The Marks Post: Me, Billy, and Jeaux
I was always the little fat kid running around Sacred Heart while in school. I was picked on, made fun of, and bullied on a regular occurrence and was always the last one picked to play basketball or anything else during P.E.
P.E., in fact, is why I joined band because I didn’t want to get bullied in the locker room anymore. However, band brought about more snide remarks especially in high school. I remember hearing people asking why I got a senior jacket and saying they must give out patches for anything.
In the midst of this bullying, one thing has remained constant even to today. That thing is my affinity for LSU.
I was born to be an LSU fan because my dad, Ken, was, and still is, a die hard fan. There are pictures of me on my seventh birthday blowing out the candles on my birthday cake while wearing an LSU T-shirt.
My earliest memories of LSU football is watching the games on TigerVision. Dad would call the cable company and order it before each game. That was before the new reality of watching games on Jefferson Pilot Sports.
Dad, also, would bring me, my mom, and my sisters to an
LSU football game each year. This annual pilgrimage to Tiger Stadium began in the Curley Hallman days, or otherwise known as dark days for LSU.
Dad would also load up the van with the whole family, including my mom’s parents and sometimes his aunt Eva, and took us different places on the weekends. Every time we passed through Baton Rouge, we had to go see two things- the state capitol and Mike the Tiger.
One year, we were coming back from a family vacation, and had to make an obligatory stop at Mike’s Cage. A guy came walking up to us asking where some building on campus was. Dad told him where to go and then told us the guy was Cecil Collins.
Then, in 2000, my LSU fandom was taken to another level when I became a student. That was Nick Saban’s first year. That year had everything including a loss to UAB. That was also the first time LSU beat Alabama in Baton Rouge in about 30 years. Also, I remember seeing Rohan Davey at the Wendy’s just off of campus.
Saban led LSU back to a Peach Bowl appearance that year. Years earlier, I thought it was the biggest thing when LSU made the Independence Bowl and Peach Bowl with Gerry DiNardo as head coach.
But, in 2001, Saban led LSU to a Sugar Bowl appearance against Illinois. That was definitely the biggest thing ever at the time for me. I remember watching a coach’s show before the Sugar Bowl where some older fan asked Saban if he would see another LSU national championship in his lifetime. Saban said yes, and everybody in the crowd erupted. I, however, said “yea right.”
Well, I was wrong because LSU did win the national championship against Oklahoma just a season later. My family watched the game where we watched countless Super Bowls at the home of Doug and Brenda Stanford.
I graduated from LSU four months later in May of 2004. Saban walked into the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for graduation, and the whole place went nuts as everybody was shouting out “Four more years.”
Saban only lasted another year at LSU before leaving for the Miami Dolphins. Les Miles then came along and led LSU to another national championship against Ohio State in 2007. I watched that championship at the home of Jim and Doreen Youngflesh in Avoyelles Parish. It was special for me to watch that with a house full of other die hard LSU fans.
Fast forward 10 years to not long after I first became associate editor of the Ville Platte Gazette. The only Heisman Trophy winner from LSU, Billy Cannon, came to Judge John Saunders’ home in Ville Platte. I had the opportunity to go meet him and do an interview. I brought a copy of Cannon’s book I had bought for dad for him to autograph. That was a special moment for me.
Another special moment came last year when I took dad to the LSU game against Alabama in Tiger Stadium on his birthday. The game stunk, but it was some much needed father-son time.
A new chapter of my LSU fandom was written this past season as I had press credentials to all the home games. I got to go on the sidelines for the last eight minutes of the games, go to go on the field after the games, and got to go to the post-game press conferences.
After the last game against Texas A&M, I went on the field and got to see Holly Rowe from LSU interviewing Joe Burrow. I also stayed after Coach O’s press conference for Burrow’s, and his dad was standing not far to my right.
This past Saturday night, Burrow won the Heisman Trophy. My eyes, like every other LSU fan’s on the planet, started welling up during his speech. That was the first sporting event to make my eyes well up since the Cubs won the World Series in 2016. I posted on social media later that night, “I can say this boy from Ville Platte saw both LSU Heisman winners in person. Pretty humbling! #Forever LSU #GeauxTigers”
The next chapter will be written in nine days when I’ll be in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium press box for the Peach Bowl when LSU plays Oklahoma in the College Football Playoffs. I still don’t think the reality of that sunk in yet. It probably won’t until I get to Atlanta.
I hope this story will serve as motivation to all the little fat kids running around Sacred Heart and every other campus in the parish. If you are picked on, made fun of, or bullied like I was, just champion through it like I did. Then, maybe you might get to meet the next two Heisman winners from LSU.