LSU home football season cut by 25 percent since 2008
By JIM ENGSTER
Tiger Rag Featured Columnist
LSU will play only six home football games in 2011. Only once in the last 15 seasons have the Tigers played just a half dozen dates at Death Valley. The year was 2005, and the reason was that the Arizona State opener had to be moved because of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2006 and 2008, LSU hosted eight opponents at Tiger Stadium. With the home season reduced by one-quarter, it is an expectation from some cost-conscious fans that LSU slice its season ticket packages by 25-percent this season. But the beast that is LSU football must be fed with revenues that cannot decline.
The six-game home package includes two glorified scrimmages against Northwestern State and Western Kentucky. In a state where 25-percent of the population lives below the federal poverty line and the per capita income ranks 29th nationally, LSU fans pay premium prices for tickets and must dig deeper in their purple trousers for parking and concessions.
Some of us yearn for years such as 1979 when LSU played six home games, but welcomed USC, Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Colorado to Tiger Stadium in the same season. No fan could have claimed to be short changed in that season.
The good news for LSU fans is that this year’s road schedule is packed with compelling matchups against Oregon, West Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
For those who have the wherewithal to travel with Les Miles and crew, this year is a dream road odyssey. For many who save all year to keep their season tickets at Tiger Stadium, there is the clash with defending national champion Auburn on Oct. 22, the hate fest with Florida on Oct. 8 and the engagement with Bobby Petrino’s criminally challenged roster as Arkansas invades Baton Rouge the day after Thanksgiving.
Rudy Macklin Says He Was Scarred by Philadelphia Experience
Thirty years have passed since LSU rolled into Philadelphia for the Final Four with a 31-3 record and the favorite to win the NCAA championship. At halftime on March 28, 1981 at the Spectrum, LSU led Indiana, 30-27.
The final was Indiana 67, LSU 49. The Tigers were stunned in the second half by the Hoosiers as LSU’s best player, Rudy Macklin, closed his career with a hand injury and was ineffective against the Hoosiers’ Landon Turner.
Because of the Final Four debacle, Macklin said he didn’t participate in March Madness for 15 years. “The first time I watched the tournament after that was in 1996. The month of March depressed me. Bobby Knight had a great game plan. He put a bigger, stronger person on me, and I didn’t know how to deal with that.”
Two nights later, LSU lost the last NCAA Tournament consolation game to Virginia, 78-74, hours after President Reagan had been shot in Washington D.C. Headlines the following day focused on Macklin’s alleged response to a reporter when asked if the game should have been played: “He’s No Kin of Mine.”
“After the game, a reporter from Philadelphia asked if the shooting of the president affected my game,” Macklin remembers as he frowns about the content of letters and telephone conversations from people alarmed by his purported remark. “I got hate mail from every Klansman and white supremacist. Back then, my phone number was listed in the student directory, too.” Macklin’s phone at Broussard Hall was ringing off the hook, and since 1981, LSU basketball players have had unlisted numbers.
Macklin was not drafted until the fourth round after the barrage of bad publicity, but recovered from the snub and started as a rookie with Atlanta, scoring 25 points in his first game against Julius Erving, a superior talent to Landon Turner, the man who had tormented him in Philadelphia seven months earlier.
Indiana’s Turner was paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident on July 25, 1981, less than four months after his heroics in the City of Brotherly Love.
Macklin serves as the executive director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. At 53, he is in remarkable shape, but is 60 pounds heavier than the lithe 18-year-old freshman, who pulled down 32 rebounds in his first LSU game-a record that stands 35 years later.
Mike Miley Rejected Sparky Anderson for Charlie McClendon 40 Years Ago
LSU baseball has had one player selected in the Major League Free Agent Draft twice in the first round. It was Mike Miley, the Tiger quarterback, who was chosen in round one by California in 1974 and in the first round by Cincinnati in 1971 ahead of future Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and George Brett, taken in round two by Philadelphia and Kansas City, respectively.
Miley was an 18-year-old senior at East Jefferson High School when the Big Red Machine and manager Sparky Anderson chose him in ‘71, but “Miracle Mike” decided to be an apprentice to Bert Jones rather than join an organization that boasted future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez and baseball’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose.
Miley waited for his chance to lead the LSU football team and steered LSU to a 9-3 record as a junior in 1973, a season that began with nine wins and ended with defeats to Alabama, Tulane and Penn State.
Rather than return for a senior season to lead LSU with its new veer offense, No. 5 for the LSU footballers signed a baseball contract with California and became No. 21 with the Angels. Coach Charlie McClendon said the experience made him less than fond of the sport of baseball.
At age 23, Miley was slated to start at shortstop for the Angels in 1977, but he was killed in a one-car accident at the corner of Highland Road and Rodney Drive on Jan. 6, 1977.
Other LSU quarterbacks to die before their time include Trey Prather (Vietnam), Pat Screen (drug overdose), Carl Otis Trimble (drowning), Butch Duhe’ (brain hemorrhage) and David Woodley (liver failure).
Steve Miley Last Missed a Home Game When Jimmy Carter was President
LSU Tiger Band Videographer Steve Miley has not missed an LSU home game since Dec. 2, 1978. That night, LSU edged Wyoming 24-17 as Tiger fans saluted the 20-year reunion of the LSU national championship team of 1958.
Since then, LSU has played 214 games at Tiger Stadium under nine coaches. Miley has witnessed every game. The record: 147-64-3 (69.4 pct).
Stovall Becomes Septuagenarian on Last Day of April
Former LSU All-American and Coach Jerry Stovall turned 70 on April 30. Stovall is president of the Baton Rouge Sports Foundation and was only 39 when he was hired to replace Bo Rein, who died at age 34 on Jan. 10, 1980. Stovall was dismissed as head coach of the Tigers after a 4-7 finish in 1983, but if he had been allowed to finish the final year on his contract, he might have been on the sidelines almost as long as Steve Miley.