LSU Bowl Games

1936 Sugar Bowl
LSU's Season
  • Bernie Moore's first LSU squad lost its opener to Rice, 10-7, then won the remaining nine games to win the Southeastern Conference crown.
    Moore became LSU head coach because of Senator Huey Long's meddling in the football program. Huey criticized Coach Biff Jones publicly when the 1934 Tigers lost back-to-back games to Tulane and Tennessee. At halftime of the season finale, the Tigers trailed visiting Oregon 13-0. As Jones prepared to explain to his squad what they had to do to get back in the game, Long barged into the locker room and demanded to talk to the team. Jones told him no and stood his ground. Huey said, "I'm sick of losing and tying games. You'd better win this one." Flushed with anger, Biff told him, "Senator, get this: win, lose, or draw, I quit."
    An assistant on Jones's staff, Moore had coached the LSU track team to the 1933 national championship.
    Long was assassinated in the State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge September 10, 18 days before Bernie's first game as head coach.
  • Moore's offensive star was triple-threat TB Gus Mickal, who would soon become LSU's first NFL draftee. The undisputed defensive star for the Tigers was E Gaynell "Gus" Tinsley. Bernie was effusive in his praise. He's the greatest lineman I ever saw, someone who could have made All-America at any position. He was so tough he made blockers quit.
  • The Tigers pitched five shutouts: Manhattan (32-0 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn), Auburn (6-0), at Georgia (13-0), Southwestern Louisiana (56-0), and at Tulane (41-0).
  • The mathematical system of economics professor Frank Dickinson ranked the Tigers #4. The United Press International sportswriters' poll placed LSU #7. (The Associated Press would start its poll the following season.)
    Dickinson, an economics professor at the University of llinois, devised a mathematical point formula based on strength of schedule for ranking college football teams. He "crowned" a national champion from 1926 to 1940.
  • As a result, LSU received the school's first bowl bid ever. They would play their second straight game at Tulane Stadium, this one on New Year's Day against TCU in the second annual Sugar Bowl.
LSU 1935
Manhattan (Brooklyn)
Arkansas (Shreveport)
@Vanderbilt 7-2
Mississippi State
Southwestern LA 56-0

Bernie Moore

Dutch Meyer
TCU 1935
Howard Payne
North Texas State
@Arkansas 13-7
@Tulsa 13-0
Texas A&M 19-14
@Centenary 27-7
@Loyola (N.O.)
@Texas 28-0
Rice 27-6
SMU 14-20
@Santa Clara 10-6
The Opponent
  • In his second season in Fort Worth, Dutch Meyer coached the Horned Frogs to an 11-1 record. One of the victories came in New Orleans, 14-0 over Loyola.
  • A battle of unbeatens for the Southwest Conference championship on November 30 resulted in a 20-14 SMU victory that sent the Mustangs to the Rose Bowl and the Frogs to the Sugar. It was TCU's first post-season game.
  • Dickinson's final standings – he didn't recalculate after the bowl games – pegged TCU #8. Amazingly, the Frogs didn't make the Top 25 in the UPI vote.
  • Known as an innovator in the passing game, Meyer had the ideal QB to run his system. Sammy Baugh threw for 1,293y on 101 completions and 19 TD.
  • TCU and LSU met two common opponents. Both beat Arkansas by the identical score, 13-7. But LSU lost to Rice 10-7 while the Horned Frogs defeated the Owls 27-6.

Pre-game Prospects

  • Even if the heavy rains that had fallen for three days stopped before the 1:30 kickoff, the field would at least be sloppy, which concerned Meyer.
    It's going to be a great game. I hate for us to have to play on a slippery field—and we haven't played in the mud in two seasons. I am afraid the wet ball will hurt our chances. Sam Baugh may be able to throw them, but the catching will be tough.
  • Bernie Moore also commented on the strong possibility of challenging conditions.
    I feel that under such conditions, neither team will be retarded more than the other. If we are called upon to decide the game in the rain or on such a field that the ball becomes wet, muddy and slippery, there is little question that the attacks of both teams will suffer fully 50 per cent.
  • Neither team reported any injuries.
  • TCU averaged three pounds more per man than LSU. However, the Tigers fielded the deeper squad, with "three first rate backfields and two lines of near equal strength." On the other side, only 16 of TCU's 27 players saw regular action.
  • The game would feature two All-American players in Gaynell Tinsley, LSU's powerful end, and Darrell Lester, TCU's husky C who had been selected to the mythical team for the second time.
1936 Sugar Bowl
1936 Sugar Bowl game before the rain began

Hometown Pos.
Gaynell Tinsley 185 Haynesville LA LE
Paul Carroll 205 Loflin TX LT
Osborne Helveston 195 Biloxi MS LG
Marvin Stewart 205 Picayune MS C
A. D. Brown 190 Laurel MS RG
Justin Rukas 200 Gary IN RT
Jeff Barrett 170 Houston TX RE
Ernest Seago 183 Temple TX QB
Abe Mickal 180 McComb MS LH
Jesse Fatherree 175 Jackson MS RH
J. T. Reed 165 Haynesville LA FB
L. D. Meyer
Drew Ellis
Wilbert Harrison
Darrell Lester
Tracey Kellow
Wilson Groseclose
Walter Roach
Sammy Baugh
George Kline
Jimmy Lawrence
Talden Manton

TCU Starters

The Game

With hundreds of extra seats added to Tulane Stadium, 37,000 were anticipated for the game. But the chilly, damp weather cut the number to 35,000, but that was still the largest crowd ever for a sporting event in Louisiana.
With rain threatening, the "scalpers" took a scalping. They were almost giving tickets away at the entrance gates.
The estimated 4,000 Texans in their 10-gallon hats and high-heeled boots were easily distinguishable from the Tiger fans with their purple and gold colors displayed on coat lapels. Rain began falling late in the first half and continued throughout the rest of the contest. As the Sugar Bowl's web site says, "Considering everything, the crowd may have witnessed the finest touchdown-less game ever played, complete with multiple goal-line stands."
  • Q1: TCU showed more offense than LSU in the scoreless first quarter.
    Abe Mickal dropped the kickoff into HB Jim Lawrence's hands on the 2, and he returned it 15y. After three runs gained only a few yards, Sam Baugh, one of the greatest punters in football history, launched a rocket that J. T. "Rock" Reed tracked down on the 19, and Drew Ellis upended him on the 23. It was the first of 27 punts that the teams would boot during the soggy afternoon.
    The Tigers took to the air on their very first play. Mickal tossed down the slot to Barrett, but Baugh came up from his S position to knock it down. Indispensable on both sides of the ball, Sammy would play all 60 minutes. Despite an offside penalty on the defense, LSU couldn't gain a first down. So Mickal, another excellent kicker, banged a punt to the TCU 20 where Baugh grabbed it and returned just 3y before T Justin Rukas downed him.
    After an offside penalty nullified a completion, Baugh, who was subjected to a fierce Tiger rush all afternoon, passed to L. D. Meyer, the coach's nephew, for 16y to the Frog 37. Then Lawrence dashed 26y to put the ball on the LSU 37. Following three short line bucks, Reed intercepted the fourth down pass and returned it 7y to the 24.
    On 2nd-and-12, Reed bolted for 21y in what would turn out to be LSU's longest run from scrimmage. But after two runs moved to the ball to midfield, Mickal quick-kicked to the Frog 7.

    Reed scampers for 21.
    Continuing the game of "I don't want it, you can have it," Baugh immediately booted the ball to the LSU 32, Reed returning it 3y. On 3rd-and-4, Mickal kicked into the EZ.
    After two plunges gained nothing, Baugh quick-kicked 68y to LSU's 12.
    LSU moved out to the 33 as the period ended.
    End of Q1: LSU 0 TCU 0
    Rain started falling heavily late in the half and continued the rest of the game, but only a handful of fans left their seats. Fans donned raincoats and raised umbrellas in all sections of the stadium. Others piled newspapers and programs over their hats and shoulders and stayed and shivered.
    Reporters in the press box must have had a hard time deciphering what was happening on the field through the rain, especially as sunset drew nearer. Newspaper accounts differ on details such as who fumbled the ball, who recovered it, where a punt went out of bounds, and so on.
  • Q2: The day's only points were put on the scoreboard in this period. The punting duel continued with LSU enjoying field position advantage. With Mickal resting to start the period, Bill Crass booted into the EZ. On the next series, Bowman ran back Baugh's 3rd down punt 3y to the LSU 48. Jesse Fatherree ripped off 11 into TCU territory. But the Frogs stopped three straight runs to force a punt, Bob Crass's boot going out of bounds on the 6.
    Not taking any chances, Baugh immediately punted back to George "Junior" Bowman, who caught the ball at midfield and returned it all the way to the 18 to give LSU an excellent early scoring opportunity.
    After Bowman gained two, Fatherree tried to pass but was dropped back at the 24. With better protection, Crass tossed a beautiful pass to E Jeff Barrett who caught it on the 7 and was pulled down on the 2 by Baugh to prevent a TD. Crass hurled himself at the TCU line, but 168 lb G Tracy Kellow and All-American C Darrell Lester stopped him at the one. Lester broke his collar bone on the play and left the game. Jack Tittle, "a midget in comparison with the giant Lester," performed admirably the rest of the way. Bob crashed into the line again but fell short. This time, Tittle made the stop. Facing 4th down from inside the 1y line, Coach Moore didn't bother with a FG try, presumably because of the wet conditions. Instead, Crass plunged one more time, but when the pileup was unraveled, the officials placed the ball on the 6" line and signaled first down TCU.

    Frogs take over inches from their goal. (LSU 1936 Yearbook)
    With everyone expecting him to punt out of danger, Baugh instead tried to catch the defense off guard with a long pass. Taking the snap near the back of the EZ as Tinsley and Barrett bore down on him, he tried to throw the ball, but it appeared to slip from his hand and drop to the ground in the EZ. The referee ruled a safety. LSU 2 TCU 0

    Gaynell Tinsley (24) rushes Sammy Baugh. (LSU 1936 Yearbook)
    TCU chose a place kick that traveled to the LSU 30, where Bowman caught it and returned 15y. But the key break of the game occurred on the next play when Crass fumbled, and Willie Walls recovered for TCU on the LSU 40.
    Finally free from the shadow of their own goal, the Frogs struck quickly. Lawrence crossed up the Tiger D by taking a handoff on a reverse and passing to Walls who was tackled by Bowman on the 13. After LSU called timeout, FB Taldon "Tilly" Manton fumbled but recovered for a 3y loss. Then Tinsley threw Baugh for a loss of 1y. So Manton kicked a FG from the 26 into the teeth of a brisk northern wind. TCU 3 LSU 2
    Baugh explained years later: I held the ball, and I believe I was more nervous than Taldon was. The kick was ... on the order of a line drive ... at first I thought it might go wide to the right ... but it stayed inside the posts.
    Manton had kicked the winning FG in the Frogs' last regular season game to beat Santa Clara 10-7. Ironically, Tillie attended LSU before transferring to TCU.
    Bowman returned the kickoff from the 10 to the 24. Following a short run and an incomplete pass, Crass punted to the TCU 34, Baugh returning it to the 43. Lawrence got loose again, this time for 15. Manton added 4 before Baugh hit Lawrence to the 29. A delay of game penalty cost TCU 5y. Sammy failed to connect on a long pass as the half ended.
TCU Field Goal 1936 Sugar Bowl
Manton boots FG.
The TCU band in natty white uniforms marched onto the soggy field under the direction of their high-stepping drum-major. They played the LSU Alma Mater, then arranged themselves to form a giant "T" in the center of the field. The TCU cheerleaders carried one of the flags which have flown over the state of Texas during its history while the band played "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You."
The LSU band, 100 strong in colorful purple and gold uniforms, performed next. They paused in front of the Horned Frog fans to form a giant "T.C.U." while they played the visitors' alma mater. Cutting across the field, they formed "L.S.U." and played their own alma mater.
  • Q3: If the fans thought they had seen excellent punting in the first half, they changed their minds after halftime even as the weather and field conditions got worse.
    Yale coach "Ducky" Pond, one of many coaches from around the country in attendance, proclaimed the kicking the finest he ever witnessed.
    With rain falling steadily, Fatherree ran the kickoff back to the 35. But Mickal quick-kicked on first down, the ball bounding all the way to the 4 where the speedy Tinsley, noted for his punt coverage, downed it.
    immediately punted out of bounds on LSU's 45. After he missed on a long pass, Mickal came right back with a 17-yarder to Barrett. After Fatherree picked up 7, Abe shot a long one that Baugh intercepted with a diving catch on the 16.
    In his Hall of Fame NFL career with the Washington Redskins, Baugh led the league not only in passing yardage (four times) but also in punting average (five times) and interceptions (11 in 1943). A strong case can be made for him being the best football player ever.
    So what did Sammy do after his pick? He punted it, of course, to midfield.
    After throwing an incompletion on 2nd down, Abe tried another one that settled into Baugh's hands on the 26.
    TCU ran the ball three times before Sam lifted the oval through the rain out of bounds on LSU's 17.
    The possession started with two straight sweeps, Mickal for 8 around RE and Fatherree for 9 around the other side. But the third time was not a charm as Reed lost a couple of yards. Then a 15y penalty pushed the Tigers back. So Abe went back in punt formation but instead crossed up the Frogs by whipping a pass to Fatherree for 21 to the LSU 45. Two plays later, Ernest Seago, a graduate of the same Temple TX high school that produced Slingin' Sammy, crashed through the line for 8y and a 1st down 5y into TCU territory. But just as the offense was picking up momentum, Mickal chose to quick-kick to the 15.
    But the move backfired as Baugh's return punt and Reed's -3 return gave LSU possession on their 29. After T Wilson Groseclose smothered Mickal for a 9y loss to the 25, Abe punted. Baugh took the pigskin at the 31 and ran it back 12y. The exchange of punts had gained TCU 28y.
    But they couldn't capitalize. So Sam punted out on the 21.
    Mickal wasted no time in sending the ball back to the TCU 36.
    Two line bucks gained little.
    END OF Q3: TCU 3 LSU 2

Huey Long and Biff Jones
in happier times

1936 Sugar Bowl Program

Abe Mickal, LSU TB
Abe Mickal

Sammy Baugh, TCU QB
Sammy Baugh

Gaynell Tinsley, LSU All-American E
Gaynell Tinsley

Paul Carroll

Osborne Helveston

A.D. Brown

Jim Lawrence, TCU HB
Jim Lawrence

Justin Rukas

L. D. Meyer, TCU
L. D. Meyer

Bill Crass

Jess Fatherree
Jesse Fatherree

George Bowman

Jeff Barrett

Darrell Lester, TCU G
Darrell Lester

Ernest Seago

Wilson Groseclose

John Mihalic

Wardell Leisk

Marvin Stewart

  • Q4: The United Press reported, "The players on both sides were smeared with mud and hard to recognize as it began to grow dark."
    Baugh punted out on the 16.
    On 3rd-and-3, Crass, in for Mickal, chose to punt and this time the strategy paid off. Just as Baugh caught the ball, E Johnny Mihalic, giving Tinsley a five-minute break, smashed Sammy, causing a fumble that Mihalic recovered on the Frog 32.
    Facing what might be their last chance to score, LSU started with an incomplete pass. Then Crass smashed through for 14y. After two short gains by Bill, he gained 7, just short of the first down. TCU stuffed him on 4th down, but both teams were offside. Given another chance, the 200-lb FB from Electra TX made it 1st-and-goal at the 8. From there, Bowman swept to the 2. Then Crass got nothing through the line. On 3rd down, Baugh, determined to make up for his fumble, knifed through and dropped Bill for a 3y loss to the 5. It was one of eight tackles Sam made that afternoon. Moore again eschewed the FG. Instead, Mickal passed toward Barrett, but Manton knocked it down to end the threat.
    Forced to hurry after fumbling the snap, Baugh got off his poorest punt of the afternoon, out of bounds on his 32 to give LSU another chance to take the lead.
    But on the first play, Crass fumbled, and Meyer fell on it for TCU all the way back at the Tiger 46. The LSU offense would not penetrate enemy territory again.
    Baugh punted out on LSU's 18.
    Running out of time, the Tigers took the air, but two Crass passes sailed wild. So he punted, Wardell Leisk stopping Baugh in his tracks on the 47.
    On 2nd-and-8, Baugh burst through LT, then reversed his field all the way to the 4 where Tinsley tackled him from behind. A piling on penalty advanced the ball to the 2. But here the LSU forward wall of Marvin Stewart, Seago, Rukas, and Tinsley, as they had many times during the season, rose up and denied the Frogs the clinching TD. Hit hard, Manton fumbled but recovered for a 3y loss. Next, Lawrence gained nothing at LE thanks to Tinsley. On 3rd down, Baugh passed into the EZ, where Bowman knocked the ball out of Walls's hands. On fourth down, HB Vic Montgomery tried an E sweep, but Featheree dumped him for a loss of 4 thanks to Tinsley stripping the interference.
    With LSU needing to travel 93y with five minutes remaining, Moore rushed Mickal into the game. But, indicative of the offensive philosophy of the day, when two runs gained little, Abe kicked to midfield.
    After three plays that ran the clock down but didn't move the chains, Baugh punted into the EZ.
    On first down with a minute to play, Mickal tried another pass, but Harold McClure intercepted on the 35, returning it 10y. Two runs ran out the clock.


  • First downs: TCU 6 LSU 9
  • Net Rushing: TCU 109 LSU 106
  • Passing: TCU 3-8-1/53 LSU 3-21-3/60
  • Fumbles-Lost: TCU 2-1 LSU 3-3
  • Penalties: TCU 4-20 LSU 3-32
  • Punting average: TCU 14-48 LSU 13-45


  • Baugh averaged 48y on his 14 punts, an amazing figure considering the weather conditions made the ball soggy and heavy. LSU punted 13 times for a 45y average, including a 65-yarder by Mickal and Crass's 64-yarder.
  • The total offense marks were almost identical: 169-165 LSU. The Tigers led in first downs 9-6.
  • Coach Moore asked, "Wouldn't that have been a great contest if that rain hadn't fallen? ... My conclusion of the game was that the slippery field eliminated at least 50 per cent of the offensive power of both teams." But he added, "We have no alibis." Bernie apparently wasn't asked or refused to answer why he didn't try for a FG on either 4th-and-goal inside the TCU 5.
  • Coach Meyer differed slightly from Moore on the effect of the weather. Dutch estimated that the weather eliminated 30 per cent of the teams' offenses. He called the game "the finest I've ever seen played in the rain."
  • TCU's line coach Raymond "Bear" Wolf praised Tracy Kellow. Our whole line played a million-dollar game, but Kellow was amazing. He's been playing great ball all year, but against the Tigers he was an All-American if ever there was one.
  • Tulane coach Ted Cox, considered an authority on line play, raved about the two forward walls. The line play on both sides was exceptional. If I had to pick anybody out of the Frogs' line, it would be Kellow, a truly great guard. For LSU I thought Gay Tinsley, as ever, was the best lineman.
  • Harold "Red" Drew, line coach at Alabama, remarked: I saw the greatest collection of ends I ever hope to see in one game.
1936 Sugar Bowl participants who played pro football:
LSU (8): Jeff Barrett, Pat Coffee, Bill Crass, Wardell Leisk, Bill May, Joe Reed, Justin Rukas, Gaynell Tinsley
TCU (6): Sammy Baugh (HOF), Drew Ellis, Jimmy Lawrence, Darrell Lester, Taldon Manton, Will Walls

1936 Sugar Bowl Champion Texas Christian Horned Frogs

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