By John Ferguson
Editor’s Note: This article, written by the former Voice of the Tigers, John Ferguson, originally appeared in Tiger Rag’s 1983 Football Preview. It is republished below, in full.
(Original Editor’s Note: Known throughout America as one of the best broadcasters in in the business, the “Golden Voice of the Fighting Tigers” needs no introduction to LSU fans. Named “Sportscaster of the Year” and “Broadcaster of the Year” numerous times, John broadcast his first LSU football game in 1946. After serving as broadcaster off-and-on throughout the 1950s, he became the man behind the mike permanently in 1961 and he has been there ever since. Below are just a few of the games that John remembers in his illustrious career. He broadcast most of them, although he watched several from the press box as a non-partisan observer.)
As a small boy, I strayed into State Fair Stadium in Shreveport at the halftime of the LSU-Arkansas game in the early 1930s. I sneaked through a porthole to get my first glimpse of an LSU football team. Actually, the grandest event of the day for me was staring, almost disbelieving, at the LSU band. There was Castro Carazo, directing the Tiger band, dressed in white pants, purple jackets, and tall hats. It was the most magnificent sight I had seen. I guess then and there I became caught up in the fever known as LSU football. I don’t recall how that particular game came out, but I never missed another LSU-Arkansas game in Shreveport. There are many scintillating memories of LSU football for me. Below are some of those games and parts of them that I will never forget.
Stadium’s ‘Highest Moment’
LSU-Southern California, 1979: The Tigers lost a slim lead in the fourth quarter and the game by a 17-12 count, but in the process, the Tigers enhanced their national prestige. A crowd of 78,322 attended. In a time when the rights and privileges of individuals seem not to be as important and sacred as they should be, all those in the stands were bound together as a unit for three solid hours, pulling not for either team but for the game. I think that game represents the highest “moment” in the history of Tiger Stadium
The Best Game Ever
LSU-Notre Dame, 1970: This game was played in South Bend and it may be the best football game in which an LSU team has ever participated. Big-time teams, big-time college football atmosphere. I am sure that Knute Rockne was somewhere in the stands enjoying some of the hardest hitting that storied football stadium has ever seen. Really the game should have ended in a 0-0 tie. Nevertheless, thanks to a last-minute field goal, Notre Dame won 3-0.
Jones: Best Performance
LSU-Ole Miss, 1972: We still hear about the slow Tiger Stadium clock after that one, the game in which LSU won on the last second pass. In any case, when Jones completed the game-tying touchdown pass to Brad Davis, the crowd was frenzied. Rusty Jackson’s PAT was almost anti-climatic, and do you remember that the mammoth crowd stood in the stands and cheered for a full 15 minutes after the game.
At the time I said on the radio broadcast, “Nobody wants to go home.” I should point out that Bert Jones gets my vote for the all-time “Individual Performance by an LSU Player” as a result of his complete control of the game during the final 80-yard drive that ended with the Tigers victorious, 17-16.
LSU-Notre Dame, 1971: Following the 3-0 loss to the Irish in 1970, the Tigers played a near-perfect game in 1971. Bert Jones was at his best and Andy Hamilton ran his routes to perfection. This game was a real doozy, with LSU winning 28-8.
LSU’s Best Team
LSU-Arkansas, 1947: The Cotton Bowl, 1947. Final score 0-0. The temperature was almost equal to the score, no exaggeration either. Coach Bernie Moore yelled constantly for players to enter the game. Many of the players hid in hay bales that had been placed on the sidelines, where fires raged in 50-gallon drums. The man who sat in front of me was chasing bourbon with Coca-Cola and Cabell’s buttermilk. It was a raw day for probably the best team ever fielded by LSU.
The Auburn Double
LSU-Auburn, 1969-70: I lump these games together. LSU won the first one in Baton Rouge, 21-20. That game was opened with a halfback pass from Jimmy Gilbert to Andy Hamilton. Up to that time, the Tigers didn’t seem to know that a team could throw on first and 10.
In 1970 the game was played in Auburn. The field was soggy from pregame thunderstorms. Mike Anderson made one of the most memorable plays in LSU history, slamming Wallace Clark to the ground on a fourth-and-two from the goal line. LSU won it 17-9, going on to win the SEC title.
Remember The Others?
LSU-Ole Miss, 1959: When Billy Cannon exploded 89 yards for the game breaker, an otherwise uneventful, boring game was turned into an historic event. Cannon’s effort was fabulous, of course – it won the Heisman Trophy for him.
Have you thought about the “other” players on the field that night? Johnny Robinson, Warren Rabb, Max Fugler, Jake Gibbs, Warner Alford, just to name a few.
Second Most Explosive
LSU-Ole Miss, 1964: Billy Ezell threw to Billy Masters for the TD and then to Doug Moreau for the two-point conversion. The Tigers won 11-10. I think the PAT pass to Moreau was the second most explosive moment in LSU football history up until that time, with Cannon’s run being the first.
The Most Bitter Defeat
LSU-Tennessee, 1959: Billy Cannon and Johnny Robinson each gained more yardage than the entire Tennessee team, but an ultra-conservative approach by holding a lead cost the Tigers a second national championship. I still think Cannon was across the goal line on the two-point conversion.
Needless to say, LSU lost a 14-13 decision in what was one of the most bitter defeats in Tiger history.
LSU-Colorado, 1962: LSU won this one 25-7 in the Orange Bowl, but the true story evolved around LSU head coach Paul Dietzel. Paul was leaving LSU for West Point and knew it. Charlie McClendon was to get the job as the LSU head football coach. He was not in particular favor with Dietzel at this time. (Editor’s note: Although not disclosed, apparently the rift between Dietzel and McClendon was greater than ever written, causing Charlie Mac to watch this game from the stands instead of the sidelines.)
‘Out-Drinking’ the Longhorns
LSU-Texas, 1963: The Cotton Bowl which LSU won a stunning 13-0 decision over the previously unbeaten Longhorns. The Tigers relied on Lynn Amedee that afternoon, and Lynn was the game’s MVP.
The one thing that stands out in my mind was Texas coach Darrell Royal telling me right after the game, “Those Tigers out-played us, out-danced us, and out-drank us. We never had a chance.”
LSU-Arkansas, 1966: Another unforgettable Cotton Bowl experience for LSU. The Razorbacks, on the threshold of a national title, were left at the altar by a fired-up Tiger team led by Pat Screen, Doug Moreau, Joe Labruzzo, and Dave McCormick. No Tiger fan of that vintage will forget this 14-7 victory, certainly a high mark in the career of Charlie McClendon.
See-Saw in Atlanta
LSU-Florida State, 1968: This was the first Peach Bowl game won by LSU, 31-27. I was selected to do the play-by-play for national television. My color man that night: Fran Tarkenton. It was Fran’s first ever television broadcast. Mike Hillman was MVP as both LSU and Florida State kept coming from behind.