Since I have been down here, people from back home have asked me several times "What's it like down there during a football game?" and I've basically replied that you can take the Clemson student section, and extend that around most of (our) Valley, and you'd have the experience of Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Everyone cusses, nearly everyone stands up, everyone yells when the D is on the field, alot have dip in their mouth, and most of 'em sneak in a flask carrying something.
So, now that I'm finally getting my Ph.D., and leaving Baton Rouge (to come back to SC) for good, I figured I would do a post about what LSU is really like on Gameday, from someone who views things from the outside. I have been here for both national titles, and what might be called (someday) as the golden age of LSU football, so I've seen its best moments up close and the atmosphere here is different from Clemson, whether its because they are just crazier fans or the winning mentality, I don't know.
Tailgating: Well its taken a little more seriously here than Clemson, but mainly because it gets serious here sooner than back home, and here they take all day to drink. The tradition here is for 7pm starts, and the fans begin tailgating the night before (sometimes the Thursday before) by parking along Nicholson Drive, which is analogous to parking along Perimeter Road. Along Nicholson and the area of the old Course is the main area for tailgating here, and fans will tailgate up to a mile away, easily, along Nicholson Drive. There is fairly little green, as this is a large town, so pretty much every ounce of available space is taken up near the stadium, which is not unlike CU. There are large BBQ smokers toted around everywhere, nearly everyone carries a beer in their hands all day long, so their all liquored up by gametime, and you'll see them doing something stupid quite often. Large pots of jambalaya are always seen, along roasting pigs and alligator and any kind of seafood you can imagine.
Fans: All LSU fans yell "TIGERBAIT" to any passersby wearing opposing colors. If you are a Florida, Auburn, or Alabama fan, you do not want to walk along Nicholson before a game. You will be heckled, severely, and this is where Clemson fans really differ from LSU. I know there are bad apples in all crowds, and when it comes to Sakerlina or Jawjaw it can get pretty nasty for us, but I have never ever seen Clemson fans throwing beer bottles at opposing fans weekly. Nor have I seen any of us walk up to an 80 year old lady in Florida colors, who barely hobbled around, and SCREAM 6 inches from her ear when she was minding her business.
Others have asked me, "Whats the noise level like inside?"...and I know how loud it can get at Clemson when we're into a game, but LSU is consistently louder. Clemson can be louder when fans want to get into it. Its just that we aren't sometimes. I recall FSU '99 as being the consistently loudest game I ever went to, and having headaches all night after that one. I wasnt there when we set the noise record for Miami, but you know for the most part Clemson only gets loud when we really have to, and its never insane for also-rans like Louisiana-Lafayette or Tulane, maybe for 10 minutes like we are for Furman or Western Carolina, but its louder by comparison for their whole SEC slate than games like Maryland or Virginia for us. Mostly its because our rivals aren't hated rivals (except UGA and SC, maybe NC State or Maryland), whereas they hate everyone down here.
The student section itself is another world of its own, you must arrive early to get a seat. It all starts at about 30-45min before game time, when they play "Callin Baton Rouge" (G. Brooks) over the PA system. In this video youre opposite the student section.
On saturday night games, after Callin Baton Rouge is played, just before kickoff, the whole crowd sings Louisiana Saturday night.
At usually the same time, like Clemson, the LSU band runs down Victory Hill (which, this being Louisiana, is like 20 feet tall) into the stadium.
Once inside, they do their cadence, then play "Hey Fightin' Tigers"...one of my favorites, and you'll see here why.
Later, Mike the Tiger will make his way around the stadium in his trailer. Mike is really more to look at, and they park him at the opposing team's entrance to the field until kickoff. I keep wishing they'd let him out and scare some people, but they dont listen to me. If they'd only let him play with Uga, i'd be happy. Just before the kickoff, this video is played on the titantron.
The team's field entrance is just not exciting, to me, compared to Clemson. When I see us at the top of the Hill, I go crazy, but here its mostly about the band, and the fans don't get much louder for the team when they run out through the H-style goal posts. The band entrance really is nice though. Fans cheer when the band plays the first 3 notes of "Hold that Tiger" and point in their direction.
At one time the LSU band used to play their version of the Tiger Rag during the pregame, but LSU students yell "ha ha ha ha ha, assholes" and point to the other team during the playing, so the admins stopped the band from playing it at all.
LSU traditionally wears white jerseys at home, a tradition started in the national title season of 1958, when Paul Dietzel decided to wear white at home. The significance is about the same as our orange pants. LSU only will wear purple jerseys for non-SEC games that arent the home opener. The other team must agree to LSU wearing white, and it has happened, but for the most part you will always see LSU wearing white jerseys.
After every 1st down, the band plays Geaux Tigers...In between plays there are also several cheers that are led by the band that I've never seen elsewhere that help to keep the students into the game.
The tradition of the Chinese Bandits dates back to the LSU national championship season of 1958, when they beat Clemson 7-0 in the Sugar Bowl. There were 3 teams, and the defensive backup unit were the Chinese Bandits. Dabo has started something similar for us this year. After the LSU defense forces a punt, or a missed FG, the fans bow to the team as they come off the field. Pretty much everyone in the stadium does it.
NECK...from the student section, one song that wakes up the entire stadium, usually played while the defense is on the field.
Opposite the students
After each touchdown and the fight song, the students have the "Oh EEE Oh" chant. This vid shows the chant after LSU scored against SC on the fake field goal (which was priceless to see in person ), making fun of our favorite yardbirds. There were several chants that day tailored just to piss off cockfan.
Probably the biggest moment with the band is the tradition of playing "Touchdown LSU" at the beginning of the 4th Quarter. Only part of the song is played after touchdowns normally, and at the beginning of the 4th or an OT, you'll hear it and it drives the crowd wild.
So thats a taste of what its like, but if you ever get a chance to see a game from the student section in Tiger Stadium, you shouldn't pass it up.