By JIM ENGSTER | President, Tiger Rag Magazine
Alabama enters this week’s game against LSU with a 20-game SEC winning streak, a No. 1 ranking and having won 120 of 133 games under Nick Saban over the last ten seasons. The 66-year-old Bama coach has collected five national titles in his last eleven years as a college boss. And he’s favored to win to against his toughest rival Saturday by more than three touchdowns.
It is a daunting challenge for Ed Orgeron’s troops, but the Tigers have been here before in Alabama.
Thirty-five years ago, LSU faced the Crimson Tide in Birmingham with the legendary Bear Bryant just 82 days from his death at age 69. The Bear won six national titles and entered the clash with the Tigers in search of his 12th consecutive victory over the Bayou Bengals.
LSU lacked any punch against the Red Elephants form 1971 to 1981 with 21 points in 1972 the biggest point output against Bryant’s vaunted defense during that eleven-game span. Alabama’s record in the SEC from 1971-81 was an ungodly 71-4, a winning percentage of 95 percent.
On the afternoon of Nov. 6, 1982, Alabama appeared to be a safe ground at Legion Field as the 7-1 Tide hosted LSU, which entered the clash with a 6-0-1 record, but had not faced a team as strong as the 25th squad fielded by Bryant at Bama.
LSU defied odds makers and dominated the Crimson Tide 35 Novembers ago, outgaining the Tide 391-165 in a workmanlike 20-10 victory. The time of possession was LSU 39:30, Alabama 20:30; the first down advantage was LSU 20, Alabama 6. It was a whipping as convincing as Alabama’s 21-0 BCS Championship victory over LSU on Jan. 9, 2012.
Eight thousand fans greeted Jerry Stovall’s conquering heroes as they landed at Ryan Field. Stovall was a month away from being named National Coach of the Year and 13 months from being fired by Athletic Director Bob Brodhead.
Writer Scooter Hobbs borrowed words from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to describe the ecstasy over beating the Bear for the first time since 1970.
“When evil forces of the Bear have crumbled we should let it be known in every Ville Platte, in every Bunkie: from Morgan City to Shreveport. The day has come; Catholics and Protestants; Coon Asses and Red Necks may join hands and sing the words of the old Tiger spiritual, Victory at last! Thank God Almighty, we are victorious at last!”
The anchor of the defense in 1982 was nose guard Ramsey Dardar. He was a physical force with spectacular strength and an irresistible personality amid a group of sublime characters.
The Tigers fielded a remarkably talented and deep defensive unit that also included Leonard Marshall, Bill Elko, Albert Richardson, Lawrence Williams, Tim Joiner, Rydell Malancon, James Britt, Lifford Hobley, Greg Dubroc, Eugene Daniel and Greg Bowser.
Recently, Dardar was released from a Louisiana lockup after spending the previous 17 years of the 21st Century as an incarcerated felon. He has provided these words for Tiger Rag readers:
I know many of you have a lot of questions you need answered. How, why and what happened? Well, I will try to answer these questions the best way I can.
To start, I was a 6’3” tree trunk and horse lifting country boy from Breaux Bridge/Cecilia, La. My whole family owned a house on Armand Joseph Road. This is a street named after my grandfather. My mother, father, sister, brother, nieces, nephews and first to fourth cousins (lived there).
I was the first and only Creole French speaking football player coached by Coach Lowell Guidry from Cecilia High School to ever be highly recruited by several major universities before I chose to attend LSU. Coach Lynn LeBlanc and Charlie Mac were the two men who persuaded me to come join the family at LSU.
This was the only school that felt like home to me. I played for Coach Jerry Stovall and adopted my new father, Coach Peter Jenkins. For this man, whatever he ordered, I damn sure had to deliver. They both taught me a lot of different football techniques, but Coach Jenkins taught me about what to expect out of life. I will be forever grateful to Coach Jenkins for those lessons.
Now the NFL. You see, I thought I was going to be a Dallas Cowboy player. Coach Tom Landry had met with me and started flying me to Dallas every weekend after the LSU season had ended. He told he was going to draft me in the third round.
Understand, I knew I was going to a Dallas Cowboy player. I even turned down Donald Trump’s offer for the USFL. I had already adopted my second father, Tom Landry. Well, my dream did not happen. I was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. I was lost, heartbroken and disappointed. I reported to this organization and believe me, it wasn’t nice.
This football team had no togetherness, the coach showed me no love and there was no togetherness between the players. We all reported to practice, tried to outdo each other and the veteran players never offered any help to the rookies. They stayed among themselves.
To make me feel like I belonged, this was when I was introduced to the drug cocaine. I became a dependent drug user. Everything went downhill for me then on. I tried to keep my composure as dominant football player but believe me, you can’t do both. Drugs (the Devil himself) will always take the lead.
When I quit football, I had become a complete drug addict. I needed help. Someone to rescue me. I cried out silently. Then, I became a victim of circumstance. You know when you use drugs, your circumstances in life are to become a homeless bum, jailed or killed. Well my circumstance sentence was a 32-year conviction for three counts of simple burglary. I stole a 27” inch TV once to support my habit, and the other two times I broke in homes to hide from the monsters (The Devil) I thought were after me.
I have been free of drugs for 20 years and the old Ramsey Dardar is back. I may be little bruised up, suffering from dementia, diabetes and high blood pressure, but the true loving soul of Ramsey Dardar is back.
I want all of you to know I am free and here today because of Coach Dale Brown and Coach Sam Nader. These two men stayed with me spiritually, personally and financially through my trials and tribulations.
I appreciate you all. I have love for each and every one of you and all of my LSU family members. GOD BLESS us all and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Welcome Jim Kleinpeter
This week, we welcome a new columnist to Tiger Rag. Jim Kleinpeter brings four decades of experience as a reporter about LSU to the pages of the Bible of LSU Sports. Jim wrote with uncommon clarity and insight for 33 years with the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. He possesses a trove of information about LSU present and past, going back to his youth in Baton Rouge. He is a graduate of LSU, and we are thrilled to present his column to you, our readers.