Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
Today's Q & A is with former LSU outside linebacker Ron Sancho. Sancho, a native of Avondale. La, played for the Tigers from 1984-1988. After being redshirted in 1984, he would become a huge piece of LSU's dominating defense during his four seasons of play, earning ALL-SEC honors in 1987 and 1988. He finished his LSU career with 300 total tackles, 37 TFL, 23 sacks, seven fumble recoveries, and five interceptions.
He would go on the play in the NFL for Kansas City, Denver and Detroit as well as two season with the New York/New Jersey Knights in the WLAF.
Q - I see you were born in New Orleans. Is that where you grew up?
Ron - No. I was actually born in Marrero and grew up in Avondale.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Ron - A pilot in the Air Force or a doctor. I wanted to be a pilot because my dad was in the Air Force and I loved planes when I was a kid. Also when I was young, my dad use to sit down with me and have talks about the human body which grew my interest in becoming a doctor.
Q - When did you start playing organized sports?
Ron - I was five or six years old. I played football at Avondale playground and I played running back in little league until I got to heavy to play. Back then there was a weight limit in playground football. During my eighth grade year I was to heavy to play, so I had to play flag football. That helped keep my skills up to a certain degree, but I really missed playing tackle football that year.
Playing football was in my blood. My brothers loved football. But my sister was probably the best athlete in the family pound for pound. She could do anything and everything great. My brother Mike was the best male athlete. My other brother Steve was a great quarterback. Man, he had an arm on him. My brother Dave was always the brain guy and I guess I was always the one who was destined to be a football player. I wasn't the athlete that Mike was, I didn't have the brain that Dave had, didn't have the arm that Steve did, but I was always good at playing ball.
My brothers and sister kind of contributed to that because they always promoted me and attended my games. Even when I played in little league they were all always out there cheering me on, while a lot of other guy's big brothers were off doing their own thing. They were always there watching their baby brother play and telling me what a great job I was doing.
Q - When you attended Shaw High School, did you play multiple sports?
Ron - No, I only played football. But we did other things like practice with the wrestling team in the mornings even though we weren't on the team. I was strictly a football guy and worked out in the offseason.
Q - Are there any personal or team accomplishments in high school that you would like to mention?
Ron - I want to tell you what I liked about Shaw the most. I met some life long friends there. Nacho Albergamo is a guy I'm close to. He's the Godfather to my daughter Katy. He introduced me to my wife Cheryl.
I met Glenn Estopinal who is a great Christian guy. He was a great safety and a great baseball player.
Robert Smith had speed and talent, he was like our Michael Brooks. He actually has cancer right now and I want to shout out to him to say that I love him. He was a great athlete. Nacho is his doctor and I know Robby is going to do what he needs to do to win this fight.
Mickey Guidry is a great guy and has been very successful. His daughter was a Golden Girl and became a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys. I believe she has moved on from that to do other thins and has a couple of daughters. Both Mickey and his wife Angie have raised some quality kids.
Both Mickey and Nacho were roommates of mine at LSU at one time or another. They both could only stand me for about a semester, but I don't blame them because I can barely stand myself. (laughing..). I didn't get a nickname like 'psycho' for nothing.
But I met some great people who are still in my life and I'm still in theirs. We love each other like brothers.
Q - Can you tell us about your recruiting process?
Ron - Pete Jenkins recruited me. He was my contact at LSU. I had visits to Ole Miss and Tulane. Nebraska and Notre Dame were interested in me and got a lot of interest from Texas A&M. It's hard to remember all the schools. I did consider the Air Force Academy a little bit.
When I graduated from Shaw my dad told me that he would sign a letter of intent to LSU or the Air Force Academy. I just grew up a LSU fan and I was always gunna go to LSU. It was my dream to play for LSU so why would I go anywhere else?
As a kid I always understood what LSU football meant to people who were non-football players. It means so much. Fans family the team. They feel like they belong and are a part of LSU football. Being at LSU as a young man, I was a football player, but I was also a fan of the school. I knew what it meant in the communities of Thibodaux, Houma, Avondale, Marrero, New Orleans and all of the State of Louisiana. When we won it felt like they won. It picked up their week.
Q - So you were at LSU from 1984 through 1988 and redshirted in 1984. During your five seasons in Baton Rouge, LSU was winning a lot of games, so you had a nice taste of success as a Tiger?
Ron - Well we had to turn things around after Jerry Stovall got fired. Bill Arnsparger took over and I think if he would have stayed one more year, in 1987 we would have ran a more successful defensive scheme against Alabama (our only loss that season) and I don't think we would have thrown the ball against Ohio State late, deep in their territory. I think Bill would have just punched it in behind Nacho and Eric with Harvey having such a big game that day. I think we would have won that one (the game ended in a 13-13 tie). During my five years as a Tiger, we went 44-13-3.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Bill Arnsparger?
Ron - Coach Arnsparger was a very stern, smart, hard disciplinarian coach and everyone respected him. He believed in a college kid going to school, getting a degree, then being a football player after. He was always very serious, but he did have a little bit of play in him. We'd find him sometimes with the water hose spraying us down with water and that was surprising. He was a great coach.
He was great at making adjustments during a game. If someone was running something that was working on us early, a lot of times he would make proper adjustments and we would shut it down. Yea, his adjustments were unreal.
As a redshirt freshman I was the only new player to start on defense or offense in 1985. All the other starters were returning players.
One day during the week of the season opener against North Carolina, he called me to his office. We sat down and he taught me his ten rules of defense. He said, "These are my ten rules, if you follow them you'll never be out of place." Those rules helped me out tremendously. It helped me out during my entire career. I lived on them. I even lived by them in the World League and with the Denver Broncos. It taught me to understand my position and what I needed to do. It helped me start thinking like a coach out on the field. I would recognize the opponents weakness and attack it.
Bill was a great coach and he helped me out tremendously.
Q - Before we continue with football questions, can you tell me about the day that you saved two lives while you and Mickey Guidry traveled to attend a friend's wedding?
Ron - It goes back to the summer before. Mickey Guidry and I were working for a company called Cajun Insulation. Back then they use to find jobs for us during the summer, which was the only time we were allowed to work. We weren't allowed to work during the season or during the spring.
Anyway, while working at Cajun Insulation we met a guy named Shane. Shane was getting married the following spring and he begged us all summer to come to his wedding, and we told him that we would.
The day of his wedding fell during spring practice. It was on a Friday night, so after football practice that day, Mickey and I jumped in my car and headed out on Nicholson Drive. Back then Nicholson looked nothing like it does now. It was just a back road, especially after you pass Tiger Town.
We came up on an accident between a tanker truck and a car and you could tell that it just happened. I got out of the car and I could see that the tanker truck was leaking something. Then I looked at the car and it looked like a tornado had spun it and tore all the parts off of it. The car was just a hunk of metal with all its parts laying around it.
Mickey Guidry and I ran to check on the driver. We busted the window. The driver was wearing a white t-shirt and was covered in blood, so it looked really bad, but he was breathing and looked like he was going to be okay.
After we got him out of the car, I told Mickey that I was going to check on the truck driver. I asked him to move my car so he could shine the head lights on the tanker truck. We knew we needed to get him out of there.
The truck was off the road in a cow pasture, laying partially in a ditch and chemicals were dripping into the ditch. When I got down there I saw that the truck cab was smashed and at this point whatever was leaking from the tanker was becoming a cloud.
I asked God not to let me see anything too gruesome, I just didn't think I could handle that. Then I heard this scream coming from inside the truck's cab and at that moment I remember hearing the Lord in my head asking me if I believed in him.
So ignoring the gas, (I didn't take the time to look for a skull and cross bones. I had no idea what the chemical was.), I told the Lord, "Yes I do believe in you. I'm going in. If I don't come out please take me to heaven."
I closed my eyes, took a big breath and went in. I had borrowed and was wearing Mike DeWitt's shoes and as I went into the ditch the chemical started burning and melting the shoes. To this day, DeWitt and I still talk about that and laugh about it. Anyway, when I got out of the ditch I had to climb over a barbwire fence. Mickey was shinning the lights for me but you couldn't see it through the chemical cloud.
I heard the guy scream again and found him. He was a big guy, bigger than me. I picked him up and put him over my shoulder, took a deep breath and opened my eyes. My eyes started watering, so I closed them. I tried to take another breath but the air came out of me. It felt like how you loose your breath on a football field after taking a big hit. That's when I started to panic with this guy on my shoulders. I couldn't breath and couldn't see. I didn't know how to get out of there. Something told me, "go this way".. So I went that way and I got him to the fence, got him over it, walked through the acid in the ditch and put him down on the side of the road right as the cops were pulling up. The cops asked us if we witnessed the accident. We told them, "No sir" while showing them both injured men.
About thirty years later I get a call from Nacho and he says. "I Have someone here that I want you to talk to.".. Sure enough, it was the gentleman from that truck. He told me that he has been having problems since that day. His pelvis was broken in the accident along with getting burned by the chemical. So I got to find out how he was doing years later.
Mickey was right there with me the entire time helping. If it wasn't for Mickey, I don't know if I would have gotten out of the chemicals because he started screaming for me.
We still went to the wedding except I was shoeless. Why did I still go? Because we were half way there and I realized what it meant to Shane for us to go. He wanted us LSU football players at his wedding. So we went.
After the wedding, we drove back to LSU that night. Mickey was my roommate at the time and being a quarterback he had to go to practice early to look at game film and study, so he left before me.
We had a scrimmage at noon that day and Arnsparger knocked on my door. Automatically your stomach drops because it's never good to have your head coach come knock on your door in the dorm. Mickey told him what happen and he came to tell me that I wasn't playing in the scrimmage, sending me to the infirmary. Mickey told him that I was coughing all night so he wanted me to get checked out by a doctor. I got checked and everything was fine.
A reporter found out about what happened, so a week later after the spring game Bill asked me to talk to the media. He felt that lately college football players were getting a lot of bad press about being spoiled young men. He wanted to give them something good and positive to report. So I said, "Sure coach, if you think that's what I should do?"... So that's how the story got out. It kind of snowballed and I got to go to the White House. I met John Glenn. I ate dinner. It was one of the best moments of my life.
Q - At the end of the 1986 season Arnsparger announced after the Tulane game that he was leaving to become the AD at Florida. Was that a big shock to you and the team?
Ron - No, because during two-a-days before the season started he took the trip over to Gainesville to interview for the job. He didn't keep it hidden from us, we knew the entire time. Bill was always in control. He was in charge until the very end. Everyone was still playing hard for their position and playing hard for the school. We knew we had to play for ourselves and that winning would solve any problems. We ended up going 9-2 that year. I don't count the Sugar Bowl loss at the end of that year with Bill leaving.
Mike Archer had a lot more energy, not as much discipline and I think that's what eventually did him in. I think Mike wanted to be friends and I think he may have been just a little to young. Bill really didn't have 'friends' because everyone had so much respect for him. Archer was a good coach. Remember we went 10-1-1 under Mike in 1987.
Q - What was your most memorable game at LSU?
Ron - Man, I have a lot of them. I'd have to say Alabama my senior year in 1988. We were down 15-0 on the road and came back to win 19-18. We only allowed them three points in the second half. It was a great game and we had to beat Alabama to clinch the SEC. I had a good game that day. It was a hard fought, typical LSU/Alabama game. Thank God Bama's kicker missed that field goal at the end of the game. He had the leg but you could see from where I was at that it wasn't straight enough.
The Earthquake game has to be a close second. It was a great game. We were coming off of back to back losses. I had never lost two games in a row and we were like,... Okay, what are we going to do? Are we going to keep losing or do we want to turn it around and get back to winning?
We held them to only a couple of field goals and the offense came through. Thank God for Eddie Fuller. We turned it around that night and ended up winning the SEC, sharing it with Auburn. I say we won it because we beat them. No one else in the SEC had a tougher schedule than us that year. Our only losses were to Florida, Ohio State, and Miami. Auburn had a good team that year.
I ended up playing with Reggie Slack in the World League and I use to make him pay for that loss. I'd walk by him laughing and say, "7-6, Oh geez.. You couldn't score Reggie? Thank God you can score now!" (laughing)...
Q - So you were drafted in the 7th round by the Kansas City Chiefs. Tell us about your experience with the NFL Draft and your NFL career?
Ron - Back then we didn't have cell phones, so you had to keep your land line phone open waiting for the call. We were all at my apartment and after the first day goes by you start to get a little nervous. The next morning I get drafted and Kansas City was on the line. Then my agent called me to tell me that Kansas City took me with the second pick in the 7th round. It was a great feeling to get drafted. During my first NFL preseason game, I couldn't believe that I was out there playing against Minnesota. We scrimmaged against Houston and I actually sacked Warren Moon. Not too bad, huh?... Then I ended up spending the entire 1989 season in Denver with Michael Brooks and we ended up in the Super Bowl. I was on the developmental squad and ended up with an AFC Championship ring.
Next I played in the World League for a couple of seasons and made the All-World team. I ended up having my own World League football card. I still get a bunch of cards in the mail every week that people want signed. I even received a letter from a kid who is an archaeologist in Italy about the World League and asked me to sign his card.
I had a brief stop in Buffalo, then ended up in Detroit. Then Eric Andolsek died that offseason and that was it. That year, Mike got crippled, Eric was killed and then Toby Caston died two or three years later. After Eric was killed I just felt like I had enough of football.
This will sum me up... LSU, I loved.. When I got to Denver and just got through with my first play of a preseason game and was stepping up. I got in on a tackle and I'm thinking, 'I never really thought about Denver. I don't know how I feel about playing here.' That's it... To me, I love football. I don't know about money for football. I'm one of those people who never turn what they love into a business. I just didn't have the same spirit that I had at LSU. It didn't mean anything. It's got to mean something to me. Playing football for money, it was nice, but it just felt artificial. So for me, that was it.
Q - So what was next for you after football?
Ron - I ended up going into business and you know what I do today? I save people. I have a medical imaging company, Cardio Health Solutions, that picks up female heart disease. I treat about 305 to 325 patients a week. I have eighteen imaging centers and another four that I'm working on now in Florida. I help doctors find patterns for females who have heart disease because it's really hard to pick up and show. My machines help show it to the doctors.
I also have a second company, JLK Homes, named after my kids. Josh, Lauren and Kate.
My youngest, Katelyn just graduated from LSU in Biochemistry. My daughter, Lauren is getting married at the end of the year. She's actually marring Bo Strange's grandson and my oldest, Joshua is working with me at Cardio Health and JLK. It's a blessing to be able to get up everyday and work with my son. He's a truly great guy.
Q - Is there anything that you would like to say to the LSU fans?
Ron - Thank you.. I love all of you.. Honestly, thank you. Being there was one of the best experiences of my life. Going to LSU has allowed two of my daughters to attend LSU on scholarships from the Charlie Mac Foundation and get an education. Some people still remember me and we talk. I guess it feels good to be remembered. I have a bunch of great memories. I couldn't of asked for a better career at LSU. I love you all, just like I did when I played there and thank you...
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
Former LSU baseball head coach Paul Mainieri sat down with us at Da Boot Sports for a Q & A session. Mainieri has a 1,501-774-8 (.659) career record that includes six seasons at St. Thomas (1983-88), six seasons at Air Force (1989-94), 12 seasons at Notre Dame (1995-2006) and 15 seasons at LSU (2007-21). He is No. 7 all-time among NCAA Division I Baseball coaches in career wins.
He is one of only five coaches in NCAA Division I Baseball history to win 1,500 games and a national championship. The others are Augie Garrido (Cal State Fullerton/Texas), Gene Stephenson (Wichita State), Jim Morris (Miami, Fla.) and Mark Marquess (Stanford).
During Mainieri’s 15 seasons at LSU, the Tigers have captured an incredible 30 team championships, including the 2009 NCAA title, eight NCAA Regional championships, five College World Series appearances/NCAA Super Regional championships, four Southeastern Conference championships, six SEC Tournament titles and six SEC Western Division crowns. His six SEC tournament titles tie him with former LSU coach Skip Bertman and former Alabama coach Jim Wells for the most in league history.
Q - I see you were born in Morgantown, West Virginia. How long did you live there until your family relocated?
Mainieri - Yes, that's something Nick Saban and I have in common, we were both born in West Virginia. The difference is he was raised there but we moved away when I was two weeks old, so I don't remember much about living there.
My father married my mom who was a West Virginia graduate. My father, Demie Mainieri was from New Jersey but went to West Virginia and played baseball there. He went into coaching and got tired of the cold weather and was able to get a job in Miami, Florida and that's where I was raised.
I was the luckiest kid in the world because I grew up loving sports and my father was actually a teacher and a coach. When he retired from coaching, he was generally regarded as the greatest junior college coach in history.
He was the coach at a school called Miami Dade Community College and he was first junior college coach in history to win
1,000 games. He also won a national championship and had about 35 of his former players make it to the Major Leagues.
So I grew up in a very intense baseball environment watching players like Steve Carlton, a hall of famer left handed pitcher. So my father's range of players stretched from the 60s with Steve Carlton all the way into the 90s with Mike Piazza and a lot of great players in between there.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Mainieri - Most kids grow up wanting to be Major League baseball player but I just knew in my mind that I wanted to be
a college baseball coach like my father. I was very fortunate to have an opportunity eventually to coach at four wonderful institutions, ultimately at LSU.
Q - At what age did you start playing organized sports and what sports did you play?
Mainieri - I remember being in a uniform when I was four years old, but that was as a bat boy for my father's team. My mother made the uniform. She has a lot of pictures me at four years old being in a dugout wearing a uniform for Miami Dade Community College.
I really don't remember the exact dates of my first team but it was probably when I was six or seven years old. The only thing I played organized when I was young was baseball, but I loved football and we had a lot of pick up games in my neighborhood in those days and I always wanted to be the quarterback. My idols were Johnny Unitus and Joe Namath.
Q - When you attended Christopher Columbus High in Miami did you play multiple sports?
Mainieri - I played quarterback on the football team and I played short stop on the baseball team. I knew I wasn't big enough or good enough to play college football so baseball was going to be my direction.
My dad was a wonderful father and a great mentor for me as an athlete.
Q - Any personal or team accomplishments in high school that you would like to mention?
Mainieri - In baseball we did make it to the high school state championship game in my sophomore and senior years but lost both times. In the State of Florida that's a pretty big deal because there are so many great baseball teams and great players.
Our football team didn't have a stellar record. We were a small school playing amoung all the big public schools in Miami so we were outmanned in those days. Today, Columbus High School has one of the best football programs in the State, so I guess I was lucky through high school and to graduate in 1975, because I probably wouldn't be able to make the team they have today. They have so many great athletes.
Q - Tell us about your recruiting process and why did you choose LSU?
Mainieri - Recruiting back in those days was so much different then it is now. Now the players get so much exposure through all the different travel ball teams and show cases. They had none of that when I was coming out of high school. My dream was always to play for my father at Miami Dade Community College. The dream of most players back then was hoping they were good enough for local schools to invite you to be a part of their team. So I grew up hoping that one day I would be good enough to play for my dad at Miami Dade.
When I was in high school I was always a huge Pete Maravich fan. I wasn't a basketball player but I loved Pistol Pete. Whenever a LSU football game was on TV, I'd watch it. Mike Miley was always someone who I thought was really cool and lets face it, the purple and gold colors just grab ya.
So what happened in the spring of my junior year, LSU made a trip down to Miami to play the Hurricanes in a three game series. But they came in town a day early. So on Thursday they ended up playing an exhibition game against my father's team before their three games against Miami. I was at the field for this game. I met the LSU coach, Jim Smith that day and he said he was going to keep an eye on me because of what he heard about me as a ball player. He said he wanted me to visit LSU in the fall so I went to LSU for a football game and saw the campus and fell in love with LSU. It was a real big decision coming out of high school whether to accept the scholarship to LSU or to play for my dad. I decided to accept the scholarship to LSU to help my family financially, besides really liking LSU.
Just to mention, LSU baseball wasn't the power house back then that it is today. Jim Smith had a duel job. He was the head baseball coach, but he was also the equipment manager for the football team. I know that's hard to believe, but that's where SEC baseball was back then. It didn't become a big deal until Skip Bertman came to LSU and transformed the program into a national power.
Q - Did you play any other positions besides second base?
Mainieri - Actually primarily I was a short stop all the way until I got to LSU as a freshman during the 1976 season. When I got to LSU they had a returning short stop by the name of, Tony Tupps who was a good ball player. I wanted to get into the lineup somehow so the coach ended up putting me in left field my freshman year to give me an opportunity to play. Coach Smith planned on moving me to short stop for my sophomore season, but I decided to leave to play for my dad.
Q - After one season at LSU you decided to head back home to play for your dad at Miami Dade Community College and then ended up at UNO. Tell us about those decisions?
Mainieri - After my freshman year at LSU my heart strings started tugging on me, because I've always wanted to play for my father. That was always my goal while growing up. But the opportunity to go to LSU was so attractive that I decided to go there out of high school. Also with the LSU baseball head coach being a part time position, the program wasn't a challenging one. It wasn't going to push me to fulfill my potential, because coach wasn't out there for fall practice while being involved with the football team. I didn't want to go through my life wondering whether I was good enough to be a Major League baseball player and I wanted to be pushed and challenged. I knew I'd be challenged at Miami Dade Community College by the way my father ran the baseball program there.
So I transferred away from LSU and played for him my sophomore year. Again, I was back at short stop. After my sophomore season at Miami Dade concluded, so was my community college eligibility. So I needed to find another school to attend to finish my college career. By the grace of God I ended up back in the State of Louisiana and went to the University of New Orleans. I played for a wonderful coach by the name was Ron Maestri who became like a second father to me and gave me another coaching role model that I could develop my future coaching philosophy by having played for him.
When I got to UNO, they had a returning short stop who was a tremendous player by the name of Manny Coletti, so
Coach Maestri moved me over to second base and we ended up having a pretty good infield. We had great teams at UNO in 1978 and 1979.
Q - I see that in the summer of 1978 you played in the College Summer Baseball League in Cape Cod and was named a League All-Star?
Maineiri - Yes. That was a great experience. The Cape Cod Summer League is known as the best college summer league out there. It's where all college players want to play summer ball. If you can't play for the USA team, then Cape Cod is the place to play. I was very fortunate. I had a pretty good summer and made the all-star team there.
Q - Tell us about your two season in the Minor Leagues for the Chicago White Socks organization?
Mainieri - I was drafted by the Chicago White Socks after my senior year at UNO and I'm really glad I had the experience to play professional baseball. It was a good thing to have on my resume. It probably helped vault my coaching career, to have that experience.
I really didn't like professional baseball personally. I was really into the 'team concept' where everyone was striving to win the game that day and trying to win a championship. But the reality is, in the minor leagues your only concern is the advancement of your own career. It leans towards players being selfish and being only concerned about themselves and winning is not the goal. It's all about player development.
Personally, professional baseball was not for me. I didn't really like it. I loved high school baseball. I loved college
When I decided to be a coach and perused coaching I much preferred the collage level then I would have enjoyed coaching
in professional baseball. I could have gone into professional baseball. I had many friends that became executives in professional baseball and I think if I wanted to do that I probably could have been a big league manager. But that wasn't my goal. My goal was to be a college baseball coach.
Like I mentioned, I really enjoy the team concept, but I also enjoyed getting players in informative years where you can mold them into men. Not just baseball players and filling their potential, but seeing a youngster come to you at 18 years old and then leaving you as a productive adult for society.
So I'm glad I had the experience of pro ball because it made it very clear to me that my personal professional goal was going to be on the collage level, not in professional baseball.
Q - When did you realize that you wanted to be a baseball coach?
Mainieri - At a very young age I decided that I wanted to be college baseball coach like my father. I think I was maybe 15 years old when I went to my father and told him what I wanted to do with my life. He mentored me through that whole decision.
Honestly, I don't remember much about my childhood or growing up other than that I was always on the ball field with my dad or playing myself with whatever team I was a member of. It was a wonderful childhood. Maybe it was a little bit limited as far as other people may look at it, but I was so in love with sports, playing baseball and watching my father coach, that it was a wonderful childhood growing up.
The most important thing that I got from my father was he told me that if I wanted to go into coaching, you have to do it for the right reasons. You can't do it for prestige. You can't do it for the idea of a lot of money. You can't do it because of ambition or because you love baseball or you enjoy winning. The reason that you want to go into coaching is to feel like you can make an impact in young people's lives and teach them how to be successful. Today it might be on the baseball field, but those qualities that they learn will later be useful in life. To allow them to be a successful husband, father, or in any walk of life that they choose to do. So that was always my guiding light throughout my coaching career.
Q - When did you get your first head coaching job?
Mainieri - While I started playing professional baseball during the summer I moved back to Miami got married in December after my senior year and started coaching in the off-season at my alma mater Columbus High School. When I got released from pro baseball they put me on as a full time teacher and coach. That's how I started my coaching career.
Q - Tell us about your first collage head coaching position?
Mainieri - I received my first college head coaching job at St. Thomas University when I was 25 years old.
I had already been married for three years and I took that head coaching job for the whopping $3,200 a year. I laugh now because of the salaries coaches are receiving now in college baseball. How many people would take a leap of faith into a profession for $3,200? But I was the happiest guy in the world because I had fulfilled my dream of becoming a college baseball coach.
I didn't dwell on the fact that I was hardly making any money. I didn't dwell on the fact that we only had two scholarships and that we had a very below par facility. I was just happy to be a coach.
I worked day and night to try and develop a program there. I worked with the players and impacted their lives. It's amazing that through a lot of will, belief and hard work eventually I became full time at the University.
After being the coach there for three years they made me the athletic director. I became a 27 year old athletic director after teaching sports administration for a couple of years.
We improved the facility and the field is now actually named after me. Since the team is now in the NAIA, they are now actually
competing for national championships at the highest level of NAIA baseball.
I feel very proud of the time that I put in there. I guess you could say we were the pioneers of the program. We laid the ground work for what they are accomplishing now.
Back then it was a low budget university. We didn't have much money. The school only had 1,200 students. I had to
do everything. I had to fix the field. I had to write the press releases. I had to do it all. That was great training for me. It was a wonderful experience and then I ended up as the head coach at the Air Force Academy at the age of 30.
**Coach Mainieri coached at St. Thomas from 1983-1988. He is in the St. Thomas Hall of Fame and has had his jersey number retired by the school.
Q - How did you become interested in the Air Force head coach position?
Mainieri - When I was coaching at St. Thomas we played the Air Force Academy in what turned out to be my last year. The coach of their team explained to me that he was an active duty Captain in the Air Force and he was going back into Operation Air Force and that they were going to civilianize the head coach position. He thought that I would be a good candidate for the job if I was interested in taking it.
Every year that I was at St. Thomas we would play the Naval Academy and I had become friends with the Navy coach even though there was a large age difference. I thought, not only are you a baseball coach, but you're such an important person in those cadets' lives at this service academy because your teaching them how to be successful and how to be leaders.
These were young men. You had them at 18 and 22 years old and they were going to go onto serve our country in vital roles. In leadership roles. So that really appealed to me. I went into coaching because I wanted to impact young people's lives. Well, what more important thing can you do then to impact the lives of a future officer that were going to be the custodians of our way of life.
I'm proud to tell you, I'm probably the only former coach that has five former players that became general officers in the Air Force and probably 25 former players that are colonels. Most of the players that played for me became fighter pilots and fought in wars. They have done real heroic things in defense of our country. That was an unbelievable honor to be named the head coach at the United States Air Force Academy.
Q - Tell us how you ended up as the head coach at Notre Dame after six successful seasons at the Air Force Academy?
Mainieri - Honestly I thought I'd be at the Air Force Academy for the rest of my life. Then one day I was sitting at my desk and the phone rang. It was the athletic director at the University of Notre Dame. He told me that he wanted me to be the baseball coach at Notre Dame.
Like I mentioned I played quarterback at an all boys Catholic high school, dreaming of being the quarterback at Notre Dame someday. Of course I wasn't good enough to be that, but now they think I'm good enough to be their baseball head coach. It was just something that I needed to do.
Of course the University of Notre Dame means the University of Our Mother, and I thought, well I do want to go to heaven. So you can't turn Our Mother down, (laughing)… So I thought I'd better take the job. I ended up being their for 12 years and it was a tremendous experience.
Q - Tell us about the challenges of coaching baseball in such a cold weather environment?
Mainieri - For a boy who grew up in Miami, Florida and spent the first 30 years of my life there with the exception of the three years I went north to Louisiana for college, going to Colorado Springs and then South Bend, Indiana was a big adjustment for me.
I had never seen snow before I went to the Air Force Academy and of course the winter in the Mid-West could be very treacherous. It presented a big challenge to deal with the weather.
Notre Dame was also a very selective university, as was the Air Force Academy. It was difficult to find quality baseball players that were of the caliber of student that could gain admission into the university and it was also a very expensive university.
There were a lot of reasons why we shouldn't have been successful at Notre Dame. But my attitude was nothing is going to stop us and we're not going to make excuses. We were going to get players that understood that there will be things that we will need to overcome, but through hard work and belief in ourselves, we will overcome them.
I felt like during the 12 years I was there we probably were universally regarded as the strongest northern
baseball program in the country. We actually had a team in 2001 that held the #1 ranking in the college baseball polls for about a three week period. Then in 2002 we advanced to the College World Series. Our time there was very successful and very rewarding. I loved it.
Q - Please tell us about your opportunity to become the head coach at LSU?
Mainieri - I actually turned down several other jobs in warm weather climates, including in the SEC, the Big 12 and even at UNO to stay at Notre Dame. But when LSU called that was the one school that I just couldn't turn down. It was the only school that I would consider leaving Notre Dame for. I took a leap of faith, because as much as I loved Notre Dame, and I thought I'd be there for the rest of my life, I knew that if I turned LSU down that I'd regret it for the rest of my life.
Skip Bertman contacted me about the position. I actually knew Skip for decades before he became the coach at LSU. He was a dominate high school coach in Miami, Florida at Miami Beach High School. He use to send players to my dad's college. So he and my father were friends and I knew him well. Then he went from there to being the associate head coach at the University of Miami. I actually coached against him when I was the coach at St. Thomas University my first year, so Skip knew of me. I also followed LSU baseball program from a distance all those years, having gone to school there and from knowing Skip. I followed them very closely, never dreaming that someday I'd be the baseball coach here. It ended up happening. It was just an opportunity that you can't pass up. I was very flattered that Skip felt that I was the guy that would help restore the glory to LSU baseball, so it was virtually impossible to say no to him.
When we got to LSU it was a little bit of a challenge at first but we stuck with it . Our very first recruiting class at LSU which didn't come in until my second year was the #1 recruiting class. So the foundation was laid with the first team. Then we added to it, going to Omaha in my second year. Then in my third year we won the national championship. It was really a script played out and I was very proud of the way it happened. I wish we would have won another championship or two, because I felt like we had the teams to do it, but it's really hard to win national championships. A lot of things need to fall your way. We almost won another one in 2017 when we lost in the finals to Florida. We had some really great teams, especially when Alex Bregman was here. We just couldn't finish it up to get another one or two. I think we had a lot of success here and I'm very proud of the things that we did. I'm very honored that I was able to be the coach here for 15 years.
Q - Looking back at your first three seasons, your first season finished with a 29-26-1 record, missing the postseason. Then it seemed like the team started slow in 2008 before going on that amazing SEC record 23 game winning streak and end up advancing to Omaha. Then in 2009 the team wins the national championship. Can you elaborate a little more those first three seasons as the LSU head coach?
Mainieri - Well, I wasn't able to recruit any players for the first team that I had. During the course of my first year here is when I was able to recruit my first class, which didn't come to school until the fall of my second year. So we had simply play with the guys that were already here in year one.
There were some areas that we obviously needed improvement in, but we worked hard and 29-26-1 doesn't seem to be anything that anyone would be proud of, but in a sense quite frankly I thought we overachieved that year. I know LSU fans don't like to hear that, but that was a challenging year. That's why they needed a new coach to come in and build the program back up.
Like I said, the foundation of our national championship team came from that first season. The previous staff had recruited freshmen by the names of Blake Dean, Sean Ochinko, Jared Mitchell and Ryan Schimpf. By their third year, they had the experience and we won the national championship. So we took our lumps that first year.
Then in our second year we brought in that great recruiting class, combined with the foundation guys from the previous season, but we were losing a lot of games early in the year that could have gone either way. We were just that one pitch, that one play, that one at bat away from winning and we weren't getting the job done. But I was still encouraged, because I knew we were much more competitive then we were in my first year. Then all of a sudden two thirds of the way through the season it just clicked. We ended up winning the last 16 games of the regular season, (four three game sweeps consecutively to end the SEC schedule). That had never been done before and hasn't been done since. We had to do it when we really needed the games.
Then we swept the SEC Tournament and then swept the regional. So we won 23 in a row before our streak was stopped in the first game of the super regional before winning the next two games against Cal-Irvine and qualified for Omaha.
Even though we didn't win the national championship in 2008, in Omaha we went 1-2. It just laid the ground work for the following year.
In 2009 we started the season ranked #1 in the nation and culminated it with a national championship. Some people who follow LSU are disappointed that we didn't win another championship in my tenure, but it wasn't like we didn't have a lot of success. We had a stretch of six straight years where we were a national seed. That had only been done one other time previously in college baseball history. We won SEC championships. I think we won 31 different championships including regionals, super regionals, western division championships, SEC regular season championships and SEC tournaments. We just didn't win the last game of the year again. I know that was disappointing.
Some people evaluate your season by if you won the last game of the year. That attitude is a result of what Skip Bertman created here. He won five national championships and that became the standard at LSU, and that's what makes LSU so unique and so special, but at the same time that's an unreal expectation.
Q - I want to bring up your second season again. Your final two wins in the super regional were the final two games played and won in the old Alex Box Stadium. Then you end up winning the national championship the next season, which was the team's first season in the new stadium. How did you and the team handle the move from such a historic site where so many wonderful moments happened, into the new building 200 yards down the street?
Mainieri - When Skip hired me, he told me that we would play one more season and then move into this sparkling new Alex Box Stadium. That certainly was attractive to me in deciding to come here. As it turned out we actually had to play two more seasons in the old Box because we were a year removed from Hurricane Katrina.
All of the contractors were busy repairing and rebuilding hospitals and schools back up so baseball stadiums had to take a back seat and understandably so.
But I'm really glad we had that extra season in the old Box, because when we had that 23 game winning streak we ended up closing out with a regional and hosting a super regional and I'm really glad we had that experience. Of course we won the super regional against Cal-Irvine, sending out the old Box in the most appropriate way by qualifying for Omaha.
Then going into a new stadium and winning a national championship that year is something no one can take away from us. We were just so proud of the new stadium. We had a veteran team here in my third year. The crowds were coming out in record numbers. It was only appropriate that we won it all our first year there.
It was a two year period that I'll never forget obviously for a lot of reasons, but just the pride in closing out the old stadium and then opening up the new stadium was just phenomenal.
Q - I have a question about winning the national championship in your third year. You and your team had the face something that none of the previous LSU teams had to face in winning a national championship in Omaha and that was the format change to the championship game in the College World Series. Previous LSU teams only had to play one game for all the marbles on the final day. Now it's a best out of three series. I personally like the old format better. The gritty one game, need to be your best on one day to win a championship. That had to have been added pressure to win a national championship in that new championship series format?
Mainieri - Yes. Well we won the first game, lost game two so it came down to a final game. Like you said, there's nothing like going to bed at night, waking up in the morning and knowing it's do or die for the national championship. It's like playing the Super Bowl. What an amazing feeling that was. But our team was so confident and I believed in our kids so much that there was no doubt in our mind that we were going to win that final game against Texas that night.
We jumped out to a 4-0 lead before finding ourselves in a tie after five innings at 4-4. So I grouped up the guys in the dugout before we went to bat in the sixth inning and I said. "Hey, Nobody hang their heads guys. We have a four inning game for the national championship. So lets be the better team in these last four innings."
We went out there in the top of the sixth and scored five runs. We had tremendous relief pitching. Then we ended up adding another run in the eighth and another in the ninth. We ended up winning 11-4. It looked to the casual fan like it was easy win, but it wasn't.
We had to beat a coach who had won five national championships in Augie Garrido. We had to beat the University of Texas who had won six national championships overall.
That was our sixth national championship to tie Texas for the second most in history. I think USC has the most with 11 or 12. It was an amazing night and something I'll never forget. I feel very blessed to have experienced it.
Q - How do you feel about the job that Jay Johnson has done so far?
Mainieri - I'm obviously pulling for him. Most of the players on this year's team played for me last year. I recruited most of the players on the team. All of the returning players I recruited and coached. But we also recruited most of this new recruiting class for this year. Jay helped by bringing in a few transfers.
I feel good about what we left for him. There's a theory in coaching that when you leave or retire, you want to leave the program in really good shape for the new coach. I feel very proud about that.
We won a regional last year and these guys have a year of experience, plus the additional recruiting class, so I think Jay is very grateful that we left him an outstanding team. There is no question that it's an Omaha caliber, national championship caliber team.
For that reason, it was hard for me to walk away, because I knew we had the making of a championship caliber team for the next year. So when I made the decision to retire, it was very complicated and a lot of it had to do with health reasons.
I think Jay has come in and has done a good job preparing the team for the new season. He's going to find out that there is a lot of expectations for the coach of the LSU baseball program. There will be criticism and there will be days when people are questioning if they made the right decision on who the new coach is. It all comes with the territory. But I think he's experienced enough to understand that. I think he's a quality coach and a quality person. I think he will keep the program at a very high level and I wish him nothing but the best.
I'm here to help him. He has called on me a lot and I've made myself available to him a lot. He knows that I want nothing but great success for the program.
Q - What adjustments have you made since retiring after 39 years of coaching? Do you miss it?
Mainieri - Sure. I miss it a lot. I knew I was going to miss it. I just have to keep reminding myself that all good things have to come to an end at some point. I made the decision to retire for my own personal health reasons. I also felt that it was time to hand the program over to a younger person that had maybe a little more energy and that could do the little things that I always did. I was just running out of gas.
I've coached almost 2,300 games. I've coached over 900 games at LSU. With the expectations as high as they are at LSU, it could wear you down a little bit. I just felt it was the right time and it's been a big adjustment for me.
For the first time in four decades I'm not preparing a team to start a season. That's a big void in my life. I'm trying to fill it by spending a lot of time with my children and grandchildren. Doing some things that I never got to do in the spring time and even in the fall. I'm playing a lot of golf. I've gone visit my son in South Bend a couple of times and I've been able to babysit my grandkids.
I'm just trying to adjust to my new life. That doesn't mean I don't miss my old life either. I think this first year will be a huge adjustment for me. I gave the job everything I had to offer for 39 years, 15 at LSU. I just felt like I didn't have anymore to give. I think I was man enough to understand that and realize that. It was the toughest thing I've ever done in my life going into the athletic director's office and tell him that I was giving up my dream job. I made the decision and there's no looking back now.
I'm very grateful and appreciative to have had the opportunity and I feel like I've done a pretty good job while I was here. I hope most people feel that way. I'm thankful to God that I got to do what I wanted to do with my life and I did it for 39 years. How many people can say that?
Q - From what I understand, you are still involved with the LSU athletic department?
Mainieri - Officially I am. My official title is 'Ambassador to LSU Athletics'... If Scott Woodward needs me for something, I'm there for him. I visit and mingle with people who donate to LSU athletics, letting them know how appreciative we are for their support.
Q - Is there anything you want to tell the LSU fans?
Mainieri - I've had so many other coaches and people from around the country ask me, how do I handle the pressure coaching at LSU? How did you do it for 15 years? You know what I tell them? ... I never felt pressure, not for one moment. Because when I was a young boy my father gave me the greatest advice that he could ever give to someone. 'The only person that you have to please is the man that you look at everyday in the mirror and know that you gave it your very best effort'.
I know LSU fans are very demanding and have high expectations, but they are also very supportive and that makes coaching at LSU very special.
I never felt pressure because I held myself to a higher standard than even LSU fans held me to. In a job I had where there is a lot of people that care about the team, you're going to have some criticism, you're going to have some praise and you take it all equally because LSU fans are very passionate about their teams, especially their baseball team.
I never took criticism personally. I took it just as they were passionate about their team and I was very proud to be their coach. When I put that LSU uniform on, I knew we were representing a great fan base, a great university, and a great state. I was very proud of that everyday. Nobody wanted to win more than I did. Every game I coached in Alex Box Stadium, I'd look around and see 10,000 people in the stands and I'd say to myself, "Wow, what a huge responsibility. My job is to send these people home happy tonight." and I tried my best to do that every single game.
I think the feedback I've gotten from most fans is that they were very thankful and grateful for the time that I was here. I'm sure there may have been some fans that were glad to see me go, but I've never felt anything but love for LSU people and I'm very proud that I was their baseball coach for 15 years.
Photos Below By: Terrill Weil
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
Today's Q & A session is with former LSU quarterback Alan Risher. Risher was recruited by Charlie McClendon and played for the Tigers from 1979-1982. He would become LSU's starting quarterback from 1980-1982. During the 1982 season, Risher would lead the Tigers to one of their finest seasons, going 8-3-1. The highlight of the season was a dominating 20-10 victory over a Bear Bryant led Alabama squad in Birmingham.
He would go on to play pro football for five seasons. First in the USFL for the Arizona Wranglers before jumping to the NFL to play with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers.
Q - What is your favorite food?
Alan - If I was headed for the electric chair I'd probably have a hamburger steak with gravy and mash potatoes with some real fresh caramel corn, that's probably what I would like for my last meal.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Alan - My favorite TV show of all-time is Sanford and Son. I think that's the most hilarious sitcom of all-time.
Q - What is your favorite movie?
Alan - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
Q - Who is your favorite actor?
Alan - Clint Eastwood. I love the Dirty Harry movies.
Q - Who is your favorite music artist/group?
Alan - I've been a rock and roller all my life Terrill. I'm going see Kiss next Tuesday night, so that ought to tell you what kind of a nut case I am. I still love that kind of music at age 60. I love all of those rock bands from the 70s.
Q - Which sports teams do you enjoy following?
Alan - As I've gotten older, I'm enjoying golf and tennis more then the team sports. As far as a favorite team, I really don't have one. I kind of just follow sports in general.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Alan - I wanted to be "Broadway" Joe Namath. I use to see Joe Namath on the sidelines wearing a mink coat and his white shoes on. He was the man.
Q - What age did you start playing organized sports?
Alan - Seven years old. Tackle football. Let me tell you a quick story. Ironically the first little team I was on was called the Green Wave. We had a six game season. I started out as a right guard and I was terrible. My dad had home movies of me being awful in my stance and I wouldn't hit anyone. Well, we were 0-5 and the coaches said they needed a change at quarterback. They let me tryout at practice one day and I scored four touchdowns in a row. They told me, "You know what? You're our new quarterback."... I ended up scoring five touchdowns in the last game of the season and the rest is history.
Q - Did you play multiple sports in high school and can you tell us about your personal and/or team accomplishments?
Alan - Yes. I was kind of a childhood celebrity in Slidell. I won a national pass, punt, and kick when I was 8 years old. I was the first participant from Louisiana to ever win that event. They had parades for me. Alan Risher day. Everyone knew me and I had a big time little league career playing basketball, baseball, and football.
When I got to Salmen High School the expectations were high, because I was the guy that was going to make the difference. I ended up being All-State in three sports.
During my sophomore, junior, and senior year we beat our archrival Slidell High three times in a row. I think Salmen had only beat them once during their first ten years of existence, so when I got there we kind of turned the tables on them a little bit.
I was a Parade High School All-American quarterback. There was Dan Marino, John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and myself. All four of those guys, including myself went on to play pro football, so there must have been something pretty good about the recognition of All-American quarterbacks at the time.
I guess one of things that I'm most proud of is that Salmen won 13 straight district championships between basketball, baseball, football, and track while I was there. That probably will never happen again. We were in a pretty competitive district, so for us to win that many championships in a row was pretty significant.
Q - Tell us about your recruiting process?
Alan - I was raised a Tiger. My dad attended LSU between 1956-60 during the Billy Cannon national championship era. He started taking me to LSU games when I was three years old. He put the LSU bug in me as a young lad.
Don't get me wrong, I looked at other potential opportunities, but I probably knew all along I was going to LSU. I took recruiting trips to Ole Miss, Florida, Tennessee, Tulane, and LSU obviously. I took three official visits. You were allowed six at the time. I could have gone on a few more with me being recruited by everyone in the country basically. But I got a little tired of the process to be quite frank with you. It was the same ole stuff, being entertained and I had got to the point that I knew I was going to LSU, so I decided to shut it down. I was also being recruited to play baseball and basketball, so it was a great time.
Q - Charles McClendon was the head coach at LSU when they recruited you?
Alan - That is correct.
Q - Did you go though a redshirt season, or did you just attend LSU for four straight years?
Alan - Before I got there in 1979, you were able to redshirt as a freshman. The NCAA at that time got tired of seeing these schools redshirt their entire freshmen class. So the year I got there they changed the rule that freshmen couldn't redshirt anymore, so I basically had a wasted year.
When I arrived at LSU, I played on the JV team. I quarterbacked the Baby Bengals to a 3-0 record my freshman year. At the time LSU had quarterbacks David Woodley and Steve Ensminger who were seniors and pretty good players.
When I was being recruited, Paul Detzel was the athletic director, who they brought in to get rid of Charlie Mac. So he told me there would be a new coach for my sophomore year and he was going to bring someone in who had a great offensive mind. Obviously that didn't happen because Bo Rein got hired, then the plane accident happened, leading to the hire of Jerry Stovall.
I became the starter for the next three years and they never really opened up the passing game. I basically just handed the ball off, running the veer option. It took them a little while to figure out that they had someone who could throw the football.
Thank God Jerry Stovall hired Mac Brown to be our quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Without him we would have stayed stuck in the mud with the offense. He ran more of a pro set, pro style offense. He allowed me to audible during the games and allowed me to use my abilities to the best of my potential. As a senior we ended up going to the Orange Bowl and I had an ALL-SEC season.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Charlie McClendon?
Alan - Charlie Mac was legendary. He was the head coach at LSU for 18 years and won a lot of games. But like everyone else's down fall he couldn't beat Alabama. He was I believe, 5-13 against them but no one else was beating them either, but Mac was winning 75% of his games. In 1979 during his last year, the guys played really hard for him. In his last game, we beat Wake Forest in the old Tangerine Bowl to send him out with a win. He had a big personality. He had been around for a long time, won a lot of games and had a great reputation as a defensive coach. That's pretty much what he portrayed himself as. Like I said, I didn't spend a lot of time with the varsity during my freshmen year while being on the JV scout team.
Q - Do you remember where you were when you found out about Bo Rein's plane crash and how did that affect the team?
Alan - We actually never met Bo Rein after he got hired because of the team going to play in the Tangerine Bowl. He didn't want to interject himself into the coach's roll yet, so he was just basically recruiting. He was suppose to take over officially in early January as we were returning back to school. We never got to meet the man. I'm not even sure where I was when I heard the news, but it was a pretty sad situation.
Q - Tell us how it was to play under Jerry Stovall for three seasons...
Alan - When Jerry took over in 1980 he inherited Bo Rein's staff, which was already hired and they all had two year contracts. They were in place and he had no real say so about it. It would be almost like equating the take over of a corporation as a CEO and he inherited a board of directors that's already in place. Then you try to run things from an oversight position but you have guys working for you that you don't know much about. He didn't have a hand in picking any of them, so he was put in a tough spot.
I think he thought that Coach Mac and the situation at LSU had gotten soft over the last several years. Jerry thought a lot of the players were fat and out of shape. We had big guys, but we weren't trim and cut up with a great conditioning program. That's where the military thing came in. He tried to shape up a bunch of guys that might have been soft.
Jerry and I got a long fine. We had a couple of run-ins about things that happened on the field, but nothing more. He has always been a good friend. I lost a daughter about eight and a half years ago, and he came to Slidell for the funeral. He didn't have to do those kind of things, but he did. He's a great human being and a great guy.
Q - Who gave you the nick-name "The Slidell Slinger" and when?
Alan - The Slidell Slinger came from a guy named Kevin Chiri who ran the sports department at the local newspaper in Slidell called the Sentry-News. He and I have become really good friends. He's put me up for a spot in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Kevin was a young guy covering me during my heyday in Slidell and he called me the Slidell Slinger in the paper one day during my senior year and it kind of stuck. So that's where that came from...
Q - Looks like it was an up and down ride during your three seasons as a starter at LSU? In 1980 the team finished 7-4. Then you guys hit a speed bump in 1981 going 3-7-1. Then in 1982 came what could be called one of the top seasons, in my opinion, in the history of LSU football. Even though it had it's ups and downs that year, the team finished 8-3-1 and ranked #11 in the final AP poll. Tell us about your senior year?
Alan - We were seven points away from going undefeated. LSU hadn't had that kind of success in a long time. We beat three teams ranked in the top ten. We would have these big highs and then we couldn't get up for the next week. We beat Alabama, then we go to Mississippi State, they're 3-6 and they run all over us. They had 465 yards of total offense. John Bond killed us with the wishbone. We just couldn't stop him. The week before we held Alabama without a 1st down in the first half.
The same thing happened earlier in the season when we beat Florida. They were ranked #4 in the country. We went into Gainesville and beat them 24-13, then the following week we played a pretty mediocre Tennessee team and tied them. We were about to score at the end of the first half to go up 21-6, but we fumble the ball away at the ten yard line. Willie Gault then runs the second half opening kickoff back for a touchdown and now we are in a dog fight and the game ends in a 24-24 tie. We were better then they were.
After that Mississippi State loss, we come back home and beat the hell out of Florida State 55-21 to earn a bid to play in the Orange Bowl. Everyone's excited, then we go flat again the next week against Tulane. The Green Wave had beaten the hell out of us 48-7 the year before, so you would have thought everyone would be ready to play. We weren't ready to play. It rained that night and it was sloppy. We took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards for a touchdown like there was nothing to it. Then held them three-and-out. The next play turned that game around and I'm sure people don't remember this. We roughed the punter on 4th down, which gave them a 1st down. They ended up going down the field to score to tie things up at 7-7, making it a whole new game. It turned the entire ball game around. We fooled around and got beat and that was a tough pill to swallow. It was really tough on me because I lost to Tulane two out of three years.
Q - The Alabama victory in 1982 had to be one of the top moments of your career? It will always be remembered as one of the greatest games in LSU history. What a dominating performance. Tell us about that afternoon in Birmingham, Alabama..
Alan - We were 6-0-1 going into the game and Alabama was 6-1. We hadn't beat Alabama in 11 years, so it was similar to what Joe Burrow did to them in 2019.
To be quite frank with you, LSU was basically down 7-0 every time we played Alabama before the first ball was kicked off because it was Bear Bryant standing on the sideline, and the history of LSU with Alabama. You never were really sure if you could win. I think that was the first time that we actually thought that we could win, instead of hoping that we could win. The locker room was very confident that day. It was a beautiful day and it just made you want to go play football. Our defense really played spectacular in the first half. We were able to score 17 points to take an early lead. We hadn't had a lead on Alabama in probably 11 years.
I don't know if you remember the game, but we were ahead 17-0 at halftime and then they came out and score ten points real quickly within the first four to five minutes of the second half. We all started to look at each other, thinking, "oh s**t". ... But we were able to scramble around a couple of times to help make some big plays on offense that kept some drives going which extended the momentum. Then the game became a defensive struggle the rest of the way with us pulling out the win, 20-10.
I think for me it was probably the crescendo of my entire college career because I played probably as good as I could play that day. I was 20-26, not a ton of yards. I think 82 yards, but they were all key passes. I had a few big scrambles and I didn't turn the football over. That's how you win games. You play well and you don't turn it over. Yea, it was the highlight of my college career. No doubt about it.
Q - When your career was over at LSU you ended up going play in the USFL instead of the NFL. How did that come about?
Alan - That's a good question. I played quarterback for the South in the Senior Bowl in Mobile. The murmuring among the pro scouts was that I wasn't that good. I couldn't throw the ball, I couldn't do this, I couldn't do that. They didn't think I was good enough to be drafted. Back then the NFL had 12 rounds. However I was projected to be drafted somewhere between the 8th to 12th round.
This was way before the internet, so I didn't even know I got drafted by the USFL until I picked up the paper the next morning and saw that I was the 15th round pick of the Arizona Wranglers. I was like, "What the hell is that?" ... That's how I found out. No one called me until a day or two later.
I went to visit my friend Jimmy Field who ended up being my agent during my five year pro career. I asked him if he would represent me and he said sure. So we tried to get a negotiation going with the Wranglers. Jimmy got me a $25,000 signing bonus and I thought that I hit the lottery.
To tell you how I got drafted, Harry Humes who had been an assistant GM with the Saints for many years was the president for the new team in Phoenix. Well, Harry always liked me, so he decided to draft me to be their quarterback. When I got to training camp they had six or seven other quarterbacks there, so it took me awhile to get my feet settled and to win the job. It was a crazy time.
Q - So you were a member of the Arizona Wranglers in 1983 and in 1984 after the Wranglers and Blitz worked out a deal between owners to swap rosters?
Alan - Yes. I had made a huge impression on George Allen while playing against the Blitz in '83, so he insisted that I would stay in Arizona with his team after the roster swap.
Q - So you were with the Arizona Wranglers when they advanced to the USFL Championship Game in 1984?
Alan - Yes. That's correct. The Philadelphia Stars beat us 23-3 in the USFL Championship Game in Tampa. I started three games that season. Greg Landry was having some difficulties and we were losing some games so George Allen decided to start me. We ended up going 1-2 over the next three games with me under center. First we lost to San Antonio in Arizona. Our next game was against the New Orleans Breakers in the Super Dome and it was televised on ESPN. I played pretty well and we won the game. I ended up being the ESPN player of the game. Then the next week in Oakland, I didn't play well in the first half, so they decided to bench me and put Landry back in. So that didn't quite work out like I hoped. But we had a good season and made it to the championship game.
Q - When did you make the jump to the NFL?
Alan - Well, in 1985 the Arizona Wranglers merged with Oklahoma and became the Arizona Outlaws. I was Doug Williams backup for the first three weeks of the season before the team's ownership decided that my salary was too large to keep around so they released me.
I ended up leaving the USFL and signed a free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I made the team and backed up Steve DeBerg in 1985. They released me early in 1986 and I sat out of football that fall.
I went to Canada in 1987 signing a free agent contract with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and had a good training camp, but they won the Grey Cup the year before so they ended up not needing my services and released me.
The NFL went on strike in 1987 and the GM in Green Bay asked me to come quarterback their strike team. We ended up going 2-1. Forrest Gregg really liked me, so when the strike ended he kept me on the roster for the remainder of the season.
At the end of the 1987 season, Forrest Gregg left to become the athletic director at SMU and the Packers brought in Lindy Infante as their next head coach. In the NFL, you need to find a guy who likes you because we can all play, we can all throw the football. Forrest Gregg liked me, but Lindy Infante didn't and he cut me immediately from the roster. That's how my pro career kind of ended. I had played for five years, for five different teams, five different coaches, five different general managers. I basically had enough. I ended up getting married and had a kid and decided it was time to go to work.
I wouldn't change any of it though. I was very fortunate to have five years of being paid to play a sport.
Q - What profession did you move onto after your playing career ended?
Alan - In 1988 I became a sales rep in the Baton Rouge area with a company named Fisher Scientific. I worked for them for 12 years before starting my own business in 2000. I got a little bored with that and became interested in coaching football.
I ended up coaching an arena football team in 2001, the Baton Rouge Blaze of the AF2. We were fairly successful. We went 10-6, but the ownership ended up with financial problems after the season and the team folded.
Next I got involved with The Team Sales Company that tried to broker deals for professional sports teams around the country and my first job there was trying to help another AF2 team, the Mobile Wizards get off the ground during their first year in 2002. So I went to Mobile for awhile and ended coaching the Wizards for the last ten games of the season after they fired their coach. I ended up coaching there for a couple of years before one thing led to another and I ended up leaving the company.
From there I joined up with a company called Sunbelt Business Brokers. I've been doing business with them for 17 years. I also own a finance company with a business partner where we fund construction loans for custom home builders.
Q - I enjoyed listening to you and Charles Hanagriff talk LSU Game Day Football. How long were you involved with that?
Alan - I did that for six or seven years. I also had my own TV show here in the early 2000s called 'Sports Down the Middle' with Tommy Krysan on cable. We did that for three years.
I've always enjoyed the media part of it. I've done radio and TV for a long time. But about three or four years ago, I decided that I'd had enough. I wanted to start traveling in the fall along with doing other things without being stuck in Tiger Stadium and being up doing sports talk until 2:30 in the morning.
Q - Is there anything you would like to tell the LSU fans?
Alan - Being a quarterback at LSU and playing in front of 80,000 people during that time, was one of the biggest thrills of my life and a great time in my life. I want to thank everyone who has ever cheered for me. Living in Baton Rouge over the last 33 years I really appreciate it when people still recognize me around town and really appreciate all of the support over the last 40 years or so.
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
Today's Q & A session is with former LSU wide receiver Tony Moss. Moss was a Tiger from 1985-1989. He was recruited by Head Coach Bill Arnsparger as a running back, but was asked to change positions and play wide receiver.
Moss saw the field occasionally during his redshirt freshmen and sophomore seasons, but became a full time starter in his final two years. His speed, great hands, and moves after a catch was an incredible thing to watch. He left LSU as the team's 3rd all-time leading receiver with 2,196 yards receiving on 132 catches and 16 touchdowns.
Q - What is your favorite food?
Tony - It's a combination of things. My mother is Philippine so I like some of her dishes, which is Lumpia and her fried rice is really great. Pepper steak was my favorite, especially when I was in college. I like Louisiana dishes. It's really a combination of things. I like food. It's all my favorite.
Q - What is your favorite movie?
Tony - That's a good question. Growing up and when I was in college it was The Predator. Now I'm into the Marvel movies. I enjoy watching them and I enjoy all their series.
Q - Who is your favorite actor?
Tony - I really don't have one. I have a few that I like, The Rock and Denzel Washington. I enjoy the kind of movies that they make. Action, crime, suspense.
Q - Who is your favorite music artist/group?
Tony - The older I've gotten I listen to modern gospel, Christian music. I like listening to Jazz and R&B music.
Q - Who is your favorite athlete?
Tony - Being a sports guy, I watch all sports. I watch a lot of golf, and of course football, basketball, and baseball. I'm all over. I Really don't have one favorite person. The Olympics are going on right now so I'm watching a lot of that.
Q - Which sports teams do you like to follow?
Tony - I'm a Saints and LSU Tiger fan. NBA, I like Golden State. Then as far as baseball, I'm a Yankees fan.
Q - I see that you have Bossier City as your home town. Is that where you were born and raised?
Tony - No sir. Actually I didn't move to Bossier until 1981. My father was in the Air Force so I traveled all over the world. I was born in the Philippines at Clark Air Force Base. Like I mentioned, my mother is Philippine. I'm half Philippine, half African American. My father is from Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to moving to Louisiana I was in Germany for three and a half years until I got into high school. That's when we moved to Bossier City and I started attending Bossier High.
Q - At what age did you start playing organized sports?
Tony - I've been playing since around the age of seven. Before we moved to Germany, I was in Missouri at Whiteman Air Force Base and I started there. Prior to that I started playing sand lot, living room, and in the snow football with my older cousins in Indianapolis. That's when football started to become my first love.
Q - When you were a little boy what did you want to grow up to be?
Tony - It was always my dream to make it to the NFL and be a football player.
Q - When you were in high school at Bossier High, did you play multiple sports?
Tony - Yes. I played football, basketball, and baseball.
Q - Is there any personal or team accomplishments that you would like to mention?
Tony - I actually was All-City in all three sports. I made All-State in football and Honorable Mention All-State in basketball. We didn't win any kind of championships. In football I started my freshmen year and we went 0-10, 1-9, 2-8, and 4-6 my whole career at Bossier High.
I did have a good career carrying the ball. I broke the city/parish rushing record that was held for like 30 years back then. Since then its been broken several times. I started out as a running back, but then they moved me to quarterback to run the Veer for two years. Then after a coaching change I went back to running back to run out of the I-formation. I rushed for 1,500 yards my senior year.
Q - Tell us about your recruiting process?
Tony - Being my size, I was only 5'8" 160lbs, most colleges didn't see me as a tailback. They didn't rank us by stars back then, they called us Blue Chips. Picayune use to have their Blue Chip Top 12 in the State and I was listed in that. I think eight of us from that list went to LSU. A few were, myself, Tommy Hodson, Clint James, Jamie Bice, and Kenny Davidson.
I received a lot of letters. They started coming my junior year. I believe the first letter I ever received was from Arkansas. The smaller school were sending me a lot letters like Northwestern, Northeastern, and Tulane. The only SEC schools I got something from was Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and LSU.
Recruiters began to come watch me play during my senior year. LSU kept recruiting me throughout my entire senior year and was probably one of the larger schools who were recruiting me. Even after I committed to LSU a lot of the smaller in-State schools were trying to change my mind, telling me that I was going to be the small fish in a large pond at a big school and wouldn't get any playing time. Tulane recruited me hard. I got a lot of phone calls from them trying to get me to go to New Orleans.
Q - What made you choose LSU over all the other schools who recruited you?
Tony - Coach Arnsparger came to my house for a home visit. He told me that I had a good opportunity to go there and do what I do. He felt that I would be able to get on the playing field.
I went to visit LSU, loved the atmosphere, and loved the opportunity to play on national television. It was also a place where I could see myself continue to work on my goal of making it to the NFL.
Q - So how did the move from running back to wide receiver happen at LSU?
Tony - I went there and grinded and worked hard. Getting onto the field was my first goal. During my true freshmen year, we had Dalton Hilliard and some other great running backs. Then after that season, they recruited four more top running backs including Harvey Williams, Eddie Fuller, and Alvin Lee.
That's when they decided to ask me to move to receiver. They sat me down and basically told me what I needed to do to get on the field. Without much growth and at my size, they just didn't see me becoming big enough to become a fulltime running back. They felt that if worked hard enough at receiver that I could stay out on the field.
Q - Can you tell us about Head Coach Bill Arnsparger?
Tony - He was a great guy. With Coach Arnsparger you began to realize that college football was more of a business then just playing football. He would sit down with you and talk to you like a man. He really didn't micromanage but he wanted you to go out there and do what you're suppose to do. He let his coaches coach and he managed. He was pretty good at that.
As a coach, we got along really well. I think he really liked me. When I was still a running back during my redshirt year, I would run on the scout team all the time. Bill would always make me the goal line running back and have me jump over the top. I think he really liked that. He would always tell me. "Jump up there, get up in the air Tony." ... He just wanted to see me get jacked up I guess.... But we were good.
I remember when we had our last reunion, both he and his wife still knew me and still knew all our names. That was pretty impressive after the time they had been away combined with all the people they have met. He was a real good guy. I really enjoyed playing for him.
Q - How did you and the team handle the news that Arnsparger was leaving to become the AD at Florida and the hiring of Mike Archer as his replacement?
Tony - It was a big surprise, but the transition was so smooth. All we did was loose our head coach. Archer stepped in as the head coach, but our position coaches were all still there. It wasn't a big drastic change to me or anybody else. That 1987 team after Bill left was probably one of the best teams we ever had at LSU. We went 10-1-1. We shouldn't of tied with Ohio State and Tommy missed the Alabama game which we barely lost with Mickey at quarterback. That was a heck of a team. Great defense. Good players on both sides of the ball.
Q - Tell us a little about Coach Archer? There had to be a huge difference between he and Bill?
Tony - With Coach Archer things were a little more upbeat. The discipline was different with Coach Arnsparger. With Bill it was, do it this way or get out of the way... It was a NFL feeling because that's how he was coaching us.
With Archer because of the close age gap, we had a little more fun, but we still kept the mindset that we had to get the job done. We kind of dropped off during my senior year in 1989, not because our recruiting was getting bad, I think we just lacked a little bit of discipline and that contributed to the team's demise.
That 1989 senior class played a lot of football. A lot of those guys I was playing with, we all played since our freshmen year. We had a lot of wear and when we had injuries, our backups weren't able to play up to our level. Back when we all were freshmen and sophomores when we had to fill in, we didn't miss a beat. We were able to maintain that high level of play.
In '89 we didn't get blown out a lot. We were in a lot of close games, but you know how it goes, sometimes when you start losing it just snowballs.
Q - What were some of your favorite games and moments as a LSU Tiger?
Tony - I'll go year to year... My redshirt freshmen year in 1986 it was that Texas A&M game. It was the first game of the year and it was my first year of playing time. I remember how nervous I was getting on the field. I was a kick returner that season. Then playing in the Sugar Bowl and scoring my first touchdown at the end of the game against Nebraska.
The 1987 season was fun with several great games with us going 10-1-1.
In 1988 I became a starter and was able to contribute more instead of being a sub all the time like during my first two years. I feel like the Ole Miss game in '88 was my breakout game. The game slowed down and I began making plays.
The '88 Alabama game! Everyone remembers how big that one was in Tuscaloosa. The funny thing about that game was we traveled on Friday, so we had our walkthrough on Thursday. As we were practicing the two minute drill, I twisted my ankle on the last play.
When we took off to fly to Alabama, we weren't sure if I was going to be able to play. While the team went to the stadium to do a walkthrough, I stayed at the hotel and did treatment pretty much for 24 hours.
The day of the game, they tapped me up and the rest is history. I had a phenomenal game. Doc Anderson and Purdy
really worked me over that weekend.
I really enjoyed playing Tulane. I know the Tigers don't play them anymore like we use too every season for our last game. They were pretty good one year, I believe in 1987. We had a shoot out with them in New Orleans. That was fun. It was back and forth and the stadium was loud. We pulled it out in the final seconds, 41-36.
I was happy that I got to the point when I started making it into the record books and was able to leave my mark at LSU. It was great making first team All-SEC for two years in a row. I made preseason All-American one season and finished either on the second or third team. I'm happy with what I left with at LSU.
Q - After you left LSU, what was your draft process like?
Tony - After playing at LSU I got invited to two Senior Bowls. I played in the Japan Bowl and then I played in the East-West Shrine Bowl. I got drafted in the 4th round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. I ended up separating my shoulder in the preseason and got put on IR before being released. I ended up on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad during my rookie year.
I ended up back overseas to play for Barcelona in the World League. Like I said, football has taken me all over the world. I've played everywhere.
I ended up signing with Philadelphia the next season, but failed my physical because I began having a health issue with my left knee. After I got healthy, I played in the CFL. I played a season there before my right knee starting having issues.
I stopped playing football in 1995 because of the knee issues. In 2010 I ended up having a total knee replacement.
Another reason why I decided to stop playing was my son was 7 or 8 years old and was starting school and
starting to participate in sports. My oldest son was a good athlete. He ended up playing football at Northwestern.
I could have continued to keep on pushing, trying to make a team, traveling and bouncing around, but I was just ready to come back to Bossier, settle down, get married, and start the family life.
Q - Do you and your family live in Bossier City now?
Tony - Yes, we live in Bossier. I've been with the Kansas City Southern Rail Roads, in November will make 18 years. I've been an engineer for the last 10 years. The district I run is from Shreveport to Jackson, Mississippi.
Now I have a grandson that goes to Calvary High School. He's a freshmen. He's already getting looked at. I don't know what publication, but they made a list of the top freshmen of the class of 2025 in the State and he made the list. He plays receiver and safety. Looks like he has a chance of starting on the varsity as a free safety. It's been exciting to watch him grow up and see what he can do. I'm very proud of him.
Q - Is there anything you would like to tell the LSU fans?
Tony - I'm excited for this year. We need to put an asterisk next to last season. It was a crazy year with the pandemic. I think things are a lot better now that the kids are able to work more together. I know the team is going to bounce back. I think they can have a 10 win season. I know they are working hard and I wish the best to them.
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
Today's Q & A session is with former LSU Linebacker Eric Hill. Hill is known as one of the most ferocious, hardest hitting players in LSU history. He played outside linebacker from 1985-1988 under head coaches Bill Arnsparger and Mike Archer playing on one of the greatest defenses in school history.
Hill was drafted in the 1st round (10th overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Phoenix Cardinals. He would go on to play twelve seasons in the NFL.
Q - What is your favorite food?
Eric - It's fish and a nice steak, some surf and turf...
Q - What is your favorite movie of all-time?
Eric - Tombstone
Q - Who is your favorite actor?
Eric - Torn between Denzel Washington and Al Pacino
Q - Who is your favorite music artist or group?
Eric - My favorite artist is Prince. I'm a big Prince fan. I also love a lot of the old soul music, like Bobby Womack. I'm an old school guy.
Q - Who is your favorite athlete?
Eric - Good question.... I never really gave that a lot of thought. As a child growing up I was a huge Roger Staubach fan and a huge Dr. J fan.
Q - What sports team(s) do you enjoy following?
Eric - I'm a closet Yankee, I follow the Yankees. The Houston Astros also with me being from Galveston Texas.
In football, the Cowboys kind of dominated Texas. So the Cowboys. I'm obviously a huge LSU fan. I'm still a Cardinals fan. I spent most of my career there. I pay attention to them.
In basketball it's kind of up in the air, but I was definitely a big 76ers fan growing up. I was a big Moses Malone fan, Dr. J, Mo Cheeks were all together.
In tennis, I love the Williams sisters for how they dominated for decades during their careers.
Golf, obviously Tiger Woods took a lot of us off the couch and onto the golf course. I'm a huge Tiger fan. I'm a big Rory McIlroy and JT Thomas fan. I truly enjoy golf. I enjoy watching it and really enjoy playing it.
Q - I see you were born in Blytheville, Arkansas. How long did you live there and how did you end up in Galveston, Texas?
Eric - Yes, that's northern Arkansas, probably about a hour south of Memphis, Tennessee. It's a very country and rural area. My parents grew up on a farm.
We moved to Galveston when I was two years old. My dad and uncle were best friends when they both took jobs at Todd shipyard in Galveston as welders.
Q - At what age did you start playing organized sports?
Eric - I always played organized basketball and track and field. I didn't play organized football until I was in the 8th grade. But I began my sandlot football career at age of five. That was the school of hard knocks. It was a lot more dangerous playing sandlot than playing organized tackle football.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Eric - I got the athletic bug early. Like I said, I ran track, played football and basketball, so it was obvious that I loved sports and wanted to be an athlete. It became very apparent by my freshmen and sophomore years in high school that football was going to be my sport. Believe it or not, I was a military fan. I had family members who were career military people. The Marine Corps. and the U.S. Navy. I knew that if I didn't get a football scholarship that I would be ready to sign up to join the Marine Corps. So I had a plan.
Q - Did you play multiple sports when you attended Ball High School?
Eric - I got the athletic bug early. Like I said, I ran track, played football and basketball, so it was obvious that I loved sports and wanted to be an athlete. Believe it or not I was a high jumper. I actually went to Nationals two years in a row as a 6th and 7th grader and competed in the Jesse Owens games in Los Angeles two summers in a row.
Q - What were any personal or team accomplishments in high school you would like to mention?
Eric - Well, we didn't win a state title, but we did make it to the semi-finals my senior year. We had four guys from my high school who I played with go on to play professional ball. Three went to the NFL, one to Major League baseball.
Q - Did you play linebacker in high school or did you play different positions?
Eric - When I was in high school, I was a true defensive end. I was the guy with my hand in the ground and chasing the quarterback all day. When I arrived at LSU I was moved to outside linebacker but on 3rd downs I basically played defensive end.
Q - Tell us about your recruiting process?
Eric - It was a different arena back then. They didn't have all those recruiting rules and compliance officers back then. It was the wild wild west. Anything went. Coaches showed up unannounced. They would show up at your house, they would show up at your school. A lot wasn't regulated back then.
I was recruited pretty much by everybody. From the Big 10, to the SEC, to the Big 8, to the Southwest Conference, PAC-10, the ACC. When it came down to it I visited SMU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Notre Dame and UCLA.
Q - What made you choose LSU over all of these great programs that were after you?
Eric - I actually committed to Barry Switzer and the University of Oklahoma. I had a great visit there and the one thing that drew me to them was that the entire starting defense was from the State of Texas. Starting with Brian Bosworth. Brian was from the Dallas area and was a sophomore. I was sold on that.
I remember telling my high school coach, Ted Unbehagen when I got back that I made my decision and committed to Oklahoma and my recruiting journey is over. My high school coach was very instrumental in my process of growing up into a young man. He held you accountable to what you did, what you said, and how you acted. He would call you on the carpet every time you would get out of line.
Bill Arnsparger came to Ball High several times and sat in the office with me and Coach Unbrhagen. Bill expressed he wanted me to come visit LSU. Evidently I told him, "Yes sir, I'd like to take a visit to LSU and I'll be there." ... Well, after I got back from my Oklahoma visit, I had made up my mind and I didn't want to waste anyone else's time. I was committed.
I told Coach Unbehagen that I wasn't going to LSU, and he said. "I'm glad you made a decision and that's a commitment. But you also made another commitment. You told Coach Bill you'd visit LSU." He then said, "A man is nothing without his word." ... Coach Unbehagen was a POW in Vietnam. He has been to hell and back. He was an honorable man and he believes 'You do what you say and you say what you do,' and we have always based our relationship even to this day off of that. He held me accountable and basically forced me take that visit to LSU.
I go to LSU not expecting much to be honest, because I felt that I had made up my mind and that I was being forced into something. When I got there I met all the coaches and I was being hosted by linebacker Freddy Lewis who was taking me across the street to a basketball game in the Assembly Center. It was a pretty big game because Dick Vitale was there calling it with ESPN. Well, right before halftime they put up on the big screen, 'LSU would like to welcome Eric Hill from Ball High School!' Of course they put the camera on me and asked me to stand up, putting that fun pressure on me. Coach Unbehagen must have told them, "Look, I don't know what y'all have to do, but you guys need to do something special." .....
But Freddy and I really hit it off and then we went to dinner. I was really impressed during a film session with Coach Arnsparger and the linebackers coach. They didn't say, 'well you are going to play this or that.' ... They actually sat down with me and watched film and asking me questions. It really impressed me. That was the difference maker and was big to me. Then of course I loved the scheme that Bill was running because it was a linebacker's scheme. It made it a hard decision between OU and LSU.
When I got back from my visit, Coach Unbehagen asked me what did I think? I told him that I was glad that I went. I had a great visit. Now I'm confused and don't know what I want to do. So we sat down and created a 'Pros & Cons' chart. Then went through a series of question about each school. LSU had more pros then cons, and that's how I ended up making my decision.
It was basic math. Now that I look back on it, it snowed during my visit to Oklahoma and it was cold!... This little boy from Texas wasn't use to snow... That's how I made my decision to be a Tiger.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Bill Arnsparger?
Eric - Yes, Bill was like a father figure to all of us. The dad that everybody feared. Bill wasn't a screamer. He was very a matter of fact in what he would say. But you knew when he said something, he meant it. Everyone knew from the time he walked into the building and in the meeting room, you knew who was in control.
Bill just had a way with people. He would put his arm around you and talk to you. What I liked about him was that he cared about the person. Bill would always ask me, "How is your mom and sisters doing?" Because he met them when he would come to my house during recruiting visits. He was smart enough to know and to understand what was dear to me plus my high school coach had expressed to Bill Arnsparger, saying, "Look, Eric is being raised by his mom and two older sisters and that's his family." Bill knew what strings to pull and what buttons to push when asking me how my family was, meant something to me. It was a big ice breaker for us when we got to talk about other things. I liked that about Bill to the point that once I left LSU and was in the NFL, I would run into him later after he started coaching in the NFL again and he would ask me, "How is your mom doing?" .... I said, wow.. He wasn't just checking the box, it was genuine.
But like I said, he was that dad that every body feared. He didn't scream at you. But when he said something, he meant it. He told some guys, "If you do this again, you won't be coming back." .... They did it again and they were asked to leave. We knew and understood that he was a man of his word. He's going to teach you. He's going to work with you, but he's going to draw the line in the sand and he will let you know, this is where the buck stops. If you cross over the line, there will be consequences. That's why I respected him. I was a kid who would push the needle. One time I came into a meeting late and feel asleep. Bill said, "I tell you what. Since you can't stay awake in here, maybe you can stay awake if you go home?" .... That was the first time that was said to me and I was like, 'wow' ..... I said okay. I got to get off his radar.
That's what Bill was. He was a nurturer. He treated you like a man, unless you acted other wise. You could respect that.
Q - How did you and the team handle the coaching change after Bill announced he was leaving to be the AD at the University of Florida and then Mike Archer getting the job as your next head coach?
Eric - It was a shock. It caught everyone off guard. Especially coming off a year when we won the SEC and made it to the Sugar Bowl. We as a team knew that we were still pretty loaded with talent. He left the program in great shape. He pretty much penciled Mike Archer in for the job which I think settled a lot of people down, because a lot of times when you bring in a new coach, a lot of changes come with that.
With Mike Archer we didn't have that. We had the same defense. We ran the same scheme. We had the same offensive coaches. There was a lot of continuity, a lot of carry over which I think allowed us to do what we did the following year. We ended up going 10-1-1. So, with Mike we didn't have to go through that transition when a new coach comes in he wants change, he wants a different kind of athlete, and a lot of times some people don't survive those kind of changes.
Our only difference was, which I hated, you realize who was in control. Mike Archer had the title, 'Defensive Coordinator', but you realized real quick who was calling those plays, it was Bill Arnsparger. To me that was the difference from one year to the next.
Q - At the time Archer had just become the youngest head coach in college football at 34 years of age. How different was Mike Archer to Arnsparger as far as personality and leadership? Was he as hard nose with you guys as Arnsparger was?
Eric - No he was not. We talk about things now with us being adults, all adults with kids now. What we didn't know back then but know now Archer was probably a little too immature for that job.
Back when Mike was the defensive coordinator, he spent a lot of time B.S.'ing with his players, allowing us on his level or him coming down onto our level. So when he got the position, at some point the respect factor was kind of compromised. When he became head coach, how do you tell a 18, 19 year old kid, 'Okay, I need to act a certain way because I'm the head coach now.' ... You can't. You can't do that. I think Mike Archer struggled with a lot of us because he acted a certain way, then all of a sudden when he became head coach he tried to be different. Well with our little bitty brains, at that time, we didn't know how to handle that. It created a lot of friction, then the defiance started to kick in. So Mike had to deal with that with a lot of the older players because of the way he conducted himself with us before he became the head coach.
When you look back on it, what you realize is there was a big difference between Bill and Mike. The thing that got Mike Archer fired was his inability to recruit. Look at when his recruits hit the field, that's when the wheels fell off. It is what it is.
My senior year, we ended up tied for the SEC, even though I thought the world was changing with all those losses we had, but were able to salvage the season. You get so use to winning. It's like anything else, it becomes a thing. You expect to win. It's like the older guys, when Michael Brooks left, he expected us to take the reigns and continue what was being done. The next season after I get drafted and go to Arizona, I guess I was the same way. I didn't even look at the LSU roster, to see the holes in the roster. We were LSU, and winning was what I was banking on and to watch those guys get beat, the way they were getting beat, I was calling Verge Auseberry and Karl Dunbar asking them what the hell is going on? Then what comes with that is you have that internal tug of war, that internal fighting. Because you know what? Some of these guys were on those 10-1-1 teams and they weren't use to the losing. One big combustion and the team started to fall apart. They had a lot of inner fighting.
Q - Tell us what was your favorite games or favorite moments as a Tiger?
Eric - It's funny that my big games were always the Alabama games. I'd have to say that my coming out party at LSU was when we played University of Alabama on the road. I think back then we would play them in Birmingham. I ended up having quite a few tackles and caused a fumble into the end zone. Bobby Humphery was going in for a touchdown, I hit him on the goal line causing him to fumble. Then I closed the game out with a pick late in the contest. So that was kind of my coming out party. It was the first game that I really put it all together. Every year after that it just seemed like Alabama was a game that I just got up for because they had a tight end named Howard Cross. Howard Cross was a big tight end. He wasn't a big receiving tight end, he was more of a blocker. Of course Alabama ran the football and this guy would just maul outside linebackers, it was incredible. I vowed that he wouldn't do that to me. So the Alabama games were like my Super Bowl. I got up for them like I got up for the Dallas Cowboys when I played for Arizona. It was always that kind of game for me.
Another big game was the earthquake game. I finally watched that game for the first time in its entirety a couple of years ago. I remember calling everybody, Ronnie Haliburton, Karl Dunbar, Verge Auseberry, and saying, "Dude! Have you watched that game? That was probably the most physical game I've ever played in while playing college football." .... It was not for the weary. That was a tough game on both sides of the football. I showed it to my 13 year old son. I said, "I said son, if you survive this one, you did something!" .... There was some licks being shared in that game. Then of course Eddie did what he did with Tommy late in the game. To walk away from winning a game like that, it was awesome.
Q - You were drafted in the 1st round of the 1989 NFL Draft, 10th overall by the Phoenix Cardinals. Tell us about your NFL Draft experience?
Eric - The draft experience was an experience, lets just say that. You go to the combine. You meet with different coaches and different organizations. You have these little break out meetings and everybody is trying to get into your head. I had some off the field issues over the years so there were some concerns whether or not I had an anger problem. What drove me to do what I did? Getting into bar fights and fraternity fights, and this, that, and other. So people wanted to do a deep dive with me to see what made me tick. I took more personality test during that period then I ever did in my life. Those personality test, they were short answered like 'yes' or 'no', but there was 500 questions. I had to do this with multiple teams.
Pittsburgh ended up flying me in. San Francisco flew me in. San Diego flew me in. Then you started talking to other people. Buddy Ryan was with Philadelphia at the time. They didn't have a 1st round pick but Buddy flew me up and he was the first coach who ever told me, "I know they have you at outside linebacker, but you're going to be a prototypical linebacker. We will break the mold with you. This League is looking for big, mean, fast middle linebackers." he said, "If I get you that's what you're going to be for me." ... I didn't think that would happen without them having a 1st round pick, but Buddy would say, "Son, crazier things have happened. People move up and people fall down."
But when it came down to the draft, the night before we practically signed a contract with the San Diego Chargers. We did everything but sign the contract with San Diego. So I had a good idea where I was slotted to go. Miami had the 9th pick and they told me that I was their number one defensive player on the board. But the top player on their board was a running back. They wanted Sammie Smith from Florida State. They told me, "If Sammie is there, we will take him. If he's gone, we will draft you." .... I said ok... I never really talked to Arizona. Never had a break out with them. Wasn't sure if they came to my personal workout. I never really had a lot of contact with them. Chicago told me that they were going to draft me. They had the 11th pick. They told me that if I was still on the board I was theirs. I never told anyone about the potential deal with the Chargers.
I got invited to go to New York, but I didn't go. My sister told me three days ahead of time that my mom was planning to throw a draft party. So I had to stay for that and it was the right thing to do because they were the people behind me and allowed me to grow up to become who I was.
So we are sitting in that little two bedroom apartment waiting for the draft to begin. Well, back then it use to be 30 minutes between each pick and in 1989 there wasn't all that advance technical sophistication in phones, pre cell phone days. After the first six picks it's time for me to sit on the edge of my seat and get ready.
San Diego is now up and during this entire time people are calling the house. Scouts are calling the house. GMs are calling the house. Guys you grew up with are calling asking me if I got drafted yet. I'm telling them, "No! They can't call me if I'm on the phone with you!" ... It was so nerve racking... Finally San Diego goes on the clock and with the 8th pick they selected Burt Grossman. Let me tell you, my stomach just dropped and I'm thinking, "What the hell just happened?" .... My agent who was there said, "Look Eric, we'll get to the bottom of it. but there's nothing we can do about it."
With the 9th pick, Sammie Smith was still on the board and Miami took him like they said they would. Then at that point I was sure that I was going to Chicago, which I really wasn't excited about because Mike Singletary was still there and the Bears told me wanted me in the middle and that I would be his successor. I told them, "No.. I'm ready to play now." ....
Well when the Cardinals were up, they didn't wait at all. At the beginning of their 30 minutes, I get a phone call from the Arizona media crew telling me that I was about to get a phone call and was being drafted by the Cardinals next. Gene Stallings was the coach at the time. He got on the phone with me and told me before they made the official announcement, "Okay son, you can calm down now, I know it's been a long day for you. We are drafting you because we hear you are a born leader and we have a team that needs to be lead. I've heard a lot of great things about you. We're bringing you here and we are going to put some pieces around you to allow you to do what you can do." ..... That's how my draft day went down.
Q - Tell us about your favorite moments from playing in the NFL for 12 seasons....
Eric - What I enjoyed about it more then anything is that you get to get paid for doing something that you probably would have done for free. I love the game. I love what it provided for me. I loved the competition. I respected the game. I knew the game. I watched the game as a young kid, so I knew a lot of the older players when I got into the NFL. These guys were still playing. I walk into a locker room with J.T. Smith, Roy Green, Neal Lomax, Stump Mitchell and I'm saying, "I was like in the 5th grade watching all of you play on TV." ... That was just awesome and I respected that. I would always tell young kids coming into the game that you need to respect it. You need to respect the guys that came before you.
I got to know coaches like Joe Green, Buddy Ryan, and a lot of these guys that paved the way and allowed us to be able to do a lot of the things we did. As a player a guy like Joe Green didn't make any money, but I benefited off of what he did for us. I tell young guys all the time, "You guys didn't invent the game. You just need to leave it in a better place when you leave then it was when you got there." ....
I enjoyed playing in the NFC East because it was my brand of football. Everyone had a 1,000 yard rusher and I was a smash mouth football player. I loved playing against Dallas because they would always run the lead draw. They would bring Moose Johnson up in there until he didn't want to run it anymore. I use to tell Moose Johnson all the time, "Hey man, are they mad at you? Why would they even ask you to do that?" .... Think about it, in the 90s the first four or five Super Bowl winners came out of the NFC East. You had Washington, the Giants, then Dallas would win three out of five. I played in a real division and I enjoyed that.
As a team and an organization, the Cardinals just couldn't put it together. You look back on it and the Cardinals were operating like a mom & pop organization and that wasn't working. They hadn't moved to Corporate America. They were letting their kids run things and they ran it into the ground. Unfortunately we had a lot of good talent that had to suffer through that and because of it you look back at your career, you had an opportunity to play in the League, but never had an opportunity to win with that team.
We had some good coaches. Joe Bugel was one of the toughest guys I've ever played for. He was the offensive line coach who coached The Hogs and that's how he coached us,.. Tough. Tough as nails. He was a hard person to work for. He and I bumped heads quite a bit. Eventually he won me over. He was responsible for challenging me and making me the player that I became and I thank him for that. Bidwell ended up giving Joe Bugel an ultimatum before his final season that he needed to win nine games or he was gone. I was a hold out to start that season. They wouldn't offer me the contract that I thought I deserved. I ended up missing the first five or six games. Then they traded our top cornerback, Robert Massey to the Saints. So many things happened that year, but we still got on a late run and won seven games to go 7-9. We knew they were talking about firing him, so I went to Mr. Bidwell and I said, "Mr. Bidwell, We are this close. Joe Bugel has grown this team organically. It was from draft choices and a couple of hand picked free agents and then he taught us how to work. We were a very physical ball club and we matched up with everyone that we played." and I told him. "If you let him go now, you're making a mistake." ... He looked at me and said, "Eric, Joe Bugel will always be a 7-9 coach." .... They let him go, but I got to play with Joe Bugel again when I finished my career off in San Diego, and he was one of the reasons why I went there.
Q - You must have been a big trash talker on the field?
Eric - Yea, you know, I had a lot to say... Look there are a lot worse trash talkers then me. I had to build myself up into a frenzy to get going. I would intentionally do something to pick a fight. Push a guy late and then if he pushed me back,.... oh no! Now we have a problem.... I had to build up that anger. Once I built up to that point, then you couldn't shut me down. Now I would talk all day. That was my motivator. Even at practice I had to find a reason to be mad. Once I found that one guy who was willing to match my energy,.... Oh s**t, we got something now.
Q - Did you pretty much stay pretty healthy throughout your NFL career?
Eric - Ultimately I retired because I had neck surgery. It was kind of a progression deal. I was credited for 12 NFL seasons. but I was on injured reserve for the entire 12th season. I had the same surgery on my neck that Peyton Manning had. The nerve damage was done and was irreversible and I started to lose strength on the left side of my body three years prior to retiring. I knew it was coming. Then it had gotten to the point where I had numbness in my hands and going up into my shoulders so I knew it was about that time. So I went on injured reserve in 2000 and I knew I'd never come back. But had it not been for my neck, especially by the time I got to San Diego, I was a part time player. I was only playing on 1st and 2nd downs, I could have done that for another two, maybe three years. My body was fresh. I never had a major knee injury. I broke some fingers and broke my leg, but never had that traumatic injury, so I was blessed.
Q - After you decide to end your NFL career, tell us about your transition from football into the work force?
Eric - I started my transition from the NFL prior to finishing my career. I became very good friends with a local car dealer in Avondale, Arizona. We met during a marketing deal. I drove one of his cars in exchange of an autograph signing at the dealership. We did some promotions where customers would, 'Buy a car from Eric Hill' ... That was exciting. So he asked me if I enjoyed doing that and I said yea. He said, "You're a natural. You like people and know how to engage. At the end of the day, selling cars is all it is." ...
I understood that the game of football wasn't going to last forever for me. He shared with me how lucrative a good dealership could be. He then asked me, "What are you doing this offseason?" .. I told him not much, just doing a little traveling. He told me to give him just two months. He said, "It will be like an internship for two months and teach you different phases of the dealership. If you like it, we will talk more. If not, well it was worth a shot." ... He did that for me.. I was in the parts department, the service department, new car sales, used car sales, accounting, He teaches me and I got a great look at what it looked like. What the structure looked like when it all came together. I kind of liked it. Then he told me, "If you could commit to this for the next two years, when you retire from football, you'll be ready. But I want to put you through dealer school in Virginia and that's like a two year process. When you come out, you'll be ready to run one of these things."
So to make a long story short, I did that for three years, then interned with him for a couple of months each offseason. Then when I retired, at this time, I'm married now. I took eight months off. Told my wife lets travel, but when we get back, I'm going to work.
He brought me in and said, "To be a good car dealer, you have to sell cars. I'm going to put you on the sales floor and I want you to sell cars for six months. Then I'll put you in financing. Then I'll make you a sales manager. Then in three months, if your still here, I'll send you to dealer school." ... In a years time, I was still there and I was the sales manager. He pulled me in his office and said, "I think your ready." .... Dealer school is a two year process. It was a great experience. I learned a lot. He kept his word. When I graduated from dealer school, he basically handed me the keys to the Chrysler Jeep Store.
I worked for him for six years then had an opportunity to buy my own dealership in New Orleans. I bought a Nissan store in 2006. Operated and owned the store until 2015. We ended up selling it. Then I took a couple of years off. Played golf everyday that I could.
Then I went to work for Hornbeck Offshore, Commercial and Business Development Division.
Q - Family?
Eric - I have five kids total. Two older girls. Then my wife and I have three. We have a 20 year old and she will be a junior at the University of Miami this year. We have a 15 year old daughter for our middle child, who will be a sophomore at Ben Franklin here in New Orleans. Then my son just turned 13 and he will be in the 7th grade and he attends Newman.
My 20 year old daughter is a Biology Business Major. ... I suspect my 15 year old daughter will be an attorney, because she argues with everyone. ... My son says he wants to be a commentator so he spends a lot of time with me on his commentary. He is a big soccer player. He plays a lot of soccer. He was chosen, pre-COVID, to go to Barcelona to compete on an All-Star Team. He also plays flag football, but this upcoming year he will play tackle football for the first time. We live in Uptown New Orleans...
Q - Is there anything you want to tell the LSU fans?
Eric - Last year was an anomaly. COVID did different things to different teams. I truly believe in the path that Coach Orgeron is taking with the talent that he is bringing in and some of the folks that he's hired. I'm a Tiger for life and I'm going to support whoever is in that seat and I believe Coach O deserves the right to take the Tigers back to the next level again. I think people shouldn't rush to judgment on last year. Last year effected different teams in different ways and it happened to effect us in ways that we didn't see coming. But it's over. I think everyone's breathing again., and it looks like the world is going to allow us to enjoy life like we use too to some degree and part of that is being in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night....
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former LSU defensive tackle Marlon Favorite.. He played his high school football at both Shaw and West Jefferson before coming to LSU in 2004 during Nick Saban's final season as the Tigers head coach. For four season's he became a huge part of the Tigers dominating defensive front, highlighted by winning the 2007 national championship, 38-24 against Ohio State in the Super Dome.
Favorite had a six year pro football career, playing for several different NFL teams, (including the New Orleans Saints in 2009, earning a Super Bowl Ring), a couple of seasons in the UFL, and played for the New Orleans Voodoo in the Arena Football League.
Q - What is your favorite color?
Marlon - This isn't because I went to LSU, but my favorite color is purple. I rock purple, I like purple. I like Blue also. Blue is like my secondary color.
Q - What is your favorite food?
Marlon - My palate has changed over the years, but my ultimate go to meal is some pork-n-beans and sausage with the whole beef wieners and some rice under it of course, and some fried chicken....
Q - Favorite movie?
Marlon - That's a good one. I have so many favorites. If I had to pick one movie, I'd have to give it up to my brother Ice Cube in "Friday" as my favorite movie.... But I also like "Coming to America,"... I like "Dark Knight,"... I'm actually feature in "When the Game Stands Tall" with Jim Caviezel and Alex Ludwig, so you can put that on there.
Q - Who is your favorite actor?
Marlon - My favorite actor is Denzel Washington, who I had an opportunity to meet. His son John David Washington and I were teammates with the Sacramento Mountain Lions, so I got to meet Denzel a couple of times. That was cool. He is my favorite actor for sure.
Q - Who is your favorite music artist or group?
Marlon - Okay, number one would be Jay-Z, .... number two would be Lil Wayne.
Q - So I see you are from Gretna? Is that where you lived growing up until you left home for college?
Marlon - I was born in Gretna at Meadowcrest Hospital which is now Ochsner. So that's what is on my birth certificate. But I spent most of my life living in Harvey, and that's where I currently reside. So I've lived in Harvey, and a little time in Marrero as well.
I lived in Algiers for a good bit of my adult life. I'm a West Banker through and through. I had a business in Gretna, which I still have, called Conquer Sports Professionals, and I train in Gretna now. So Gretna is forever in my DNA.
Q - I see you attended both Shaw High School and West Jefferson High? Can you tell us a little about that?
Marlon - What happen was, I was at Shaw for my freshmen and sophomore years when they had a situation go down that Shaw was accused of receiving illegal financial aid. So I ended up attending West Jeff for my junior and senior years. I tell people all the time that I had the best of both worlds in high school. I still visit both Shaw as well as West Jeff. Those are my two schools for sure.
Q - When you were in high school did you play multiple sports?
Marlon - I did track and field, which is crazy because my son is throwing the javelin as well as playing football. I did do the shot put and threw the discus, and actualIy in my 8th grade year I played organized basketball one time.
Q - Would you like to tell us about any personal and/or team accomplishments that you're proud of in high school athletics?
Marlon - My high school experience was great. Going into my junior season was like a proving year. I tell high school students, even the kids that train with me now, that they really need to step it up and show your leadership in your junior year.
My junior year really set me up to be a preseason All-American, making All-District, All-State, called the State Prestigious Awards. My biggest experience with that was when the Army All-American Bowl came to my school, presenting me with a plaque and announced that I was going to be performing in their game..
Also being able to play with teammates who would go on to play in the NCAA and the NFL. With some guys who I went to LSU with, like Herman Johnson, Early Doucet, guys like that. Then I also had teammates like Ted Ginn and Adrian Peterson that really meant a lot to me.
It's a beautiful thing to get recognized for your accomplishments. USA Today had me as the number one defensive tackle in the country. That was a huge honor. Yea, high school was a great situation for me.
Q - Could you tell us about your recruiting process?
Marlon - Back then it was about VHS. Being able to have your tapes being floated around. I always tell these young kids about how much of an advantage they have because they can just have their film uploaded in Hudl. You can make your own highlights in Hudl, then basically do your own marketing.
Back then, we had to depend on coaches to have a taped made, get them out to some colleges to get you some looks. The technology today is so interesting and it's helps make a big difference in you getting recruited.
I remember going through the process, in my sophomore year, LSU and Florida both hit me up, so those were my first two letters. This is when I knew you get recruited, scouted, and offered off of potential. I remember being at my locker and getting these letters from LSU and Florida when I wasn't even in the starting lineup yet with teammates around me looking at them with me who were starters. During my freshmen and sophomore seasons at Shaw under coach Hank Tierney I was a second string guy who got to play a lot because I was so big. So they see you begin to develop when you get some snaps in meaningful games, especially when they can use your size.
From there in my junior season I had 10 and a half sacks and that's when you start filling up the shoe boxes. All these different colleges and teams are really big on mailing you letters. I had like ten shoe boxes of letters from all over the Country. It was great souvenirs to keep, but we lost them all in Katrina.
Spring time and during Track and Field a lot of scouts would come down to visit and that's when the offers would start to flow in.
I narrowed my decision down to Colorado, Miami, USC (Coach O was there and he was always
an outstanding recruiter), Oklahoma State (Les Miles was the head coach at the time), and of course LSU who had Nick Saban at the time.
Recruiting was a beautiful experience. The experience was priceless being able to go to San Antonio
and play in the Army All-American Bowl against all the other top talent from across the country and being able to take all of my visits.
Then landing at LSU, I couldn't have asked for better timing. They were just coming off of a national championship in 2003. These guys were just getting their Bowl rings and still had their Nokia phones. It was just good memories. Then later in my redshirt junior year being able to win another national championship, it was huge. I'm blessed and super thankful for my college experience.
What made you decide on LSU over all of the other schools who were after you?
Marlon - I think about that a lot. I think about when Pete Carrol called me with Ed Orgeron recruiting me, trying to get me to go out that way. Hearing from Larry Coker in Miami. I remember Vance Joseph who is now the defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals, they had some familiarity both being Hank Tierney products, having the chance to go to Colorado. But ultimately LSU was a family thing. I'm 17 years old, from where it all started at, for you to have an opportunity and play for the biggest University in that State was overwhelming in itself. Coach Saban would tell me how much he liked me and that he wanted me to go there.
Skyler Green played a major role in that as well. Skyler along with Craig Davis, those were guys that I was cool with in high school who were over there. Dominic Cooper was another who played a role. He had always been a friend of mine who was there and we ended up being roommates.
But that time at LSU alone was priceless. I'm so glad I made the choice. Looking back at it at LSU, we had 5 stars, 4 stars, 3 stars, some of the best athletes in the country coming in. So I competed each year and I actually became a rotational starter their. I wouldn't have won games and got the recognition if I would have went to Colorado and that helped my NFL situation out.
If you would ask me if I had to go through the process again, would I still choose LSU, I definitely would. We won BCS championships, national championships, played in SEC championship games. I couldn't have asked for a better college experience.
Q - So after your redshirt freshmen year Nick Saban announces that he's leaving for the NFL. How did you and the team handle the coaching change with Saban's departure and Les Miles taking over?
Marlon - It was different. It was definitely different. Coach Saban would help us understand that in sports and life in general, it's business and you have to do what's best for you and your family. Still to this day Coach Saban says the biggest mistake he ever made was making the decision to leave LSU. It was a dream job of his and he really helped build the program to where it is now. He speaks about it and is honest about that entire situation.
But how it went down,... We were at the Bowl Game site. I don't know how long he knew his information. But when we in the locker room at halftime is when he made his announcement to us. That was the only Bowl game that I lost at LSU, (A 30-25 loss to Iowa in the Capital One Bowl),... Five years at LSU and that first season is the only Bowl loss we experienced. It really sunk the team. You know coach announces, "Oh, by the way this is my last game, I'll be moving on to the NFL." ..... So it was kind of like... "WOW".. But at the very end of the day we respected his decision.
Coach Saban always kept his word with us. For the rest of my time that I was at LSU, he kept in contact with us by sending us letters. When I went as an undrafted free agent to the Carolina Panthers he still reached out and congratulated me. He is a big character guy. But it was a crazy announcement.
Coach Miles coming in to replace Saban was a fortunate situation because Coach Miles was someone who recruited me out of high school so I knew him. That helped our relationship out a lot. I remember our first meeting, he told me, "Marlon, I'm looking to get you some playing time this year. you're going to have a great opportunity." For him to bring coach Karl Dunbar in, that was our best time. Coach Miles first year of coaching in terms of a defensive stand point was the best time. For the defensive linemen it was a dream house. The coaches we had were cut from the Pete Jenkins fabric cloth. They were very attention to detail and development of the D-Line, so I really appreciated that year more then anything else. So the adjustment was pretty cool.
Coach Miles really fit my personality more then Coach Saban did. I knew with Coach Saban that he was going to make me a really good football player and get me an opportunity. But he's straight forward with his talk. He doesn't like to do all the talking and the chatter. With Coach Miles, would have a conversation with you when we would speak. Miles suggested that me and my musical group perform at the Sugar Bowl and at the National Championship dinners. This was all his doing. He was that type of coach. He let his players be themselves, which I thought was cool. Practices were a little long, with us being out there for three and a half hours. But he is a great guy and we still keep in touch. I talk to him and his family a lot. Coach Miles is a solid cat.
Q - The 2007 season has to be the best of the five that you spent at LSU. Could you tell us a little about that year being the first two loss team to win a national championship?
Marlon - That 2007 season really started in 2006. Going down to Florida and having that one game basically decide if we would go to the national championship. We really won it in "07 for LaRon Landry, Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis, and JaMarcus Russell. Guys that were on that '06 team and should have won the national championship. Those guys should have won it. So we kind of went into that 2007 season knowing we were one of the better teams in the country. That was the swagger the entire year.
What I liked about that team, literally Glenn Dorsey was the biggest super star on that team. A guy on the d-line who didn't accept awards. Glenn was raw. That's really not a d-lineman thing anyway. That's more for the quarterbacks, and the shinning armor receivers, and devas.
That's the type of team we had. Then you had a two and three star guys like Lyle Hitt, a four star guy like Carnell Stewart. Brett Helms, Big Herman Johnson who was probably the only pro-style offensive lineman on that team. We didn't have any big time super stars. Glenn Dorsey and Ryan Perrilloux had to be the two biggest stars on that team. Ryan didn't even start. That's what I liked, you had guys like Early Doucet, Curtis Taylor, I could just keep going down the list. You had a running back corp mixed up with guys like Jacob Hester, Keiland Williams, and Charles Scott. Quinn Johnson at fullback.
Our defensive line was the big highlight. We were the ones getting all the attention. Desmond Howard came down to see us twice. At the end of '06, they were all talking about us being the #1 defensive line in the country. The magazine people were poising us for the next year. We were stacked. When they did our magazine cover, on the inside of the booklet they had to take the picture and give eight guys highlights. It was crazy. We always got that College Game Day spot all the time. I think that was the biggest difference between '07 and 2011 we didn't have real mega stars.
2007 was also the big introduction to the internet as well. The real internet with social networking influencing being a big deal. That '07 team really exemplified a team that had solid chemistry.
In the NFL imagine the Seattle Seahawks, that had guys there still on their rookie contracts making it to the Super Bowl. That's what our LSU team in '07 reminds me of. Great memories. It was one of those years that you just will never forget.
Q - Can you tell us a about your pro football career after your time at LSU came to an end?
Marlon - My rookie year in the NFL was the perfect example of the highs and the lows. You fight depression from being cut four times. I ended up getting cut a total of ten times. But that rookie year I got cut four times, the fifth time coming in New Orleans after the Super Bowl.
My wife's favorite place was in Carolina. She loved it there and wishes we could have stayed there. It's where she really wanted to be. I loved the city of Charlotte. Coming from the South being able to move out of your comfort zone and see different sights. We went to Tennessee, we went to Florida, went to Alabama, of course I went to Houston several times. I liked being being able to go to Carolina and live in that perfect combination between southern hospitality and that up north swagger, and it all meets up right there in Carolina. I liked my time there. Had good teammates. Last year at the Super Bowl I had to work with the NFL for the game, I saw a couple of old teammates from our rookie class. That was a time of great experience. I didn't get drafted, that was a bit sad. But playing for the Carolina Panthers, having the momentum I had there. If it wasn't for Mr. Richardson firing his grandkids and hiring Martin, I'd would probably still be in Carolina and may have been able to retire a Panther. I was starting at one point in Carolina. That rookie year was my best and biggest momentum of my NFL career. But from there I ended up going on a world tour.
Playing for New Orleans was kind of like a gift and a curse. The gift was being a part of the first Super Bowl win ever for the franchise on top of my national championship. You're at home. Everyone knows you. You're really growing up in your city, you're at that point. Then you learn the business side of things and it was tough to recover.
I found piece in journalism, being able to still be a part of the sport I love and then what you do in broadcasting. That's why I started working on an album "From Balling to Broadcasting" so I can really tell that story.
Q - I also see you had playing stops in two other Leagues also. Tell us what the UFL and Arena Football was like?
Marlon - I have to say that my NFL experience was a dream come true. Playing in the UFL the first year, the money was there, but then in my second season in 2012 all the money wasn't there, but it was more then what I was making in Arena Football.
Arena Football the money wasn't there but the experience was really priceless. I tell people all the time that was the most fun I've ever had playing football. I know part of it was that I was still able to be playing football. In the NFL there was the practice squads. The UFL's life was short lived, but I didn't have a AFL career like other guys had. Some guys had to bounce around the League. So I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to play and break records. That's why I wanted to play the game, you have certain things on your bucket list you want to do before you retire and to be able to cross off some of the items off that list was a blessing.
I would definitely have to say that Arena Football was the most fun and I was able to go out on a good note. We didn't have a winning season but I was able to at least finally see what professional football was.
Q - What made you finally realize that it's time to hang up the cleats and move on to other things?
Marlon? Family is what did it. Unfortunately because of the financial curve, I had hit rock bottom. That's when I started my entrepreneur of mine, being able to start the business that eventually turned into Conquer Sports Professionals. I had to because every offseason I had to do trainings just to make ends meet.
My broadcast career had started right when I said I was going to stop playing football. The 2014 season was the first contemplation year, ... "Do I still want to do this?" Then I ended up retiring and tried working the typical nine to five, but it just didn't work. So I went into staffing and doing those type of things to get a pay check every week and just continued to work on my craft, to doing what we're doing right now.
Q - So you're still in Gretna right now?
Marlon - I live in Harvey which is one city over from Gretna. It's all the same. I still live here. My oldest son goes to De La Salle. My nine year old is at ISL (International School of Louisiana). The baby is in nursery. My wife is a school teacher. We're enjoying life. This summer my son is going into his senior year and the kids are able to go out and go to camps and compete. There's no complaints over here T. I'm just thankful to be blessed to be able to do what I love to do. I love my family and friends. We are all just trying to figure out this thing that we call life. You just got to keep going.
Q - Anything that you would like to tell the LSU fans?
Marlon - I love them! Y'all keep being great. Just know that from a players prospective, we hear all of you when we're in the locker room. When we're coming through that tunnel we hear y'all. That energy in the stadium electrifies it and you feel it in your play. Screaming fans when we have the other team backed up on their own goal line, or making a big tackle for a loss, throwing my arms up. Hearing that crowd sending shock wave through your body that's unforgettable and it's so appreciated. So to all you Tiger fans out there, God Bless y'all....
Photo Below By: GettyImages.com
Photo Below By: Wikipedia.org
Photo Below By: Terrill Weil
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports
Today's Q&A Session is with Legendary, Hall of Famer, All-Time Great, former LSU Basketball Head Coach Dale Brown. Coach Brown coached at LSU for 25 years between 1972-1997.
He quickly put the struggling LSU basketball program on the map turning it into a winner.
He is the winningest coach in LSU basketball history.
Brown is the only SEC coach to have ever appeared in 15 straight national tournaments and only 11 coaches in NCAA history have made more consecutive NCAA appearances (10). Only the legendary Adolph Rupp of Kentucky has won more games in SEC history. Brown and Rupp are the only SEC coaches that had 17 consecutive non-losing seasons. Only four coaches in the SEC have won more conference championships, Adolph Rupp, Joe Hall, Tubby Smith, and Billy Donovan.
He's known for beating Kentucky 18 times, more than any coach in the nation.
115 of 160 of his players received their college degrees.
He is a member of the Minot State University Athletics Hall of Fame, North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, National College Basketball Hall of Fame, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and the Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. In 2004, he was inducted as an SEC Living Legend.
In 1999, Sports Illustrated selected him as one of the top 50 athletes of the 20th century from North Dakota.
The Bleacher Report selected him as one of the 50 greatest basketball coaches in college basketball history.
During Brown's era, LSU set the record for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th largest paid attendance for a regular season game in college basketball history: Jan. 20th, 1990 Superdome - 68,112 - LSU 87 Notre Dame 64
Jan. 28th 1989 Superdome - 66,144 - LSU 82 Georgetown 80
Jan. 3rd, 1992 Superdome - 61,304 - LSU 84 Texas 83
Nicknamed :"The Master Motivator" for constantly having his teams play at a high level and overachieve.
Coach Brown finished his career at LSU with a record of 448-301 (.598)... Two Final Four appearances (1981, 1986)... Four regular season SEC championships (1975, 1981, 1985, 1991).... One SEC tournament championship (1980)... He is a four time SEC Coach of the Year (1973. 1979, 1981, 1989).... Was chosen as the National Coach of the Year (1981)...
Enjoy the Q & A Below...........
Q - So Coach Brown, I see you were born in Minot, North Dakota. Did you live and grow up there most of your young life?
Coach Brown - Yes.. It's a little town and we have a slogan there, "Why Not Minot?" .... I was very very fortunate. I had a wonderful mother. My biological father abandoned my mother and I two days before I was born. disappeared from the earth. gave us no financial support or any other kind of support.
My beloved mother came off a farm. If you're familiar with history, 1935 was the middle of the great depression, that lasted from 1929 to 1939. She only had a 8th grade education and the only place that we could find to live in that we had money to pay for was a one room apartment above a bar and hardware store. No bathroom, no shower, no bathtub. I never slept in a bed for 21 years. My mother had a little bed that pulled out from the wall and I had a sofa to sleep on. I could reach out and touch her head while we slept.
She became a maid for 50 cents an hour and also became a babysitter. Never ever complained or never talked bad about the man that left her. Then finally we got to move a few doors down and we had a bathroom and we had a toilet. I was like, "Oh Man!" ... But I still didn't have a bed.
But it isn't the physical surroundings, it's the spiritual, in the warmth you get from a loved one, if there is such a thing as a saint, my mother was a saint. She was Sheroe.
Q - I've read how great of an athlete you were. At what age did you start playing organized sports?
Coach Brown - I started organized sports in the 5th grade. I had three older sisters. One died at birth. The other two graduated from high school but never went to college. So I knew if I was going to get an education, there was only one way I was going to be able to do it and that was through an athletic scholarship. Although I started working when I was ten years old.
This may sound insane, because we didn't have a father and were poverty stricken, but I wouldn't change my bringing up. I learned tenacity. I learned honesty from my mother.
What I learned from my mother, was she never spoke. You would see the lessons. My mother was a very spiritual woman, but I learned my lessons from her by watching her. She never preached to me.
Edgar Guest, who is my favorite poet, described her perfectly. He said, "I'd rather see a lesson then hear one any day.
I'd rather you walk with me, then merely show the way. The eyes are a better teacher and are more willing then the ear. The council you are giving may be very fine and true, but I'd rather get my examples by observing what you do." ..... and I saw that from my mother.
She never criticized the man that had left her. She never dated, she never smoked, she never consumed Alcohol, she never swore. She was a wonderful human being.
Q - I see that when you reached high school you attended St. Leo's High School and played football, basketball, and ran track, correct?
Coach Brown - Correct, and the same in college. I went to a little teacher's college in Minot, North Dakota called Minot State Teacher's College, a small NAIA school of 500.
Some of my friends were able to go to big time Universities, and I use to feel that maybe I got cheated by going to a little school, but I didn't. I had great teachers and great people that not only taught, but cared about you. So it isn't the size or the name of the university. It could be Stanford, or it could be Grambling, or Minot State. It's the people who are teaching, and I had some great teachers.
Q - So back in high school when you were a top athlete, I'm guessing recruiting must have been much different back then? Did you have anyone from larger schools trying to recruit you as an athlete?
Coach Brown - I had a scholarship offer to the University of North Dakota. I made a visit to University of North Dakota. I was so intimidated by it. I didn't have a suit. I had holes in the bottom of my shoes. I had to take popcorn boxes and cut them out and put them in my shoes so my socks wouldn't get wet. Well, they put me in a fraternity and these guys had cars and suits. I said, "Boy, I can't wait to get out of here and get back to little ole Minot State Teacher's College." and that turned out to be pretty lucky, because now 62 years later, the young lady that I met there, is still married to me. So I was lucky.
Q - Wow, So that's how you met Mrs. Vonnie? Would you like to tell us that story?
Coach Brown - I never really didn't do any dating. Didn't have a car. Didn't have any money. I was embarrassed still that we were on welfare and our clothes smelled like mothballs often and we lived in that little apartment above a bar and hardware store. So I really spent most of my time athletically.
One day I was walking up the steps of the school in the main building and I saw this little Norwegian looking blonde signing something at a table. So when she walked away I looked and the paper it said, 'Lutheran Students Association'. Well I happened to be Catholic, so I went and pretended to be signing up for it, but at the same time I was putting her telephone number in my brain. So I finally got enough guts to call her and of course she had no concept of who I was. She came from a little tiny town on the Montana/Canadian border called Columbus. We started to date. We didn't have any money to go to the show or any money to do anything, we just spent time together and both of us fell in love with each other. Got married, had one child our daughter Robyn. And 62 years later, she's still stuck with this moron. She is a remarkable woman. I couldn't be married to myself for 62 years...
Q - So I see that at Minot State you were a star athlete, earning 12 varsity letters in football, basketball, and track. You were the only athlete to accomplish this in these three sports, and you scored 1,140 points in three years of varsity basketball. You must have been something on the basketball court?
Coach Brown - Well, it's funny. It was a small school. Only 500 students when I went there. But we qualified for the National NAIA Championships and went to Kansas City to play for the National Championship.
Whether or not that I could have played Division I, everyone has delusions of grandeur, I don't know that. I had the spirit to do it. But I liked where I was at. I never had a desire to go any other place to play, and if I had gone to another place to play, I would have missed the greatest opportunity of my life, marrying my wife and having my beautiful daughter, Robyn. So everything works out.
When friends of mine would go to Notre Dame or Southern Cal or Stanford, I would think, "Wow, I bet I'm getting an inferior education." But years later I found out I didn't. That little teacher's college had teachers in it. A lot of those others didn't have teachers, they had performers. These people at my college were warm and loving, so I would not in any way ever regret growing up in poverty, Growing up in a one room apartment. I would not change anything.
Q - When you finished college did you have an opportunity to play basketball or any sport professionally?
Coach Brown - No, there was not. My coaching career came about, and I think about how times have changed now with salaries. I started out as a high school coach. I got $4,250.. ... I was the head basketball coach, the head wrestling coach, the head track coach, taught five subjects, and was the high school principal, and I thought, "Man, is this living high off the hog." .... So when I think of anything in my life, it does prove that hard work does pay off eventually. You don't have to have connections. You don't have to be dishonest. If you just work at something and you persevere, and believe in it, and you have faith that God is going to lead you into something, good things happen. It's very easy to be negative. For example, the media when I was growing up use to accentuate the positive and diminish the negative. Now, a large portion of the media does just the reverse. They accentuate the negative and diminish the positive.
Q - When you finished college, what made you decide that coaching basketball was for you and your future profession?
Coach Brown - Okay, you want the truth don't you? ... I knew I was going to graduate. School was never hard for me. I never took a book home, I just go to class and listen. I knew that I was never going to flunk, but I didn't really dig in like I should have.
What stimulated me, I always had delusions of grandeur baby. I really had. The FBI when I grew up is not the FBI now. That was the cleanest, nicest, wonderful thing. I was convinced that someday I could take over for J. Edgar Hoover and become a FBI guy. So now, I will really reshow you my stupidity. That won't surprise some people. I was coming into my final year and I had to declare what I was going to major in. I had taken a whole variety of subjects. Things that I was interested in.
The Exit Counselor, prior to my senior season in college, asked me what I wanted to do? So I told her, "One day I want to be head of the FBI." ... She looked at me and said, "Dale Brown, do you know where you're at? You're at a teacher's college. To be in the FBI you need to have a law degree or a degree in accounting. All yours is in education. You should be a teacher or a coach." ... I said, "Okay, that'll be fine." ... So, I wasn't born to be a coach, although I loved it for 44 years. I wouldn't do anything else.
Q - I see when all this took place with your coaching career, it all happened in California. Why did you end up leaving North Dakota to relocate to California?
Coach Brown - It was very simple. My wife and I both were teachers. We just could not make a living. We had a two year old daughter. Every month it was the same thing, which bill were we going to dodge. It's not like we were trying to cheat anybody, we just didn't have money. So we made a decision, and surprisingly my wife said, "Lets move to California." .. I'd never been to California. So literally with no money and a two year old daughter, We made a bed for her in the back seat of our car, and then took off for California. No connections. We started in southern California, stopped in school districts and talked to the superintendents asking if they had any openings. So our adventures to California, were by my wife's suggestions.
I was a junior high high school coach the first year we were there. It was the only job that I could get because we got
out there late. The second year I was a high school coach in Palm Springs.
I liked school teaching, but the thing that I didn't like about it is that you got stuck teaching courses that you knew nothing about. The superintendent came up to me just before school and told me that I had to teach Chemistry. I said, "I don't even know how to light a Bunsen Burner, how am I going to teach it?"
So I started writing letters to college coaches, telling them that I would like to come as a graduate assistant, and that I would even work for free for a year just so you can test me out. Low and behold, probably about 100 people I wrote, I only got answered by two people. But one of them was the head coach at Utah State. Within the year, he hired me to be his assistant. I spent five years at Utah State as an assistant and we were one game away from playing in the national championship. UCLA beat us in the regional championship. So just a break and a good suggestion by my wife.
Q - I see that at one point of your life you were in the military?
Coach Brown - Yes... When I was right at the age to be drafted, the principal at this high school I was teaching at told
me, "You should join the National Guard. You'll go six month of basic training and then you can come back here and teach. You won't have to leave your family, if you get drafted in the Army." ... So I did that, Spent the six months at basic training in California, then got out. Low and behold, the Berlin Crisis breaks out. Now I get drafted back into the Army, and we are going to go knock down the Berlin Wall. So I had to leave home again and spent one year in supposedly training to go to Germany and intimidate the communist that we weren't leaving there. It was a joke. We didn't do anything. We just wasted our time. If memory serves me right I think we only got $80 a month to send to our family.
Q - So while you were an assistant at Washington State, How did you find out about the LSU job opening?
Coach Brown - What happened, being an assistant at Washington State, they just fired their head coach. The next day they offered me the job. Which would have been my first college head coaching job. So I told them to let me think it over with my wife and see what she wants to do, thinking that I might take it.
I got home that night to our apartment and I got a call from Carl Maddox, Athletic Director at LSU. I'd never been to the South. So my wife called me to the phone and he said they were looking for a new head coach at LSU. I practically passed out, I had never been there, of course I knew about their great football and I knew about Bob Pettit and Pete Maravich, who was the greatest offensive player in the history of the game. But I knew very little about LSU basketball.
I came down for an interview and went back to Washington State, and now the AD at Washington State is trying to get me to take the job there. For some reason I was hesitant. The next day I got a call from Carl Maddox wanting me and my wife to come back down and meet the Board of Supervisors. Came down and the next afternoon, I ended up getting the head job here and 25 years later and now 24 years retired, we've been in Baton Rouge for 49 years.
The reason was Carl Maddox. He was a wonderful man, a tremendous leader, and you talk about no horseplay. He was straight down the line. He had been a high school coach. He knew how hard it was to move up to be a college head coach.
In Twenty Five years, I really enjoyed what I did, but I saw the sport changing. There were too many involvements that were no longer the coach, the teachers, or the parents that you dealt with. There were parasites. So called uncles some of them, and agents, and what-have-you. It just wasn't right. So it was time to give it up after 44 years of coaching.
I'm eternally grateful to LSU, Baton Rouge, and Louisiana for giving me this opportunity.
Q - I remember growing up only seeing one basketball head coach, you, battle the NCAA over their ridiculous rules and decision making. I think it was incredible how you would always stand up for what was right. Tell us a little about some of those battles?
Coach Brown - I believe that you would have done the same thing that I did and here's why... The NCAA. That supposedly stands for "National Collegiate Athletic Association." ... That's a joke! The NCAA stands for "Not Caring About Athletes!".... The only thing they were good at was legislating against human dignity and practicing monumental hypocrisy.
I'll tell you why I stood up to the NCAA. I wasn't gallant or anything else. I was just doing what was right. Let me give you two paramount examples and you tell me what you think.
We had a young man on our team from St. Louis, Mark Alcorn. We were in the Alaskan Shootout and I was taking bed check and he had almost jaundice skin and he was sweating. I said, "Mark, What's wrong with you?" .... He said he had this pain in his side. I asked him how long has he had it. He said that he had it for a couple of days. I told him that he would be on a plane tomorrow. He said, "I want to play." ... I said, "Oh no you're not." .... So we got him home and he was loaded with testicular cancer. He had to drop out of school and go back to St. Louis. He was a fine little player, a very nice young man.
Well, his mother called me and told me that he was near death. She said, "His dad and me decided we were going to ask him, ... Mark, if you had a last wish, what would it be?" ... He said, "Mom, I want to see my three best friends on the team."
His mom added, "I was embarrassed to call you. They are going to put on a fundraiser for us. We have put our home up for a second mortgage already, we just don't have money to get his three friends up here. Could you get them up here for this fundraiser?" ... I said absolutely! She also asked me if I would speak at the fundraiser? "Absolutely!"
So I hung up and I thought, "You know what? I've fought this NCAA. They would love to have me be proven a loud mouth Elmer Gantry." I called the NCAA office and I explained the situation, that the Governor has offered us to use his plane, free of charge. I asked them if I could fly them up there? That's not breaking a rule, is it? .... They said, "Yes it is".. By that time their book was about 500 pages. And he said, "That's called entertainment off campus." ... I told them, "Did you not hear me, this is one of our players who is dying and just wants to see his three best friends" ... "You can't do it!" he told me. I said, "Well they'll be there!"... He answered back with, "Are you turning yourself in?" .... I told him, "You figure it out!" and I hung up.
So I thought, What could I do not to embarrass the University? I didn't want to do that and get LSU in any trouble. But I'm going to get them there.
One night late in my office I found a red eye flight to fly them up there. I found them a motel near the airport. That was in 1981, to show you how cheap it was, the entire trip only cost $300 for each player. I didn't want the kids to see me calling each of them into the office. So that night I pulled my blinds down. After practice I told one to come see me at 7, one to come see me at 7:45, and the other to come see me at 8. In an envelope, I gave each kid, one at a time $300 out of my pocket. Instructions on how to get to their airplane flight and the motel.
So we got up there and it was my turn to speak. I got up and I thought, this is dangerous what I'm about to do. I said, "Would Andy Campbell stand up please. Joe Costello would you stand up. J. Brian Bergeron would you stand up." Mark was sitting on the stage and I said, "Mark, these are your three best friends. They're here today to tell you that they love you." Then I said, "And I'm here to tell you folks that the NCAA would not let me do this. I broke a rule and I paid their way to come up here." I didn't care if I got fired. Well it was so embarrassing to the NCAA, apparently they didn't dare do anything. .....
One last story so you can see why I fought the NCAA. I recruited one of the greatest potential prospects I've ever coached. 6'-11" from Bahia Blanca, Argentina. Hernan Montenegro. He came here with a two year old daughter and his wife. About four games into the season I get a call from a doctor's office. The doctor said, "Coach, we have a major problem. Hernan Montenegro and his wife are here and she's pregnant and the baby is breeched. I've got to get that baby out or the baby is going to die, or very well the wife could die." He said, "But they don't have any insurance at all." He said, "What should I do?" .... I told him, "Doc, just go ahead and get it done. What does it cost?" ... He said that he could give me a rough figure. 1985 I believe this was. He said it would cost something like $7,500. ... I told him to just do it, That I would handle it.
Now, again I call the NCAA and told them the situation. I said, "May I co-sign a loan to help them? He'll play professional ball. He's 6'-11" and can play every position on the court." .... "No you can't do that!" .... I asked, "Why can't I do that? A baby could die, and the mother could die." ... "That's NCAA rule, you can't do that. That's extra benefits." they said.
I knew an agent who represents people like Wynton Marsalis, and numerous musical entertainers. He didn't represent athletes. We're friends. I asked him, "Would you do me a favor? Would you come down and sign him and be his agent and then pay the money?" He said that he would do it. So he flew down, gave the family $10,000 for the operation, Thankfully the baby and mother lived. It would have been a NCAA violation had I done it, but Hernan lost his eligibility only after four games at LSU and still got drafted in the NBA by Philadelphia.
The NCAA is a dysfunctional organization, but their getting better, I'll give them credit for that. They've come millions of miles. But they have light years to go and light travels at 186,000 miles per second. They still have a long way to go. Although they have improved and I applaud them for that.
Oh, I have one more thing. The LSU Chancellor called me in. A very nice man, and said, "Coach Brown, I'm real worried. Your rhetoric against the NCAA is so tough. They may come in and try to take our football program apart and stuff, so I want to ask you. Would you consider lowering your rhetoric?" .... All I said to him was, "Mr. Chancellor thank you for your interest in the program. I've tried to do nothing to ever hurt LSU." ...
A week later I get a call from Sports Illustrated and they want to do a cover story. The writer came down, spent a couple of days and as he was leaving, he says, "Coach Brown, we've talked endlessly about this for two days. Just in a nutshell, how would you describe the NCAA?" ... I said, "They're gestapo bastards." Now that was in Sports Illustrated and by the way, I never got another call from the Chancellor to tell me to lower my rhetoric.
The truth is the truth. 2+2 is 4... It's not five. It can't be six. It won't be three. It's the truth. I wasn't going to do anything
special. However had they found out, .... I'm still sort of shocked to be honest with you. I exposed myself in St. Louis. Certainly I broke the rule and they didn't come after me. I guess it was too controversial. But if they would have had a chance, they would have done it, and they tried to do it with a fake payment to Lester Earl. So I guess you can say that I don't respect the NCAA. Is that a pretty good definition of it?
Everybody is making money off kids and some of them come to us with battered tennis shoes and no proper clothes. They have nothing. Then the NCAA brainwashes them by telling them that they have a scholarship, wanting to know why are complaining? The NCAA is making billions of dollars and Coaches are making millions. It's insane. It's not fair.
For five years beginning in September of 1983, I initiated a letter writing campaign, totaling five letters, all targeting the NCAA's 1,200 college presidents, chancellors, athletic directors, faculty representatives, head football coaches, head basketball coaches, and conference commissioners of Division I schools and also to the staff of the NCAA suggesting massive reform in the NCAA.
I had 43 recommendations that should be changed. Terrible rules! Terrible! This isn't Russia, It's the United States. At the time I was known as a Maverick. 30 of the 43 have now been changed.
My dear friend Dr. Harry Edwards, who is one of the greatest civil rights icons of all-time and a brilliant man. He told me one time and it stuck with me. He said, "Silence has always been evil's greatest ally." ... and that's true. People are scared to speak up against the NCAA. They don't want to loose their big time money. But if they did? What if they get investigated? .... Whenever good and evil compromise, evil always comes out the winner.
Q - So you got the LSU job in 1972. I know the year before you arrive, Collis Temple Sr. became the first African American to play basketball for LSU. Would you tell us about how yourself, the school, and teammates handled the beginning of integration?
Coach Brown - I deeply admire the selection committee, which consisted of Ned Clark (a former basketball player), Two men that are dead now. One was a professor at LSU, Bob May, an oil man named Warren 'Rusty' Brown, and Carl Maddox the AD. They were really classy and in the final interview, before they were going to make the decision, one of them asked me, "We've had 14 of 18 losing seasons over the last 18 years. Why should we hire you? Why are you any different?"
My answer was, "Well, I'm not sure you should hire me. The reason why I'm not sure you should hire me, no one has asked me what my philosophy is. So let me tell you what it is, then that will be a decision you all will have to make.
Number one, I'll do everything in my power to bring in good young men. I'll do everything in my power to build this
program into a powerhouse." I said, "Also, if you hire me, you may have an all black team. You may have an all white team. You may have an all foreign team. Or you may have a combination of all three. Because I'm going to recruit human beings first and basketball players second."
My wife told me to call her right after the interview. There weren't cell phones at that time and I was on my way up to a State tournament up in Alexandria, Louisiana and on the way up there I thought, "Oh I forgot to call my wife." ...
So I saw a little town coming up called Bunkie, Louisiana. I go into a drug store and ask if I could use their phone. There was a phone booth, it cost me a nickel I remember. I called my wife and I told her what happened. I can remember what she said. "Dale, Dale, Dale, ....You got no chance at getting that job. A kamikaze pilot in the Japanese air force would have a better chance."
Well, to show you the kind of men they were, a week later, they asked my wife and I to come back down and gave us the job. I could not of had a finer Athletic Director then Carl Maddox. You talk about honorable, brilliant, fair. And the City of Baton Rouge, even though things weren't as smooth as it could be, you could see them come around once the program did became integrated and when we did bring in players. It wasn't easy. It took time. It took time to get a black athlete to visit because numerous ones told me, Elvin Hayes was one of them. He wanted to come to LSU. He wrote them a letter, they didn't even contact him.
Some fathers of the players we were recruiting, told me he wouldn't send his kid to LSU, because he wanted to go there and they wouldn't recruit him. However, that broke down and the city absorbed them. Things changed a lot, even though there was some mean things that forged on in the background, Baton Rouge, Louisiana is basically a good place.
Albert Einstein, who they say is probably the most intellectual man who ever lived, summed up life perfectly. He said, "It isn't the evil people that bother him. It's all the good people that don't do anything about the evil people."
So there's really some good souls. They hired our players for summer job and during the Holidays. Just nice people. So things slowly changed.
Collis Temple. You talk about who should have a statue? He should have a statue. All the things he had to go through early, hate mail, death threats. He was an honor student. An honorable, good man. Came from a great home. There was a lot of sacrifice made. He was the one who had the courage, intellect, and energy to become a successful business man and is now a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Q - After you got the job at LSU, you started to go from town to town trying to introduce the basketball program. Hanging basketball nets outside of any homes that had a goal. Can you explain to us how you came up with that idea?
Coach Brown - Very good question. I'll tell you how that happened. After the most magnificent offensive player in the history of the game, Pete Maravich left here, everything went south. No one wanted to come to the games. They hired a no name coach from North Dakota, why would they want to come?
So I thought, "I'm going to have to promote this team somehow." I had an idea, I was reading a magazine. I can't remember which one it was, but there was a sales ad in it for a company in Korea that was making purple and gold nets. We had a very small budget so as a result I paid for the nets.
My assistant, Homer Drew's wife, Janet Drew, wrote a poem for us to include. We called it, the Tiger Safari. It read, "This is a net from the purple and gold, for a sport that will never grow old. LSU wants you to know, they want you to join the Tiger Safari." .... We put that in the bags with our schedule, our business card, and the net.
We met on the weekends, the two assistants of mine. We had maps and we would go to different parts of the State. Where ever we saw a outdoor basketball goal, we would go to the door, knock, tell them who we were and give them the little plastic bag. They might have thought we were crazy. But Sports Illustrated picked it up and ran a nice story on LSU basketball.
Q - Some of your recruiting trips are considered to be legendary. Any recruiting stories you would like to share?
Coach Brown - I would pick two. ... The State Department during the Berlin Wall Crisis was trying to intimidate the
communist. They sent over 90,000 troops and amassed them on the East German border to intimidate them. "We're not leaving here! We're going to send over some troops!"
Well the State Department asked me if I was start in Southern Germany and work my way up to Northern Germany speaking to the troops. .... "Absolutely I would.".... I got to the last spot up in the mountains to a place called Wildflecken. I finished my lecture and was packing my bag enthusiastic because I'll be home before too many more hours.
I get a tap on my back and this young guy, maybe 6'-9", 250lbs, stuttering, "Coach, Coach, Coach Brown." he said, "I'll be trying out for the team here. I can't dunk a ball. and when I run up and down the court about three or four times my lower extremities tire. Can you show me some exercises?"
I said sure and asked him if he had weights here? He said, "No we don't." ... I said I'll show you some non-resistance exercises so you don't need weights. I said, "How long have you been in the service soldier?" ... He smiled and cupped his hand over his mouth and he said, "Coach I'm not in the service. I'm only 13 years old." ... I asked, "How tall are you?" ... "I'm 6'-9"" ... I said, "What size shoe do you wear?" .... He said "Size 18." .... I asked him, "What are you doing here?" .... He said, "My dad is a career military man." .... I said, "I want to meet him." .... He replied, "He's in the sauna."
So we headed to the sauna and just as I was opening it, he burst out, big towel around his neck, sweating profusely ... "That's my dad." What his dad did really impressed me. I handed him my business card and I said, "Sergeant, if your son ever develops into a player," and I'm just jabbering a lot. He's looking at my card kind of with almost disdian looking over the top of it. Then he puts his hand out and he said, "I'm not trying to be rude coach, I want to see my son get educated. If your interested in that, and he develops, we may be interested."
So I got back to Baton Rouge, and sent away a training program immediately. Six weeks later I got a letter from Germany. "Dear Coach Brown, I did everything you told me to do and my high school coach cut me off the team. He told me that I'm too slow, that I was too clumsy, I have too big of feet and that I'll never be a basketball player. He told me that I should be a soccer goalie. Coach Brown, what should I do?"
I sat behind my desk and I thought, what kind of a profound statement am I going to make to a 13 year old child that just had his heart broken. Heck, I've been doing the same thing about my life. I wrote him a letter handwritten. almost word for word.
"Dear Shaquille, I'm so sorry what happened to you. But every time in my life, when I heard someone say, "He doesn't have a dad. They're on welfare. His mother isn't educated, He'll never make it." ... I said, "I tried the following and it worked for me, and I bet if you try it, it will work for you. It's very simple. If you always try to do your very best, and only you will know that, and you never give up under any conditions. Sooner or later, God will take care of everything else."
Well I'm not naive enough to think that little sermon that I wrote in that one page letter, but years later he told me that's why he didn't quit. He told me his mother sent him to their outdoor mailbox in the snow in the mountains. While he was walking out to it, plowing through the snow, after being cut from the team, he had made up his mind that he was just going to go into the Army. He said he opened up the mailbox and on the way back home he read that letter and that made him not quit. Like Paul Harvey would say, "And that's the rest of the story."
I have one more to share.. Maybe the best big man I've ever seen play. He never played in college. He was on the Russian Olympic Team. His name was Arvydas Sabonis. This 7'-1" player was destined for greatness. I said, "Man how can I recruit him?"
So I did some research and I found out there was an American by the name of Armand Hammer. He was the most popular American with the Russian Government, now how am I going to get in touch with Armand Hammer?
Well I found out who his best friends were. I knew two of the friends, so I called them and asked them if they could talk to him to get me into Russia to meet this kid. Well low and behold they did it. Well, he was very close to coming here. Actually he made a commitment on the telephone that he wanted to come through an interpreter. He didn't speak English at the time. But when they got back from the World Games in Spain, they got the news and he disappeared. Of course he never made it here. He did make it to the Portland Trailblazers. His son played at Gonzaga.
Q - Can you tell us a little about the 1981 Final Four Team?
Coach Brown - We won 26 straight games. We were the first team in history to win 17 SEC games. We had one game left at Kentucky, lost in the last second by a point. Won the League easily going away. We were ranked 1 & 2 in the nation most of the year.
Rudy Macklin broke his finger in the Regional game in the Super Dome. He was our star, our best shooter, best rebounder, best scorer. The captain of the team. When we got to the NCAA tournament in that Final Four, he just wasn't himself. Indiana could not of beaten us in my opinion if he had not been injured.
Q - Can you tell us a little about everything the 1986 Final Four Team had to go through during that season?
Coach Brown - Do you have any Kleenex? That team, we lost three centers. 7'-1" Zoran Jovanovich got in a car accident, had knee surgery. He was done. 7'-1" Tito Hartford, he broke a rule, I suspended him. He was done. Then he left town and transferred. Next was one of the most unfair things to happen while I was at LSU. Now we have Nikita Wilson, 6'-8". We were 14-0. The rules say at LSU that if your an athlete and you're on a scheduled road trip and you miss a test, you can take the test when you get back within a week. Well we were on the road, he missed a test, he went to take it. A teacher I believe who was from Malaysia, I'm not sure, would not let him take the test. He told Nikita, "No, no, no, no, you can not take the test." ... and he didn't speak really good English. But it went through and the University didn't back it. It was a rule created by the University. They declared him ineligible. So now we've lost three centers. We've got no centers. I had to use 6'-6" Rickey Blanton, who had never played the position. Thank God for that young man.
Then, we got the chickenpox. I mean everything that could go wrong, went wrong. So now instead of being 14-0 like we were, our record was kind of mediocre. We were an 11th seed. Never in the history of college basketball has an 11 seed gone to a NCAA Final Four. We did and we were a half away from winning it. We lead Louisville at halftime in Dallas., this Cinderella team was just burned out.
Q - With all the players that you lost off of the 1986 Final Four team, your team in 1987 was just seconds away from a second straight trip to the Final Four. Tell us a little about that?
Coach Brown - They were six seconds away from the Final Four. We had the last shot which would have won the game and we didn't. Indiana won and moved onto New Orleans where they won the national championship.
But you know what, that's all hindsight, they say, bla bla bla bla... You've got to live with all those things. I was blessed with a lot of last second victories too. In the Super Dome, the largest crowd in college basketball, Ricky Blanton putting in that last second shot. I was blessed in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center when Ricky Blanton hit the three from the corner with four seconds left to beat UNLV 88-87.
It just balances off, that's life. There's no sense in moping, whining, or complaining. Everybody is going to have adversity. But how you handle that adversity is what happens. The choice you make makes you. Some of the most miraculous things I've ever seen have come from people with no arms or legs.
Q - What was the Freak Defense?
Coach Brown - I'm glad you don't know what it is because most people don't. It all started when I was coaching a Catholic high school in Minot, North Dakota called Bishop Ryan.
We went to Williston, North Dakota to play this team and they just knocked us out of the arena. We couldn't do anything, their center just dominated us. That summer I thought, "We got to play that kid again." .. By the way that kid's name was Phil Jackson. The Phil Jackson.
So I was like, How in the world, how is it possible to ever beat him? I was at a Barnes & Noble and I picked up a book by Sun Tzu, a Chinese General, a warrior. 2,500 years ago he wrote a book about the Art of War. What attracted me to that, I don't know. But I picked that book up and I started reading it, and I thought, "Holy Mackerel! Maybe I can change some things in basketball the way he did." ... For example he said, "When you face a superior opponent, you must confuse him and you will neutralize his excellence." and he also said, "All warfare is based upon deception." .... So the more I kept reading this book, I'd said, hey.... I remember another page, he said, "It's often possible by adopting all kinds of measures of deception to drive a superior enemy into the plight of making numerous mistakes."
I said, "What am I going to do about this?" ... I went to the school. We didn't have copy machines at that time. We had ditto machines. With a ditto machine you only get one copy at a time. So I had hundreds of courts made up. I thought, what could I do? I've got to have a defense that confuses people.
This is just it in a nut shell. When the ball is passed into the right hand side of the court, you play a man-to-man. .... When it's passed to the middle of the court, you play a 1, 3, 1-trap zone, .... When it's passed into the left side of the court, you play a 2-3 matchup zone. That's pretty simple.
Now, when your opponent calls time out because they think they have it figured out. Now you do what we call, "Flip-Flop." You just change the rules around. When the ball goes to the right hand side, you don't play man-to-man, you play the 1,3,1-trap zone, .... When it goes to the middle, you play 2-3 , .... When it goes to the left, you play man-to-man. ....
I'm not going to try to confuse you because we confused many opponents. Now, when I cross my arms, that means now that I'm going to show them a number. If I hold up a one, that means we are going to play a Box-in-one defense. ... If I hold up two, that means were playing a triangle & two. .... It really really confuses people.
John Chaney, my dear friend at Temple. I think they were 32-1, ranked second in the nation. We played them in Chicago in the Regionals. One of the media asked him, "What do you think about Dale Brown's Freak Defense?" .... He said, "What do I think about Dale Brown's Freak Defense? Man, the only freaks I see are in alleys in Philadelphia." .... Most people would laugh it off.
We gave Kentucky the worse defeat in the history of their school, at Kentucky, in Rupp Arena by 34 points. The Freak Defense was involved. It sounds more complicated then it really is.
For example, we're playing a team, and I don't want to embarrass the team. They ended up going to the
national championship. Well they're ahead of us by a few points and their coach calls timeout. So they are walking by our bench and their center and guard get into a problem. "Damn it, their playing man-to-man!" ... "No they're not playing man-to-man, they're playing zone!" .... I said to my guys, "Listen, We got these guys right where we want them. Now we're going to go the other way." .... We changed the whole thing by listening to them talk. It sounds much more complicated then it is.
Q - Can you tell me who gave the Assembly Center the nickname, "The Deaf Dome" and who came up with the idea of hanging the Deaf Dome crowd noise meter from the ceiling?
Coach Brown - I starting calling the PMAC Deaf Dome, and then I came up with the idea for a noise meter to help create extra excitement at the games.
Q - Can you tell us a little about the recruitment of Chris Jackson (Mahmoud Abdual-Rauf)?
Coach Brown - Everyone in the Country wanted him. He came from a poverty stricken family, worse then mine. A nice, beautiful young man. I love Chris Jackson, Mahmoud.
The credit for recruiting Chris Jackson has to go to one of my assistants, Craig Carse. Craig had a wonderful relationship with him. Gave him dignity. Would drive down to see him. Would even talk about home work with him and anything besides basketball. He felt very comfortable with us. One of the greatest human beings I've ever been around in my life and one of the greatest player.
Q - Your recruiting class with Chris Jackson, Stanley Roberts, and Shaquille O'Neal has to be one of the most talented teams you have ever assembled?
Coach Brown - That team your speaking of, they only played one year together. Which was difficult. Mahmoud went pro, Stanley went to play professionally in Spain, which only left Shaquille.
I did not do as good of a job as I could have done. It was the most talent I ever had. I thought I did better with lesser talent. So I blame myself. I probably should have not used a double low post for two reasons. 1 - It would have kept one of the big guys out of foul trouble, and #2 - It plugged up the lane a little too much for Chris. I think it was a combination of things. They were young. They didn't have leadership skills at that time. It was two freshmen and a sophomore.
Q - Towards the end of you career between 1993-1997, that must have been a difficult and frustrating time?
Coach Brown - It was a combination of things that made it difficult. The hardship draft was encouraging players to leave early. Ineligibilities... Injuries.... Suspensions.... But in the end, you can't wimp and you can't whine about it. You take winning for granted. Losing is a monumental thing. It's not fun to loose, particularly after having as much success that we had.
Q - During your final season in 1997 all of the other SEC schools showed you their appreciation of your career, honoring you before games. That must have been pretty special?
Coach Brown - That was really nice and very touching.
Q - I know you keep in touch with your former players. Do you ever get together with them in person for reunions from time to time?
Coach Brown - I try to talk to all my players. All 160 of them. I know where they are all located and their families. But the get togethers are a little more difficult because people are getting older, going their ways.
The Universities I think should take more action to do that. Let them bring players back. Because some people probably have a 9-5 job making minimum wages. They can't get in a airplane and come from Australia or where ever else they are. It's much harder to get everyone together.
I'd like to close on this. This is not being modest. This is not being humble. Never ever, not one second of my coaching career did I ever dream of being the SEC Coach of the Year. I never dreamed about being a National Coach of the Year. I never dreamed about being in the College Basketball Hall of Fame. They were never goals of mine. All I wanted to do, .... I know what it did to me, it was a father substitute for me. It gave me an education. It gave me discipline. It taught me team work. I just wanted to help kids along the way.
All the stuff that's glitter, that's meaningless. If my team was #1 in the nation or last in the nation, my emotions for them are no different then the other team. As long as they did their best. The very few players. Very few, that I ever had to suspend, I stay in touch with them. So anyone who may see this who is interested in coaching, I think it's fairly simple, and I've coached for 44 years. Players really do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care. When you care, they figure that out. You can't fake kids out for very long. There can be some guys you can fake out during recruiting, and you're this nice guy and do this.
But I've been blessed by 160 young men who believed in each other, LSU, Louisiana, and our system. I had some good assistants. Three of my assistants are now in the College Basketball Hall of Fame, Tex Winter and Homer Drew, while Bob Starkey is in the Women's Assistant College Basketball Hall of Fame.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports
Today's Q&A Session is with former LSU basketball player Clarence Ceasar who played for the Tigers from 1991-92 through 1994-95. Ceasar played forward for the Tigers under Dale Brown and played a key role for the Tigers on both ends of the court. He is a member of both the 1,000 point club at LSU and 500 rebound club.. 20th in career scoring with 1,343 points. He played in 112 games while averaging 12 points per game along with 2.1 assist and six rebounds per contest. On defense, Ceasar was as tough as they come. He would lead the team in steals all four seasons totaling 310 in his career, a LSU and SEC record that still stands today.
Ceasar would end up with a five year international pro basketball career that took him from Turkey and Hungary to Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay.
Later, after returning to the U.S., Ceasar would end up playing defensive end in the NIFL (National Indoor Football League) for the Lake Charles Land-Sharks for two seasons.
Today Clarence Ceasar lives in Iowa, Louisiana and his son, Cejae just committed to play football and run track at UL....
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Clarence - Yellowstone
Q - What is your favorite Food?
Clarence - Seafood
Q - Your Favorite Pro Athlete?
Clarence - When I was younger it was Michael Jordan, But now it's hard to say now that I'm older. I would have to say it's Tom Brady now.
Q - Your favorite sports team?
Clarence - All things Louisiana. I just love watching sports in this State. I'm a true supporter of Louisiana sports.
Q - Your favorite Movie?
Clarence - That's a tough one.. It would have to be Armageddon....
Q - Who is your favorite Actor?
Clarence - Denzel Washington
Q - Who is your favorite Music Artist/Group?
Clarence - I love the Zac Brown Band. Believe it or not I love country music. That blows people's mind. A little bit of "Chicken Fried"....
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Clarence - I wanted to grow up to be a major league baseball player. People that know me know that my first love is baseball. I was probably better at baseball then I was at basketball.
Q - I see you were Iowa, Louisiana. Did you grow up and live there all your life?
Clarence - Yes
Q - When you attended Iowa High School did you play multiple sports?
Clarence - Yes. I played basketball, ran track, and played baseball....
Q - Is there any team or personal accomplishments you would like to tell us about while playing athletics in high school?
Clarence - We didn't win anything until my senior year. We won District, undefeated and got into the playoffs, but came up short. Personally I was named All-District and All-State every year, and my last two years I was named District MVP. I also had the opportunity to play in the Dapper Dan Classic. I was glad to represent Louisiana, so I finished up being an All-American.
Q - Tell us a little about your recruiting process. How was that experience?
Clarence - It really started kind of funny. In Lake Charles they would have this Athletic Banquet where they would recognize the best kids in all sports, from football to track and field and of course I got the basketball award. It was held at McNeese and the McNeese basketball coach, his name was Steve Welch, told me that he really like the way I play, if I would consider the McNeese State Cowboys when I graduate. He thought I was a senior, but I was only a freshmen. He was like.. "What!?" ... So needless to say in my sophomore year my first letter was from McNeese. Then it just took off from there. I was recruited hard by all schools in Louisiana and by every school in the SEC. I talked to Coach Pitino at Kentucky often. Talked Coach Nolan Richardson at Arkansas. I was heavily recruited. It was a great experience. I explain to my son to just enjoy the process and he did. I'm glad I went through it so I could explain it to him. It was a fun process for me. I took all of my visits even though I knew where I was going. It was a chance to see different cultures and different parts of the Country. My recruitment was fun.
Q - Were you recruited in multiple sports?
Clarence - I was recruited in baseball as well, but I really didn't give it any mind. Like I mentioned, that was a childhood dream, but once I got to middle school and realized that I could play basketball, I was dunking in 8th grade. So even though I loved baseball, I found out at a young age that basketball was the sensible way to go.
Q - What made you choose LSU over everyone else?
Clarence - Dale.. Dale and Jonny Jones. Jonny Jones recruited me. When I took my visit to LSU, Coach Brown made it feel like home. I loved that he would come to my high school games. The thing I loved about Coach Brown was that he always kept his word. He told my mom, ... "If he comes to Baton Rouge, he'll leave here a boy, but he will return here a man. He will be able to take care of family and be a big part of the community."
It's not about the wins and the losses to me. It is about the character of the man. Dale Brown is that guy.
Q - I remember your first game as a LSU Tiger, the team was down late to Northeast Louisiana and you came in the game and hit several three pointers late to win the game, 77-76. What are some of your favorite moments as a LSU basketball player?
Clarence - I have so many. It's playing in the Pete Mac and in the SEC alone you have more then one memory. I remember
going to Alabama and see Coach Wimp Sanders in that plaid jacket and those guys were loaded with Robert Horry, Sprewell, and James Robinson, Jason Caffey. Arkansas had Todd Day, Oliver Miller, Lee Mayberry. Every night was a challenge. Tennessee had Allen Houston. Every night was a challenge and that's what made it fun.
But I have to say my best moment was during my freshmen year in the Super Dome against Texas. We were down by one with like 15 seconds left in the game. Texas was inbounding the ball by our goal to run the clock out and I stole the inbound pass and laid it up and in for the winning basket. 84-83 victory. That was in the Super Dome in front of 79,000. That was my fondest memory. stealing that ball, scoring, and getting back on defense.
Everyone likes to talk about the Kentucky game when we were up by 31. It happened on Fat Tuesday, and my response is always, "Hey, I had a hell of a game." It was a shock. Imagine to be on the floor for it. Even though it was a loss, it's a fond memory. I can sit back now and say I'm a part of history. I'm on the wrong side of it. A lot of athletes are on the wrong side of history. That's the NCAA's greatest comeback, I take it and love it.
Q - What was it like playing with guys like Shaquille O'Neal, Vernel Singleton, TJ Pugh, and Maurice Williamson during your freshmen season?
Clarence - Coach Brown recruits great character guys. It was fun on that team because it was a team of characters. Vernel was the band-aid man, of course Shaq was Shaq. Even though we were a team, everyone had their own personality. It was awesome. The dorm life was great. We all hung out together. If you saw one of us, then you would probably see two or three of us. It wasn't like after practice everyone went their own way. No... We all pretty much hung out together all the time. So as a true freshmen to come in and have that kind of brotherhood, it was awesome. It made the transition easy for me.
Q - So do you keep in touch with a lot of your old LSU teammates?
Clarence - Oh yes.. We are all friends on Facebook or Instagram. Maurice Williamson and I keep in touch the most through Facebook. He goes to fish up there in Connecticut and I joke with him about that. He is actually pretty good. He sends me pictures of some big fish that he catches up there.
Q - After your LSU career ended did you play basketball at the next level?
Clarence - I did. If you remember I came out at a bad time. The NBA was going through a lockout. It forced me to go to Europe. I went to Turkey. When the lockout was over I came back and went to camp with the Indiana Pacers. That didn't work out so I went back to Europe. I played all over the world. South America, Europe. I lived in Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela. I lived in Belgium, Amsterdam, Holland, Turkey, Greece.. Basketball was good to me, so I have no complaints.
Q - How many seasons did you play in Europe?
Clarence - Like four or five.. Once I became a father I shut it down. I love basketball, but I wasn't in love with basketball. I see a lot of times when guys just can't let it go. I had no problem walking away from it.
Q - Tell us about your life after basketball?
Clarence - Yes.. Like I said, once I became a father it was time to put the ball down. Now lets get realistic, if it was NBA money, then no. You keep playing to take care of your family. But I felt like it was time for me to put the ball down and be a dad because I couldn't be the dad that I wanted to be bouncing around Europe outside of America. I took pride in being a father. I hit the work force. It was great. I hit the ground running and never looked back. I was a high school basketball coach for 14 years. I was an educator. I was a safety man in a refinery in Lake Charles. Today I'm the Director of Human Relations for the City of Lake Charles in the Mayors office. I'm raising my kids and I have grandkids. I love being paw paw. There is nothing like it. Nothing like the sound of "paw paw." I tell all the guys that don't have them that it's a different type of love. You love your kids, but those grand babies is a different kind of love.
Q - Is there anything you would like to tell the LSU fans?
Clarence - I'm a proud paw paw and a proud father of a Ragin' Cajun. I had to take off my purple shirt and put on a red one... But hey, I still bleed purple and gold. I bleed purple and gold, but I'm got to support my son to the end..
I'm pretty simple. I've always been a simple guy. In a nut shell that's just how I live. A father, grandfather, husband, a quiet life. I'm living a dream man. I love being a parent, I love being a grandparent, I love being a husband. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm a true small town Louisiana boy.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q&A is with former LSU basketball player Dennis Tracey. Dennis grew up in Kenner, La. and attended De La Salle High School where he played basketball for head coach Jim Tillette, winning the 1986 state championship. From there he would move on to play at a junior college before Tracey became a fan favorite on a LSU team that was loaded with incredible talent. He played for LSU for two seasons, 1988-89 and 1989-90. Tracey became a member of the LSU basketball team due to a letter that he sent to Dale Brown, asking for a chance to prove that he can help the team out. The letter moved Coach Brown and the next thing you know Dennis Tracey was living a dream, starting for the LSU Fighting Tigers.
Q - What is your favorite TV show?
Dennis - Secrets of the Universe
Q - Your favorite food?
Dennis - Italian Food
Q - Who is your favorite Pro Athlete?
Dennis - Irvin Johnson... Great guy, great man... A good friend of mine.
Q - Your Favorite Sports Team?
Dennis - LSU obviously.. LSU sports and the Saints
Q - Your Favorite Movie?
Dennis - Blue Chips!! You got to put that one down because I was in it. .. But na, my favorite movie is The Big Lebowski
Q - Who is your Favorite Actor?
Dennis - I have so many, but my favorite one....... Russell Crowe
Q - Your Favorite Music Artist/Group?
Dennis - I like a band called "New Order"
Q - I read that you grew up in Kenner, La?
Dennis - Yes
Q - Can you tell us a little about your athletic career in high school?
Dennis - Yes, I went to De La Salle High School in New Orleans. We won the state championship in 1986. I played under Jim Tillette. We had four Division I plays on my team. Dwayne Bryant went on to play for Georgetown, Kurt Hankton played at Auburn, Ray Ronquillo played for USL, I played at LSU. We were 77-5 over a two years period, including 40-1 my senior year. I also want to mention that we beat DeRidder (Wayne Sims' high school team) two years in a row.
Q - Did you play multiple sports while at De La Salle?
Dennis - Back then that was frowned upon. I was going out to be the De La Salle quarterback after the starter had gotten hurt in one of the first games of the season and I was sternly talked too by the basketball coaches that playing quarterback would end my basketball career, so it just didn't work out. Basketball was the only sport I played.
Q - What was your recruiting process like?
Dennis - I had an appointment to play at West Point, the Army Military Academy. I had some small offers that I really didn't look at. Just at the very end I decided West Point wasn't for me. Fess Irvin was the big reason why I didn't go to LSU originally. Dale had asked me to walk on but I thought I was to good for that. From high school I went to Junior college at CoCo Beach Junior College right outside of Orlando. I stayed there for about six weeks before I became homesick so I came back home. I ended up going to UNO for a semester and played under Benny Dees there. I was projected to be a starter on the next season's team. In two years they went to the NCAA Tournament. But I decided to go up to attend LSU. I just finally felt like if I can't go play for LSU then I don't want to play college ball. I wanted to play with the big boys. At a UNO game there would be about 100 people in the stands. So I decided to go to LSU and the rest is history.
Q - When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Dennis - I always wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a MD. Actually after all was said and done with LSU and Shaq, I ended up going back to medical school and becoming a MD. I'm not a practicing physician, but I am a MD and I own a medical company.
Q - Can you tell us about the letter that you sent to Dale Brown?
Dennis - That summer I got to play some pick up games with the team. So I got to know some of the guys from just playing those games and they knew I could play. So I would get into the game occasionally and I would do pretty well. I just knew when tryouts would come around that I could make this team. Not only did I know I could make the team, but I knew I could play for them.
I end up seeing in one of my classes that even though the LSU basketball team is short handed, they will not be holding open tryouts this season. My whole life flashed in front of my face. I just said to myself that this just couldn't be possible. So I thought to myself, "What could I do?" ...
So for some reason I sat down and I wrote a letter. .... "Dear Dale Brown, You may know me from playing basketball at De La Salle under Jimmy Tillette. I have talked to you several times......" I just went on to say, look, I'm no Chris Jackson but I can contribute to your team and help you guys have success. Please give me a chance.... It was a three page letter. Coach Brown still has it. .. In the letter I asked him to please call me and I put my girlfriend's number on it. I sealed it up and gave it to Jannet Sims who is Wayne Sims' and Johnny Jones' cousin. I asked her, "Please give this to Dale Brown. It's the most important letter you will ever give him. Could you please make sure he gets this?" .... She told me absolutely.
The next day, I'm with my girlfriend and a call from the LSU athletic dept. comes in. I answer the phone and it's Dale Brown. He says, "I read your letter and I want you to start practice tomorrow at 3:30 sharp. Do understand me. We will see what happens and see if you can help us." ... I said yes sir.. So I show up, make the team, and become a starter.
I remember the first game that I started was against Illinois which was probably the sixth game of the year. I don't know if anyone has had the chance to be a starter at LSU, but the feeling isn't about you. The feeling is about looking into the stands and see your parents crying with joy. Understanding what it took to get out on that court and to actually get to start a game against the number one team in the Country. My parents were in complete tears and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. To wear the jersey and have those letters across my chest and my parents being there to see it, because to play for LSU in the State of Louisiana is an honor. Some kids forget that, but they shouldn't.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Dale Brown?
Dennis - Even today Coach Brown keeps in touch with us. He has been a guiding force in my life from the day that I left LSU to today. He is still the glue that holds us all together. It's a very emotional answer because he is like a father to all of us. Especially myself. After Shaq and I had our split, I went from having a million friends to having about two, and Dale was one of them. He helped me to get back in school. He helped me pay for books because I didn't have any money.
Dale never waivered whether I was playing or not., Whether I was with Shaquille or on my own. Whether I was on the court with Chris Jackson and his thing, or if I was just at home going through a rough time, he is always there for us. He is more then just a father. He is like the light that leads our spirits today.
There are times when your an adult when you need some guidance from someone with a good head on their shoulders to tell you how it is and that's Dale Brown. I think as him as a father. Even today, if he would tell me, "Dennis, I need you to run through that wall.", ... I wouldn't think twice, I would immediately take off towards the wall and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. He is a special man. He helped lead the most special time of LSU basketball and maybe any other sport in the history of LSU. Obviously it will never be done again. They have had some success, don't get me wrong.
I frequently get stopped in the mall, out in public, in a restaurant, LSU fans come up to me and say, "It was a pleasure watching you. I grew up watching LSU basketball. You're a real inspiration." .. I occasionally get a letter and facebook messages from time to time.
I stopped my daughter in front of the Assembly Center and told her that when I played they had people for days if not weeks lined up with tents, and they use to call it "Tent City", .. The students would need to go to class and come back to hold their place in line to get tickets to come watch us play. That was such a great memory, going to practice and seeing all these tents out. Stopping by after practice and telling everyone out there that we appreciated their support. That will never happen again. That was one of those things that was special about our basketball history and our team at that time. It was one of those moments in time that will never be forgotten.
It was the makeup of the team. It was the Chris Jackson's and the John Williams', Jerry Reynolds', and the Lyle Mouton's. I could go on and on. The makeup of the teams were not all-stars, but he put it together and we came together as a team on the court. We were almost unstoppable. Every time we walked out there, we thought we were going to win. It's the mentality that Dale put into us and gave us that we were gunna go out there and do what we were going to do and nobody could stop us. Dale would call it motivation, but I think it was more then motivation because there were games like the Georgetown game, we walked out there, they were the #1 team in the Country and we really gave it to them. Not did we only beat them, we beat them mentally, physically. We out smarted them. We outplayed them. They were suppose to be a tear ahead of us and we looked like we were a tear ahead of them, and only Dale Brown could do that. Only Dale Brown could mix and match the combination of players and misfits to do it. It was all Dale.
Here is a Dale Brown story.. Dale always thought about what LSU means. Nikita Wilson was down in the French Quarter and he wasn't suppose to be down there. Someone recognized him and yelled at him, "Hey Nikita! Do you know what LSU stands for?".. and Nikita said, "what?" .. the guy answered with.. "It stands for Love, Sacrifice, and Unity".... Nikita ended up telling Dale that and it really stands what we stood for, the love of the team among each other and the sacrifice that we had to put out. People don't know the sacrifice of college athletes. They like to nit-pick on college athletes, but it's a true sacrifice of four years for the unity of our team. We road that forever. When we walked out on that court with those letters on our chest, we knew we already had you someway, because of Dale Brown and the mystique of him and the mystique of his teams. We just felt it....
Q - What are a couple of your favorite games and/or moments as a LSU player?
Dennis - Nebraska in the Rainbow Classic Final. We were down by six points with 13 seconds left in the game. We ended up winning by two points. Chris had two three pointers, while I stole the ball three times in a row, scoring four points. We ended up scoring 11 points in the final 13 seconds to win.
I remember Chris Jackson's 53 points against Florida in Gainesville while the Gators were ranked in the top five.
I remember Chris hitting a three at the buzzer from the corner to beat Vanderbilt.
A great one was against Georgetown in the Super Dome when Ricky Blanton scored the winning basket at the buzzer after grabbing Russell Grant's miss. That still holds the record for the largest crowd to see a NCAA basketball game.
Can't forget beating UNLV who were ranked #1 at the time and they went on the win the
national championship that year.
One of the greatest games in the history of LSU basketball has to be the Ole Miss game at Ole Miss. The final score was 113-112 in OT. Chris Jackson has 53 points and Gerald Glass scored 55.
The Loyola Marymount game, beating them 148-141 in OT. We beat UNLV that year as well...
I do remember the last game that I played in against Georgia Tech and us being up by 25 points. If we had beat Georgia Tech that day I really think we would have won the national championship. Tech ended up making it to the Final Four.
That year in the SEC, there were a number of games, and one in particular would be the Alabama game at LSU. I think it was in 1989. We were up by eight points late and Alabama had this great player, Alvin Lee. Dale called a time out and told me to not let Lee take a shot. So I was on Alvin like glue. He gets across half court and launches one and "bang" three pointer. Coach called time out. .... "God dammit Dennis!".... I was like looking at Johnny Jones, Dale kept yelling, "Get on his ass!"... We inbounds the ball to me, I get fouled and make two free throws. So here come Alvin again, launching it one step over the half court line. "Boom" nothing but net for the long three again! .... Dale jumps on me.. I think Johnny had to separate him from me. He wanted to kill me. ... Somehow the ball gets back to me, I'm fouled, make one free throw. Miss the second and it bounces back to me. I grab it, get fouled. Make two more free throws. We're up by seven now and I look at Alvin and I tell him to not make me hurt him, because I was so well known for fouling hard. I had to literally tackle him to keep him from shooting. We ended up winning a tough game, 80-76. It was one of the games that we won that proved that we were on the map. Alabama had a real good team that year.
Another one that stands out is we went to Lexington and beat a very good Kentucky team 64-62. Chris Mills starts to bring the ball up the court to try and take the final shot, and I come up from behind him and steal the ball away to seal the win. I dribbled it and threw the ball up into the air and ran right into the locker room. That was one of my greatest memories because it was against Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
The Georgetown game was also special because they had five guys on the team who I played AAU ball against and these five guys got Georgetown scholarships. John Thompson never even looked at me. Never spoke to me. Never showed any interest.
I played a lot of great games at LSU but it was easy for me to concentrate because we had Chris Jackson shooting the ball. I didn't have to worry about going out there and needing to score 20 points. That's kind of where Dale and I saw eye to eye. Like Lyle Mouton was a shooter and that's what he did. So when we were in games and we didn't need people shooting, I realized very early that Chris was going to be special, then we had Rickey and also had Wayne. We needed someone to play defense and Dale loved defense, right? So it wasn't rocket science that I had to figure out "Don't shoot the ball! Just play defense!"..... That was my formula. I just played smart. I knew what Dale needed and I gave Dale what he wanted.
Q - So you missed your senior year because of injury?
Dennis - Yes.. A lot of people don't know that I have two knee replacements now. I got them at age 38. I went down with a knee injury and they took too much cartilage out of my knee causing bone on bone so I couldn't play most of my junior year. I had a second knee surgery after the season, so I sat down with Dale and we gave it a try. But after running up and down the court we knew it wasn't going to work. I had to sit out my entire senior year. There was just no way I could play. I couldn't run without a limp. It took me a long time to get over that. Still today I wonder if I wouldn't have gotten hurt, what could have been? I had a good career there and even though it was cut a little short I'm really happy I got to be there during those times.
Q - When you realized your playing career was over, how did the business relationship with Shaq come about?
Dennis - Shaq and I from the day he set foot on the LSU campus became fast friends. We both come from strong father backgrounds, where our father's held heavy hands on our families and being both military guys. That was really our bond. We worked together that first summer and through that became best friends. We played my junior year together, but Shaq was upset with me over the senior injury. He felt like I could play through it because he wanted me to be on the team, but at the same time Dale and I were against it. I knew I couldn't give 100%. It was an honor for him to try and fight to keep me on the team, but at the same time you need to have some common sense about what that would take. The team really needed another healthy player.
So yea, we had become good friends since he got there. We were always there for each other. Shaq helped pull me through the hard time I had of adjusting from being a popular student athlete back to a regular student. That was a very hard time for me. That shows you what kind of person he is.
Q - Tell us a little about what you're doing as a career now?
Dennis - Well I worked for Shaq for four years in Orlando as his personal manager. We owned a couple of restaurants together and when he decided to go to Los Angeles, I stayed back and took the restaurants on full time. Then I decided to come back in 1999. I got divorced, moved back home.
Dale Brown got together with me about going to medical school. I got together with Jack Andonie. Jack got me back in with a board of supervisors scholarship. I went back to LSU and took my prerequisites medical school and went on to medical school in the Caymans. Did all my hospital rotations in Atlanta, Georgia. Then I went on to get a masters in hospital administration.
Katrina hit during my senior year while I was in Atlanta, so I came in to help with the National Guard because my family was here. After being here for three or four months I decided to stay.
Went on a blind date and married a girl from New Orleans who I had two beautiful daughters with.
Instead of becoming a licensed physician, I went on a job offer for a medical company that needed a medical director and some medical help with a device that just got FDA approved and in a three month period I made more money then I made with Shaq.
So I had this very unique ability to do some sales and my medical background gives me a really unique ability, so I've been on this cutting edge device technology stuff since Katrina, so that's 15 years. It's really developed into my own company called Big East Medical. I distribute to dermatologist, plastic surgeons, Role Hospitals, and people looking for cutting edge technology mostly involved in the skin. We have done very well...
Q - I saw from doing my research that you acted quickly to save a man's life who collapsed in the New Orleans Airport?
Dennis - I have about 17 of those life saving situations that have happened to me. I don't know what it is. I don't know how it works out. Because of my knowledge now, it's just general CPR knowledge. It's not like I had to perform a surgery or anything. One thing I like about being in Med school is helping other people. I'm the kind of guy that even before Med school would run towards the fire and not away from it. I've had several incidents when people have needed emergency services. They need someone to lend a helping hand whether it's swimming out to them and saving them or taking a needle out of their arm before they overdose, having a heart attack, or pulling over and helping someone out of a vehicle in a canal.
That particular time I was flying out heading to a medical seminar to talk about the device I was representing and the guy out of the corner of my eye I see this guy hit the ground and this lady starts screaming. I saw a lot of people patting his back. At first I thought the guy was on fire. As I went up to him I realized that he was having a heart attack and needed some attention and he survived from just some basic first aid, emergency CPR, kind of like the Red Cross teaches. Some people say, you save lives because you're a doctor! No-no-no... anybody can do what I do, you just got to be willing to do it.
I feel that lucky to have been able to play basketball at LSU because of the way that it became, with Dale Brown reading that letter. All of the Prop 48 guys not making it and the coaches deciding not to have tryouts, me writing that letter, Dale actually reading it and calling me, then going out to that practice. Then me finally walking out on that court was a miracle. So it's kind of my way of giving things back.
Q - Anything else you would like to add as far as your personal life?
Dennis - I'm happily divorced with four children. I have an older son that played baseball at Mississippi State, his name is Cole Marsh. I have my son, Logan and I have my daughters who I can't take a breath without them, Jordan who is 11, and Sydney who is 12. We live in Lake View and we have a great little life here.
Q - Is there anything that you would like to tell the LSU fans?
Dennis - Yea, I've had the privilege to travel around with LSU as a player. I got to travel around with Shaq as a manager and with the Orlando Magic and I mean travel around the world. Shaq and I would be in Greece or be in Rio. We would be in Tokyo, Sidney Australia. There's not a place that Shaq and I didn't travel to in those four years, I have always been amazed and still am of how LSU travels well. I mean that by the people who would walk up to you and say, "I'm a LSU fan. I love watching LSU Basketball." ... In Rio people would walk up and say, "We love LSU, I'm from so and so place in Louisiana." .. The LSU support around the world absolutely takes the breath away from me. I don't know if this happens with other schools, but I can tell you that there is not a place on this planet that we have been that we haven't had LSU fans come up to us. It's truly amazing and special.
Copy of the Dennis Tracey letter written and sent to Dale Brown below....
Courtesy of Dennis Tracey and Dale Brown for your enjoyment....
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former LSU great John Hazard. Hazard was recruited by Head Coach Jerry Stovall and played at LSU from 1983-1986. He would begin his career in purple and gold by playing on the defensive line during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Hazard then made the move to offensive tackle for his final two seasons and became one of the top O-lineman in LSU history. A neck injury would keep him from pursuing a NFL career. John has been in the tobacco business for several years and resides with his family in Metairie, La.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
John - It no longer plays, but it was "Brockmire"
Q - What is your favorite Food?
John - Boiled seafood. Crabs are my favorite. I love them, my kids love them. I love boiled seafood.
Q - Who is your favorite Pro Athlete?
John - Drew Brees
Q - Who are the favorite sports teams that you enjoy following?
John - Now it will be UL, Because that's where my son plays. University of Louisiana. The Ragin' Cajuns. He's a freshman and plays nose guard. #91.
Q - Your Favorite Movie?
John - Hidalgo
Q - Who is your Favorite Actor?
John - Got to say, Harrison Ford.
Q - Who is your favorite Music Artist/Group?
John - Led Zepplin and ACDC, It's a tie.
Q - I see that you were born in New Orleans. Did you live there until you left to go to school at LSU?
John - Yes.. I actually was born on the night of Hurricane Betsy, September 11th, 1965. A tree fell on my parents apartment and then my mother went into labor. Then a birthday on 9-11..
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
John - A veterinarian. I grew up around horses and livestock. I graduated in Agricultural
Q - Did you play multiple sports in high school while attending Jesuit?
John - Yes. I wrestled and played football. I was in wrestling my freshman, Sophomore, and junior year. Didn't wrestle my senior year because I was taking football recruiting visits.
Q - Is there anything as far as athletic accomplishments both personal or team fro high school that you would like to mention?
John - I'm still close friends with a lot of the guys I played with. We won the district championship my junior season. My brother got to play behind me during my junior and senior year. I played defensive end in a 5-2. I want to give a shout out to my head coach who was Billy Murphy and our defensive line coach Tom Groover. They both were great. Tom Groover was a math teacher and he was one of the first coaches in New Orleans to use statistic tendencies in coaching. He was very cerebral in his approach and very much a technician.
Q - Want to tell us a little about your recruiting process?
John - I was on the front page of first "Parade Magazine All-American". Rod Woodson was on it with me. He went on to have a pretty good career. Max Emfinger, I was on the cover of his first ever recruiting magazine in 1981. I was heavily recruited. I had offers from every conference. I was the number one defensive lineman in the Country I believe. I was on USA Today's All-American team.
So recruiting was fun. I went to SMU and yes, they were very scary illegal. That was the
year before they got the death penalty. I went to University of Texas. I went to Auburn. Auburn was my favorite visit because I got to go quail hunting. I went to Penn State right after they won the National Championship in New Orleans in January of 1983. And went to LSU. But LSU was the most memorable.
Jerry Stovall was the head coach at LSU and Pete Jenkins was the recruiter there and he was great. He started to recruit me during my sophomore season because Eric Kittok played nose guard and played next to him as a sophomore. They would double team Eric and I would win one-on-ones and make plays.
Q - Why did you choose LSU over all of the other schools who were recruiting you?
John - Two things. One, my dad had been a walk-on there and the second was I went to the LSU vs. Auburn basketball game when Charles Barkley was playing. I had never been to a game in Tiger Stadium or in the Maravich Center until that year in 1982. I went to that basketball game and it was crazy. We beat Auburn and Barkley was a stud. But we beat them and that was it. I was able to sit in the student section and I loved it.
Q - Want to tell us a little about your freshman season with Stovall as your head coach?
John - I enjoyed Coach Stovall. I read what Michael Brooks said, and yes he was definitely tough and it wasn't just him, it was his staffs mentality. They wanted all hard nose, tough players, physically conditioned. But I was use to that. That's what we had a Jesuit. But we had a guy called Coach Jerguson, we called him Sluggo. This is kind of a add-on to Michael Brooks's story. He had us do the two craziest things I've ever done. This was during the summer before our season started. We had to push Clarence Osborne in his Datson B2-10 all the way from the end of one stadium parking lot to the other. That was like 200 yards, pushing this car with a man in it. In August on that black-top. The soles of your shoes came unglued. They had us also do a conditioning drill where we were in a wheelbarrow going up the stadium, bleacher to bleacher, hand to hand with your partner carrying your wheelbarrow. If you messed up, you were cracking your face. That was the Paul Harvey to what Michael Brooks was talking about. Night and day difference Coach Arnsparger was. It wasn't necessarily revolutionary what Coach Arnsparger did, but it was evolutionary for us as players. To come in and treat us the way we were treated.
Q - How did you guys handle the coaching change with Bill Arnspager coming in?
John - I hated Arnsparger when he came in because he was so monotone and he immediately put us on the red boot table. Everybody that had body mass index over "X" for your position, had to go on the red boot table. Mrs. Mosely who was the dietitian would come and watch you make your plate. I ended up finished playing at 258-pounds and had 11% body fat. That was Arnsparger's speed and quickness.
Q - Your freshman year you were on the defensive line. How did the situation come about having you move from the defense to the offensive line?
John - Arnsparger saw that I wasn't a good pass rusher. I was a technique player. I got to start my freshman year due to inury. So I got to play quite a bit. The last five games of the season I guess. Then the next year Bill comes in and we were stacked on defense. We needed backups for offense so I became Lance Smth's backup. That was a good spot to be in instead of second team defense and have to go against Lance everyday Tom Clapp had too.
So as a sophomore I was backing up Lance, then Roland Barbay got hurt. Clarence Osborne was the backup and he got hurt. So they pulled me back from offense to defense. I got to start the last three games then missed the Tulane game of a neck injury. I played three years Brachial Plex injury that took me seven years to get over with physical therapy after football. It really messed me up. I couldn't pass my physical with the Cleveland Browns because of my neck.
Then my junior year I moved back to offense and I don't believe I started every game because it was my first year of trying to play offense. But we had a good coach, Pete Mangurian. Pete ended up becoming Arnspargers protege. He was a young guy. He was 26 years old. I was 20. He was very smart. Very cerebral. Big time OCD, detail oriented. Then we had a coach named Terry Lewis, who didn't have the same approach that Mangurian had. Pete Manguarian was more of the chisel and Coach Lewis was more of the hammer. But they made a good team. That's why we had such a good season our senior year. They taught us all a lot.
So my senior year I became a captain and played every game. Had a wonderful career and made great friends. Then I went to sign a free agent contract with the Browns and I could pass the training camp physical because of that brachial plex injury. I talked to Arnsparger about it and he said, "You know, you're about to get your degree and you have an injury that is pretty serious. Once you fail a physical with a NFL team, you're protected by the union and preexisting soft muscle tissue issues aren't accepted." So I realized that and went on to finish my academic career. But it was nice because before the 1987 fall semester began, the folks who were filming "Everybody's All-American" came in and I ended up getting a job with them being John Goodman's body double. Working on the movie was 12 hour days for four weeks. Because I was in the Agriculture Department and we had smaller classes. I went to all my professors and they allowed me to come and pick up and do my assignments, then turn them into them on the weekends so I could graduate on time. I saved the money I made from that movie and bought my first house in Little Rock with it.
Q - Can you tell us about some of your favorite games and/or moments as a LSU Tiger?
John - Yea, for one of them I wasn't wearing any pads. It was when I was hurt at the end of the
1984 season. I'm on the sideline. Steve Rehage is next to me with a concussion. It was very cold and I'm in street clothes. At the end of the game, a brawl breaks out between both teams in the south end zone. I ran out there with no pads on and all of a sudden my best friend Greg Jordan who played for Tulane grabs me and we start hugging. Then an East Baton Rouge Sheriff grabs me, puts the move on me, gets me to the ground and handcuffs me. I start yelling, "Stop, I'm a player! You're killing my neck! You're killing my neck!" .... They just ran me out of the stadium. After they get me out, one of the officers recognize my name and takes the cuffs off. I run around, beat on the door and get into the shoot and I hear Arnsparger yelling, "We beat them in the game! We beat them in the fight! Lets go break some furniture!" ... That was the last thing I heard. That was probably the craziest I've seen Tiger Stadium stand out.
There are other great times. Going to Neyland Stadium and playing Tennessee as a freshman and seeing Reggie White play. He is the only player I ever saw, other then one other player, who gave Lance Smith any trouble. The craziest thing was that Eric Kittok was the player of the game on defense. He beat out Reggie White for that honor and Eric Kittok was 6'1", 240-pounds. That was crazy. That was a great memory being in that stadium.
Beating Notre Dame in South Bend was exciting.
The game that was probably the most difficult was when we played at Alabama my sophomore year. I was playing hurt and it was a rainy day. They had like a foot of water in the locker room. We battled those guys in the rain all game long. I don't remember the score, (LSU won 16-14), but at the end, Pete Jenkins was crying, I was crying, and all my friends were laughing at me. It was a good game.
Q - Can you tell us what you do as a career now?
John - Well, first off for enjoyment, I volunteer coach at Jesuit. This will be my sixth season there. Before that, I helped coach for one season at Houma Christian, a "A" school, when my kids were living in Houma. My son played as a 7th grader on the varsity.
I'm still in the Agriculture Business. I work for a tobacco manufacturer. We make handmade premium cigars, it's called Drew Estate. I've been in the tobacco business now for 33 years. God Bless America for having choices.
Q - Is there anything you would like to tell the LSU fans?
John - To people who maybe aren't LSU fans and the doubters especially now with COVID. I would tell them LSU always has a way of finding how to get the best out of the players. Some how the young guys who go to LSU think they have a chance to play and when they do get to play, most of them contribute. I think that's one of the best things about LSU. They don't shy away from putting the best players out there to make everybody better. When I hear people saying, "Well, you lost this guy! You lost our best wide receiver! We lost our quarterback! Now we lost our best lineman!" ... So what.. There will be someone else up next who is hungry. Bear Bryant use to say, "The number of freshmen you start is the number of games you're going to lose." ... Well times have changed. We will be competitive and we'll get through this season. Beat Bama!
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former running back Sammy Martin. Martin play at LSU under Bill Arnsparger from 1984-1987. He was only 5'11" 175lbs, but Martin always played much bigger then that. His blazing speed, agility, vision, and a heart the size of a Tiger attributed to him making big play after big play. Martin shared time in the backfield with several other great LSU backs like Dalton Hilliard, Gary James, Harvey Williams, Eddie Fuller and has always been a fan favorite in the hearts of the LSU faithful.
He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 4th round of the 1988 NFL Draft. There, he converted to wide receiver and played special teams. Martin ended up also playing for the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints during his five year professional career.
Martin grew up in Gretna, Louisiana and played his high school football at De La Salle High
School in New Orleans.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Sammy - Jeopardy, I watch it religiously.
Q - What is your favorite Food?
Sammy - Anything my girlfriend cooks. She cooks good man. But I'd say grilled chicken and a salad.
Q - Who is your favorite Pro Athlete?
Sammy - I would have to say Muhammad Ali. I met him when I was young, around 12 years old before he had a fight in New Orleans.
Q - Who is your favorite sports team that you follow?
Sammy - I really don't watch much sports. I'd have to say LSU Athletics. I don't watch any professional sports.
Q - What is your favorite Movie?
Sammy - That one is tough. I'm an old movie buff. .... I say.. Jeremiah Johnson
Q - Who is your favorite Actor?
Sammy - Clint Eastwood.
Q - Who is your favorite Music Artist/Group?
Sammy - That's the toughest of all the questions..... The Traveling Wilburys... They were an English–American supergroup put together by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.
Q - I see you were born in Gretna, Louisiana. Did you pretty much grow up there?
Sammy - Yes.. I lived there until I left to go to LSU.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Sammy - I wanted to be OJ Simpson.. A pro football player..
Q - Did you play multiple sports at De La Salle?
Sammy - Yes, I ran track and played football
Q - Is there any personal and/or team accomplishments in high school you would like to tell us about?
Sammy - I had some records. I'm sure some of the young men who have come through the school since me may have broken them. De La Salle was a good school for me. We didn't win a lot of acculades, but we worked hard, played hard, and enjoyed playing together. I love the school and I got a really good education there.
Q - Can you tell us a little about your recruiting process?
Sammy - I had some SEC schools interested. I took a visit to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but it was mostly just a bunch of small schools.
Q - What made you choose LSU over aal of the other offers you had?
Sammy - It had a lot to do with Pete Jenkins and meeting Bill Arnsparger. Bill was just so genuine. I talked to other head coaches and they all were waiting for other recruits to sign before they would tell me what position I was going to play for them. Bill was a little more easy to go. He told me that if I came to LSU that I would play in games next season. I liked Bill Arnsparger and Coach Jenkins.
Q - Could you tell us about some of your favorite moments or certain games that stand out
in your mind from your LSU career?
Sammy - One is our game against Alabama during my sophomore season. We had the Dalton-James gang who were the stallions and at some point during the game Bill looks down the sideline where I'm standing and he tells me, "Sammy, get in there." ... and the other coaches are like, "What??" ... So he runs me into the game and I ended up playing pretty well. I helped give the offense a spark.
Another, was a close one with Ole Miss in I think 1986, when they missed a last second field goal and we won 21-19. I'm trying to remember, they all run together.
There were several good, close games. Another was when we played at Notre Dame. It was so cold and it's the first time I ever wore pantyhose. We put them on to help us fight the cold. That was a big win in South Bend. We won a couple of big ones at Florida and at Georgia during my junior year. I believe I was player of the game in both of those. They were all fun.
Q - Tell us about your NFL Career?
Sammy - I was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 4th round. Made the conversion to wide receiver and punt returner, and played for five seasons. It's a big step. It goes from fun to business in a heartbeat. Well, it's still fun because playing football is something that you grew up with and you love the game. That's why you're there. But your not going to make it unless you have the love for the game. But it just becomes a business.
When I ended up with the Patriots, the owner was bankrupt. He didn't have enough of the Collectors Bargaining Agreement. My signing bonus was late. I was still happy to be there. They had gone to the Super Bowl two years earlier.
Raymond Berry was my head coach. He was a good man. Steve Grogan was the quarterback. I met a lot of very influential people. Doug Flutie and I were roommates. It was a good time. I met some very good people along the way. Everyone helped out and everyone was very friendly. New England was a good club back then, they just had a few financial problems at the time.
New England released me in 1991. At the time if anyone gets released, the team with the worse record in the League has first rights. So I ended up going to Indianapolis. To make a long story short, I played for back-to-back 1-15 teams. That would make a good Jeopardy question one day... It was fun. I met some good people there also. Jeff George, Eric Dickerson, Clarence Verdin, Reggie Dupard was there.
From there I ended up signing a free agent contract with the Saints. I met Jim Mora one night for a little get together and negotiated a contract. I had a good preseason, even though I was hurt. My last play ever in football. It was preseason on Monday Night Football and I scored the winning touchdown against the Chicago Bears with like 8 seconds left. I continued to try to keep playing hurt but they put me on Injured Reserve and they ended up releasing me. No one picked me up after that. Then a couple of months later I was playing basketball in Slidell and tore my ACL. That basically ended my career.
Q - So what did you do after your football career ended and how are things going for you today?
Sammy - When I first got out of football, I sold cars for awhile and that didn't work out. Then a friend of mine from LSU who is a big time architect now. But we got together and started up a landscape company. After awhile, I went out on my own and ended up opening a nursery.
After Hurricane Katrina I became a safety coordinator for Chevron's aircraft operations for five years. I later tried to sell cars again, and once again didn't work out for me. My heart was really with landscaping,so now I'm back doing that again. I love anything to do with landscaping. I do it all.
Q - Do you keep in touch with any of your old LSU teammates?
Sammy - Yes. Keep in touch with some of them on Facebook. Every once in awhile someone will be in town and they will stop in to visit.
Q - Is there anything you want to tell the LSU fans?
Sammy - Want me to use my Coach O voice? "GEAUX TIGERS!!! GEAUX TIGERS!!! ONE HEARTBEAT, ONE TEAM BABY!!" .. I do a pretty good impression..... Man, I love the Tiger fans and the Tiger Nation. Nothing like it in the world that's what I like to tell.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee. He played for the Tigers under Head Coach Les Miles from 2007-2011.
After being redshirted in 2007. Lee would find himself as the team starter in 2008 after Ryan Perrilloux who was projected to start ended up being dismissed from the team for breaking team rules, then Andrew Hatch would go down with an injury in the third game of the season. He would go 4-4 as the starter (Three of those losses came against teams that were ranked #1 at some point during the season). Against Troy, Lee led the largest comeback in LSU history taking an LSU team that trailed 31 to 3 in the 3rd quarter and would score 37 unanswered points to win 40-31. A high ankle sprain ended his season against Ole Miss. For the season, Lee threw an NCAA leading seven interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. However, he put together one of the most prolific seasons for a freshman quarterback in LSU history, throwing for 1,873 yards and 14 touchdowns, only second behind true freshman Tommy Hodson for yards and touchdowns.
For the next two season's (2009-2010) Lee found himself in a backup role behind Jordan
Jefferson. However, in 2010 when called upon, Lee played well stepping in to lead LSU to game winning drives against Tennessee and Florida. Against Alabama, he would hit Rueben Randle with a 47-yard pass on a key third down late in the game to help seal the victory for LSU. After the conclusion of his junior season, Lee had appeared in 30 career games, and he had passed for 2,643 yards and 18 touchdowns.
In 2011, Lee would again become the starting quarterback after an off the field incident right before the season lead to Jordan Jefferson being suspended from the team with legal problems. Lee lead the Tigers to a 8-0 start and the nations #1 ranking. Poor play in Tuscaloosa led to Lee being replaced by Jordan Jefferson, who was reinstated back to the team after legal problems were resolved. Coach Miles chose to stick with Jefferson for the remainder of the season, even though the offenses' performance began to noticeably slip and start to sputter without Lee under center. The season would end with a 21-0 loss to Alabama in the National Championship game. Lee was never given an opportunity to step onto the field to try and spark a LSU comeback.
Jarrett would finish his career connecting on 317 of 565 passes for 3.949 yards, with 32 touchdown passes, and a 14-4 record as a starter.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Lee - Yellowstone with Kevin Costner. I really enjoy watching it.
Q - What is your favorite Food?
Lee - Mexican Food
Q - Who is your favorite Pro Athlete?
Lee - I'm a big golfer so I would have to say Tiger Woods. I really appreciate what he has done and what he has overcome. I really enjoy watching him play.
Q - What Sports Team do you like to follow?
Lee - I love the Cowboys. I grew up watching the Cowboys with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin. Enjoyed all the Super Bowls in the '90s. The Cowboys are my favorite...
Q - What is your favorite Movie of all-time?
Lee - I would have to say Forrest Gump. From watching it from when I was young to watching it now, there is so much history in the movie that you really don't see until your older and Tom Hanks just did such a great job.
Q - Who is your favorite Actor?
Lee - I'm going to have to go with Mel Gibson. He has played in so many good
movies. Braveheart, The Patriot, the Lethal Weapon series..
Q - Who is your favorite Music Artist/Band?
Lee - AC/DC... My parents grew up during the classic rock era and that's what I listened too. AC/DC is what I would listen to during pregame to get me pumped up and I continue to enjoy listening to them.
Q - So you were born in San Angelo, Texas?
Lee - My dad was a high school football coach so we bounced around to a bunch of small towns in West Texas. Actually my high school career for my freshman and sophomore year I was in Brownwood, Texas. My dad was coaching at a D3 school in Brownwood called Howard Payne. He wanted to get back into coaching high school so he ended up getting a job in Brenham, Texas. So I finished out my junior and senior year in Brenham. So that's basically my story.
Q - Did you play multiple sports in high school?
Lee - I did. My freshman and sophomore year I ran track, played, football, and basketball. Then after I moved to Brenham, I played football, basketball, and golf.
Q - Are there any personal and/or team accomplishments you would like to tell us about? I see that you still hold just about every major passing record at Brenham High...
Lee - I moved to Brenham my junior year. Came in and the coaching staff was tremendous. Brenham just consistently had good athletes and I came in with a really good class. My junior year we had a really good senior class and we were able to throw the ball around, when previously they were kind of a run first team. We put up some big numbers in the passing game. At the time in 2005 it was a big year for us. We never won State. We lost that season right before State to a really good team out of South Texas, Corpus Christi Calallen. Then my senior year once again we had a really good team and lost in the third round of the playoffs to Texas City. I never got to State. Never won State. But statistically had some good years and played with some really good players. We had so many D1 players come out of Brenham. Really good town. A really good tradition. The coaching staff was incredible and my dad was able to coach me during my junior and senior seasons so that was really special. A really good program and a place I'm really proud of.
Q - Could you tell us about your recruiting process? How was that experience?
Lee - My senior year I was being recruited by several schools. I origionally wanted to go to
Texas Tech. They were throwing the ball around a lot and doing a lot of good things, and that's what I wanted to do. Go somewhere and put up big numbers in the air. I also have a lot of families that went to Tech. I have an uncle who played running back at Texas Tech way back and was a real good player for them. so I had some ties there.
But for whatever reason Larry Porter, who was recruiting me and Jimbo Fisher, I just fell in love with all that they were offering and everything that they were saying. Then taking a visit to LSU and meeting Coach Miles. Getting to meet some of the players, like Matt Flynn. Seeing the facilities. Meeting Coach Moffitt and see what they were doing. Meeting Jack Marucci and see what they were doing. I just fell in love with it. I couldn't pass it up. So I committed to LSU and loved and appreciated everything that they were doing at the time. They were just coming off of the Sugar Bowl victory over Notre Dame. JaMarcus Russell just had a really good season. I just fell in love with the place.
Q - So can you tell us a little about your visit to LSU and what made you choose them?
Lee - During the Spring of my senior year Coach Fisher left for Florida State and they brought in Gary Crowton. Once again I just fell in love with Coach Crowton and everything that he was about. He had a lot of success at Oregon, La Tech, and everywhere that he had been. I just meshed with him real well.
Taking my visit to Baton Rouge, which isn't the largest city, but it's small enough that it felt like home. It just felt special. At the time I don't think the stadium was as big as it is now, but it just felt incredible. It was everything I wanted, between the players, the facilities, and everything that it was about, I just fell in love with. I just had to take advantage of what they had to offer.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Les Miles?
Lee - One thing that I always appreciated about Coach Miles was that he cared. You could definitely tell that he cared about his players and everything that was going on. We really appreciated that. He recruited, he was honest, he was upfront, he cared about us.
Growing up in a coaching family, my dad was a coach and I had uncles that coached. I know that being a head coach at that level isn't easy. You have to make tough decisions and do things that people always don't agree with. Let me tell you this about Coach Miles, he always put the team first. Whatever it took to make sure that his players were first, or that we got the victory, or that we were doing things right, he was always putting that first.
Q - So you arrive at LSU in 2007 and end up being redshirted during a season that the team wins the National Championship. That must have been like, "Wow!" You choose LSU and Bam! you're National Champions?
Lee - I tell you what, that felt really good. It was almost like "Wow, this is all it is?" With me redshirting I was part of the practice squad. I did a lot of those things. But it was really special. Getting to watch those seniors and the players that really contributed to that years National Championship was a lot of fun. Being able to get several rings from that season is really special.
Q - You go into your redshirt freshman season and end up becoming the starter after Andrew Hatch goes down with an injury. Tell us a little about that 2008 season.
Lee - That was a very interesting year obviously. With the Ryan Perrilloux situation in the spring and then with Andrew Hatch going down, I had no idea that I would be thrusted into the starting role and to have that kind of responsibility. It's the SEC so you need to come in mentally and physically ready. It was definitely a learning experience and something that helped me grow as a player and as a person. It was really a joy. I felt like I did some good things that year that I was able to build on. It was definitely a growing experience that year.
There are several great memories from that year. Auburn that year, we came back. I threw a couple of touchdowns late in the game for the win in Jordan-Hare. Then the next week against Mississippi State I came out and had a really solid game and we won big. The Troy game. It was great to come back against them. There were several memories from that year that were a lot of fun that I remember. Good memories.
Q - For the next two seasons Les Miles decided to go with Jordan Jefferson as the starter. But as the backup, when you had your opportunities to come in, you stepped up, played very well and helped the team out. Can you tell us about that backup situation that you had to go through during your sophomore and junior year?
Lee - Those couple of years it was back and forth with Jordan and Jordan started a lot of the games. One thing I always appreciated about Jordan was that he was always super helpful in everything that we did. We both brought different things to the table. He and I always tried to go out and do our best. We always tried our best to go out and win football games for LSU, the State of Louisiana. I have nothing but respect for Jordan. I just tried to come in whenever I was called on and did the best that I could to help us win football games.
2010, I really enjoyed that year. I had a comeback win against Florida. Threw a touchdown to Terrance Toliver with six seconds left in the game. I had a couple of big series against Tennessee, that was a crazy game. Then against Alabama at home I completed a big third down conversion pass to Rueben Randle to help seal that victory. During those two years I just tried the best that I could to help us win. That's how I was raised and how I went about it.
Q - Here comes the 2011 season with the horrible preseason incident that happened outside of that Baton Rouge night club with Jordan Jefferson and a bunch of your teammates. Jordan gets suspended after being arrested and again, it's your team. Your the starter. I think a lot of fans didn't know what to expect. But then from that first game in Dallas against Oregon, everyone could then see that this was going to be a special team. You guys just blew out so many highly ranked teams throughout the season. Do you want to go ahead and tell us a little about that season?
Lee - Going into 2011, totally unexpected for me to go into that first game as the starter but things happen. That Oregon game was a pretty special game for me because coming back to Texas, it was kind of like a home game for me. I had a lot family and a lot of friends there. So that made it really special. I just remember all summer how Coach Moffitt and the training staff talked about how fast Oregon was and the speed of the Oregon Ducks. We ran more that summer then I ever remember running. Once we got to that game we were so conditioned and so fast. Our defense in 2011 was something special. They had some big time players on it. Our two defensive ends ran 4.5, are you kidding me!? Not many team could say that they had players like that. Offensively I only threw for 98 yards, but who cares? As long as your productive and getting the ball into the end zone and our defense was playing hard. We ended up beating them 40-27 and that was really special.
There were some big games that year that I was really proud of. We beat some big time teams early in the season. Going to West Virginia and winning. Their place was pretty loud.
So we were rolling then you get into Conference play and we beat Florida 41-11. Beat Tennessee in Knoxville, 38-7. Then we got after Auburn pretty good winning 45-10. We were having a really good season. Our defense just had a bunch of studs and we were really stout. We had some great leadership on the offensive side of the ball with our O-line. We had a stable of running backs. Had wide receivers that were really talented. I didn't try to do anything special but distribute the ball to the playmakers and do what I had to do to manage the game. Special teams were solid. Then Jordan came back around the Kentucky game I believe.
We get to the Alabama game. That's where I kind of struggled. We were 8-0, #1 in the nation. With me struggling, Jordan was put in and played really well. We wouldn't have won the game if it wasn't for him coming in with his athletic ability and his feet. I think it was unexpected with me starting the game. Jordan just played really well and won the game for us. I threw a couple of interceptions against Bama and from there on out Jordan kinda became the guy again. So for the rest of that season if my name was called I would step in and do what I needed to do. It was still a special season and one I'll never forget.
Q - After the Alabama game you guys continued to roll, beating Western Kentucky, 42-9. Blasting Ole Miss in Oxford, 52-3, which was the game that Coach Miles had the offense take a knee on the Rebels' goal line so he wouldn't run up the score. Taking down Arkansas, 41-17. Then beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, 42-10. But the final game of that season has hurt and bothered all of us fans and I'm sure you players as well for a long time, was the rematch with Alabama in the National Championship Game.
It's obvious that Coach Miles believed that he could beat Alabama again running what he ran in Tuscaloosa earlier that season and for the entire month of Championship Game preparation all the offense did was practice the spread option for the game. No backup type of plan. Alabama had a guy over their by the name of Nick Saban. You can't beat him the same way twice. Can you talk a little about that situation and a little about the game?
Lee - It was a crazy circumstance. If Oklahoma State could have beat Iowa State, We
would have played them instead of a rematch with Bama. It was one of those crazy situations that we had to play them again and when you play someone like Nick Saban twice and they have several weeks to prepare for you, it was going to be challenging. We went into the game running a lot of the same stuff that we had beat them with earlier that season. It was just one of those deals. It's tough to beat a team that good twice. The outcome of the game showed that.
As a competitor I would have loved to have been given an opportunity. Whether I would have come in and won the game for us, whatever it may be, that is one of those things that I don't have an answer too. I don't know why I wasn't given an opportunity. Like I said earlier, It's not easy being a head coach at the D1 level. You got to make a lot of decisions that the fans don't agree with. Coach Miles made the decision that he did and I respected it. I never really asked for answers after the game. I never went to Coach Miles and asked him "why?" He felt like what he did was best to help our team win. The next day I was headed to Arizona to play in a Senior Bowl game. So I immediately began to focus on what was ahead for me. It's kind of one of those things where you look back and think, "What If"? ....
Q - Can you tell us about your NFL and CFL experience?
Lee - That was a lot of fun. I signed a free agent deal with the San Diego Chargers. An incredible city. It was beautiful, the weather was always great. I had a real good time out there being tutored under Phillip Rivers. It was a great opportunity. During preseason Phillip wasn't playing a lot, then the team backup Charlie Whitehurst hurt his ankle. So I went into the first two preseason games as the semi-starter. I played a lot, played a lot of series, and played well. I ended up getting cut after the final preseason game.
From there, in 2014 I signed a deal with the BC Lions in the CFL. That didn't last very long. I got cut by them and that was my extent of professional football. It was a great experience. I enjoyed every minute of it. I love the game of football. I love LSU and everything it's given me and I always love to talk about it.
Q - Do you keep in touch with a lot of your LSU teammates?
Lee - Yes I do. We spent a lot of time together through college. T-Bob, Will Blackwell, Josh Dworaczyk, Alex Russian, Matt Branch, Chase Clement, all those guys. We still keep in touch and reminisce on old memories.
Q - Want to tell us what your doing now?
Lee - I currently live in Austin, Texas. I work for a construction company here in Austin. We do a lot of residential and commercial steel stuff. I'm the project manager for the group here so it keeps me pretty busy. I love to golf. I play a lot. I'm close to family so I really enjoy that. Texas is home. I have a serious girlfriend and we have been dating for three years now. She played soccer at Texas Tech and is from San Angelo where I actually grew up, so we have a lot of ties there. I like to golf and fish too much to get married yet. I'm enjoying every minute. Life is good.
Q - Is there anything you would like to tell the LSU Fans?
Lee - Congratulations on an incredible season last year. Well deserved. All of the LSU fans and faithful deserve it. I really enjoyed every minute and all the memories I have of LSU and how I was treated. It is a very special place to me. It's a place I'll always cherish and always remember and GEAUX TIGERS!!!
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former LSU and NFL great Michael Brooks. From Ruston, LA.
Brooks played linebacker at LSU from 1983-1986. He would earn All-SEC honors both in '84-'85, then All-American in 1986. His speed, strength, intensity and big play making ability earned him elite status on the field. In 1987 the Denver Broncos would draft him in the 3rd round. In ten NFL seasons, (Broncos 1987-1982: Giants 1993-1995: Lions 1996), this standout linebacker recorded 962 total tackles, including four straight seasons of recording over 100 tackles. He would also add nine fumble recoveries, seven sacks and four interceptions in his career.
Brooks is an inductee in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and the LSU Sports Hall of Fame.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Brooks - Right now I've been watching a lot of CNN with the news and everything that's
going on and to follow what's going on in sports I watch First Take. Those two are pretty much my favorite shows right now.
Q - What is your favorite Food?
Brooks - A good steak and some baked chicken.
Q - Who is your favorite Pro Athlete?
Brooks - I enjoy watching Kawhi Leonard right now.
Q - What are your favorite Sports Teams you enjoy following?
Brooks - I follow the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants, the teams that I played for. I still follow those guys and I have a lot of friends who work in the organizations. So, yes.. The Broncos and the Giants.
Q - What is your favorite Movie?
Brooks - I like The Shawshank Redemption. I love the old westerns. I've watched Shane several times. It's one of my favorites of all-time.
Q - Who is your favorite Actor?
Brooks - Denzel Washington and Sean Connery
Q - Who is your favorite Music Artist?
Brooks - That has changed over the years. When I was younger I liked the old school
rapper guys. Now I like all the old R&B Artist. I'm a big Isley Brothers fan. ConFunkShun, Aretha Franklin, I love those old groups.
Q - So were you born and raised in Ruston, LA.?
Brooks - Yes, I was born in raised in Ruston, Louisiana.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Brooks - I always wanted to be an athlete. Growing up, when I played baseball I
wanted to be Satchel Paige. When I was playing football I wanted to be Jim Brown. On defense I always wanted to be like Mean Joe Green. Those guys were kinda my idols growing up. I also idolized Muhammad Ali. Just some of the guys who made it big in sports. They were all an inspiration to me.
Q - Did you play multiple sports at Ruston High School?
Brooks - I pretty much played everything. Basketball, football, and track. I was All-State in track and in football. My shot put record still stands there today. I threw it like 60 feet and it still stands over 30 years later. On the football team I played both ways. I played offensive guard and defensive end. So I never came off the field.
Q - Could you share any team and/or personal sports accomplishments that you were a part of in high school?
Brooks - I played two years of high school ball during my junior and senior year. Both years
I was All-State. My senior year we went 15-0 and won the State Title. It was Ruston's first time winning the State Championship in over 25 years. We had a great team and a great coach, Jimmy "Chick" Childress. He ended up winning three or four more State Championships after I left. He ended up becoming one of the greatest high school coaches in the history of Louisiana. My senior year we helped turn the program around and the rest is history. Bert Jones and I were the first two to go to LSU from Ruston. A lot of other guys from Ruston began to follow, like Kyle Williams, Jack Hunt, Ray Parker is on the team right now.
Q - Can you tell us a little about how your high school recruiting went?
Brooks - I was highly recruited and I had a lot of schools after me. I really wasn't that big in high school. I was only like 210 lbs. But I was known for my strength and my speed. Some of those schools wanted me to play nose guard because I was so strong. Some of them wanted me to play linebacker and some wanted me to play defensive end. I was being recruited by a lot of SEC teams. Arkansas, Ole Miss, Miss. State, Miami. A lot of big schools were coming after me. My hometown school, Louisiana Tech wanted me really bad.
But being a young kid who never really left home, I wanted to stay in the State of
Louisiana. That's why I chose LSU. It was the best school, the biggest school, and I knew LSU played on TV. I always wanted to play on television. LSU also had a great reputation for recruiting players from North Louisiana at the time. So that kind of helped me fit in and I felt right at home.
One of my high school rivals, Toby Caston who played at Neville, always wanted to play football with me. He was highly recruited also and would call me wanting us to meet. He would tell me.. "Man, Lets go play college football together. With you and me together, we would have a pretty good team." .... We did and the rest is history...
Q - So you were recruited by Jerry Stovall and ended up being coached by Bill Arnsparger. Could you tell us a little about each of those coaches?
Brooks - Stovall was a tough coach. He ran us like crazy in practice. I never thought that it would be that hard playing football. We would run everyday. We would hit every drill and it was just all out, non-stop. It was like live action all the time. It was the first time I ever experienced something like that. It put a lot of pressure on you as far as being in shape and being conditioned. A lot of guys were complaining about all the work, the lifting, the running, then we were losing on top of that. My freshman year we only won like two or three games. Everyone felt that he was working us too hard.
Well, Jerry ended up getting fired and Bill came in. With Arnsparger it was totally different. The workouts were totally different. It was more professional. Bill brought that NFL style to LSU which the players accepted a lot better. When Bill would walk in the room, all the horse playing would stop. You could hear a pin drop.
Everyone had heard about him from the NFL and he immediately earned everyone's respect.
A lot of players didn't have that same respect for Stovall and his staff the way they did for Bill. He never raised his voice. He would never yell or scream at you. He was a calm man and he knew the game of football.
He really expanded me as an athlete and as a linebacker, because when Stovall was there
all they had me do was rush the passer. When Bill came in, he changed the defense that had me dropping in coverage and expanded me as a linebacker. It improved my vision. I could start to see the entire field and see what it was like to be an actual linebacker. He taught me how to be a linebacker and how to be a professional. He taught us how to carry ourselves, how to play, and how to handled yourself on the football field. He taught us how to be a man and to take on responsibilities.
I owe a lot to him. When I hurt my knee my senior year I went to see him and he had AJ Duhe in his office with him. I asked him his opinion on what I should do. Should I go pro or come back next year for a medical redshirt season? He said.. "Michael I think you should move onto the NFL. You have done everything you need to do on the college level. I think you need to go pro."
I respected and loved the man so much, I took his advice and went pro.
He came to see me play a couple of games in the NFL. We were playing the Seattle
Seahawks and Mike Nolan, who is the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys now was coaching me at the time. He told me that Bill was coming to the game to see me. Well, I broke the Denver record for most tackles in a game that day. I must of had 20 tackles. ... Before the game I said, "My coach is coming to see me, I need to play good for my coach.".... I just had to show him that I was playing the game the way that it should be played and the way that he taught me. I still think about that to this day. Bill was the best.
Q - Want to tell us about some of your favorite game memories from when you were a LSU Tiger?
Brooks - I have a couple of game that stick out. I remember one time we played Kentucky
in Baton Rouge and beat them 10-0. Kentucky was always a tough team to play. They always had a good defensive line and would always put nine and ten players in the box making it hard to run against them. They played us really hard that night. I intercepted a pass and ran it in for a touchdown. The guys came and picked me up and carried me off the field. that was a nice memory.
Then another is when we went to California to play USC. We had heard all about USC and all of their great athletes. A lot of the guys were excited about playing in the Coliseum. We were so ready to play those guys. We went over there and killed them 23-3. I had two or three sacks. That was one of the best games that I've played.
Another was when we beat Notre Dame in South Bend. They had beat us in Tiger Stadium the season before, but we got our revenge 10-7. They had a lot of great athletes. It was a great team win.
One thing about LSU and our team's back then, if you beat us one year, we are going to beat you the next. We weren't going to loose to you twice in a row. We just wouldn't let that happen. We had a lot of pride in ourselves and we had so much talent on those defenses like Henry Thomas, Roland Barbay, Ricky Chapman, Jeffery Dale, Shawn Burks. I always liked the defense that we had and the great athletes we had on our teams.
Q - Tell us what your NFL Draft Day experience was like?
Brooks - I was at home when I was drafted in the 3rd round. I didn't have a draft party. It
was just my mom, sister, my nephew, and myself. My knee injury was pretty severe, so that dropped me down from being projected as a top five pick, into the 2nd round. I really wasn't concerned about that, I just wanted to be drafted by a good organization. Matter of fact, with my draft stock dropping, I felt that put me in a better situation to be drafted by a good football team.
I had a dream the night before the draft that Denver drafted me. I didn't tell anyone about the dream until after the Broncos drafted me in the 3rd round. Going to Denver turned out to be a match made in heaven.
Even though my knee was still injured and bothering me, they never rushed me out onto
the field. I had to do extra rehab training everyday starting at 6am. The trainer there was Steve Antonopulos, who is still there today. This guy worked me hard everyday, two hours before practice. Then I would go to team practice, our workouts, and lift weights. Then go back to the training room and work even more on the leg and knee. This guy worked me so hard everyday. I hated him everyday. He pushed me and pushed me. We had this Cybex Machine that put a lot of emphasis on and around your knee. I ended up breaking that machine one day. Steve told me that there was only one other guy that broke this machine and he was just as strong and powerful as I was. I asked who that was and he answered, Lyle Alzado. But I'm so glad Steve pushed me, pushed me, pushed me so hard every single day. If it wasn't for him I probably wouldn't of come back as strong as I did. I came back 100% and was able to play at a high level.
Dan Reeves was my head coach in Denver. He drafted me and brought me in there. Joe Collier was the defensive coordinator. He was an old school guy and was known for creating the Broncos' Orange Crush defense. So I went from playing for Bill Arnsparger, who was a great defensive coordinator to another great one in the NFL. I always had great defensive guys around me. Great defensive coaches that I learned a lot from.
Joe Collier was a lot like Bill. He was smart, and he never did yell or scream at you. He ran multiple defenses. We had to learn the entire defensive scheme. We had to know what everyone on the defense was doing. He gave us test every week about every position and we had to answer what each guy was doing. How each position was lining up. How they were dropping into coverage. We had to know everything about that defense. He was a smart guy and his defense was based on that. You had to know what everyone else was doing so you could do your job and know where your help was coming from on the football field. You had to study your playbook and you couldn't just play off of your athletic ability. You had to be a thinker also. You had to know what you were doing to play in that defense. It put a lot of pressure on you mentally. It was tough to learn, but we all jelled and ended up playing in a couple of Super Bowls. We lost both times, but we were able to get there and we had the best defense in the League a couple of times. I was so lucky to have the defensive coaches that I've had. When Joe left Denver, we ended up getting Wade Phillips. Phillips was another great defensive coordinator. I ended making All-Pro as a linebacker under Wade Phillips' aggressive style defense.
Q - Can you tell us what it's like to play in a couple of Super Bowls?
Brooks - I made it to the Super Bowl my rookie year. We were lucky enough to have a good enough team to make it because 1987 was a strike year in the NFL. When the strike was over we were able to jell as a team, win those last four/five games, advance to the playoffs, and go to the Super Bowl in Pasadena. It was very exciting to be there on the football field, watching those jets fly over the stadium. Seeing guys tear up and cry while they played the National Anthem. Seeing all the fans in the stands, photographers and TV cameras on the field. It was just amazing. I couldn't wait to get out there and play. Our emotions were at an all-time high. It was an exciting experience.
Q - How did you end up leaving Denver for the New York Giants?
Brooks - It happened in 1992. First off it started with Dan Reeves being fired. He became the
head coach for the New York Giants. Then that was the year the NFL started the Franchise and
Transitional Players Tag. The Franchise player was payed based on the top five highest payed players at that position. Well, they tagged John Elway with that tag. They tagged me with the Transitional Tag. That pays you based on the top ten at your position. Denver basically was hoping everyone else would end up not having a lot of money left after they signed everyone they wanted. Then they were going to drop the Transitional Tag off of me and try to sign me for cheap. When the Broncos dropped me as the Transitional Player making me a free agent, the Giants immediately flew me to New York and wanted to sign me. The Giants great GM George Young had someone pick me up at the airport and brought me to a restaurant to eat with Mr. Young. He started to tell me that he wanted to bring me in and sign me to play with them. I thought that was great because I've always wanted to play with Lawrence Taylor, who was my idol and with Dan Reeves now being there, it was a great situation for me. So now I'm playing for my old coach, with a new team, and with a guy that I have always idolized. I couldn't wait to sign with them.
I want to tell you another story. When I signed with New York, they gave me Harry Carson's number, #53. At the time he wasn't in the Hall of Fame yet. He would come out to watch practice and look at me wearing his number and he would look at me like I was crazy. So I didn't want to wear his number anymore. I went to our trainer and said, "I'm tired of that man looking at me like that for having his old number, give me my college number, #94." ... I didn't want Harry Carson looking at me like that anymore.....
Another story to tell you is I had just signed my contract, it was my second day of practice, and I was sitting in the Giants locker room. Lawrence Taylor came in the locker room and was on the offensive side of the room. Both rooms were separated. He started throwing chairs and was cursing. He was upset because for the Giants to sign me, they had to release Pepper Johnson and Carl Banks. Those guys had been with the team over ten years and both were All-Pros. Here I am excited to be playing for the Giants and excited to be able to play with Lawrence Taylor, and Taylor is throwing chairs and I could hear him screaming, "Who the hell is this Michael Brooks?" .... Here I am sitting in front of my locker listening to this. Everyone was afraid of him, moving out of the way, not saying anything to him. .. It was strange going to another team, replacing a couple of their star players. Guys don't know you or want to talk to you. You really have to earn everyone's respect. I had to show them that I was a good player and that's why the organization brought me in there. After that we became good friends. Our first meeting wasn't too good but I understand it. So that's what happened the first time I met Lawrence Taylor.
Q - When did you decide that it was time to retire from football?
Brooks - When I left the Giants I had just finished my ninth season and my old knee
injury started to bother me. It had gotten to a point where I had pains shooting through my leg. I wasn't sure how much longer I would be able to play this game. Playing on that turf in Giants stadium really took a toll on me. I would think to myself that maybe I didn't want to play anymore, but I went to Detroit because of a guy there named Larry Lee. Lee was a guy who I played for in Denver and he was now over player personnel for the Lions. He called me and talked me into flying to Detroit to meet with the coach. I told them that I wasn't sure if I could still play. My body wasn't recovering as fast as it use too. But they still offered me a two year contract. I wasn't sure if I wanted to sign, but at the time they had Henry Thomas, Corey Raymond, who is the DB coach at LSU right now, and also played in New York with me. So with two of my old LSU teammates there I decided I would give it one more chance. Detroit also had just let Chris Speilman go and they were looking for someone to replace him. Someone who could come in and be a leader and run the defense. So they signed me to replace Chris. I ended up hurting my knee in training camp and missed some time.
Then my mother got sick with cancer around November of that year. Once my mother had
cancer I just didn't feel like playing football anymore. I told Wayne Fontes "My mother is sick. I need to go home and take care of her." ... My father died of cancer when I was 16 years old. So if something would happen to my mother, I was going to be there to take care of her. I was going to make sure she had the best doctors and had anything that she needed. So I left football to go home to take care of my mother. She ended up passing away three months later. I was able to go home and spend those last three months with her.
I was 30 years old and retired when my mom passed, but three years later I still had NFL teams calling me. Dan Reeves went to Atlanta and had Michael Vick as his quarterback. He called me up and wanted me to come back and play for him. I told him that I'm 33 years old and that I haven't played in three years. He told me to think about it, that I could come back and make a lot of money. I ended going to New Orleans to see coach and trainer Tom Shaw. He trained a lot of Pro-athletes in the New Orleans area. I wanted to workout for Coach Shaw and see if I still had the legs to make a comeback. He told me that my knee was in such bad shape that I would need to have surgery before I could go back and play in the NFL. At 33 years old, no way I was having surgery. I decided I was done. I wasn't going to risk anything with a comeback. I had Dennis Green calling me to come back. I had Bill Belichick wanting me to come to the Cleveland Browns. The Jets were trying to bring me back. I finally had to send a letter to the NFL stating that I was officially retired so teams would stop contacting me. I always wanted to play at least 15 years in the NFL. But that was all that I could do.
Q - Can you tell us what life after football has been like for you?
Brooks - Losing my mom at 30 years old was a big blow for me. I went into a state
of depression for around two years. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't care what happened to me. I didn't want to live and I was in a bad place at that time. My mother was my best friend. We would talk several times a day and remember that after she died, I would still pick up the phone and call her and wonder why my mother wasn't answering the phone. Then it would hit me that she was gone. So it would take me awhile to get over it. I was just close to her. I missed her so much. It took me some time to get myself together, my mind back on track and together again.
After I got back on track and slipped out of the depression, I ended up opening some businesses. I got involved in real estate. I was building apartments. I was buying homes and flipping them. I started to enjoy being around people again and began to open up again like I use too.
Then about seven years ago my wife talked me into going get a check up. I did and was told that I had cancer. Now that scared the hell out of me. I had lost my parents and two brothers from cancer. All of them died pretty quickly, an average of three months, after being diagnosed. I had doctors tell me that I was going to die and there was nothing that they could do for me. I didn't get discouraged and wouldn't believe that I was going to die at 49 years old. I ended up going to New Orleans and met a great doctor there. He told me, "Michael we are going to take care of you. We got to take it out of you. You don't want to die of this type of cancer because it's a slow death. We need to get this thing out of you." .... This doctor had a very high success rate. I decided that I wanted to live and be here for my kids and my family so I had the operation and they fixed me up. After the surgery they told me that I was cancer free.
So I'm a prostate cancer survivor. My father and two brother died of the same thing. I tell guys all the time to go get checked. It took me a long time to recover and to get back on my feet again. I was pale and losing weight. No one really knows what your going through. You have a lot of alone time. But while I was going through my recovery, I was sitting on my couch one day and I heard a voice. I didn't know if it was my mother talking to me or God. I was hoping it was both of them, but I was sitting there in a vulnerable place and I heard a voice come to me and it said. "Michael, you're saved." ... I broke down and started crying and I couldn't stop crying. I started to say, "I'm saved Lord, I'm saved, I'm saved Lord.".. I heard the voice tell me twice that I was saved. I had been afraid to close my eyes to sleep, but after I heard that voice I wasn't afraid to go to sleep anymore. I wasn't afraid of dying anymore. God told me I was saved. That's when I started going through prayers on facebook and posting them up because that's how I was feeling. Different scriptures from the Bible about having faith, courage, forgiveness, battling back, having strength, having God in your life.
With God you can do anything in this world. I would listen to these scriptures everyday.
I started feeling stronger and stronger. I started to get my confidence up. You can overcome anything if you have God in your life. I put God first in my life and he brought me through it. It's been seven years later and I'm cancer free. I can't do a lot of things that I use to do, but I'm here.
Another thing that I also did, was search for a lot of people who I did bad too. Guys in high school that I beat up and joked on. I was kind of a mean guy. I went back and apologized to those guys. I repented to everyone that I hurt. I tried to find all of them to let them know that I was sorry for what I did. All the women that I miss treated. I went back and told them all that I was sorry for the way I treated them and asked for them to forgive me. I was sorry that I was like that. Everyone that I called told me that they forgave me. It was like I was born again.
Every morning I wake up and thank God for waking me up to see another day. I'm thankful for everything that he does for me. Giving me the strength and endurance to prosper. I run at least seven to ten miles everyday. I do from 300 to 1,000 push ups everyday. I do it everyday to maintain my strength, my weight, and to stay in great physical health. Having gone through cancer, having physical health is the most important thing for you. I have learned a lot of things. I have changed my life, my diet, my habits. I try to treat people with love and how I want to be treated. To be a good husband, father, and a good grandfather to my family.
Q - Is there anything you want to tell the LSU fans?
Brooks - I love my LSU fans. I love my LSU family. I pull for the Tigers every time they run out on the field. I wish everyone the best. I wish the Tigers will have another great year this year.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports
Today's Q & A Session is with former LSU and NFL great Leonard Marshall. Marshall was recruited by Charlie McClendon and played defensive end at LSU from 1979 to 1982. As a senior, he was chosen the team defensive MVP of what arguably could be the best defense in LSU history, having nine players from the starting unit go on to play in the NFL. Marshall finished his LSU career with 180 tackles and five sacks.
The New York Giants drafted Marshall with the 37th overall pick in the second round of the 1983 NFL draft. Al Davis of the Raiders described him as the steal of the draft. He would go on to play ten seasons with the Giants, winning two Super Bowl rings with a 39-20 victory over Denver in Super Bowl XXI and a 20-19 win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. He would spend his final two NFL seasons with the New York Jets and the Washington Redskins. Marshall finished his 12 year NFL career with 714 tackles and 83.5 sacks. He was selected three times to the Pro Bowl, and twice named NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year following the 1985 & 1986 seasons. Marshall is most famously known for his hit on Joe Montana that knocked him out of the 1990 NFC championship game, after which Montana would not play another regular season game for almost two years. Montana suffered a bruised Sternum, a bruised stomach, cracked ribs, and a broken hand during the hit.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Leonard - I'm kind of mixed. It's kind of a mixed bag. I love the work that Dick Wolf is doing on television. I love Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and I've always been a Law and Order SVU fan forever.
Q - What is your favorite food?
Leonard - My favorite food is anything from Louisiana. I grew up eating the best food in the
world. It's a variety of stuff. I love boudin to any one of the etoufees that we make to a nice juicy fried seafood platter. A lump of crab meat. Crawfish tails and a little bit of catfish. A little bit of everything from down there.
Q - Who is your favorite Pro Athlete?
Leonard - Michael Jordan was unbelievable. To watch him compete and watch him play
basketball was just awesome. I also watched the maturity of DeWayne Wade, the maturity of LeBron James, and the maturity of Kobe Bryant who was also an incredible player.
I kind of have a player from each era. If I had to pick one from my childhood growing up, it would be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Then in between, it would be Michael Jordan. Now, it would definitely have to be LeBron James and a little bit of Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, because those three guys could light It up anytime they were put to a test to make it happen.
Q - Who are your favorite sports teams?
Leonard - Let's see, my favorite baseball team would be the Yankees. My favorite basketball
team is a toss-up between the Lakers and the Celtics. My favorite of all time would have to be the Bulls and the Heat are in there as well. My favorite football team is the New York Giant because that's where my heart has been and that's where my heart will always be.
Q - What is your favorite Movie?
Leonard - My favorite movie of all time is "A Time to Kill" starring Samuel L. Jackson and
Matthew McConaughey. It was the first real serious book that I had the chance to reed about the South and everything associated with the Civil Rights movement that makes me think back to my childhood when in fact, you and I couldn't play together because of segregation. You and I couldn't use the same bathroom because of segregation. Or at least until 1967/1968 until everything desegregated and people finally grew up and recognized and realized that we needed each other in order to level the playing field out. Today look at plenty of us, the whole world is now peanut butter colored because of it.
Q - Who is your favorite actor?
Leonard - Samuel L. Jackson. I think he is a riot.
Q - Who is your favorite music artist?
Leoanard - I have a couple from different areas. I've always been a Wynton Marcellos fan in the jazz area and that old back beat New Orleans style jazz that I grew up on. My favorite rap group of all-time is Public Enemy. My favorite Soul singer would have to be Aretha Franklin. My favorite balladeer would be Luther Vandross.
Q - Were you born and raised in Franklin, Louisiana?
Leonard - Yes, I was born and raised in Franklin. I lived there until I was 17 and decided to go to LSU to play football.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Leonard - When I was a kid I played and liked all sports while developing a following for
baseball, basketball, and football. I watched all the greats, studied to be like all the greats and tried to emulate all of the greats. As a kid I would sky hook like Jabbar. When I played football I thought I was a cross between Jack Lambert and Joe Greene.
I liked the Pittsburgh Steelers as a kid, but my dad was a Cowboys fan. I would watch those Super Bowls between the Cowboys and Steelers. I'd root for any team except for the team that my dad rooted for. That kept things competitive.
I really enjoyed those years as a kid. Along the way I took a liking to football, I guess primarily because I would get into a basketball game and I'd foul out. One day the coach said to me, “ Leonard, this is a great sport but it's just not for you. You score 25 points then you foul out every game in the 3rd quarter. I really think you should look into doing something else. I suggest that you go out for the football team.” .. So I agreed with him, I did, and the rest is history.
One thing I do remember as a kid was watching the Cowboys and Steelers play and I told my dad, “I watch and see how you cheer for these players, how you watch these teams, and watch these great plays. One day you’re going to watch me do this on TV just like these guys.” He would tease me, going.. “Yea right, sure, Yea right…You’re going to do that? Yea, right, okay...” … So when I had a chance to do that and he saw it happen at LSU, his eyes really opened up and he said, “Wow, my son can really do this..” ..
At one time LSU had four guys from my high school on the same defense. In 1979 there was one particular game that had Michael Johnson, Lyman Dan White, Greg Bowser, and myself on the field. All four of us played football together at Franklin High School. I thought that was kind of cool.
There was another Franklin Alumni who played at LSU before us named Clinton Burrell. He had a successful career at LSU and went on to play for the Cleveland Browns. After, he stayed and worked in the Baton Rouge area and did well for himself. That's what laid the playing field for me in terms of what I wanted to do with myself after high school.
Q - So, I guess that kind of answered this next question,.... Did you play multiple sports at Franklin High School?
Leonard - Yes, I played multiple. I played football and track and field. I did track so I could get stronger and faster in the off season. I would run with the track team and throw the shot put.
I'd get in the weight room to get bigger and stronger so I could be more competitive and stay around the coaches so they could see what I was doing. I just wanted to continue on improving my skills as well as improving in the classroom. The biggest thing to me was to make sure I had what I needed in the classroom in order to get a shot to go play Division 1 football.
Q - Can you tell us a little about your high school career?
Leonard - It was pretty interesting in high school. When I was going to Franklin High, we were a 4A school because we pulled in kids from all over St.Mary Parish. Several little sugarcane farming towns and some of these kids were huge. We would have at least 100 kids come out for the football team. Our football team was very competitive.
I played center on the varsity team as a freshman. My sophomore year we made the playoffs and played Istrouma High but lost. That was Lyman Dan White’s senior year. Our next season we won our District and went deep into the playoffs before getting beat. That was Michael Johnson’s and Greg Bowser’s senior year. My senior year, we were good, we weren't great. If I remember correctly we finish the season 7-3. I made All-District and Honorable Mention All-State. Seven guys signed scholarships from that team to go on and play college football. I thought that was pretty good especially from Franklin, Louisiana.
Obviously I was the biggest name on the team and I signed the biggest scholarship. I turn down
some great schools and great teams like Alabama and Oklahoma to go to LSU. It was a big deal. When I look back on it, high school football was good to me. I had the grades and I had what I needed to be able to move on. My best opportunity was LSU.
Q - Can you tell us how your recruiting process went?
Leonard - Charlie Mac was the head coach at LSU when they recruited me. My mother had
Charlie Mac, Bear Bryant, Barry Switzer and Lucious Selmon in my house. Larry Smith with Tulane and Jackie Sherrell from Texas A&M also visited me. All these schools were after my talent, but the guy with that toothpick in his mouth and that hat cocked to the side won my father over. I said I was going to stay home and go to school in Baton Rouge.
Q - What made you choose LSU over all of the other schools recruiting you?
Leonard - I had a weekend visit to LSU and during that visit Lyman Dan White was my chaperone. He took me everywhere. We went to parties where I met some of the basketball players, some guys from the track and field team, and they all told me how things were around the campus and in the dorms. I had loads of fun with them.
I was told when you go there as a freshman they take care of you. They make sure you go
to class. They make sure you have what you need. They make sure you eat three meals a day. They work the s**t out of you. You definitely have to earn it.
I was told I was going to enjoy playing big time college football here in front of 80,000 people every week that love and worship the purple and gold. You really need to see it to experience it.
I chose to go watch LSU play Colorado in the season opener and thought, “Wow, one day that could be me. Maybe this is a great opportunity for me.” ..
At the time Coach Lynn LeBlanc was my recruiter. Coach Hamlin and Don ‘Scooter’ Purvis was on the staff. I took a liking to Coach Purvis because he was so little. He use to always pick at me and tease me. I felt so comfortable at LSU because they were all cut from the same cloth I was cut from and we spoke the same language. I understood what they wanted from me and I expected high expectations from them. Then after meeting some amazing alumni and supporters of the program, they had all won me over. I made my decision. This is where I want to go. This is what I want to do. I want to play big time football on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
Q - Can you tell us how you and the team handled the firing of Coach McClendon, the news of Coach Bo Rein dying in a plane crash, and then Jerry Stovall becoming your next head coach?
Leonard - When they fired Coach McClendon I was really hurt. I think most of the players were hurt, especially us freshmen being the last class that he would recruit at LSU.
Malcolm Scott and I took a couple of recruiting trips together before choosing LSU. Scott was someone who I admired and was one of the first I went to after Coach McClendon was fired to ask him what he was going to do. We actually talked about transferring to go play for someone else. Especially after Coach Rein died in a plane crash and then they hired Jerry Stovall. None of us knew anything about Jerry Stovall. We thought it was crazy that they hired someone who never had big time coaching job at a college.
It was a big challenge for me as well as other freshmen from my recruiting class, to decide whether we wanted to stay or go which included Lawrence Williams, Ramsey DarDar, Albert Richardson, Tim Joiner, and myself.
I never got to meet Bo Rein. We were supposed to meet with him for the first time at 12 noon the day after the plane crash. That morning we heard that his plane crashed and that he died in the accident. We just couldn’t understand it or make heads or tails of it.
When Coach Stovall came in the guys were very resistant towards him. They were open to learning from him but he came in with this attitude that he was going to shake things up. It took awhile for everyone to get comfortable with him.
I dove into my position coach who I really wanted to learn from. I thought Coach LeBlanc was a good coach, but I felt like he really didn’t teach us technique at the next level. There is a technical way of playing the game as a defensive lineman. When Pete Jenkins took the job to coach the defensive line at LSU I immediately became a fan and a good player for him. We were able to build trust in each other. That's when I really learned what coaching is. Coaching is just like parenthood. It’s a man learning how to trust a young man and then trusting that young man to perform a task, to do a job, and to do it to the best of his ability.
I made that my business to be that guy for Pete Jenkins. I made it my business to be a guy that he can trust. I made it my business to be a leader on and off the football field, in study hall, in the classroom, around the campus and in the community. I did that during my final three years at LSU. I was the MVP of the team at the end of the 1982 season primarily because of the respect that I earned from the players as well as the coaching staff.
Our coaching staff took a major liking to me. I knew each one of them and trusted each one of them. From Coach Morris, to Coach Williams, to Coach Harris, to Coach Jenkins, to Coach Belu, to Mack Brown, to Buddy Nix, to John Anderson, John Purdy and all the way down to Jeff Boss our equipment manager.
All those guys knew me as ‘Big Chief’ because they knew I earned the respect of all the players on the team and I respected them. If I didn’t respect you on the team there was a reason why. Either I didn’t think you worked hard enough to earn my respect or felt that you didn't contribute enough to earn my respect. I was fair but straight to the point and I was that way with everyone. I gave the entire defense credit for my MVP award in 1982. It was an honor to be their leader and the guy that they could all rally around. I loved them all and still love them all today. They worked their ass off for us to be the best and we would tell each other every week that we were going to be the best in the Country. We wanted to make sure that everyone we played were scared to play us.
Q - Can you tell us about some of your favorite moments as a LSU Tiger?
Leonard - My freshman year I can tell you my favorite game was when we played USC. We lost 17-12. The game was a lot closer than the score. We played them so tough. We had a two-quarterback system with David Woodley and Steve Ensminger. Our receivers were Carlos Carson and Willie Turner (Who has since past away). Greg LaFluer was our tight end. Hokie Gajan was our running back. We had a hell of a defense. Lyman Dan White, John Adams, Benjy Thibodeaux, Tommy Frizzell, Chris Williams, Willie Teal, James Britt, Alvin Thomas.
I’ll always remember that team. We made it to the Tangerine Bowl. I got some money out of it, a nice piece of luggage that I saved for a long time, got a wrist watch out of it. We won the Bowl Game beating Wake Forest. That was a fond memory.
Another fond memory was during my senior year when we had the #1 defense in the Country and we went to play Florida who was the #4 team in the Country with the #1 offense in the Country. We completely annihilated them in The Swamp. I took one of their quarterbacks out. I had a big game. We really put it on them. Dalton Hilliard had a big game as The Dalton/James Gang got started. Alan Risher had a great game that day. Mike Montz had a great day. We introduced Malcom Scott to the nation that day. It was such a big game for us.
Another big game for us that year was beating the living s**t out of Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium. I think we scored 45 points and we held them to negative yardage all day.
We beat Alabama at Alabama. I had a big game in that one as well. Every time Alabama took a snap we had eleven white jerseys swarming around the ball. I’ll never forget, we were going into the locker room at halftime and I could hear Coach Bryant saying, “If we don’t find a way to block #97, I’m going to just tell him that he can just live in our back field for the rest of the day and we’ll be fine with it!" .. Coach Jenkins nudged me on the way in and asked if I heard Coach Bryant and said, “They have to deal with your ass! Did you hear that?” We beat them so badly. It was a bad day for Bama.
Then I remember the orange game. Beating Florida State at home 55-21. Our defense tore them up. The offense score a s**t load of points. I’ll never forget that the fans were throwing oranges because with that win, we won the Orange Bowl bid to play Nebraska. That was a huge day for us. It was one of the happiest days of my life because I never got a chance to play for a championship in high school and that just felt like my championship at least until I got to the next level.
Those days at LSU were great because I got a chance to play for Coach Jenkins who I love dearly. I got to give Jerry Stovall what I promised to give him as a player, which was to give him everything I had to help us be the best football team that we could be. Coach Stovall always tried to instill that in that group of guys. To be the best that you can be with the God given ability that you were blessed with.
Q - Can you tell us about your NFL Draft process and then talk about your NFL career?
Leonard - In 1983 I was drafted by the Giant. I was living in an apartment off of Gardere Lane while I was getting ready for the combine. I was working my tail off trying to get ready for the next level.
I started to get phone calls from teams and was starting to travel a lot to visit some teams. I would sit in meetings with coaches, watch game film, and talk about defensive line play. Talk about different schemes. Talk about what I learned from Coach Jenkins, how good LSU was to me, and what I thought I could bring to their football team.
I had visits with the Eagles, the Lions, the Raiders, and made three visits with the Giants. I had no idea who was going to pick me, but I had a gut feeling it was going to be the Giants. I took a lot of calls on draft day, some in the first round. Finally I get the call from the Giants in the second round. I went to three different combines to work out for all these teams. I'll never forget meeting
players like Darrell Green and Richard Dent. Dent was my roommate on one of the trips. I went on a couple of recruiting trips with Eric Dickerson and I got to see him again. Got to meet and become friends with Darryl Talley. I also met Jim Jeffcoat and Reggie White. You just get to meet so many different players. You keep those memories and you know you're going to see those guys again.
After I got drafted I went ahead and told myself, “Okay Leonard, looks like you have finally
arrived now.” .. You’re in the same class with all these great athletes, meeting all these guys and they are all pretty cool. Now I’m going to get a chance to play a kid’s game for a king’s ransom. Think about how blessed you are to be able to do that. It was a big deal to me.
I’m home in my condo with my girlfriend and the Giants call me. I look at her and say, “We are going to New York girl!” .. I was so excited and thinking this is the greatest thing since sliced bread to come into my life. It really was indicative of the work and the energy that I put in at LSU.
Everything that Jerry Stovall told me would happen, happened. Everything that Pete
Jenkins wished for me and my family happened. What Coach Jenkins instilled in me as a player, as a young man and the integrity that he blessed me with was just unbelievable. Today I really owe that man a lot for what he did in helping me become a man and helping me leave a legacy behind at LSU, in the LSU Hall of Fame, in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and in New York with the New York Giants.
As my NFL career began I made sure that every time I stepped out on the field they knew I was from Franklin, Louisiana and made sure that they knew I went to Louisiana State University.
My rookie year was tough because I really didn't grasp the knowledge of what it took to call yourself a pro. I thought I could do just what I did in college. Be big, be strong, be fast, be smart and guys would quit. I had to come to realize that on this next level everyone was big, strong, and fast and could play their ass off. So after my rookie year I worked my ass off. I told myself, “Leonard, you’re going to be the best football player that you can be and I'm going use everything in my power, body, mind, and spirit to be the best I can .
I'll never forget that off season Bill Parcells came to me and asked what he could do to help me become a better ball player. I told him to hire a damn good strength coach who will give me a chance to get bigger, faster, stronger and help me learn this game better. He told me he would take me on in that challenge.
He interviewed four different guys for the position. One of them happened to be a guy that was the strength and conditioning coach at LSU during my freshman year named Johnny Parker. Coach Parcells came to me and asked, “Leonard, I’m going to give this guy Parker a chance. Am I making a mistake or what?”
I said, "No you're not coach and here's why. If you hire Johnny Parker one of two things are going to happen. Guys are going to show up everyday and work their ass off and become a player or he is going to run their ass off. And when I say run their ass off, he will physically run their ass off. This guy believes in working out. He believes in a player getting bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter. He believes in a guy pulling himself immersed into the program. When I say that I mean the program is bigger than anything else going on in his life. It's bigger than any travel plans that they have in the off season. It's bigger than their wife and kids. It's bigger than any vacation plans he has laid out for his family. Bigger than any family reunion. It's got to be bigger than anything else that is going on in your life. It becomes your priority."
When Parker got the job I told him, “I'm going to be the first guy in your weight room and the last guy to leave. Together I want to win three Super Bowls. I want to end up in three or four Pro Bowls. I want my name to be enshrined in Canton one day, and I want it all because I work my ass off for you."
Then I added, "I want to deliver a great product to the fans in the city of New York that they have been expecting for years. I'm surrounded by two great players, in Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor. I'm going to help make them better football players and they're going to help me become a better football player.”
Exactly what I said is exactly what happened. In 1984 I was the second-best defensive player
on the team behind Lawrence Taylor.
In 1985 I was the best defensive player on the team. I was the Defensive Lineman of the Year and I led the NFL in quarterback sacks for eleven weeks and finished with 17.5 sacks.
In 1986 I repeated as Defensive Lineman of the Year and NFC Defensive Lineman of the Year.
I had 12.5 sacks and had 99 tackles. Lawrence Taylor had 21 sacks and we made our second Pro Bowl together.
Everything that I wanted pro football to be, I turned and made the pro football experience mine. I made it mine because I brought it to what Bill Parcells wanted for me which was to make me a tougher, hard-nosed football player.
What Bill Belichick brought to me, which was an integrable, smart football player who trusted what he saw, believe half of what he heard, worked his ass off in the course of a daytime, in a ball game, and in and out of that locker room.
I think I was the hardest-working player on our football team for at least eight or nine of the ten years I was with the Giants. That was all due to Johnny Parker, Bill Parcells, Lamar Leachman, Bill Belichick, and Lenny Fontes. Guys like that understood me and realize how much pride I had in the game and wanted to be the best at it.
After my 10th season with the Giants I joined the Jets for a year, then went to Washington for a season, then retired. The beauty of it is that I got two Super Bowl rings. I played in two or three of the greatest football games I've ever played in in my life.
Beating the Redskins three times in 1986 and then going on to play in the Super Bowl in front of 109,000 people in Pasadena was awesome.
One of the biggest games was the NFC championship in 1990. My big play on Joe Montana was one of the biggest reasons that we were able to win and go to our second Super Bowl. It was a big deal for me back in those days.
Q - Can you tell us what it was like to win two Super Bowls?
Leonard - To get to a level where you get to play in the Super Bowl is amazing. To be able to do it with a group of guys who are respected and that I’ve respected and to learn from them in our locker room along the way for all the weeks leading up to it was incredible. To watch the maturity of our team from me joining Carl Banks to watching me join Pepper Johnson to Gary Reasons and to several others who I’ve played with. It’s just a blessing that I had a chance to be a part of that All-Star group of players. You know how good you could be and that you have a chance to win something.
After we got beat by the Bears 1995 we all took a long look at ourselves in the mirror and we took a deep look inside of each other and at each other. We all said to ourselves, that we are better than what we just displayed and we are going to get a second chance to prove it. The world is going to know just how good we were and how good we are.
We collectively had that chance to live in that moment and it is the fondest memory that I have. I've never been that tight with a group of guys since my LSU defense in 1982. To play opposite of Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor, two Hall of Famers, taught me what it's like to be that kind of player. More importantly, they made me want to be that kind of player and I think I made them that much better as well.
It was a beautiful thing to work with those guys. It was like poetry in motion to watch us work together. We worked our asses off to be good, we really did. We worked our asses off to be good and to be remembered as some of the best to ever play the game.
Q - Which Super Bowl victory was your favorite? Blowing out Denver 39-20, or Winning against Buffalo 20-19 when Norwood misses the field goal on the last play of the game?
Leonard - Beating Denver 39-20 in the way that we beat them has to be the most satisfying out of the two. The most memorable was beating Buffalo because it was the last second win, winning by one point. Buffalo was probably the best team in the league that year and had a chance at greatness. They ran the table on everybody else. They just couldn't beat the New York Giants.
Q - Who were some of your favorite Quarterbacks to sack?
Leonard - All of them were fun to play against and sack. John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Danny White, Troy Aikman, Todd Blackledge, Boomer Esiason, Randall Cunningham, Ron Jaworski, Neil Lomax, Steve Pelluer, Gary Danielson, Joe Theisman to name a few.
In 1985 I sacked Randall Cunningham six times between two different games.
The best game I had with the most sacks was in Super Bowl XXI. I sacked John Elway 2.5 times, twice myself and shared another with Lawrence Taylor and I had nine tackles in the game. It was probably the greatest game by a defensive lineman in Super Bowl history. There actually was an article written that said if Phil Sims wouldn’t have gone 22-25 passing, I probably would have been the MVP of the game. We won 39-20 and I had a monster game.
I sacked Jim Kelly in Super Bowl XXV, which was the only sack in the ball game.
I’m third all-time in QB sacks in Giants history, only behind Michael Strahan and Lawrence Taylor. I still don't know why I'm not in their Ring of Honor. I still don't know why I'm not in Canton. I’m the only 3-4 defensive lineman with over 80 quarterback sacks in a career. I had over 750 tackles in my career. It’s just some of the politics of football that I don’t understand. Maybe one day I’ll get my just-do.
Q - What have you been doing since your retirement from the NFL?
Leonard - Since then it's been all private business. I’m an Serial Entrepreneur. So I invest in projects and sometimes I get behind a company. In certain cases I use my brand to partner with the company to build up business and help it get successful. Right now I'm involved in the CBD business. I'm selling CBD Countrywide. I'm also involved in the construction industry in the Northeast. I have a company by the name of Marshall-Procida. I build affordable multi-housing. I’m building units in Harlem, Brooklyn and Detroit. I just finished one in the Bronx. That's what I have a passion for doing.I'm opening up a coffee concept In New Jersey called 'Joe Zone' pretty soon. Joe Zone is a Sports and entertainment eatery where you can drink specialty teas, coffees, and fruit juice drinks in a sports environment while eating really good food. It's almost like Starbucks meets Buffalo Wild Wings except there is no alcohol. A place to get great juices, great salads and to eat loads of healthy food with tons of TVs and arcade games for kids to play. Go to JoeZone.com to see what kind of place it is.
Q - Have you lived in New York since your retirement from the NFL?
Leonard - I lived in Boca Raton, Florida. I have a 24 year old daughter, Arianna Nicole Marshall, who lives in Florida with her mother and has graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a degree in Finance and works in her industry. My son, Victor M. Nazario Marshall, is 29 year old, lives in New Jersey and is a graduate of Georgetown University. He is a licensed tax attorney in Florida, Washington DC, and New Jersey.
I live in New Jersey but I do have a residence in Florida. I love to be able to go back and forth. I love the beach and the weather in Florida. I like the grind and the toughness of the Northeast and I like the business minds of the people in the Northeast. I try to get the best of both worlds.
My friends are extremely diverse. I have friends that are Jewish, Indian, Italian, Irish, Greek, Russian, German, French, Venezuelan, Argentina, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, .. What I love about living in New York is that it's like one big bag of M&Ms and I enjoy them all. My best friend, who I've known for 37 years, is as Irish as the day is long. A gentleman by the name of Timothy Pine. He owns a company in Pompano Beach Florida called Broward Aviation Group. He was also my best man this past November. I just got remarried on November 9th 2019 to my lovely, Lisa Ann Norcia Marshall. We have been together for twelve years and I’m just loving life.
Q - Is there anything that you want to tell the LSU fans?
Leonard - Thank you so much for the blessing and the opportunity. The love and the support
that you gave me as a player on the field and as a student in the classroom. I also want to thank all of the people who have touched my life at LSU. All of the coaches and professors. Thank you for taking this kid from Franklin, Louisiana under your wing and looking after me, making sure that you pointed me in the right direction. I hope that I have honored all of them with my accomplishments. Thank You!
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former football player Jamie Bice. Bice was recruited by Bill Arnsparger and played strong safety from 1985-1988 for the Tigers. He was a three-time academic All-SEC Conference safety and member of the 1986 and 1988 SEC Champion Tigers. After a solid LSU football career Jamie would work for the LSU athletic department and then went on to get a Law Degree from LSU in 1993 and is now a Judge in Lake Charles.
Q - What's your favorite TV Show?
Jamie - Cheers and Seinfeld, I really enjoy both of those and still laugh. But most of the time now I watch a lot of the History Channel or the Discovery Channel shows.
Q - What is your favorite Food?
Jamie - Fried white perch... I love to catch them and eat them..
Q - Who is your favorite pro athlete?
Jamie - Larry Bird
Q - Your favorite sports team?
Jamie - It's LSU. To me they are the premiere sports football team in college as well as in the other sports. It's just a great total package of athletics in the college arena. I'm also from South West Louisiana which has a big Texas influence so the Cowboys were a team that we followed when I was a kid with Roger Staubach. I loved the 49ers during the Bill Walsh/Joe Montana era. I liked the Patriots with Tom Brady. I enjoy watching the winners. I have always liked the Saints, being a Louisiana guy you got to like the Saints, and I do.
Q - Who is your favorite Music Artist?
Jamie - Clearly, without a doubt, The Beatles. They were the very best of the very best as far as a band. As far as an individual singer, the very best of the very best is Elvis Presley. Every body else is about eight touchdowns behind..
Q - What is your favorite Movie of all-time?
Jamie - I have several favorite movies. I guess the best way to break it down is by genre. My favorite drama would be The Godfather Part II. My favorite comedy would be Smokey and the Bandit. My favorite sports movie would probably be Slap Shot with Paul Newman. Favorite war movie would be either Patton or Saving Private Ryan. All of those are my favorites.
Q - Who is your favorite actor?
Jamie - I would have to say that my favorite actor is Cary Grant. He was tremendously talented in drama and comedy. Closely followed by Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, and John Wayne.
Q - I see you are from Lake Charles? Is that where you were born and raised?
Jamie - Yes, I was born and raised in Lake Charles, but my roots are from North Louisiana. My parents came from Haynesville, Louisiana, which is known as one of the football capitols of the State. My father was a really good player at Haynesville who played his college football at the University of Houston. He got a job in the sporting goods business in Lake Charles and never left. So I was born and raised there.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Jamie - I just wanted to be successful. When it was football season I wanted to be a pro football star. Basketball season I wanted to be a pro basketball star. Baseball season, a baseball star. Whatever I was doing at the time I just wanted to be successful.
Q - Did you play multiple sports while attending LaGrange High School?
Jamie - At LaGrange I concentrated on football and track. Up until high school I played everything and really enjoyed it. I really loved playing basketball, but when I got to high school I knew the best shot I had at going to college on a athletic scholarship was going to be in football. So I concentrated on football and track.
Q - Can you tell us a little about your recruiting process?
Jamie - I started all four years I was at LaGrange. I starter my first game as a 14 year old freshman. I had some encouragement to attend some camps and started to get some visits early on in my high school career. I ended up taking five visits as a senior. I visited West Point because I wanted to see what the military had to offer. I visited Notre Dame, UCLA. then TCU, who was the Southwest Conference Champions at the time and then LSU.
Q - What made you chose LSU over the other school who recruited you?
Jamie - Well in all honesty LSU was always the front runner. I'm from Louisiana so I always thought it was important to represent your community and everyone in Lake Charles was pretty much LSU fans. I thought it was important to represent your state and obviously LSU Is The Big Show in Louisiana football. All the other places that I visited and all the other teams that were interested in me, I really do appreciate it. But there really was no question where I was going and It was a wonderful choice that I made all those years ago.
Q - Tell us about Bill Arnspager?
Jamie - I feel honored to have been recruited by LSU and even more honored with the opportunity to sign with LSU.
Coach Arnsbarger in my opinion may be the best pure coach ever to coach at LSU, certainly during modern times. There was one thing that you never had to game plan for when you played on a Coach Arnsparger team, and that was to be outcoached. There were teams that were bigger, there were teams that were faster, but there was never a team that was more prepared then a Bill Arnsparger coached team.
He was a great coach and he brought in great assistants who went on to fame and fortune in the NFL. Just look at some of the staff that he had. He just had tremendous coaches around him and he was a tremendous coach himself.
The year before he got to LSU, which was my junior year in high school, LSU did not win a single SEC game. The next season, he is the head coach and they win the SEC and go to the Sugar Bowl. That's worst to first. I don't know of any other coach in the SEC who has ever done that. He never lost to Alabama. In two out of the three years he coached, he won the SEC Title which is pretty unheard of.
As far as our relationship, he left after my sophomore season to become the athletic director at Florida. We always remained in touch. In fact, later in life, after I got out of law school we would talk once every four to six months. Usually it was a call that he initiated and he would start off usually asking me some legal question, but it was really just to talk. I always appreciated that he would call me his lawyer. For someone like me who always had wonderful and positive thoughts of him as a person and a coach, It's always made me feel good. I’m a big fan of Bill Arnsparger.
Q - After Coach Arnsparger decided to leave, LSU would hire Mike Archer. Can you tell us a little about him?
Jamie - Well the best that I can recall, Coach Arnsparger left and was going to Florida. There was some thought on who was going to get the job.
Ultimately Mike Archer, our defensive coordinator, got the job. He was a young dynamic coach, who was smart enough, even at a very young age, to keep a very talented coaching staff intact. His first two years at LSU, in 1987 we finished fourth in the nation, 10-1-1. Then in 1988, my senior year, we won the SEC and won some of the most significant games in LSU history.
He did really well, but was young and had some issues the year after I left. He was ultimately let go. But he was a good coach.
Q - Tell us about any of your favorite games or great moments when you were a LSU Tiger....
Jamie - It's so long ago. Games and special games you still remember parts of them but you're not as familiar as you were with them 10 to 20 years ago.
Let's talk about 1988 which was my senior year. It was a very good LSU team. It wasn't as talented as the teams from 1986 or 1987. It was a team that cared a lot about each other. It had very good players, some significant and great players. Some of the greatest players in LSU history.
It was a Up & Down Season that had some of the highest of the highs and some lowest of the lows. There's not just one important game that took place that season. There was actually a lot of important games and most of them we won.
Obviously we lost in the debacle at Ohio State when we were ahead by 13 points with a 1:48 left and got beat, so that was a low.
But the two high points that year were the Auburn game that we won 7 to 6 on the great Hodson to Fuller pass, known as the earthquake game. That happens to be the game that gets the most attention. But as a player, I think the Alabama game that took place in Tuscaloosa that year was a better game. We won that game 19-18. It was a game that went back and forth. We fell behind 15-0 but just kept clawing our way back and eventually won the game.
I had the opportunity to watch that game on YouTube the other day. It was funny, the sideline reporter back at that time was Pat O'Brien and he did a segment where he was talking to the Alabama doctors. One of the Alabama doctors said as one of the Crimson Tide players was coming off the field, said that he had never been in that physical of a game before.
That's the way I remember it on our side as well. It was a knock-down-drag-out SEC classic with us pulling it out 19-18. So we won the SEC in 1988 by beating Auburn and Alabama, 'The state of Alabama' by two points. I have a lot of satisfaction from those memories.
What really matters most to me now, and it kind of really did then, is to meet and play with some great players from all around the State and surrounding States. I remember just how lucky I was to play with great players and make some great friends on those teams. To me that's the most important memories that I have is the small things, friendships made with incredible players that I got to play with. You can't buy that.
That 1988 team again was not the most physically dominant team. It had a lot of role players, myself included. It had some superstars. It was just a good team. We won a lot of good games and I think the reason why we did was 1: Because we were use to winning, and 2: When things got tough we seemed to get better, with the exception of that Ohio State game.
I consider myself fortunate to be able to play and to be able to contribute during that four year period. I was very lucky. My four years at LSU we won the SEC twice. Honestly we should have won it all for years. In 1985 and in 1987 we were only a half a game out. In fact in 1987 with today's scenario there's no doubt we would have been in the playoff format with a chance to win the national championship. That 1987 team was a great team.
Q - When your playing time was done at LSU, did you look for an opportunity to play at the next level?
Jamie - No I didn't. I had a plan that I was going to play football as long as I could. I showed up at LSU with a bad back. I played my entire career with a bad back. I still have a bad back today. There was some physical limitations due to injuries.
I ended up doing Postgraduate School. Our athletic director Joe Dean was really really good to former players and always wanted us to succeed. He made it available for me to stay at LSU, live in a dorm, and work for the athletic department while I was going to law school. I really appreciate the opportunities that LSU has provided to me and that's why I try to give back.
Q - After finishing Law School I see you worked at a Law Firm and now you're a Judge?
Jamie - That's correct. I practiced law from 1993 until 2015 when I was elected Judge in Lake Charles City Court and I've been on the bench for five and a half years now. I enjoy that change in lifestyle and really enjoying being a Judge here.
Q - Is there anything that you would like to tell the LSU fans?
Jamie - I would just like to thank the LSU fans, I call them my LSU family because of the friends that I've made during my time there whether it was students or faculty. I tried to meet everyone that I could while I was there from the Chancellor of the University to the janitors in each department
I appreciated everyone as much as I could. I think LSU has a very unique fan base. A lot of those folks went to LSU so they are alumni. But LSU has something called ABC, and that’s 'Alumni By Choice'. It's really unique the way Louisianians come together for LSU. I appreciate those people very much.