Bert Montgomery: Get your cowbells ready, 'cause here come the Tigers

September 22, 2009 9:22:00 AM

Bert Montgomery -


"I hate LSU!" These may very well be some of the very first words I ever heard. Still today, if you ever meet my parents (especially my mother), you''ll hear them, too. 


Dad traces his disdain for the Tigers all the way back to 1958. Actually, he never was a fan before then either, but his dislike for LSU "was really cemented" (his exact words) at the Tulane/LSU football game that year. Dad, a Tulane student at the time, recalls, "LSU was #1 in the nation; Tulane was really bad, even for Tulane. LSU was trying to impress the national press, but only led 6-0 at half-time. The Green Wave ran out of steam, of course, and with a couple of minutes left in the game, the Tigers led 56-0. Coach Paul Dietzel sent his All-American runner, Billy Cannon, back into the game to score again. That was the first of three 62-0 routs by LSU (over Tulane)." 


"I hate LSU!" With almost the same, slow emphasis on the word "hate" that I had heard a zillion times from my parents, my friend Nolan shared his thoughts about the Tigers as he sat down next to me at a Mississippi State/LSU baseball game this past spring. 


Nolan tells of being in the Ole Miss band and traveling down to Baton Rouge ("a lot of Ole Miss folks hate LSU more than they hate Mississippi State" he said). The fans in Tiger Stadium were so intimidating that when the game was over and the band was leaving, they left in a special formation - all the guys formed a block around all the girls, and horn players held mouthpieces in their hands in case they needed to throw a punch for protection. According to Nolan, the band members made it to their buses and back up to Oxford unharmed; however, one of the tubas now had an imprint of a brick in its bell. 


"I hate LSU!" With almost the same, slow emphasis on the word "hate" that I heard from my parents and from my friend Nolan, members of the Famous Maroon Band expressed their feelings as we were preparing to load the band buses and drive down to Jackson to play LSU. I was a freshman in the Maroon Band in 1986, and back then LSU wouldn''t come all they way up to Starkville to play State (or, perhaps Starkville refused to host LSU - I''m not sure which). A fellow band member even confessed that he hated LSU more than he hated Ole Miss.  


A small group of drunken college-aged guys, dressed in purple and gold, decided it would be fun to sit near the MSU band. They sat right behind a couple of young families with children that were sitting next to us; they began cursing, yelling and taunting us in the band, and the families next to us. One of the mothers spoke firmly but politely, pointing out that there were plenty of available seats around the whole stadium, especially over where huge clumps of LSU fans were sitting together. The drunk guys just became more rude and more aggressive. The mother''s protective instincts kicked in and she smacked the lead drunkard with her cowbell. Security came and escorted the drunken young men away; nothing was said to the mother - obviously the whole band would have testified she acted in self-defense. 


"I hate LSU!" I''m already hearing that familiar phrase, with the same, slow emphasis on the word "hate," as MSU and Starkville prepare to host the LSU Tigers this coming weekend. Whatever reasons forced the Dogs to play the Tigers down in Jackson during the 1980s, they are no longer relevant. In just a few days Starkville will be swamped with people wearing purple and gold.  


Being from Louisiana myself, most of my Louisiana friends were (and still are) LSU fans. Some attended LSU. And, to my parent''s dismay (especially my mother''s), I no longer hate LSU; in fact I really like them . . . but I love my Bulldogs more. 


This Saturday my 2-1 Dogs take on the 3-0 Tigers; and when MSU wins by a touchdown (if we do win, remember - I predicted it here first!), I''ll be politely and lovingly hugging my purple-and-gold friends and trying to protect them from my maroon-and-white friends'' cowbells. 


That is, unless such prolonged direct exposure to the distinctly LSU attitude causes me to forget my Louisiana roots and my Christian-pacifist tendencies, and with cowbell in hand, I . . . on second thought, maybe I should leave my cowbell at home, just in case.  


Bert Montgomery is an author, MSU religion/sociology instructor, and pastor and lives in Starkville. His e-mail address is [email protected]