LSU Tigers — they go undefeated, are declared national champions and take care of Clemson in the postseason in New Orleans. This year’s team, right? No, this reference is to the 1958 Tigers, which I remember well.
I saw two of the games that year, against Hardin Simmons and Duke. I was in the end zone for the latter game and I remember seeing Billy Cannon running right toward me, scoring one of his several touchdowns that day. In those days, by the way, getting LSU football tickets was pretty routine. You show up at the gate, buy your ticket and go in and sit down.
My, how times have changed. At least in some ways. Because Tiger fans all over the land are celebrating this week, LSU’s fourth national championship, following up on the teams of 1958, 2004 and 2007.
But I think we all realize there was something very, very special about this edition of the Bayou Bengals. The state has fallen completely in love with Quarterback Joe Burrow, the handsome lad from Ohio who came down to Louisiana and led his team to what I think is the greatest season any college football team has ever had.
Joe was surrounded by other major talents, of course. His receiving corps, including Ja’Marr Chase, Thaddeus Moss, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall Jr. are amazingly athletic young men. Joe would put the ball in their hands 50 yards downfield and those guys would make amazing catch after catch, frustrating the attempts of the opposing defensive backs to stop them. And what would we have done without the running and scoring machine known as Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a graduate of my alma mater, Catholic High of Baton Rouge, I’m proud to say. We saw Clyde elude tackler after tackler for big gains and sometimes we saw him carry most of the defensive players on his back, not going down until he had made that vital first down.
Of course these guys, as well as the offensive line and the daunting defensive team, were all led and motivated by Coach O, Ed Orgeron, a true and genuine Cajun from Bayou Lafourche who is obviously beloved by all the guys on the team.
Joe B. broke almost every college football record that is listed in the books. This incredible young man, now an honorary Cajun of course (remember his Burreaux jersey?) threw for an amazing 60 touchdowns and won the Heisman Trophy by the largest voting margin in the history of the award..
The Tigers beat seven — yes seven –teams who were in the Top 10 at the time we played them. No other team has ever approached that fete. Among those contests, they took apart Florida 42-28, beat Auburn 23-20, licked mighty Alabama in Bama’s own back yard, 46-41, easily ran over Georgia for the SEC championship, 37-10 and simply demolished Oklahoma in the first round playoffs, 63-28.
Then came Clemson, to the Louisiana Super Dome, those Carolina Tigers who had won 29 games in a row. But they didn’t win No. 30, by golly. LSU, after a slow start, dominated the powerful Clemson bunch, 42-25, shattering Clemson’s claim to having the best defense in the nation.
I could go on and on about this simply wonderful team. More and more sports reporters are saying they are among the best ever, if not in fact the best. I say, there’s no doubt. My friends, you witnessed a once in a lifetime feat this year. Enjoy it and savor it. We probably will not see its like again. (However, if Coach O does indeed start a dynasty and we win almost every year, well, that would be nice too!)