optioned Bussey to the Newark Bears of the American Pro Football Association. Halas's parting words to Young were a challenge to show that he was the man "I be­lieved you were when I invited you to join the Bears' family." Not happy at the demotion, Young at least took heart that he would be playing QB.
  • Midway through the minor league season, he led the league in passing yardage with 859. However, his accuracy wasn't that great, 48-119, showing that he had a propensity to go for the long bomb. The next week, he completed 10 of 17 for 201y in the victory over league-leading Paterson (NJ).
  • Bussey was on the sidelines when the Bears humiliated the host Washington Redskins 73-0 in the NFL championship game. Showing that he lived in a fantasy world, Young tried to convince Halas before the game to activate him so that he could show he was a better QB than fellow Texan Sammy Baugh, the Redskins star to whom Bussey had been favorably compared while in high school. Of course, George dismissed the suggestion. So Young contented himself by racing up and down the sidelines taunting Baugh during the game. "I'm better in my underwear than you are in that silly uniform! When I get through with you, you won't be able to go back to Texas!" Years later, Baugh recalled the incident. "I'd heard a lot about Bussey and was kinda interested in seeing my fellow Texas perform. I was surprised by his personal attack on me."
Bussey's play at Newark earned him a chance to tryout for the parent club again in 1941.
  • This time he made the team and appeared in ten of the eleven games, mostly on defense.
  • His offensive stats read: 13 carries for -27y, with a long run of 16; 13-of-40 passing for 353y and 5 TDs and 3 INTs. Defensively, he intercepted two passes, returning for 10y. He also punted twice for a 37.0 average and ran back one punt for 40y.
  • Chicago again won the championship, this time over the New York Giants 37-9. Each Bear re­ceived an engraved commemorative wristwatch.

Young Bussey, Bears 1941
The Pearl Harbor attack occurred the final Sunday of the regular season.
  • Young signed on with the Houston Shipbuilding Corporation in early 1942 while waiting for his draft notice.
  • When the call still hadn't come by August, he accepted Halas's invitation to attend the Bears training camp. Kavanaugh would not join him since he had enlisted in the Army Air Corps.
  • As NFL champions, the Bears played the College All-Stars in the annual game at Soldier Field. Distraught that he still had no chance of beating out Luckman at QB, Bussey drank away the night before the game. His brother roused him late the next day and dragged him to the dressing room.
  • The fog in his head lifted by game time, Young entered the game late in Q2 after the Bears had recovered a fumble on the All-Star 23. After throwing an incomple­tion, Young connected with E Hampton Pool for the TD. Knowing his backup QB was nursing a hangover, Halas kept Bussey on the sidelines the rest of the game rather than give him mopup duty in the 21-0 victory during which he might tarnish the impression he left in the first half.
  • Still angry at Halas for what he perceived as ill-use, Bussey informed the coach after the game that he would be enlisting in the Navy the next day.

If Bussey had clashed with his football coaches, you can imagine how frustrating he found military discipline.

  • After two years of training, he was finally assigned sea duty in the Pacific Theater as a landing craft pilot.
  • He participated in the "island-hopping" strategy of General Douglas MacArthur, during which he received several citations for bravery.
  • After surviving ten invasions, Bussey was convinced his number would be up at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in the assault of January 6, 1945. He gave away personal items, including his NFL championship watch, to comrades to return to his family.
  • Young steered his landing craft full of troops toward the beach with Japanese suicide bombers roaring overhead. Unfortunately, he lost his bearing in the early morning fog. As a result, the boat emerged from the fog off course and hit a coral reef about 100 yards short of the beach. It became lodged like a sitting duck in a shooting gallery. A mortar from onshore made a direct hit, knocking Young and most of his crew into the water. Displaying the instinct and resolve that charac­terized his life, Bussey, despite being mortally wounded in the shoulder and chest, tried to rock the craft off the rocks while instructing his men to swim out to safety.
  • No trace of Young's body was ever found. Many survivors later credited his actions with saving their lives.
Reference: Young Bussey, Young Stud: An All-American Legend, Ralph B. Cushman (1993)
The Fighting Tigers II: LSU Football, 1893-1980, Peter Finney (1980)
Top of Page