The Tigers and Greenies haven’t played outside Tiger Stadium since 1994, leaving LSU without a consistent presence in the state’s flagship city.
Critics of the yearly clash with Tulane have claimed that LSU boosts a rival by playing the Greenies and filling the Superdome every two years. But the reality is that LSU has always prospered more from its intrastate agreement with the Willow Street warriors. The Tigers are 42-4-2 in their last 48 meetings against the men from New Orleans.
Tulane has provided a great arrangement for LSU in that it’s an almost sure victory each season for the Tigers without the stigma of feasting on a patsy. It also gives the Bengals an entry to New Orleans where some fans get to see the Purple and Gold for the only time.
Under the new arrangement, LSU will visit the Superdome n 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. The ticket office at the Ole War Skule will sell a minimum allotment of 40,000 tickets for the five games at the Superdome. The pact means LSU partisans will make up more than half the crowd at the Dome in the five meetings against the Wave.
The Tigers and Wave have played only twice in the last decade, an unfortunate development for Nick Saban. When Saban’s troops were losing to UAB in 2000 at Tiger Stadium, they could have been pummeling Tulane instead. When Tulane went undefeated in 1998, Gerry DiNardo might have salvaged a disastrous season with a triumph over the Greenies of Tommy Bowden and Shaun King.
Some of the most memorable moments in LSU football occurred in the 1980s against Tulane.
In 1981 and ’82, the Greenies won two in a row over Jerry Stovall with the talented LSU signal caller Alan Risher having the dubious distinction of leading LSU to consecutive setbacks versus Tulane. To make matters worse, Risher hails from nearby Slidell. His LSU quarterbacking predecessor Mike Miley had the indignity of directing LSU to a 14-0 loss to Tulane before a record crowd at Tulane Stadium in 1973.
A decade later, Jerry Stovall closed his four-year stint as LSU coach with a win over the Wave. The victory enabled Stovall to complete his tenure at Tigertown with a winning record, 22-21-2. A year later, Bill Arnsparger ended the Wally English Era at Tulane by beating the Greenies at Death Valley in a game that ended early because of a full-scale brawl between the teams that covered the whole field.
In 1987, Mike Archer’s first team closed the regular season with a thrilling 41-36 win over the Wave in the Superdome. Tommy Hodson kept a game winning drive alive with a fourth down pass to Eddie Fuller. This came after the Tulane tandem of Terrance Jones and Mark Zeno kept the Tigers’ defense busy with a dizzying air assault all night long.
In the Tulane dressing room, departing coach Mack Brown led his team in tearful rendition of the Greenies’ fight song.
LSU linebacker Ron Sancho, a New Orleans-area product from Avondale, called the Wave losers for “celebrating” a defeat.
Tulane went winless against LSU’s football juggernaut from 1948 to 1973 with the only Greenie victories coinciding with Triple Crown winners Citation (1948) and Secretariat (1973). When Seattle Slew won the 1977 Triple Crown, Tulane Coach Larry Smith predicted a Wave win over LSU on the basis of the outcome of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
LSU’s Charles McClendon laughed at Smith’s forecast, but Mac was frowning in the closing minutes of the 1977 battle with the Wave at the Superdome. LSU was on the brink of defeat before freshman Chris Williams took a punt return the distance, helping the Tigers escape the Crescent City with a 20-17 win over Roch Hontas and the Greenies. Charles Alexander carried 41 times for 199 yards for LSU that evening and had several long runs returned due to penalty. Otherwise, he would have set a record that would still stand for most yards in one game by an LSU runner.
It’s also time to return the basketball rivalry with Tulane. Dale Brown was 16-0 against the Wave before canceling the series. Tulane responded by beating LSU 83-72 in the 1982 NIT at the Assembly Center. At game’s end, Tulane fans were chanting “Dale Brown sucks.” Brown’s competitive zeal showed in the post-game press conference. He wanted to give the Wave a butt whipping in the worst way, but never got another chance.
Other defining moments of hate took place during the Brown Era. In 1977, Roy Danforth refused to shake the hand of LSU’s coach and called him an S.O.B. for pressing the Wave during an LSU rout. LSU’s Rudy Macklin set a school rebounding record for a single game that still stands when he was an 18-year-old freshman.
In his first game after leaving Louisville as a high school legend, Macklin collected 32 rebounds against Tulane. Shaquille O’Neal never came close to matching the mark set against Tulane by Macklin. Unfortunately, Rudy is remembered far more for the way he closed his career at LSU. He was reported to have said “President Reagan is no kin of mine,” when he was asked whether LSU should have played Virginia in the last Final Four consolation game on March 30, 1981, the day Reagan was shot by a would-be assassin.
LSU and Tulane need each other to hate throughout the year, and the annual football date keeps the rage going for 365 days. At the funeral for LSU’s late-great Sports Information Director Paul Manasseh, his onetime Tulane cohort Bill Curl remarked that when he would call Manasseh in the summer months, Manasseh would invariably tell Curl to leave him alone because he was working on LSU’s “bowl guide.”
Starting in 2006, Tulane’s bowl game will come each year against LSU. The Greenies will likely win the match-up as often the Wave travels for post-season assignments, meaning LSU will continue to dominate the rivalry with its neighbor from New Orleans. Playing Tulane is clearly good for the bottom line in every way for LSU.
Finally, LSU should make sure that Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas stay out of their red uniforms when the Tigers are the opponent. British researchers Russell Hill and Robert Barton have found that wearing red increases the chance of victory in sports.
Data presented in the journal Nature shows that combatants in various sports wearing red won six out of ten bouts in especially close matches. “Even we were surprised at how consistently the results have been coming across the range of sports we looked at,” Dr. Hill said.
“If you’re hopeless, then wearing red isn’t going to make you start winning,” Dr. Barton said. But Barton believes red is a dominant color that is beneficial in battles of closely matched competitors.
The results give LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman the motivation to keep foes from ever donning red jerseys at Tiger Stadium. The risk is too great in an evenly matched game.