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.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former LSU linebacker Jacob Cutrera. Cutrera was recruited by Les Miles and played for the Tigers from 2006-2009. He made an immediate impact both on defense as well as LSU’s kick coverage units. He was a solid contributor during his four seasons always playing at a high level when needed. He would play in 49 games, starting six times. Jacob finished his LSU career with 172 total tackles, 12 tackles for losses and one sack. He graduated in December of 2009 with a degree in general studies.
He played in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Jacob - One of my buddies mentioned that I needed to watch a fairly new TV series on HBO called Ozark. So right now that's my favorite. I'm hooked into it and binge watching it like crazy with this coronavirus going on.
Q - What is your favorite food?
Jacob - I'm really not a picky eater when it comes to food. But what would my last meal be? It would be boiled crawfish until I’d pop..
Q - Who is your favorite pro athlete?
Jacob - My favorite pro athlete of all time, ... when I was a kid, my brother and I were really big into the 1990s Chicago Bulls, and of course Michael Jordan. With that documentary coming out how could you not pick him? He was just extraordinary to watch and it's fascinating now to see, as me playing in a professional sport. I kind of know the ins-and-outs and it's kind of similar across the board with basketball and football the way that teams are run. It's fascinating to see now and what I thought back then, as how everything goes down behind closed doors. I'm really enjoying that TV series.
Q - Who are your favorite sports teams that you enjoy following?
Jacob - LSU is number one. Always has been, always will be. I watch professional stuff but If I have a professional team that I pull for, it would be the two teams that I played for, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Q - Who is your favorite music artist?
Jacob - Music, man, I really can't pick out a favorite. It really depends on my mood. I can listen to country and then go straight into rock, then hip hop. I really don't have a preference when it comes to music. Before I would play a game I would just about blow my eardrums out with some heavy rock. That would get me going. A little hip-hop here and there. Yea, my ears would be ringing when I take my headphones off.
Q - What is your favorite movie?
Jacob - I'm an ex-football player and ex-linebacker so I enjoy contact and violent things. So I like the old gladiator-style movies. My favorite was the movie Troy with Brad Pitt. I thought it was a great movie. Nothing has topped that since. I like the entire Rocky series also.
Q - Who is your favorite actor?
Jacob - That's a tough one. There are so many good ones. I really enjoyed funny movies , so Will Ferrell comes to mind. That's the type of humor that I really enjoy.
Q - I see you're from Lafayette. Have you pretty much lived there all your life?
Jacob - Yes. Born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. My parents are from the Morgan City area. But, yes. I grew up in Lafayette.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Jacob - My family is a big sports family. My mom played tennis here in Lafayette at ULL. My aunt played tennis at UL-Monroe, which was called North Eastern Louisiana at the time and she is in the Hall of Fame over there. So growing up we were playing tennis, football, baseball, basketball, whatever the season was or the flavor of the day, we were doing it. I always dreamed of myself doing something in the sports world.
Q - Did you play multiple sports at Acadiana High School?
Jacob - I did. Up until high school I played basketball, I ran track, played baseball, and of course football. When I got to high school I played football, but they had a conflict with you playing track, basketball, and baseball. I chose the sport that I thought I was the best in, and that was baseball. So I played baseball my freshman and sophomore year but then I tore my labrum in my throwing arm playing football and that put a damper on my baseball season. From there on out I ran track. Contrary to popular belief, I could actually move pretty good. I was on the 4x1 team and I was the anchor. Was on the 4x2 team and also ran the 200. I enjoyed that and I think that if your a football prospect who has dreams of playing football on the next level, that track is maybe the best thing that you could possibly do for yourself. Especially if you're looking to get better and want to improve your speed. Not being able to play baseball was like a blessing in disguise, because it allowed me to run track and to train, get faster, stronger, and more explosive.
Q - Want to tell us about any memoriable personal and/or team accomplishments while playing at Acadiana High School?
Jacob - Up until my senior year at Acadiana we had never gone as far as the semi-finals and lost.. Never had Acadiana made it to the finals. My graduation year was 2006. 2005 was when Hurricane Katrina hit.
Obviously we couldn't play in the Dome my senior year. Actually we beat Hahnville in the semi-final game and advanced to the state championship. With the Superdome in the condition it was in after Katrina, they moved the game to Shreveport, Louisiana and we played in Independence Bowl stadium. It was a cold night and we were playing number one ranked West Monroe. They had a ton of guys that went on the play college ball. I'm really the only guy from my team that went on to play big time D1 football. I think we were just inexperience on that level of play. It was a good game until the very end. They got late touchdowns that made the score look worse than it actually was. It was a hard-fought game. I wish that we could play it over again and Acadiana could go into it with the same confidence that they have now. Now they just walk into a stadium and they know they're going to win. They just have that type of attitude and it takes that type of attitude to have the winning program that they have now. l look at it like we were the building blocks to where they are at now. I'm proud of my school and I wish nothing but the best for them going forward.
Q - Can you tell us how your recruiting process went?
Jacob - There was so many. Once a big school offers you, it's like monkey see-monkey do. All the rest of them pretty much fall right in line. I think Ole Miss was my first one, then they just started pouring in.
Then I ended up getting invited to LSU Junior Day with all the top prospects in the state and in the surrounding areas. A guy comes up to me and my parents and says, “Hey, would you mind walking with us? Coach Miles wants to talk to you in his office.” .. We go talk with him and he offers me on the spot. .. I grew up such a die-hard fan. Growing up in my house, it wasn't about any professional team. It wasn't the Saints, or anything else, it was all LSU. Me being so young and with LSU being my absolute dream school, I committed on the spot.
The only regret I do have is not taking my official visits to other schools. I wish I would have done that. But I had no interest at all in going to any other school.
Ole Miss had offered me and at that time Coach O was their head coach. I had no interest in going to Ole Miss whatsoever. But when I tell you that he called me. He called me, it wasn't any assistant. He would call me a couple of times a week, every week until I signed the papers my senior year to go to LSU. I remember telling my dad, "Hey, Dad I'm not going to Ole Miss, but I'm starting to really like this dude. He's awesome.” .. He just has a way with guys that he can relate to you. There are some recruiters that you come across, you speak to them and they really can't relate to a younger person. But Coach O just has it. It shows in the recruiting classes that he's bringing in currently at LSU. You can just tell that he has that relentless mindset, that he's going to get you no matter what. But LSU had a lot of talent there that Junior Day and I was one of the few that they decided to offer that day. I'm very fortunate.
I was actually concerned, because Nick Saban and his staff was recruiting me. When he left to go to Miami I was worried about what was going to happen. But sure enough Coach Miles picked up right where they left off. Everything just worked out great. I had committed so the pressure was off of me in the sense that I could now just focus on my senior year and not have to really worry about all these other schools and talking to all these other guys.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Les Miles?
Jacob - Coach Miles is an extraordinary guy. He truly cares for his players, his team, and their well-being. You come across some of these other coaches that it’s strictly business with them. They don't ask you anything about your personal life. They don’t ask how your mom and dad are doing. Every time I got to speak with Coach Miles one on one, he would always ask how my dad was doing. He just loved my dad and my family. That made me feel good. I know he cared and he would always say, “You and your dad have the same kind of relationship as me and my dad, and I appreciate that.”
He is just a good wholesome guy. I was sad to see him go but I thought his time was kind of running out. Coaching at LSU and playing there is a stressful situation. The pressure to win is always there. I felt more pressure to win at LSU then I did on any NFL team that I played on and that's just crazy. I just thought that teams were getting a beat on what we were doing at LSU and kind of figuring us out. I think the timing of the change was right. But I have nothing but good things to say about Coach Miles and the way he ran things when I was there.
Q - Tell us about any favorite games or moments you have from being a LSU Tiger?
Jacob - There are so many. Maybe something that everyone doesn’t know, the fans out there, but during the 2007 national championship year, as you know we lost two games that year, both came in double overtime. We were playing in the SEC Championship game against Tennessee and had just beat them, and I to get into the National championship game, two or three other teams needed to lose. All of the stars aligned in those teams ended up losing.
We were on our way back home from just winning the SEC Championship Game and I'll never forget. It's a little more relaxed when you charter a plane. They have rules but they don't really apply. There is a lot more moving around and you don't need to keep your seat belt on. No one is really enforcing stuff like that. Some of the players were playing cards and others are just talking among themselves.
The pilot comes on and he announces that the last team that we needed to lose, lost. As soon as he does that everyone starts jumping up and down and is going crazy. Well the weirdest thing that I have never experienced on a flight, and I've experienced bad turbulence, and all kind of things. But everything's on the plane went dark. All the lights went out. It felt like the engine shut off. I'm not kidding. Then we free fall for what felt like forever. We didn't nose dive, it just felt like the bottom fell out of the plane and we just dropped, we were dropping. Suddenly, all the lights and everything came back on and everyone's looking around, freaking out and screaming, “What’s going on!” .. The weirdest thing was the pilot never came on to tell us what just happened or to tell us that everything was alright. He just went about going home as normal and everyone's just sitting in their seats all freaked out. It was a roller coaster of emotions for sure. I don't know if that story is out there, but now it is.
Then there's winning the National Championship in 2007. A lot of my best moments obviously happened during that year. In the moment in that National Championship year, you’re so focused on what you need to do, that it's hard for you to enjoy the moment as a player. You're so focused on obtaining that goal and you can’t really enjoy the process that's actually going on around you. You can, but you can't. So this year, I as a fan and a former player really really enjoyed watching them play and couldn't be happier for them. That Championship was for every former player. That was for every Tiger out there. It was really special to be there and witness all that. All the stuff that you don't get to do as a player, that the fans get to enjoy. That was special for me.
Q - Tell us about your NFL career?
Jacob - I came off a good senior year. I thought I played pretty well. Well enough to get drafted. Ended up not getting drafted and signed a free-agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. My agent and I felt like that was the best opportunity for me to make the team and play somewhere.
That's one thing about LSU, we set a record in this year's draft with the amount of players that were drafted, which is incredible and special. It speaks volumes for the program that we have there.
To that point, what doesn't get talked about much is that if you go to LSU and you don't get drafted, it's not the end of the world. Every guy out there who has the desire to play in the NFL, if you go to LSU you will get a shot. A chance somewhere. You will go to camp and you'll have an opportunity. With most schools that's not the case. LSU has a program that is respected so much around the country and by the NFL that just by going to LSU, opportunities arise. The respect is there and it's noticed big time among the NFL.
I went to Jacksonville and worked my butt off. Beat out a few drafted guys which was really cool for me. Then making the 53 man roster was a special thing. I spent about a year-and-a-half over there and got bumped down to the practice squad. When you're on a practice squad any team can pick you up and put you on their 53-man roster.
Almost immediately Tampa Bay grabbed me and I was fortunate to now only be 3 hours away from where I was living. So that worked out great.
Another Funny Story is... That all happened in I believe week five. Tampa had won three or four games at the time. They were having a pretty good season, and my first game there we played the Saints in Tampa. We ended up beating the crap out of them. I remember calling my dad and saying, “Man, dad I think we are really good. I think we will make it to the playoffs.” .. Well after that we didn't win a single game the rest of the season and the entire coaching staff ended up getting fired.
I played another year and ended up getting a few concussions. My fourth year in a preseason game against Miami, I got another concussion right after we had our daughter a few days before.
I had seen a neurologist before going into that season and they were kind of hinting towards that I shouldn’t play anymore. They really couldn’t tell me one way or the other, but did tell me once you keep getting them the way I was, the symptoms seem to last longer and longer. I ended up getting another one and sure enough they were right.
At that point I made a decision. After the team put me on IR, I decided I was done. I got four years in and proved that I can play at this level. There was nothing really else for me to prove. I'll take the health that I have with me now and hopefully live a longer life because of it.
Q - Can't you tell us a little about what you're doing now for a career?
Jacob - After that 2014 season my wife, new born little girl and I decided to move back to Louisiana. We ended up choosing my home town, Lafayette. I took about a year off, just wanting to cool off for a little bit.
An ex-teammate of mine, Ace Foyil was working at Stryker Orthopaedics at the time. He was with the general manager of Stryker and Ace had just saw one my brother in the hospital, who sells medical devices as well. He asked how I was doing and what I was up to these days. My brother told him and apparently the manager of Stryker told Ace to call me and see if I'd be interested in a position in Lafayette. He called and I heard it out and six interviews later I end up getting the job. The job was, basically we have the implants that replace total knees, total hips, shoulders.
I did that for four years and now I'm with a Johnson & Johnson Company called Ethicon. So we are in surgery. We are known for our sutures but we have everything from surgical stapling to electro-surgery stuff, bio-surgery stuff. We could be in any kind of surgery case in really any specialty. Day to day I'm in the hospitals and in surgeries.
My pardner and I have 25 hospitals that we cover, so we stay pretty busy and I'm enjoying it.
Also my dad and a few other guys like Craig Steltz, some former players that are buddies of mine. Josh Scobey, I played with him in Jacksonville, he was our kicker. Also John Parker Wilson, former quarterback from Alabama, and Smylie Kaufman, we all are owners for a 'Walk-Ons' in Hoover, Alabama. We just opened up in late December.
Q - Is there anything you want to tell the LSU fans?
Jacob - The LSU fans are like no other fan base in the Country. I haven't seen any other that can come close to them. The passion and the love that they have for their teams and their school doesn't go unnoticed. I can tell you that the players really enjoy their support. Thank you...
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former football player Craig Rathjen who was recruited by Jerry Stovall. Rathjen played fullback for the Tigers from 1982-1985. The 6'3" 205lb, Houston, Texas native helped open up holes for running backs Dalton Hilliard and Garry James. Unfortunately Rathjen had to miss his senior season ('86) due to a back injury.
At one time Craig was also an Executive Committee member and Chairman of the Finance Committee at the Tiger Athletic Foundation. He also served on the business school‘s Dean’s Advisory Council.
In 2015, a ceremony was held to unveil the naming of Tiger Stadium's Gate 8 in honor of the Rathjen & Rutland Families. Their gate represents a million dollars of support to LSU Athletics! The family members include former Tiger letterwinners: Craig Rathjen (LSU Football 83-85), Donna Rogers Rathjen (LSU Gymnastics 83-85) and James “Pepper” Rutland (LSU Football 70-72).
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Craig - Game of Thrones. ... I love the storyline. It was amazingly directed. The sets were so complicated. I thought the acting was some of the best I've ever seen. How can you not like a show that has dragons. It is just so enjoying to watch.
Q - What is your favorite food?
Craig - That’s pretty easy, my favorite is ice cream.
Q - Who is your favorite pro athlete?
Craig - Before I get to my favorite pro athlete because that’s pretty hard, let me tell you a little bit about the local athletes and people that were directly or indirectly from Houston. We have a lot good ones. I loved watching Roger Clemens. His children went to the same high school as mine so I got to interact with him a little bit, and watch his kids grow up. He has two of them in the minor leagues right now.
Ray Childress was a defensive lineman for the Houston Oilers, I think he was the second pick overall. Ray is someone who I've admired for a long time. He is tenacious and doesn't let anything stop him. He was a great football player.
Then Nolan Ryan obviously, Roger and Nolan both may be the greatest pitchers ever. So I love Nolan.
Earl Campbell, I love Dalton Hilliard. I've always said he was the best I've ever been around. Earl Campbell was pretty special.
Mary Lou Retton, who in 1984 was the first U.S. gymnasts to win an all-around gold metal was incredidle. By the way, Mary Lou Retten's daughter, McKenna Kelly, just finished an outstanding gynastics career at LSU last season.
Then my new guy that I've liked since he was a teenager, from Houston and he played college ball with my son at Rice is Anthony Rendon. Anthony was on the Nationals last year, play third base and won his first World Series. He got traded to Anaheim this year. I think Anthony is on his way to be a Hall of Famer. Those are kind of the Houston guys. ..
But my all-time favorite is Muhammad Ali. He was the best athletes of his time maybe even one of the greatest ever. He was flamboyant and no one has been more entertaining than Muhammad Ali as far as I’m concerned.
He competed in an individual sport, right? There was never any question whether it was the people around him, or him. It was him walking into that ring. I just think it was amazing what he was able to accomplish. I don't pick favorites just by going by their athletic performance. Muhammad at the time stood up for things that were his strong beliefs in a time where there was enormous pressure for him not to do the things that he was doing. It cost him money. It cost him titles. It cost him prestige. But at the end of the day he came back out on top. The struggles he went through and the choices that he made makes him one of the best athletes and people ever. So yes, my favorite would be Muhammad Ali.
Q - Who is your favorite sports team?
Craig - I'll give you a couple because giving you just one is hard. LSU football team obviously. I'm a season ticket holder. If I can't make it to a game, I'm watching it on TV. I love what Coach O has done. I think all the coaches have done an excellent job. So excited about last year. Big fan and we raised four children who are all big Tiger fans even though none of them went to LSU. Although I'm about to get my first tiger, my daughter has just been accepted into their MBA program so she'll be going there next year.
We love LSU gymnastics as well, like I mentioned my wife was a gymnast at LSU. We follow them and my wife and I try to make every home gymnastics meet.
As far as football goes in the NFL, I love to watch the Saints. They are my favorite team even though I'm from Houston. I've always struggled with Houston football teams. We could never seem to quite put it together.
I think the Rockets from a basketball perspectives have done a great job. The culture around the Rockets is good, the ownership has done a nice job there.
From a baseball perspective, I've been a Yankees fan from as far back as I can remember. I don't really have a reason for being a Yankees fan other than when I was growing up they had the tradition. They won all the time. But what I think I really liked was the interaction between their owner, George Steinbrenner and their manager, Billy Martin. Steinbrenner would fire Martin and then rehire him and then fire and rehire him again. They have this love-hate relationship. I never understood it but I just thought it was the greatest thing ever. So I think they would be my favorite baseball team. It's hard to pick just one favorite. I love all the sports in the SEC. I'll turn on the SEC network and I'll just sit there all day and watch that stuff.
Q - Who is your favorite music artist?
Craig - Once again I’ll get there kinda slowly. We kinda have to do this by decade. In high school I was a big Jim Morrison of The Doors fan. They were my favorite. They really weren't over popular when I was in high school, but for some reason I was just drawn to their music.
When I was in college my favorite bands were Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes, and The Rolling Stones. I'm pretty much a big classic rock fan.
As I become older, I would say now I spend a lot of time listening to Chris Cornell when he was with Soundgarden and Audioslave. Big fan of his.
But if you going to go for the all-time favorite I think I'd have to go with The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Q - What's your favorite Movie?
Craig - I have like three favorite movies. My favorite comedy and I seen this movie over 10 times is Talladega Nights. The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is the full title I think, with Will Ferrell. It's a family favorite. Every time we get together we usually watch Talladega Nights. We quote the movie all the time. So that's my favorite comedy.
I would say that Gladiator with Russell Crowe is one of my favorites, and finally would be the original Matrix with Keanu Reeves. If you had to make me pick I would say the Matrix is my all-time favorite. I know not too many people would look at that and say that it's a great movie, but I loved the movie.
Q - Who is your favorite actor?
Craig - That's a hard one and its not maybe a good one, but he's the one that makes me laugh. It's got to be Will Ferrell. Great actors that do a good job, simply entertain us. You got to get a good laugh in life. I value the comedy.
Q - You said you are from Houston, is that where you lived most of your life?
Craig - I was born in Oklahoma but moved to Houston when I was little. I believe I was one year old. I've been here my whole life. I grew up in the Memorial area and went to Memorial High School and played some football and baseball there.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Craig - When I was a little kid all I wanted to be was a little kid. My dad was a successful businessman. He would teach me about the stock market and teach me about real estate. Just business in general. He was very serious about business. I was more interested in playing video games or watching sports on TV, playing football or doing something.
My vision and what I wanted to do, you know obviously sports was in there. I suppose if I could have become a professional ball player that would have been great.
I started at LSU as a petroleum engineer because my dad told me that was a great profession. I think my first week of class I found out that wasn't cut out for me. They told us to pull out our big sheets of paper and to start drafting. Now they do it all on computers, but back then I was like, “Oh, This isn’t going to work.”.
Then I moved to geology because he told me if I wasn't smart enough to be a petroleum engineer that I should try geology. By all means, I hope I don't insult any geologist. But then I realized I don't know much about rocks either.
I ended up going through the business school and that worked well. Until I was about a junior I still didn't know what I wanted to do. I interned one summer at Howard Weil and I kind of fell in love with that. That's what I've been doing for 33 years. Well that's a long way to answer, but I didn't know what I wanted to do.
Q - Did you play multiple sports at Memorial High School?
Craig - I played both football and baseball. In football I was pretty much a I-formation or pro-style fullback. In high school they actually gave me the ball. In college they decided not to give me the ball but we can talk about that later. I had about a thousand yards rushing as a fullback so I had a good career in football. When I was a sophomore we went to the state championship game and lost, but we had a good team. As a junior and a senior we won District but didn't get that far into the playoffs. That was a great experience.
I love what football provided with the bonding and the team experience. That worked well for me for a long time in the family and in the business.
As for baseball, I did baseball just for fun. I wasn't knowledgeable on how to play the game. I played baseball like I play golf now, I just try to hit the ball far. I could hit the ball pretty well, but if you hit me a ground ball or a fly ball there was a 50% chance that I was going to miss it. As a junior I ended up playing designated hitter. I hit like .444 with nine home runs and made like honorable mention or second team All-State just as a DH. No one needs just a DH in college, especially one that if your playing first base and the ball goes between his legs two or three times in an inning. My baseball career was probably pretty limited. But I enjoyed it.
Q - What was your recruiting process like?
Craig - Most of the schools in Texas were recruiting me. My first choice at the time was SMU. If you can remember that was the time that they had Craig James and Eric Dickerson in the backfield together with the Pony Express. They were beating everybody, just all of a sudden they started winning, right? Then we found out why they were winning, because they were paying their players. I had an official visit scheduled to SMU and Ron Meyer who was the head coach there at the time decided to leave to go be the head coach of the New England Patriots. SMU decided to bring in Bobby Collins from Southern Mississippi. I've never heard of Southern Mississippi and I certainly hadn't heard of Bobby Collins. No disrespect to either one of them. So I decided to cancel my SMU visit.
I took official visits to the University of Texas, TCU, and LSU. I also took some unofficial visit to A&M, Rice, and University of Houston. I went on my visit to Texas. I sat down and talked with the coach Fred Akers and my experience with Texas recruiting in football was, ‘If you weren’t like the number player in the state, they kinda go, we would like to have you but we're Texas, so if you don't want to come here it's okay.’ .. That was their recruiting model. So that wasn't so special in my eyes. They also had some running backs that were young and very good and they were also bringing in the number one running back in the state. They were full in the backfield and I certainly didn't feel like a priority.
TCU back then weren't nearly the program that they are today. It was a good school. It was a good program. But they just weren’t at the quality of play that they have been recently. I liked TCU, but it just didn't feel like home.
The interesting part of my recruitment is kind of like the way I see everything in life over time. We had won District and we were playing in the Astrodome during the playoffs. I think we were playing Madison High School Houston and I had a long run for a touchdown. The only two things that I remember about the game is that I had a long touchdown run and we lost. Later I hear from George Belu, who was the offensive line coach and the Houston area recruiter from LSU. George had been at the game and it was the only game he saw of mine, and wanted me to take a visit to LSU.
I sit back these days and think, “How many times in my life has one person given me an opportunity to do something as special as play football at a great University?” … All I think about is that's how fortunate I am in certain regards of life. What if George Belu had gone to go get popcorn and didn't see my long touchdown run? He probably wouldn't have noticed me the rest of the game and I never would have had that opportunity. One of the main reasons why I went to LSU is because of Georgia Belu. I love that man and he loved me and gave me an opportunity that changed my life. I've got to be honest, I would have to say that he is the main reason.
When I went on my official visit, I think the turning point that put it over the top was walking out of the tunnel, stepping out onto the field, walking through the double goal post, I'm looking up at the stands and imagining that place full on a Saturday night.
Q - Can you tell us is there any other reasons why you chose LSU?
Craig - I don't think I've ever been to Louisiana prior to my official visit. I was an only child who grew up in Memorial which is a pretty affluent neighborhood and I wasn’t used to anything remotely like I was going to experience in the LSU athletic dorms. I hadn't run into people from South Louisiana that I had a hard time understanding. I certainly hadn’t experience some of the people from New Orleans that had different ways of thinking than me. When I visited LSU there was an instant appreciation for the culture. I love the walking around the campus seeing the old oak trees and the architecture. It felt so warm. Then, in the stadium, the experience of that was special. I like Jerry Stovall as a head coach. I like the running back coach who was Darrell Moody at the time. He was a nice guy and he did a good job. I just love the culture. I love the people. It just felt like home.
Q - Can you tell us a little bit about Coach Stovall?
Craig - Yes. I think everybody would tell you pretty much the same thing about Jerry. One of the nicest men you could ever meet. He was very transparent and straightforward. If he had a problem with you he would tell you. If he liked what you were doing he would tell you. He'd be the first to yell at you and the first to hug you. From that standpoint he was great.
He did a great job with the coaching staff and was a great recruiter. When I came in in 1982, that was a great recruiting class. Offensively w e had Gary and Dalton come in. Wickersham at the quarterback position. We had Mitch Andrews at tight end. Curt Gore at guard. It was a pretty strong recruiting class. The defense was amazing.
In Coach Stovall's first year we went to the Orange Bowl. Lost to Nebraska but had a great year.
Then the next season we lost Mack Brown as our offensive coordinator and brought in Morris Watts. Our first game of the year was against Washington and they were ranked pretty high. Definitely in the top five and we beat them like a drum, so I thought we were off to a good start. By the end of the year we ended up, I think we are still the only team that didn’t win a game in the SEC.
You're talking about a lot of the same talent that the year before had gone to the Orange Bowl and had a great year. You're talking about the same team that the next year had a great year and went to the Sugar Bowl. There was just some drop off. I contributed it to the loss of Mack Brown and it cost Jerry his job. As a player you never want to see your coach get fired.
As far as I'm concerned Jerry Stovall is one of the finest men I've ever met and I have nothing but total respect for the way he carries himself. What a great athlete he was also. The stories of his playing career are simply outstanding.
Q - How did you and the team handle the coaching change?
Craig - I'll speak for myself. At first I was angry that the coaches were on the chopping block. It became apparent to me in our game against Tennessee. Darrell Moody was the running backs coach and you can just see it in his face. The tension to win and the pressure they were under to keep their jobs. I remember Gene Lang was playing fullback and Gene was playing fine. Coach Moody pulled Gene out the game because we weren't moving the football. Then he put me in and I thought I was playing fine. But we weren't moving the ball. At halftime he told both Gene and I that we weren't going back in. The pressure that you could see on Moody was enormous. So I believed Garland Jean Batiste was playing in the second half and Garland was playing fine. When you think about it I think the reason why we weren't moving the ball was because we kept running the ball right at Reggie White. I don't think anyone runs the ball on Reggie White. The man was a beast.
After the game we were in the film room and I think coach Moody had a chance to review the game film and he came to us and he said, “Look, I reviewed the game film and you guys were playing fine. You weren't the problem.” .. That's when you can see that there was at least an awareness that their jobs were on the line.
Bob Broadhead brought us all in to let us know what was going on. I would say pretty much everyone was a little angry with it because Coach Stovall was lovable and he was our leader. You would have a hard time not wanting to defend that man.
Q - Want to tell us a little about Coach Arnsparger?
Craig - I've got to be honest with you, as great as Coach Stovall was, the best coach I ever had was Bill Arnsparger. He came in with a different mindset. Jerry Stovall was hard-nosed, old school. Arnsparger was very stern and had rules and would stick to them. He had come from the atmosphere or the environment of pro football.
Jerry Stovall treated us like young adults. He had an early curfew. He wanted to know where everyone was at every moment.
Arnsparger came in and he held you to a high standard, but it was your responsibility to meet those standards. He treated you more as grown men and that you were responsible for yourself. A lot of people would screw up and he would say, “I'm sorry, but you need to go find something else to do.” .. That occurred for a while and then It stopped occurring because everybody got the message.
Bill Anrspager was obviously a great mind. He was a great defensive coach and had great coaches around him. Morris Watts was gone and we brought in Ed Zaunbrecher and I think Coach Zaunbrecher made a big difference in the offense.
I think the main thing that Bill Arnsparger did was he would focus on you knowing what you were supposed to do. Whereas Coach Stovall wanted to watch you do it at full speed and I think we ended up going into some of those games in the 1983 season with dead legs. Specifically our running backs would have been tired. Dalton and Garry, when you have dead legs it's hard to play at the level that those guys were capable.
Arnsparger’s practices would go like this. We would scrimmage obviously in the preseason and then only scrimmage before the first game or two. But then after that it was pretty light from a contact standpoint. It was more running through your plays and making sure you knew what to do against different fronts and how to handle it. We went into the games with fresh legs and you started to see the talent that was on the field start to live up to their potential. From then on as long as I can recall, Bill Arnsparger’s teams were always in the top ten.
Q - What were some favorite games or moments you had as a LSU Tiger?
Craig - Let's see, I think my favorite game is going to be, and anyone who came in and was around in 1982, would have to say the Florida State game to go to the Orange Bowl. It was like nothing I've ever seen.
The fans apparently had bought all of the oranges in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. How they got them into the stadium is still beyond me. To get in with boxes of oranges? It was amazing, it started early and I realized early that I better keep my helmet on.
Some of these oranges had been frozen and they were still pretty hard. I remember a coach or two were getting hit by them and they told us all to put our helmets on. I specifically remember Dalton, and I can't remember how many touchdowns he scored, but at least on one or two of them that oranges we're coming at speeds that I couldn't imagine and in numbers that were just ridiculous.
I want to say that we got several penalties from the fans throwing all the oranges that night. We stepped on the accelerator and Florida State I didn’t think was never really in the game.
My other recollection from that is that I recall the day after the games we would historically take a jog around the field several times. That day we weren't able to take our jog because all of the oranges were still out there and there were too many of them. It was an amazing thing. I think anybody would say the same thing, players or fans. I still don't know where all those oranges were coming from. A lot of them were coming from the student section, but they were coming from the regular fans too.
I guess my other favorite game happened during the next season in Houston when we were playing Rice. It was my first time back in Houston to play a game and I scored my first touchdown as a Tiger. It was a trap right up the middle and I talked to Wickersham after the game. He came up to me and said, “Hey, you know I almost audibled out of that play.” .. He said that there was a linebacker on our left side that was going to blitz, but didn’t check out of it and left it on, and it ended up working because the guy just ran himself out of the play. There was nobody in my way and not even I could have screwed that one up. Scoring in front of my home crowd, with my high school coaches there, and my parents there. So that was a special experience.
Q - Why didn't you play in 1985 for your senior season?
Craig - In my junior year around the middle of the season during practice we were in shorts and shoulder pads and we were running one of those 50% drills where you go through it and you know what you're doing. Basically, all I did at LSU was block, so I was lead blocking on a linebacker and the linebacker either didn't remember that it was a 50% play or he just wanted to remind me that he was there. But he came into the hole and hit me pretty hard. We had to rerun the play because clearly it just didn't work out so well. So, on the next play I went full-speed and I dove at his knees and ended up rupturing a disc in my back and then I limped through the rest of my junior year. If it would have been my knee or something like that I would have tried to rehab it. With it being my back, the idea of possibly screwing it up in a bad way wasn't appealing. I talked to Arnsparger about it and we both decided that it was best that I shouldn't play in the ‘86 season.
Q - Did you try at all to pursue a professional football career?
Craig - No. During my junior year I saw that they came out with these draft reports. I was projected as a late round draft choice. There wasn't any chance that I was going to have a lasting pro career under any circumstance. The reason why I played at LSU was because I was willing to do something that not a lot of people wanted to do. I hardly ever carried the ball. I hardly ever caught a pass. I ended up running into people that were twice my size. The only other thing I could do well was line up at multiple offensive positions. I was able to learn all of the responsibilities for those positions on the left and right side. I found out pretty quick that they didn't need me to run the ball when they had Dalton and Garry back there and they didn't need me to catch the ball when they had Eric Martin, Herman Fontenot, Wendell Davis, and Rogie Magee. Blocking was all that was left for me.
Q - Can you tell us basically what your doing as a career now?
Graig - Sure.. First let me tell you what I'm doing as far as my family goes. I'll update you on that. I spend a lot of time with my wife Donna for 24 years. Donna, like I mentioned was a LSU gymnast. We have four kids. The oldest is 30, youngest is 19. We spend most of our time trying to parent those guys. They have all turned out great.
My oldest son, Jeremy, is working in New York at a private equity firm. My second son, Beau, works here with me at UBS. Then my daughter, Kirby, just graduated from the University of Arkansas and as I mentioned she's going to the LSU MBA program, and my youngest son, Colton, just finished his freshman year at the University of Texas. From a business perspective I've been in the financial services industry for 33 years. As soon as I got out of college I went to work for Merrill Lynch for 10 years and I've been at UBS for 23 years.
My main focus of the business is consulting for three types of clientele. One is non-profit. So essentially any charitable organization we do the financial consultant for that type of client. We do corporate retirement plans, 401K, and pension plans. And then finally we work with high networth families to provide them with consulting services regarding their finances.
I've been fortunate. Funny that I told you that I didn't know what I wanted to do and the only career I ever had has been this financial services industry. It's kind of funny the way things work out.
Q - Is there anything you want to tell the LSU fans?
Craig - Yes, obviously thanks. Without the fans, there wouldn't have been the opportunity for me to play football and as I've mentioned a couple of times that opportunity that I was given has been truly one of the most important decisions that I've made and one of the most rewarding decisions that I've made. Without them and without their support, my life would have been changed meaningfully. I'm grateful every day for the experience that I had with them and the experience that I had with the University, with the coaches, and the other players.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Russell Grant was a shooting guard for the LSU basketball team for two seasons (‘87-’88 & ‘88-’89). Grant, 6'2" 175lbs, is from Louisville Kentucky and played his high school ball at Trinity High School. He was known for his long range three point shooting while with the Tigers, and will always be remembered for his involvement in the final seconds of the 1989 Georgetown game in the Louisiana Super Dome that LSU won 82-80 in dramatic fashion. Grant currently lives in Florida and is a huge LSU sports fan.
Q - What is your Favorite TV Show?
Grant - Curb Your Enthusiasm
Q - What is your Favorite Food?
Grant - Steak
Q - Who is your Favorite Pro Athlete?
Grant - Larry Bird is my Favorite ever.. Recent athlete who is in the NFL would have to be the Honey Badger, he is my favorite. Then Burrow. Don't know how I can't have Joe Burrow there now. Those are my LSU guys. Tom Brady is another one of my favorites.
Q - Your Favorite Sports Team?
Grant - It's all LSU.. There is nothing that can compare to that. Nothing gets me going like that. I'm not from Louisiana and I like the Saints, but it's not a passion. I'm not hurting for three days if they lose.
Q - Your Favorite Music Artist?
Grant - Man, there's a lot. I'd say U2. Ozzie Osbourne is another one. U2 played in the PMAC my freshman year and we had great seats for that. Then I saw them again a couple of years ago in Seattle.
Then Ozzie, here's a LSU twist. Ozzy was playing in Orlando and Geert Hammink was with the Magic at the time with Shaq. So Geert and I went see Ozzy on a Friday night. Saturday night was Bulls vs. Magic in the playoffs, game three of the Eastern Conference Championship. Game four was Monday. On Sunday, we were at Shaq's house riding jet skis all day. I went home and told my wife that we were moving to Orlando. I live in Orlando now.
Q - Your Favorite Movie?
Grant - Caddyshack.. Shawshank Redemption is another that stands out in my mind.
Q - Your Favorite Actor?
Grant - Larry David
Q - So I see you are from Louisville, Kentucky?
Grant - Yes, Lived there from zero to 18 years old.... 18-28 was Louisiana.. and 28-51 in Florida..
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Grant - It was all basketball.
Q - Did you play multiple sports while attending Trinity High School?
Grant - I played basketball and soccer. I quit soccer after my sophomore year to concentrate just on basketball.
Q - How did your recruiting process go and what made you choose LSU?
Grant - I wasn’t recruited heavily at all. How I got to LSU was Ron Abernathy was from Louisville. Coach Abernathy came by with Rudy Macklin who is also from Louisville. He found out about me because there was a game that I had my tooth break off on the floor. The game that Coach Abernathy saw put me on a different platform with Colorado, Colorado State, USC, and LSU. Other schools were showing very mild interest and this is my senior year. Usually by your junior year you have made your decision. This is how late it all came together.
So how I came to LSU was I had family in New Orleans and took a visit down there. That was my journey to LSU. Meeting Coach Abernathy and Coach Brown. It's interesting being from Kentucky and having that whole vibe. So while I had this lifetime vibe, when LSU was giving me my chance, all my loyalty just shifted in the snap of a finger. Kentucky has been in my rear view mirror ever since. I don't like them now. I always did, but when that change happened, it's kind of weird how your loyalty changes. It just changes and all goes out the window when you have this other school giving you a chance.
You always get into conversation with people, or athletes get into conversation, Now if your Shaq or Michael Jordan, well, your different. But for a majority of players the conversation gets to, "Do you want to be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond?" .... I knew that answer, but a lot of guys don't. They say they want to go to the biggest schools and do, but when they don't get to play, they bail. This happens because they really didn't know what they wanted. So for me, do I want to go to a small school and have a glorious career? Maybe? But that's not what I wanted. I wanted to be in the biggest and the brightest lights and if I ended not playing, then I just ended not playing. Doesn't mean that I wasn't going to try to play, but I just wanted to be on that stage no matter what it took. Versus going to a small school and scoring 15 points a game and start for three or four years, it's not what I wanted. It's not LSU. It's not the NCAA Tournament, It's not the Super Dome playing against Georgetown. It's not any of that. But what it also meant was sitting on the bench a lot. I've always had a good sense of my skill set. What I was, what I wanted, what I didn't want. It helps you navigate that. I was like everyone else. I played a lot and was All-whatever when you were in high school, then you go to college and your sitting the bench. It was a big adjustment for me but it didn't get the best of me. I was able to stay the course because I knew what I wanted.
Q - Other then the Georgetown game, what are some of your other memorable games and moments while playing at LSU?
Grant - Yea, I think we had six buzzer-beaters that year. We beat UNLV and that's the game a lot of people seem to forget about. That was a great UNLV team minus Larry Johnson. We beat them at the buzzer. We beat Vanderbilt at the buzzer. But that season was the Chris Jackson show. You just watch his skill level combined with his quickness and athletic ability. We still haven't seen anyone else do what he did at the college level scoring wise. You would have to go back to Pistol Pete. That doesn't mean Chris was the greatest player to ever play college basketball, I wouldn't go there. There has been other different type of players that are hard to compare to each other.
You talking about a guy who can score from day one who comes into college basketball, I just haven't seen it. But I saw that one and I saw it up close.
This is a good memory for me and I started that game, when we went to Florida. It was December 10th 1988. We go there and Chris scores 53 points. He didn't take a shot in the first nine minutes of the second half and it was only his fifth game. He was one who would get everyone involved, so he didn't score for 9 minutes. He had 26 points at halftime and 27 points during the back end of the second half. He fouled out four guys and this is the weird part that I'll never forget. The students had gotten to the game early and they were hammering Chris. I can't remember what they were hammering him about, but man they were hammering him. Then at the end of the game they were bowing to him. I have never seen that before at a sporting event. The student section was bowing to him. Getting down on their hands and knees and bowing to him.
You see a lot of big things that has happened in sports, and for me I was up and close for that. It's hard to top that and what he was able to do, just from scoring with the ball and making it look that easy. We knew he was that good in one way. But in another way you would think, "Okay what's Georgetown going to do to him? What’s UNLV going to do to him?" Georgia, had this guy, Patrick Hamilton, "What was he going to do to him?" Then there were all these other good defenders and you would wonder, "How is this all going to work out?" For the most part it didn't matter who was on him.
When he would get in game competition, he would get that feel, like an adrenaline. When he would get that look in his eye, it would go to a whole different level. So when they did try to put that elite defender on him or a Stacey Augmon on him, it didn't matter. It was like he would turn into Superman. The footwork that he had, to shoot with such balance and rhythm. If I would shoot with Chris straight up, I still wouldn’t be as good as him, but it would be close. But when you put him on the move, that’s when nobody is close.
I remember the first time I ever saw Chris Jackson. He walked into the bottom gym wearing blue jeans, takes the ball and he just makes it, makes it, makes it, makes it. Then he started to do it off the dribble. Then he dunks it like it's nothing and he's only 5’11”. I'm watching him and I'm supposed to be doing my work and I just stop and stare at it. It's been 10 or 15 minutes and he hadn't missed a shot. It was just bottom of the net, bottom of the net, bottom of the net.
When someone shoots it,... like you can tell between a pretend shooter and a real shooter. It looks different, how it rolls off their fingers different, the sound is different when the ball hits the net. I was just mesmerized watching him shoot. I was like, “This is incredible.”....
That whole thing saved the season. Coach Brown at Mahmoud's jersey retirement recently talked to us about that. We had lost Stanley Roberts, Vernel Singleton, etc.. CBS called Coach Brown and tried to get him to cancel the Georgetown game, they begged him. They said, “We don't want this game, it's a disaster. We can move it to next year. We'll do the same thing next year, we're not doing this game.” … Coach Brown said, “Nope we're playing. We will see you there.” …. Which is a Coach Brown story, that's what he always does.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Coach Brown?
Grant - When someone gives you an opportunity and a chance to do something that you want to do. I didn't have 100 different opportunities, Everyone needs an opportunity or a chance at some level, so I'm still very grateful for that.
Coach Brown would always create this 'US' versus the world mentality, and he takes the worse situation and turns it into sunshine. He’ll take the worse thing that's happening with the team and create the biggest opportunity out of it. Not only does he do it personally but he gets buy-in from the team on that. While I'm playing for Coach Brown, if I was inferior athletically to who I was playing against, I never thought that at the time. I knew what I had to do and what I couldn't do. He had you believe in yourself more than who you were actually.
He didn't beat you with X's and O's. Coach Brown, he just did basketball. He could have done a hundred different things and may have been better successfully at those if not equally successful. So I don't think he looked at the basketball X's and O's as much as the players. So he had to get the most out of his players, not that the X's and O's didn't matter. Like in the Georgetown game for example, His thing in these time outs in these pressure games, “Do you believe we’re gunna win!?” .. Makes you think, “Quit talking about that and draw up the play”... It sounds crazy, but he never really drew up plays. He would just say, “Here's what's going to happen now… We’re gunna do this, this, this and this, and this is what’s going to happen. This guy is going to miss a free throw, and here’s what we are gunna do.” … It was really weird stuff, right?
Then think about sports, you always end on a make? Coach Brown was big on that. Every practice ended in a positive outcome, everyone. It didn't matter how bad things were or how mad he was, practice never ended on time with us, It's when a good thing happened.
I'd like to share one more thing with you? When we went to Mahmoud’s celebration Coach Brown was talking to me, Richard Krajewski, and Wayne Sims actually. He said, “Look around. Look who’s in this room right now. You have every type of religion, every type of race, every type of financial level from high to medium income, to low. But in this room where we are, we are all the same. We all get along. We all respect each other for who they are.” …
That’s just the kind of stuff that Coach Brown has talked about for 30 years. I guess now at our age it means more because we understand it more now. All that drippy stuff, not that we used to laugh at it, but we were young and immature and we didn't understand the underlined meaning to all of that stuff.
Coach Brown's wife, she would just talk about how proud she is of all of the players. She said, “If we would have to do this all over again, I wouldn't trade anyone of our players for another player.” … meaning she wouldn’t trade Russell Grant for Michael Jordan.. Now I probably would have.. LOL.. The point is they are eternally grateful for the people that they've influenced and for the type of people that were around them. Just the way that Coach Brown goes about things,... It's refreshing and It's unique. I know Wayne Sims was talking about how all those things that he told us has impacted every single thing we have ever done. As you get older you just appreciate that stuff a lot more.
Q - Want to tell us a little about what you're doing now?
Grant - I've been in the automotive sector for 20-something years and I have a consulting business now where I help dealerships organize their marketing activity.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Tommy Banks was recruited to LSU by former head coach Gerry DiNardo. The bruising fullback from West Monroe became a four year starter lead blocking for running backs Kevin Faulk, Kendall Cleveland, and Rondell Mealey. Fans will always remember his seven yard scoring run against Florida, whiched helped LSU upset the #1 ranked Gators 28-21 in 1997. In his final game as a Tiger he would have a two touchdown performance in the 2000 Peach Bowl. Without a doubt, Tommy Banks will always be remembered as one of the greatest full backs to ever wear the purple and gold.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Tommy - Scrubs
Q - Your Favorite Food?
Tommy - Steak
Q - You Favorite Pro Athlete?
Tommy - I'm a big Atlanta Braves fan so my All-Time would be Dale Murphy. Currently I'd have to say Freddie Freeman.
Q - Your Favorite Sports Team?
Tommy - LSU Tigers and the Atlanta Braves
Q - Who is your Favorite Music Artist?
Tommy - I really don't have a favorite artist. I kinda like genera of late 80s music, so any of those hair bands. I really can't name just one favorite band or artist. I really don't listen to much music these days.
Q - What's your Favorite Movie of All-Time?
Tommy - National Lampoon's Vacation
Q - Who is your Favorite Actor?
Tommy - Tom Cruise
Q - Did you grow up in West Monroe?
Tommy - Yes, lived in West Monroe up until I left to go to college.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Tommy - I wanted to be either a professional athlete or a doctor. I'm not really sure when the doctor idea came into play. I guess it was a thing that was just always there, but yea, those were the two things that came to mind.
Q - Did you play multiple sports at West Monroe High School?
I did. I played baseball for four years, I played football for four years, and I did power lifting for three years.
Q - Want to share any of your personal or team success in high school athletics?
Tommy - Yeah, actually during the beginning of my freshman year I wasn't at West Monroe. I went to Ouachita Christian which is a private school here in Monroe. Then I transferred to West Monroe shortly after school started. At the time I wasn't playing football only baseball. But then Coach Shows doing what he does, convinced me to come out and play football. So in my freshman year was when West Monroe won the state championship for the first time ever. It was the deepest we have ever gone into the playoffs and it was a pretty big accomplishment that year.
Then in my senior year we won our second state championship. That was a pretty big accomplish given the reason that we lost 15 to 16 of our 22 starters off of the previous years team. We were only predicted to finish third or fourth in the district. Nobody really gave us a chance to really do anything but we won our first out right District title that year and winning the state championship. So that was a huge accomplishments there.
As far as baseball, we went to the state tournament every year. In my junior year we lost by one run in 13 Innings to Brother Martin in the state championship game, that ended up being a classic game. In my sophomore and senior year we made it to the semi-finals so we had a pretty good baseball program also.
Q - Tell us a little about how your recruiting process went?
Tommy - Recruiting back then was a lot different than it is now. We didn't have the internet or all of the five star rating stuff like that. I started to get some letters after my freshman year. Then it just kind of progressed over the next few years.
I was only really recruited in football. I think I could have went to some JUCO school to play baseball, but of course it's difficult to compare LSU for football to a junior college for baseball. So of course I was always going the football route. My only regret as far as recruiting, in my senior year I wanted to wait until the end of the season before I would go on any official visit. Well with us winning the state championship I didn't have many weeks to go on recruiting visits. So I only took two. One to Texas A&M and one to LSU. I wish I was able to take more. It would have been nice to see what some of the other school's campuses were like. But it was different back then, we really didn't commit early. Basically a lot of guys would commit a month or two before Signing Day. Totally different experience than it is now. I can remember when I went to one of LSU's camps they were having and I hadn't committed yet. The LSU recruiting coordinator back then asked me.. “Why haven't you committed yet? Every time I see you, you're wearing an LSU cap.” …They were just all surprised that I hadn't committed. I knew deep down LSU was always the place that I wanted to go. I just wanted to make sure that I took time to really weigh on the decision heavily, and finally I committed.
Q - So what really made you choose LSU over the others that recruited you?
Tommy - More of really just being from Louisiana. Usually if you're from Louisiana your favorite team is LSU. Actually when I was growing up, LSU wasn't my favorite team. It was actually North East which is ULM now. Basically it was because I lived in Monroe and that was back when they were in double-A and won a national championship. So I went to all those games while I was growing up because it was just a 15-minute drive. I just didn't know any difference because I was only ten years old. Of course the older I got, I started paying more attention to LSU. The only two recruiting trips I went on was to Texas A&M and LSU. Texas A&M has a great school and has a great campus. But being from Louisiana and knowing what Tiger Stadium was all about, that left pretty much no doubt that's where I was going to go.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Coach Gerry DiNardo?
Tommy - Yeah there are a lot of things that can be said about Gerry DiNardo. He was a great recruiter. I think right around the time that I was recruited they were just starting to rank recruiting classes and he had a top 10 class at that time.. He landed Cecil Collins, he brought in Kevin Faulk. He was a really really good recruiter. Actually he wasn't a bad coach. I just think a couple of years when I was there they had some things that happened. I just don't think he made right decisions on personnel and it cause a downward spiral that ended up costing him his job. As far as a man, I respect him. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about him as a person and neither as a coach. I think he just made a couple of bad decisions, which a lot of people do sometimes. But I haven't seen him since he left LSU. I know he did some coaching at other schools and I think maybe he was a commentator for a little while. But I haven't heard about where he is now. I wouldn't even know.
Q - How did you and the team handle the coaching change with Saban coming in as the new head coach?
Tommy - When they announced that he was the coach they held a team meeting. I didn't know about the meeting. I don't remember where I was. Back then everyone didn't have cell phones like we do now. So they just trying to let the word go out. But I wasn't at the very first meeting. I also heard it wasn't a very good meeting. He basically took a look at the team and said he didn't think we would be able to win any ball games just from looking at us. I think he did that just to try to get us going a little bit. He was one of those guys that makes you say, “What have we gotten into?”... but as the season went on by the end of the year you liked him a lot. It's kind of crazy now because he's like the devil here in Louisiana. But I still respect him as a coach and a person. When I hear the hate, I say, “ Yeah I get why you hate him..” … I still respect him and I still root for him when he's not playing LSU of course just because I know what kind of guy he is.
Q - Can you tell us about your favorite games or moments you've had as a LSU Tiger?
Tommy - Yes, of course I know the game that stands out the most is the ‘97 game against Florida, the big Sports Illustrated game. We had played a few games already and I remember the first SEC game was against Mississippi State at State and we won that game. I remember in the locker room after we had such a big celebration. I wasn't used to that. I wasn't used to a regular-season win causing that kind of celebration. That's when I started to realize how important every single game was in college football. In high school it's different. You could lose a couple of games during the regular season and still be fine after you get into the playoffs. When you're in college of course it's a lot different. Then that Florida game comes along and I remember I was warming up on the field, stretching before the game and Steve Spurrier was walking by only a couple of yards away from me and I just remember thinking, that's when I really realize that this is Big Time football. With us winning that game I'm sure he threw his visor a lot. That win was such a big moment.
Another big moment was my last game in the 2000 Peach Bowl. I ended up catching two touchdown passes and we ended up coming back to win that game. That game is also known for Rohan Davey making his appearance in the second half and leading the team to victory. So those were a couple of big moments during my freshman and Senior year. My sophomore and junior years are the kind of years that I’d like to forget about a little.
Q - When your career at LSU came to an end, did you try to move on and play in the NFL?
Tommy - Yes I signed a contract with the 49ers. I went out to camp a couple of times with them. Tom Rathman was their running backs coach at the time, and of course he's known as perhaps the best fullback in 49ers’ history. He was friends with our strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt, who told me I had a good chance to make the team and be the backup fullback with the 49ers and get some playing time. So I went out to a couple of mini camps, then at one point while I was out there it finally hit me that my love for football wasn't there anymore. I've been playing since I was 5 years old and as far back as I could remember. I just didn't have that drive anymore and I knew that at that level you couldn't get by just on talent alone, you have to want to be out there. So I turned in my playbook. I left, came back and finished school and here I am today. However many years later and four kids later and now a family practice Doctor.
Q - Can you tell us a little about what you do now that your playing days are over?
Tommy - I had a couple of odd jobs after I completed college and decided that wasn't what I wanted to do.
My childhood goal of being a professional athlete, I had the opportunity but ended up turning it down.
So sure enough I had an opportunity to go to med school and ended up doing that and finished up. Did residency here in Monroe. Now I have a clinic in West Monroe, Family Practice Clinic. I'm seeing patients of all ages. I'm married, have four kids with one on the way. We are having our fifth child in November.
Q - Is there anything you would like to tell the LSU fans?
Tommy - It's been said time and time again by current and previous players that LSU fans are the greatest. There has never been a time that when I needed something, someone didn't step up. When I was in medical school I had some rotations down in Baton Rouge. I had a family down there that took me in and let me stay there. They were big LSU fans. They are all over the country. When I was in school I did some rotations in different parts of the country and there are LSU fans everywhere that would give you the shirt off of their back for you. Such a wonderful experience. Then they have the games in Tiger Stadium. You can't ask for anything better than that. It was an amazing experience. I've met a lot of amazing people and I'm proud to say that I'm a LSU Tiger.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Lionel Turner, a linebacker from Walker,LA played at LSU from 2001 to 2004. He started at middle linebacker his junior and senior season for arguable two of the best defenses in LSU history. During those two seasons the Tigers would go 23-3 including a national championship in 2003. Turner was called the hardest-hitting linebacker in the SEC by the Sporting News in its 2003 preseason college football issue. He would be named 2003 Honorable Mention ALL-SEC and 2004 First Team All-SEC.
Q - What is your Favorite TV Show?
Lionel - Family Fued
Q - Your Favorite Food?
Lionel - Bolied Crawfish
Q - Your Favorite Pro Athlete?
Lionel - Russell Wilson
Q - Which Sports Team is your Favorite?
Lionel - Pittsburgh Steelers
Q - Who is your Favorite Music Artist?
Lionel - I listen to a lot of Zydeco Music. So I love Little Nate and Chris Ardoin.
Q - What is your Favorite Movie?
Lionel - Harlem Nights
Q - Who is your Favorite Actor?
Lionel - Denzel Washington
Q - Did you grow up in Walker?
Lionel - Yes, I was born and raised in Walker. Until I went to LSU, I had always lived in Walker.
Q - When you were a little boy what did you want to be when you grew up?
Lionel - Believe it or not, I wanted to be a baseball player. Baseball was actually the first sport I ever played.
Q - Did you play multiple sports at Walker High School?
Lionel - Yes, I played basketball and football.
Q - Tell us a little about your recruiting process?
Lionel - Pretty much all of the SEC schools were recruiting me. I actually committed to LSU when Gerry DiNardo was the coach, but when he got fired, I kind of opened things back up. Nick Saban actually spoke with me when he was the head coach at Michigan State, but I told him no because that was too far from home. But when LSU hired Coach Saban, Walker High was the second school he visited to recruit and to recruit me.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Nick Saban?
Lionel - We use to always say that he was like a drill sergeant. He was so hard on us, but as time would go by we would begin to realize why he was like that and it was to always to get the best out of each of us. He wouldn't stop pushing us until he had our best.
Q - Can you share any favorite games or memories that you have from being a LSU Tiger?
Lionel - Got to say the best memory was the 2003 SEC Championship game and the National Championship game that season.
Q - What was it like winning the national championship in 2003?
Lionel - It was an incredible feeling. Winning the SEC Championship and winning the National Championship is always your main goal at the beginning of a season and for us to reach and complete those goals was simply incredible. The last few seconds of the game felt like a life time to run down. It felt like it would never come. When it finally got to all zeros on the clock it was like a sight of relief. It was like... "Yes, We finally did it!"... All the hard work and dedication finally payed off.
Q - Your final season at LSU was in 2004, can you tell us about your NFL experience?
Lionel - At the end of that season Coach Saban left LSU to go coach the Miami Dolphins and I actually signed a free agent contract with Miami. A couple of other former players ended up joining me down there with him. When it was all said and done I didn't make the roster cut. I figured that I had pursued my dream of making it this far and felt like my body could only take so much. Your mind tells you one thing but your body tells you something else. I had played football since I was five-six years old and simply decided enough was enough.
Q - So could you tell us a little about what you're doing now?
Lionel - I work for MMR Group. It's a big electrical and instrumentation company. We work in a lot of plants, places like that. I work at the main headquarters in Baton Rouge. I've been there since I finished my football career, so it's been like 14-15 years.
Q - Is there anything you want to tell the LSU fans?
Lionel - Geaux Tigers!!!
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former LSU quarterback Josh Booty. He grew up in Shreveport, LA and played football, baseball, and basketball at Evangel Christian Academy.
As quarterback for the football team, he threw for 11,700 yards and 126 touchdowns, becoming the first high school player in history to throw for more than 10,000 yards, (despite missing four games of his senior year because of a broken hand). Booty was named the USA Today Offensive Player of the Year and was named the National High School Player of the Year by at least six associations, including Parade and the Football News.
As a shortstop for the baseball team, he was a four-time All-State choice at shortstop. As a senior, he batted .429 with 20 intentional walks, 25 stolen bases, and 12 home runs in 70 at bats. He was the starting shortstop for the U.S. Junior Olympic National Team that won the silver medal. He was a USA Today All-American shortstop. Booty won a silver medal in the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival. He was the 5th pick overall in the 1994 MLB draft by the Florida Marlins. Highly recruited by major college football programs from across the country, he would sign to play football and baseball at LSU. However, once the MLB draft happened, Booty decided to sign with the Marlins for a then-record $1.6 million signing bonus.
After five seasons playing baseball, (which included winning the World Series with the Marlins), Booty began to miss football and decided to fulfill his dream of playing in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night.
He would play for LSU for two seasons before moving on to play for both Seattle, Cleveland, and Oakland in the NFL. Booty would then retire in 2007.
Q - What is your Favorite TV Show?
Josh - Peaky Blinders
Q - What is your Favorite Food?
Josh - Boiled Crawfish
Q - Favorite Pro Athlete?
Josh - Tiger Woods
Q - Your Favorite Music Artist?
Josh - That's a tough one.. I'd have to say, George Straight
Q - Your Favorite Movie?
Josh - All of the Indiana Jones movies
Q - Who is your Favorite Actor?
Josh - Harrison Ford
Q - Your Favorite Sports Team?
Josh - The Los Angeles Lakers when I was growing up and I've loved following the New England Patriots through the past few years with Belichick and Brady. Ever since I played against those guys in the NFL and watched how they did it. They were like a well-oiled machine. I just admire how they do things.
Q - I see you were born in Starkville, Mississippi? How long did you live there and when did you move to Shreveport?
Josh - Yes, my dad was a quarterback at Mississippi State. He was finishing up there when I was born. When I was in 2nd grade we moved back to Shreveport where they grew up. Both my mom and dad went to Woodlawn High School in Shreveport. That's where Terry Bradshaw, Joe Ferguson, and Robert Parrish went. My dad graduated with Robert Parrish. My dad was an All-State, All-American quarterback. He had signed with Arkansas and then transferred to Mississippi State after his freshman year. While I'd Arkansas they lost their entire coaching staff to the NFL. The new staff wanted to run the football and installed the wishbone. My dad was a passing quarterback and wanted to go somewhere where they threw the football, so he transferred out.
But yes, until I graduated high school and signed to play pro baseball when I was 18 or 19, I lived in Shreveport the entire time.
Q - When you were a little boy what did you want to be when you grew up?
Josh - I wanted to grow up to be John Elway.. He played both football and baseball. Two sports athletes were always my favorite, like Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson, and John Elway.
Q - We know that you played football and baseball in high school. Did you play any other sport?
Josh - I played basketball. I was the starting point guard during my freshman and sophomore year on the high school team. In my junior year I quit playing basketball. My dad wanted me to focus mainly on football and baseball. He just thought that was the smartest thing to do.
Q - Tell us how it felt to be a part of helping build and playing for a school with such a winning program?
Josh - My senior year was the first state championship that Evangel ever won. My freshman year we didn't make the playoffs. Sophomore and junior year we won District and made it to the quarterfinals where we lost to Oak Grove both years. Oak Grove went on to win the title both of those years in “1A”. They were a very strong football team.
The deal was we were doing it different. We were throwing the football. We were in a 9-yard deep shotgun. We were running no-huddle, with four and five wide receiver sets. That's why we broke State and National records and started to get a lot of publicity. While everyone else was running it in the early 90s like Haynesville, Oak Grove, and West Monroe, we were throwing it and no one could cover us. We just started to break all kind of records.
We were doing stuff that no one else had ever done. That's what put Evangel on the map. Kids started watching how we played and fell in love with how we were getting everyone the ball and everybody was in the paper. There was a lot of media hype around what I was able to accomplish. To be honest with you, with all that stuff going on and with me being the number one recruit in the Country, people started noticing Evangel. We definitely put them on the map.
Q - With all of the success Evangel was having with football, I'm guessing baseball was working out the same way?
Josh - Yea, it was good. Not as many people get into High School baseball the way they do with football. I had a great High School coach and we were good. Personally I enjoyed baseball more than football until my senior year just because we probably had more success. We were always in the playoffs and I was All-State for 4 years in a row at shortstop, which I was loving. For me that was really cool to be All-State every year as a high school player. I got to play a lot early at Evangel because the school was so new and I was the guy. I was the shortstop and the quarterback, so I would get all the reps. So I had four years of football and four years of baseball. Not many kids get to start in both sports for four years. I was very fortunate.
Q - I see that you were a part of a Junior Olympics Baseball Team. How did you get involved with that?
Josh - After my junior year I got invited to participate in the Junior Olympics. During the odd number years, when the Olympics aren't happening, they hold the Junior Olympics.
They call it the Olympic Festival. Everyone competes in Olympic style games. So I played in the Olympics Festival. It’s broken down by North, South, East, and West. I made the USA team based on that Olympic Festival.
Then we went and played the World Games which is basically played all over the globe. We played China, Australia, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic. So we really got to travel and play. We got beat by Cuba in the gold-medal game.
It's a funny story but we had seven first round draft picks on our USA team as seniors in high school. Alex Rodriguez batting third, I batted fourth. We had gone undefeated until Cuba beat us 4-1 in that final game for the gold medal in Canada. The pitcher for Cuba ended up being my teammate a year later with the Marlins. Livan Hernandez. He struck out 17 of us. Paul Konerko hit a solo home run (of course he hit 500 homers in the Big Leagues), Paul was batting fifth in the lineup and that solo home run was the only hit that Hernandez gave up that day in the game. It was a nasty. Three years later he was the MVP of the World Series against the Indians. So we didn't feel so bad after that.
Q - What was your recruiting process like?
Josh - I took my 5 official visits and I narrowed them down in my mind. These places were good baseball and good football schools at a high level. Like LSU baseball was at the very top, Skip Bertman, national championships. I waned to play short stop at LSU.
Todd Walker was like a big brother to me. He was LSU's second baseman at the time and he grew up in my area and he and I became very close. His grandparents lived right across the street from us, I grew up with Todd, watching Todd, playing with him or against him. He was a couple of years older than me but he had so much success early at LSU it made me want to go and play baseball at Alex Box.
Skip Bertman was so amazing to me in his recruiting process. He would tell me, “Whatever you want, full scholarship, shortstop, freshman year, you're here you're our guy.” I did take five visits. I went to Miami when Dennis Erickson was there. I went to Stanford when Bill Walsh was there. I went to Texas, Gustafson was there on the baseball side and John Mackovic was there on the football side. Then I went to Mississippi State to visit with good friends Jackie Sherrill and Ron Polk. So those were my top five.
So I signed on a football scholarship and was going to play baseball as well and I did that during my senior year of football before baseball really even started. So I was going to LSU before my spring baseball even started which was a plus so I can get that out of the way and focus on football so I could have a great season and try to get drafted high. Then make a decision on whether to go pro or go to college.
Q - Where were you when you heard that the Marlins' drafted you 5th overall?
Josh - I was at my house. My agent Jeff Moorad, who is the super agent. Leigh Steinberg and Jeff Moorad, they are super famous. The movie Jerry McQuire is based on Leigh. So these guys were the top guys. They had Will Clark they had Matt Williams they had Manny Ramirez. They had Troy Aikman, Steve Young. They have all these guys. They were the top agents in the world. So I've decided to go with them because they had both baseball and football clients. It felt like a good fit and Moorad the baseball guy became like a big brother to me and he said, “We can get you positioned with the Marlins at five because they are a new franchise and they have Wayne Hysinga, their late owner who was a very very wealthy businessman. He started Blockbuster, Waste Management, and Virgin Records. So we knew if I got drafted fifth they would pay me more than the teams who are drafting before them. I said to myself if I can get the record then I would go. Moorad said that he thinks he could get that from Florida, but I would have to sign a no-football clause in my contract. I said, “Well if they'll sign me for more money/signing bonus then anyone has ever signed for in the history of the draft, then I'll go.“ I probably could have gone maybe in the top 4 to a smaller market ball club, but Moorad said that I wasn't going to sign and would go to LSU to play football if I didn't get signed to the biggest contract ever. That's how that all happened.
So I ended up with the Marlins at five, but I knew I was going to get picked by them. I had a real good feeling when they told me that they were going to draft me at five and we will pay you what you want.
Q - Please tell us about your history with the Marlins and why you decided to leave to play football for LSU?
Josh - Yeah that's a long story but I'll keep it quick. It was for four years. I did the single A, double A, triple A, the big leagues. I had call ups in my contract which was nice.
So I was in the big leagues at age 20. I was on the 1997 World Series team as a bench player and got a ring.
In 1998 I started on opening day at third base for Jim Leyland. I got hurt about a month into the season and got sent down to Triple-A. I struggled like crazy trying to hit the curve ball. All during that time I played great defense and was named ‘Minor League Defensive Player of the Year’ but struck out a ton. I was a home run hitter. I was all or nothing. I wanted to be back in the Big Leagues and didn't like the Minors.
I began to miss football and my brother Abram was at LSU. Quick story, in 1997 we won the World Series. A week later I leave Miami and drive to Baton Rouge to watch LSU upset #1 Florida in the game that the goal post came down. Abram had over a hundred yards receiving in the game against Spurrier and that defense that Florida had. I said, "This is better than the World Series. This is insane in Tiger Stadium.” … I just felt like I had to come back and play. I wanted it so badly. I wanted to play with my brother. I missed Louisiana and I missed football.
So the Marlins took me off the 40 at the end of ‘98 and told me I would start in Triple-A again. I told them “no” that I was going back to play football. So Moorad helped get me out of my contract for a Triple A salary.
I was ready to go back and play football to see if I liked it. I told myself I was going to take it one year at a time to see if I liked it. The first year I went back to LSU Gerry Dinardo was the head coach, Bob McConnell was the offensive coordinator, and Lou Tepper was the defensive coordinator. It was a struggle of a lifetime But it was fun just getting back into football.
Q - Can you tell us a little bit about Coach DiNardo?
Josh - I like the DiNardo as a person. I thought that because we struggled and I had come in and there was a lot of hype around my situation. To be honest with you, he wasn't real sure how to handle it. We had other quarterbacks on the roster. I think the fans really wanted me to play. Tough situation for him with me being out for four years. My football background was shotgun, four and five wide outs, no huddle.
At LSU they would line up in I-formation, have double tight ends, had me under center. Run, run, play action, it just wasn't my game. It was very tough for me to adjust to that style of football. It just wasn't what I grew up doing.
Tim Couch had the same situation. Tim is a great friend of mine. We played in the NFL together in Cleveland. Well Tim played at Kentucky and they had a run first team. That coach got fired and Kentucky hired Hal Mumme which lead to Tim Couch becoming the first pick in the NFL draft, because they went with four and five wide outs, shotgun with a wide-open passing offense. Hal Mumme’s Air Raid Attack.
You're only as good as your system, your coaching, and the players that you have around you. There was nothing I could really do to be honest with you, other than just try to make plays out of nothing. We just didn't have much going on and like I said it was the biggest struggle ever. It was a struggle, but man, it was a fun struggle. It will make you tough. It made me tough.
Q - How did you and the team handle the coaching change after DiNardo was fired and LSU brought in Nick Saban?
Josh - We actually were all happy. We just struggled so much and we knew that are coaching staff wasn't as good as it should be. We never felt prepared to be honest with you. We worked hard but not smart, like not watching game film. We really needed an upgrade. I felt like we needed a coaching upgrade and I feel like everyone on the team felt the same way. We just needed to bring it into the new Century.
Then Chancellor Emmert who is now head of the NCAA said that LSU was going to hire Nick Saban. We knew Nick was coming from Michigan State. He brought in Jimbo Fisher which was huge for me because Jimbo liked to toss it around a little more. He would get me in the shotgun more with three wides and two backs, we did a lot of that. He would utilize the tight end more in the passing game. Robert Royal was my tight end who really stepped his game up. Josh Reed, I talked him into playing wide receiver which was huge because he was a running back who wasn't getting any playing time and he blew up and won the Biletnikoff Award.
Then Saban started recruiting Devery Henderson, Corey Webster, Bradie James, Trev Faulk, guys who could really play. They were all young but we had talent now. Jimbo would call plays that would give us a fighting chance. We still struggle that times, but we ended up 8-3. There was some tough games in there for me like the UAB game. We did beat Alabama at home that year for the first time in like 28 years, that was big. We ended up running off five straight SEC games in a row.
My last game that year was in the Peach Bowl. It was tough because we had a real rough first half. I was sacked a bunch. Then Saban pulled me and put in Rohan Davey. Rohan had a good second half and we ended up winning the game. Jimbo started calling quick throws so the sacks would stop happening. Josh Reed went off on a couple of real nice plays, taking one quick slant to the house. We really looked good. That was kind of the end of it for me at LSU because I was 25 years old at that point, so I felt it was just time to see if I could go to the NFL at that point. I just felt like I didn’t want to be in college another year at 26 years old.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Coach Saban?
Josh - He was military. He was by the book. No nonsense. He had a personality one-on-one you could talk to him and really engaged in a back and forth conversation. I really never had that with Gerry DiNardo. With Saban it seemed like there was a lot more that was factual, he would just tell you like it is. Gerry was not a bad dude at all, he just got overwhelmed that last year. We were so bad that I just didn't get to spend a lot of time with him. With Saban it seemed like we were game planning. We were really game planning. We would all sit, order pizza, watch game film. He understood how to coach us. It was like, now we're getting somewhere. Now we were watching film on a different level and actually learning from watching film. We really didn't watch film with DiNardo, we just didn't spend a lot of time watching film. Jimbo would come in there and teach the reads and who we were playing and what they were good at and what they were bad at. Basic one-on-one probably, we just hadn't had any of that. So basically we got our upgrade. Boy were we happy. The biggest thing that ever happened to LSU was when Chancellor Emmert brought Nick Saban in when I was there. It gave LSU the opportunity to have a real good football program. Saban hired well. He built the facilities. He recruited his butt off. Now fast forward it 20 years and the second biggest thing that ever happened at LSU was opening up the offense so our athletes could make plays in space like they did last year. It all Dominoed off of Saban. He helped put LSU back on the map.
Q - Can you tell us about any favorite game or moment that you had as a LSU football player?
Josh - It was just seeing us going from being poor as a team to really having some life and some energy around the program.
Tommy Moffitt was another huge piece of LSU's success over all of these years having him there with his strength and conditioning program. I show me took pride in all that stuff. I knew they had to make big steps and they did.
Saban and Jimbo were awesome. just seeing everything start to transform right before my eyes. I knew I wasn't going to be on a national championship team or the really good that was going to come out of it, but just seeing it going from whatever it was to a business-like approach. It just simply had to happen.
Q - So you decide to enter the NFL draft. Could you tell us how that process happened for you?
Josh - Mike Holmgren drafted me in the sixth round. I really thought I was going to go in the third round. Jerry Jones had called me the night before and told me they were going to draft me in the third round. Then as I was watching they drafted Quincy Carter out of Georgia actually, so then I knew I wasn’t going to Dallas in the third.
I just kind of trickled down and ended up getting drafted in the six round. It was tough to swallow really, but I did get drafted. I had been drafted high in baseball so I have seen both. I’ve seen getting draft really early and then having to wait around and get drafted late, so I can relate to everyone who has ever been drafted.
It was tough sitting around, but it was cool because Seattle had a great group of guys. I went through camp with Matt Hasselbeck and Trent Dilfer and Seattle had a great franchise.
I ended up getting picked up by Cleveland off of the Seattle practice squad. I was with the Browns for two and a half years with Butch Davis, we have a great staff. In 2002 was the last time Cleveland had been to the playoffs and that happened during my second season there.
A couple of years later I went to camp with the Raiders the year JaMarcus got drafted and Al Davis was still alive, which was cool. I was backing up there in camp and got released two weeks before the season started because JaMarcus really wasn't ready to play and Al Davis freaked out and wanted to bring in Daunte Culpepper. So Daunte came in, they released me and that was the end of my football career. I enjoyed my time in the NFL.
At that point I went and worked with my agent some. My brother was playing at USC, so I was staying around football. Then he made it to the NFL for a couple of years backing up, so I watched him a little bit. Then my dad was coaching at Calvary so I spent some time there.
I won a sports reality show on the MLB Network called "The Next Knuckler". So four years ago I got back into baseball and went to spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks, that was fun. Then after that I got into business and said I was just going to do media, TV, Radio. I have my own podcast out of Los Angeles, then I have my own LSU shows in the fall. I have one in Shreveport. I do one in Baton Rouge. I do segments all over the Country. I've done Finebaum four or five times during football season. I just freelance a ton, I do it for fun. I have also started a consulting company. So that's what I do now.
Q - Is there anything that you want to tell the LSU fans?
Josh - I love LSU and follow them like crazy. I have twin sons who are going to be freshman at Evangel where I went to high school. They play football. One is a quarterback the other is a receiver and they are really good, so maybe one day they will play together at LSU like my brother and I did. I love the culture, I love the season that we had last year. It's fun to watch I'm glad LSU went with that passing game because it's just so much fun to watch. I wish they would have done that 20 years ago.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former softball great, Constance Quinn. Before Quinn made her way to LSU, She grew up in Oak Grove, Mississippi and excelled in basketball and softball at Oak Grove High School.
She became a starter on her high school softball team as a 7th grader and went on to earn All-State honors during the 2010, 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Quinn batted .447 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs as a senior, as she helped her team win the 2013 6A championship where Quinn scored the game-winning run.
She was a nominee for Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year award.
Constance also played travel ball with the Louisiana VooDoo.
Q - What is your favorite color?
Quinn - Purple
Q - Favorite Food?
Quinn - Steak and Potato
Q - Favorite Pro Athlete?
Quinn - Bo Jackson
Q - Favorite Music Artist?
Quinn - Growing up was Kirk Franklin, he's a Gospel Artist. Now,... I don't have a favorite artist now, ... but I love to listen to Instrumental Core Music.
Q - Favorite Movie?
Quinn - Troy
Q - Favorite Actor?
Quinn - Denzel Washington
Q - Favorite Pro Team?
Quinn - Real Madrid in Soccer and the New Orleans Saints
Q - Did you grow up in the Oak Grove, Mississippi area?
Quinn - Yes. Lived and grew up there. I actually went to PCS (Presbyterian Christian School) from Kindergarten and 1st grade. Then from 2nd grade until I graduated, I went to the Oak Grove schools.
Q - When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Quinn - I actually wanted to be a doctor for awhile, and then some where along the line that changed.
I got really into architect engineering. I began to love the structure of buildings. Inside, outside, the interior, exterior design. From that point on I would tell myself that I want to really get into that when I get older.
I loved to draw. So I would draw what I would want my house to look like and different things. My parents had these architect magazines in the house so I look at them and draw different things from the pages that I liked, and say, "I'm going to have that in my house one day." It's still something that I would want to get into if I would have the chance.
Q - When you attended Oak Grove High School did you play multiple sports?
Quinn - I did. I played basketball and softball.
Q - Please tell us about your accomplishments in high school sports....
Quinn - Well basketball I was a starter on the varsity team as a 9th grader. It was very interesting. Because, of course in any sports you have your ups and downs.
I learned a lot from the players that were on the team, because I was the baby. They kinda took me under their wing, each and every one of them, which was really cool. They accepted someone young coming in.
I made great relationships and friendships with each and everyone of them and still to this day have great times. I learned a lot about leadership and what it meant to step up on a bigger platform. So to me that's where it started.
Understanding that it doesn't matter how old you are or what grade your in, you can still be a leader. It just depends on how hard you want to work. So, that's where it started.
Then of course there was softball which has always been a passion of mine. In softball we won the State Championship my senior year.
Didn't win one in basketball. I believe we got close. In my sophomore year we made it to the second round and got put out by Jim Hill HS. I believe the next two seasons were kinda the same thing.
But we still got that ring for softball. I guess I walked off kinda satisfied, but at least I got a ring from somewhere. So that was pretty much my career at Oak Grove.
Q - From what I understand, you scored the winning run in that state championship game?
Quinn - Yea. That was crazy.. So I was on 3rd base. Kalyn Watts was up to bat.
We had this thing that we would squeeze. The coach wouldn't call it. We just had this thing, that we would look at each other.
She knew she was going to put the bunt down, I trusted that she was going to put the bunt down and I was just taking off on the pitch.
At that point we knew we needed the run and we had done it before so many times in other games. So when we got to that opportunity.
So the pitch went, she laid the bunt down and it was just crazy. It was a great moment.
Q - Tell us a little about your high school coaches and how they influenced you during your athletic career....
Quinn - Yes. I'll start with softball. My coach's name was Gary Ivy. He is actually no longer at Oak Grove. He retired a couple of years ago.
When I was in 7th grade, I was playing varsity starting at short stop.
He was so laid back. A very chilled guy. Not much talk to him. But what I loved about him was that he allowed us to play.
It's not that it wasn't structured. He would put us together when we needed that. But as far as just allowing us to play the game that we all loved, he gave us that opportunity.
That's something that most coaches don't give. They are so about mechanic sound and the technique, which it is. Any sport that you play is about technique and mechanics, but a lot of coaches want their team to look a certain way when they swing the bat or field the ball, and of course that's understandable.
But he was never like that. That's what I loved about him was that he allowed us to go out there and, it's what I like to call it,... just go out there like sandlot and just play ball.
It can get exhausting, it can get tiresome, and it can get old very quickly. I think that a lot of us that are not longer playing the game or playing at a professional level, .. and we try to tell kids whether we are training them or at camps or clinics, we try to tell them to keep the level game theirs as much as you can.
We try to tell everyone, you can be so talented, but if you don't love the game anymore, then that's when you're done.
So for him, at my age, as a teenager, and going into college, for him to give me the opportunity at a young age to play at that level and to play like it's travel ball. Like you have six games that day. Play like it's forever. That meant a lot, and I carry that with me when I went on to LSU. That's pretty much it for Coach Ivy.
Now on to Mark Swindle my coach at Oak Grove in basketball. He is currently still there. He's on his 10th or 11th season. He came in actually during my sophomore year.
My freshman year I had a different coach. Her name was Crisla Herchenhahn. So I want to tell you a little about her before I get back to Coach Swindle.
She came in when I was a 9th grader and was a tough coach. If you talk back to her, or you had an attitude, or you didn't want to hustle or give effort that day then she was going to kick you out of the gym. That was one of many things that I loved about her was that she meant business and she meant what she said. No drama. You might not of liked her, but you were going to respect her because she stood by her word. That made me want to fight for her that much more.
One day during school practice, she told me that she was going to start putting me in some varsity games, so she needed me to start coming to after school practices. After school practices were for the varsity players.
Our point guard was pretty cool. She took me under her wing, she was a senior. Which is very rare. You never see that. She was a senior competing for a spot with a freshman. A lot of people would take that personally. Wouldn't try to help you. She wasn't like that at all. I had no clue what these plays were. She told me that I'd do good and to not worry about it. Just giving me advice and trying to help me calm down. So when I mention that the girls took me under their wings, treated me like they were my big sisters type of role. That blew my mind. So from that point forward what it did for me was I carried that same mentality as I progressed on in my career and throughout sports.
If I'm ever given the opportunity to help someone, even if they are competing with me for the same position. I'm going to help them, regardless.
So whoever the coach puts out there at the end of the day, you have to trust in her starting lineup and you want to win. So you're going to cheer on. At the end of the day you're competing for a spot and challenging each other, but when it's all said and done and that line up is called out, it's best man win.
So she put that mentality there and gave me that encouragement without even saying it. She just lead by example. So that's how that began.
We called her Coach H. She was often tough. Very much about discipline and that's when it started for me at that level. It was, don't show up for practices late or you will run and you will regret it. You better have a better excuse then 'I have school work or a doctor's excuse',..that kinda thing.
She was a hard working coach and actually before I even got to LSU I said, This is one of the hardest working coaches that I've ever been around.
Now about Coach Swindle. There is one thing about him is that he knows the game of basketball very well. He has played it. He has also coached on the college level.
But with him coming in during the coaches change between my freshman year and sophomore year, coming in he was very different from Coach H.
He wasn't discipline. If someone talked back, like I said, if you talk back to Coach H you were going to get kicked out. If you kinda talked back to him, he just kinda took it and that just blew my mind.
It was kinda like that show, 'Wife Swap'. It was kinda like that. I was like, "Oh my gosh." I'm not use to this. It's like at first you have a mom or dad that's discipline and then you swap out and you have a totally different type of personality. That's just how it was.
What I liked about him was, he never had that giving up mentality. He always had a great attitude. And of course he was a coach. That's your job, but a lot of coaches can make it about money and just get the check and just be like, ... ' okay girls, here we go. Let's go." ... But he was really about all getting better.
One thing I know about playing for him for three years, and actually this past season was an assistant coach under him for the girls team. One thing that has never changed about him, he still is the same way is, he loves working on plays. I never understood it when I played for him. I never understood it.
At practice I was like, "Why do we keep working on plays? Why can't we work on skills and things." Really what that taught me now that I'm on the other side of it, looking at it from a different perspective, it taught me that it was another way of discipline in the game of basketball. Anytime that something breaks down, you always have other plays to run.
It was also about reading defense and reading different players in a shift. It's very similar to football in that way. But that was something that I learned from him throughout those years and made more sense of it as I began to see him from a different side.
But he was very discipline and very structured when it came to plays and then learning the game of basketball. Your IQ and how to play the game and how to read things.
Another thing I loved about him was that he would actually step out there and run the plays and show us different things. It was kinda cool at what he say, that we didn't. To have that connection with your coach, especially at point guard. You see what he sees. It's just like a quarterback and a head coach in football, they have to see the same thing.
I really had some great experiences with each one of those coaches. They all taught me something that I took with me to the next level and really just giving me an opportunity at a young age. That just shows their trust in me, despite of what I had to bring and what I had to offer the team. They saw something in me that I obviously didn't see at that age and in the end in was the preparation that I needed to learn to get to the next level.
Q - Tell us a little about your recruiting process...
Quinn - I was recruited very young. Actually, Yvette Girouard was the head coach at LSU at the time.
At the time I was playing for a team called New Orleans Voodoo. I played with them from when I was 14 years old until I graduated from high school. So it was like four seasons. I'll never forget this. At the time I was playing for a team out of Mississippi called the Mississippi Elite, and we played the Voodoo in a tournament. They wiped us, like 13-1. I actually scored our only run. I got one first. Stole second. Stole third. Then stole home.
So after the game the Voodoo coach, his name was Jeff Burns. He found my parents and talked to my parents about me playing for them. So he invited us to a team get-together scheduled for the next weekend. He said, "Come on down and visit and lets see if she has any interest in joining our team." ...
My parents told me about it and I was a little bit hesitant about it at first, but I went along with it. They were telling me that this was a great opportunity that could help me get to the next level.
At the time what I was beginning to understand was that in order to play at the next level, and not just any division one school, but the schools that go to the World Series and to even have that chance, you have to go to them. You have to play in tournaments in Texas, Florida, Colorado, those type of things. The New Orleans Voodoo actually traveled to tournaments like that at the time.
So my parents were explaining that to me on the ride there. When we got there, the first thing they said was, "Hello Constance, It's very good to meet you. What school do you want to go to?" .. At the time I was the 7th grade. They asked, "What school do you want to go to?" I said, LSU. Then they said, "I tell you what, if you join this team, we can get you seen, and you will go to LSU." When he told me that I was like, "okay!".. So we walked in the house and I met the team.
After the visit, my parents asked me what did I think? I said, "Yes, I want to play here." ... So from that point, I started to play with the Voodoo. They kept their word. They did just that. We actually ended up going to Colorado in a big tournament out there. That's when LSU saw me and ever since would come out and watch me.
My next year in 8th grade, I was given a visit to LSU. Went on the visit, and they asked me, "Is this where you want to be?" and I said "Yes.".. So I verbally committed to LSU in the 8th grade. That was one of the longest waits of my life, was from 8th grade all the way to graduation. But that's how it got started.
Q - What made LSU so special to you that made you decided at such a young age that this is the school I want to attend and play ball at?
Quinn - When I was really young I had a Uncle who was a huge LSU fan. He and my Aunt lived in New Orleans. So every weekend we would travel down there.
New Orleans is like a second home. My mom has sibling who live there. So every Saturday we would go there to visit and he would have a LSU football game on.
I was young, but I would see him get so into it, like so passionate about it, and you were watching the fans on TV go crazy. I was like, "What is it about this school?" So I'm watching the players and I'll never forget a player beat on his chest. He made a sack of something and he started to beat on his chest and it gave me goose bumps. I was like that's the coolest thing I've ever seen. Of course, everyone does that. But there was something about the way that he did it and how electric the stadium got, and how pumped up my Uncle was watching it. I'll never forget that.
From that day forward I did my research looking into LSU and what it was and the traditions of it. There has to be something that people are so passionate about that made them go that crazy over LSU and why those guys on the LSU teams play the way they play. Because you weren't getting paid. You were playing on a scholarship.
But it had to be something because I had never seen such passion on a field like that. So at a young age that's how it started and ever since I became a LSU fan. That was something that my uncle and I shared. So every weekend, we would watch LSU football. It came to a point that I started to listen to them on the radio and follow them throughout the season. When they were playing, I had it on, watching.
I was five years old and I was at my grandmother's house. At that time I knew nothing about softball. I was playing baseball. I played baseball from the age of three, all the way until I was ten, and then went to softball. So at five years old, I didn't even know that softball existed.
So I turn the TV on and the first thing that was on was LSU softball. I remember it was Emily Turner pitching and Leslie Klein catching. I remember that because she struck someone out, and Turner and Klein both got pumped and they started beating on their chest and I was like, "There it is again.. What is that beating on the chest thing?.." ....I remember that moment, I was so tuned in to the TV.
Look, I'm a firm believer in God and Christ. I believe that we have a calling, that we have a purpose. I believe that he places visions in our lives so that we understand what we are called to do.
For some people it's visions. For some people it's talking. It's different things. It just depends on your relationship. But at that age God gave me certain visions. He allowed me to see what it was really like to be passionate about LSU.
As I was watching LSU softball playing on TV, it was the weirdest thing, I literally saw myself in the jersey. From that day forward I would always tell my mom and dad that I was going to play for LSU.
It's not that they didn't believe me. They didn't understand how it worked. Just like me, lacked the understanding of how the recruiting process was. So, how does this happen? You're from Mississippi. They don't come out here to watch, it's not like that with softball from what they knew.
For some reason though, what they were saying was going in one ear and out the other. I was so caught up in that I was going to play for LSU. I saw it, I felt it, I believed it. That's all I needed. So from that point forward I understood at a young age that that was nothing but God placing a vision in me. For me to understand what my calling was. What my purpose was. From there, it was all about working and staying focused. LSU was the goal.
Q - During your senior in high school, LSU had a coaching change. Coach Girouard would retire and Coach Beth Torina would finally get the Head Coaching position. Did that change affect you in any way?
Quinn - That whole process was crazy. After Coach Yvette stepped down and retired. Then it was actually Pat Murphy who was going to come in and take the job next. He stayed here for like a day, then went back to Alabama.
Then is was announced that Beth Torina was going to be the coach. I really didn't know much about her, so I looked her up. I saw that she had a background. That she had the skill set to take us to the next level. She played at an SEC school so she knows what it's like to compete in the conference. She had been a coach for many years and has also coached at the professional level. So I'm looking at all this and I see she has what it takes to take us to the next level. I firmly believed that.
A big thing I was worried about was if I was going to get my scholarship taken away. I didn't now if she had the power to take that away. I didn't know how that worked. So that was really my concern.
I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So with a coaching change that was God moving in a way that we just didn't understand.
I was kinda prepared for the way that she was as a coach, because of Coach H and different things with Coach Swindle and Coach Ivy. But she was tough. I'm going to be honest, besides my mom, she is one of the most savage women I have ever met in my life. I want to tell you that's one of the reasons why I wanted to play for her and continue to play for her.
She is one of the hardest working coaches I've ever played for. She is so courageous, her strength and her mentality is just about going and getting it. Regardless of what circumstances she might be facing. Challenges and obstacles that are in the way, she is going at 100. Not in a way of 100 not thinking. It's like 100 knowing her next move.
She is very strategic and I love it, because she always had a plan. No matter what happened she always had a plan. She had a plan A, She would have a plan B, and she definitely would have a plan C. That was so cool about it. When you go to war for someone you know they're a leader. She's a leader.
As a coach, you want to trust in someone and fight for someone that has a plan. That's why I like that movie Troy. You always need a plan when you go into battle. They had a plan with that horse. They built that horse, and that was such a strategic plan of attack and that's kinda how she was. She was very prepared. Very much about preparation.
Going forward after my freshman year, we lost to Arizona in the Regional at Arizona. I thought that was one of the worse days of my life. That was like a dagger to the heart. Being a freshman, I didn't want to see it end for the seniors, because of the fight that we had that entire tournament.
I'll never forget the look on coach's face. As if she was going to get our revenge, and when she did, we were going to beat any team that got in our way. In a way she took the blame. A lot of coaches get caught up in, "We didn't do this, and we didn't do that.."... She really took the blame and it really blew my mind. It was like she was so ready to get back home to start preparing for next season. I guarantee you that is just what she did.
The cool thing about coach was that she never slept. Having three kids, a husband, a family, then having us to worry about. She was always worried about us and how we were going to do in the season. She had a lot of weight on her. For her to handle working to keep a job, then going home to feed a family, was the most admirable thing about her.
Throughout those years that's why I wanted to play for her and not just play because it's LSU, but to fight hard because we had a leader and someone who was going to go to battle for us.
I'll never forget this game. We were playing at Northwestern State Louisiana and Bianka Bell was up to bat. Now everyone knows Bianka can hit. Coach is down coaching third. Bianka nails a line drive and it hits coach in the head. Coach Beth falls down. We were all in the dugout, like, "Oh My God..".. For a second she didn't move, but then she just popped back up like nothing happened. We are like all crying asking if she is okay. Bianka was crying, it was so frightening. Come to find out if the ball would have been any further up, it would have knocked her temple and then who knows what that would have done to her.
So she popped up and the craziest thing was, she didn't shed one tear. She had to be removed so they could run some test to make sure she didn't have a concussion. She didn't want to leave the game. She was coming around clapping like, "Here we go! Here we go!"... I was like, what in the world.
From that day forward I said that woman is not human. Nobody gets lit up like that by Bianka Bell and stands back up like nothing happened. Then she didn't want to leave the game, she didn't shed a tear, She wanted to stay out there and she was encouraging us as they were taking her off the field. I will go to battle for that woman, because that's a true leader.
I definitely knew that she was going to leave a mark on LSU in a positive way. Before you know it, she'll have a championship title under her belt. She's gunna do it. But I'll never forget that moment after all these years.
One of the things that I respect about her is she gave that five year old me a chance. The five year old kid that told myself that I was going to play at LSU. The same kid that would watch the World Series, thinking how much I would love to play there. To be on that team and compete for a national championship. She gave me that opportunity for three years in a row.
Because of that, that will be something I'll always be grateful for. So when I look back at LSU, I look back at the fact that I learned what 'fight' meant. What 'passion' is. What it means to play for LSU. She always said, "It's putting 'LS' over 'U'.....
We only had one jersey that had our names on the back. She was very much about taking that off and have it only being about what was on the front. What I thought was so cool was, she still gave us the opportunity to be us. To play for our families and different people and different reasons why. But she always directed it to, ... You play for those things, but you put it all out on the field for LSU.
Because of that I'll always be grateful for her. I'll always be in her corner and supporting her. She has already done remarkable things at LSU in such a short period of time. It's only a matter of time until she brings us a title.
Q - Can you tell us about the most memorable moments in your LSU career?
Quinn - I have to say that beating Arizona in the Super Regional to go to the World Series after losing to them in the Regional the year before has to be one of my favorite moments EVER at LSU.
Probably in my top three. Like I said you lose to them at their home and after what was crazy was we were on the bud leaving to go shower before heading home. So their was this drunk man outside the bus screaming, "ARIZONA! ARIZONA!" ...
I was so mad. If I was a cartoon, I'd have steam coming out of my nose and my ears. I was so angry and I'll never forget, I walked off the bus with the intent to tell that man to shut your mouth. So I'm getting off the bus and our volunteer coach grabbed my arm and stopped me and was trying to calm me down. Then some teammates came to try and calm me down. Literally, it wasn't worth it. You could jeopardize your season and career over a drunk man being out of control. I had to come down to reality.
I'll never forget that moment, and that was the revenge that I saw in coach, that I saw in that moment.
We actually played them earlier that season in a tournament that we would go to often in Palm Springs, California. We were lined up to play them and it was actually one of the biggest games in that tournament.
At the time we were playing incredible. We were like 16-0 I think. So you had Arizona who put us out the year before, so everyone wanted to see that game. It was pretty electric game. I think we won it, 4-3.
That was the first taste of revenge that I got. After the game, Coach Beth said that this won't be the only chance that we will have to get them back. We'll see them again. My heart was beating so fast when I heard that. I was like, "I can't wait, I can't wait"...
So sure enough, we were watching the NCAA election show and we saw that we would have the opportunity to play Arizona again. The Super Regional came around and sure enough, Arizona made it. The practice that we had before we played them was the most electrifying practice that I have ever been a part of.
Literally when I tell you that we were so amped up and ready to play them. I don't think they understood how excited and how ready we were, and how prepared we were. So going into that game the fans base, I'll never forget the fans were incredible. The stadium was packed out. It was loud. It was exactly what LSU is all about. Being able to experience that was remarkable, but then to win the game was better. Knowing that we had this chance to get them back was just the most incredible thing. It's a memory that's definitely up there that I will never forget.
Another great moment was during my freshman year. We were playing against Boston University.
This was an elimination game in the Regional. We were down, can't remember by how much, but it wasn't by much. But it was towards the end of the game, around the 6th inning. We all thought we were done. We thought the game was over for a second.
It was Sahvanna Jaquish who was up to bat and she hit a home run and I'll never forget how lit we got in that dugout and how amped we were. We rushed out to home plate and the Ump had to keep telling us to back up. The coolest thing was that when SJ hit that, she pointed at the seniors and said, "That was for y'all.".. Everyone on the team was bawling and crying, because it wasn't that we thought the season was over. When she hit that, we knew we were in this game.
But it was that fight that we all felt in that moment and what it meant to be a Fighting Tiger. What it meant to play for LSU in that moment and if you didn't fell that, then you didn't deserve to be in a LSU jersey.
That was something that I always wanted to experience and I got that opportunity, right there in that moment. It stuck with us. It stuck with us freshman. That was something the seniors taught us without sitting down and telling us. They lead by example. Those seniors actually had the opportunity to go to the World Series a year or so before. So they knew what it was like to play there and they wanted to take us back. Not one senior on that team ever gave up. So for a freshman to jog around those bases and point at the seniors and say, 'That was for you', while she beat on her chest, that was the coolest thing.
Then Bailey Landry stepped up and hit a triple to score a run. It was just everything that happened in that game. It made it more real about how it was to play for LSU. It wasn't about you. It wasn't about who did it. Who made the game winning hit, or who scored the winning run. It was about playing for one another and representing LSU. That's what LSU is. It's the fight. We fight until the end. We don't give up. That was the game where I really learned what it was like to play for LSU. Yea, that was another game that I will never forget.
The last big memory was beating Florida, at Florida during my sophomore year. That had to be the greatest moment, with us becoming the #1 team in the nation for the first time in LSU history. That was incredible. It left a taste in your mouth about how it feels to be great. Something that you work so hard to achieve and you finally get a taste of it. So to beat the Gators in Florida and win that series was incredible. Those were my top three memories at LSU.
Q - What was it like to play in the College World Series in Oklahoma City?
Quinn - It's incomparable. Everything that you dream of when your watching it, It's that and more, except your out on the field, in a jersey, competing, and people are cheering for you.
I actually had played on that field before with the Voodoo in a tournament. But it's nothing that can compare like actually being there in the World Series. Honestly, I'm going to tell you, I was a little star-struck when I got there. You're nervous. You're like, "Oh my gosh.." ..
You know everyone is watching and you don't want to mess up. But it's the kind of moment that when you step on the field, you just need to take it all in. You look around and your grateful for it because this is what you have always dreamed of. But I'm the type of person that if I think about it too much like that, my emotions would take over me. I had to just take it in and be appreciative of it.
But playing there, not just one year, but for three years in a row was incredible. Just the opportunity to be there, because your playing against All-Americans, your playing against people I use to watch on TV. Playing against some people who hold records, who have won the World Series already. Then your playing on national television.
You just don't realize who is impacted by your performance and who is impacted by the player that you are. Coach would always tell us, "You are always being watched." .... Especially on the level and the platform that you play on. You are always being watched. It was the coolest thing to know that somebody, just like myself when I was younger I was watching Natasha Watley. I would always say that I wanted to be and play just like her, and now I'm in that same position with a little girl ask me for my autograph. That was the coolest thing, signing autographs. It's crazy because when you're younger, you work on your autograph trying to see what it will look like, and now you get to use it. It was just a cool thing to think back too, but to experience was a whole other level.
Q - I didn't know this, but you actually played on the LSU basketball team for a short period of time. Would you like to tell us a little about that experience?
Quinn - It was actually pretty interesting. I want to back track a little to start. When I was a commit to LSU in 8th grade, and Yvette Girouard was still there we were sitting in the office. After she gave me the offer she asked me if I had any questions. I said, "Yes, I do have a question." .. I asked, "Can you play two sports here at LSU." ..
Because at the time, Chad Jones was at LSU and playing two sports, starting in both. I was so intrigued by that. I didn't know you could play two sports at this level. I had never heard of it. After watching him play football on a visit, then turning on the TV and watching him play baseball, I was like, "This guy is a Beast." ..
From that point forward I was inspired to do the same. Coach G said, "Yes, you can play two sports. .. But it's very hard. We have people who do it, but it will be pretty tough. You would need to be very committed and have time management." ... I really didn't think nothing of it, I was just being curious.
So during my junior year, I'm working to class and my coach calls me. She says, "I'm asking for them, Would you like to play basketball?" I was like, "what!?" .. because I would joke with her all the time about playing basketball and being on the team. She was like, "Yes, serious, would you like to play?"
This was happening around December, so we were about to get a little break, then come back and get ready for the softball season. I was like, "There is no way. I could get hurt. Anything could go wrong." .. There is no way she is asking me to play basketball. It was the most back and forth decision I've ever made. One second I would say, yes. The next second I would say, no. I didn't want to do anything that would jeopardize the upcoming softball season. Then I would come back again and say, You know maybe this is an opportunity to do something that you haven't tried before. I kept going back and forth, then finally said that I need to get some peace on it. So I called my parents and we prayed on it and I said yes and agreed to it. So from December until late January, I was on the basketball team.
It was pretty incredible. I was a little rusty, but going out there and having that experience. Again it was another opportunity where, their coach took me in.
They didn't know me that well. Being new to the team, they took me in as one of them and that was a pretty cool thing. Another story where I didn't have to be taken in, but they did anyway and would take me under their wing. The way that those girls would help me learn the plays and then stay after and work out and work on basketball skills to help me out, it was cool. That's something that I'll never forget.
The chance to play UConn at UConn was incredible. I got to play in the game for like two minutes and I grabbed a rebound. So that's a record that I could hold with me. It was pretty incredible to have that opportunity.
To do something that not many people get a chance to do. A few things that I learned during that semester while I playing with them was, One - What hard work really was. We were getting into January, so softball was back in play and back to practice. So I would have softball practice, then I'd have a basketball game. I had to learn how to balance it. It was strange but not one time was I exhausted or tired.
I really was intrigued by the work ethic that it took. I knew it was going to make me better. I knew it was going to challenge me. I love being challenged. I love competition. And that to me was a challenge, having to balance it out, but having the endurance, the stamina, and the energy to go between both.
I'll be honest, I didn't play much except for a couple of minutes in a couple of games, but being on that bench, it wasn't like I was wishing I was out there. Knowing what it meant to lead a team from a different prospective, that's what really helped me. What they did for me was it allowed me to realize that leadership isn't just about being on the court or the field or being a starter. Leadership is being put in different positions where you need to put others above you.
Regardless of what you're going through, what challenges you have, It's putting your teammates over you. I learned that in that moment.
I had a chance to work with Temeka Johnson, who is a former LSU basketball player. I remember we had a game the next day. Well we had basketball practice. Then I would have a 30 minute break. Then I would have softball practice, and she would ask me if I wanted to shoot around after. At this point I was tired. We were running up and down the court, so I was pretty gassed out.
I was like, this is what it's like to really work. To want something bad enough bad enough, that you were going to push yourself beyond your limitations. That was something that my dad would share with me. He would say, "You will never know what you're capable of unless you push beyond your limitations." ..
In that moment, I really experienced that. You need to have that mentality to work hard and to push yourself. Because if you never learn to push yourself, how will you ever succeed. It just doesn't happen. Now whether that was for me to prepare myself for a game or what have you. It was a chance to experience what it was like to work hard. That was one of the coolest things that I have had accomplished.
It sticks with me now while I'm out in the real world. Everyone is competing. Everyone is out to succeed. It's not just going to be handed to you because of what you because of what you have done. .. Yea I went to LSU. But a lot of people don't care about that. A lot of people are trying to get theirs. But understand at LSU, there is a different atmosphere.
So not only did I learn at a young age what it was like to have the passion and what it was like to play with heart. Going there, you're surrounded by other athletes that walk the same campus that you walk. That have that same hunger. It's a different type of hunger that you have at LSU.
It's something that you learn to understand once you step on that campus. What it means to play for them. What it means to really be a Tiger. It's not about you. It's about the campus, the community, It's about Louisiana, what you represent. That's what gives you that drive, that bite, that hunger. To be more and do more.
That's why a lot of people that come from LSU, take it to the next level, because you get a taste of what it's like to be great at LSU. You get that platform, and now you're put out into the world to exceed beyond your expectations and they do better and greater things. Because you undertsand what it take to represent more then just you. That's really what I took from LSU.
Q - Please tell us about what your doing as a career now...
Quinn - Now my main focus is being a personal trainer. I've been doing that for almost two years now. Crazy thing about that was, after my career I stayed in Baton Rouge a couple of years, then I decided to move home.
Moved back to Hattiesburg, MS. to figure out what it was that I wanted to do. I had no clue on what direction I wanted to take. Before I knew it, I was really encouraged from different mentors, especially my parents to take on personal training. I love working out. Love being in the gym anyway.
It's kinda weird how sometimes what your hobby is, is what your calling is without you even realizing it. I took it on as an opportunity to kinda further myself in this career, so ever since I've been working my way up. Taking advise, learning how to become a better trainer. But I've also learned that it's a big industry. There is many avenues to it. It's not just training someone one on one. You can become a strength and conditioning coach. You can take it to the next level and travel with people. There are so many things that you can do with it to become successful.
But what I loved the most about it was, I have always wanted to do something that was along the lines of competing in college, which nothing really comes close, but, when it comes to training people and the motivating side to it, that I loved about it. When it came to motivate my team. To push my team and encouraging them, I love that. I love being that Energizer Bunny and hyping up the team and getting us ready for competition.
Personal training gives me that same opportunity to motivate my clients or motivate a group of people or whoever comes through the door to train. To take on the opportunity to head them in the right direction.
One thing I've learned about, especially now, during this crisis. Health is so important and I think people are starting to see that now more then ever because of what's going on. I really believe that fitness is going to take over.
I really feel that if I'm given that opportunity to encourage people and motivate people to become a better version of them self. To me it's not just the physique of the body and having a six pack and abs. That's great and that's a benefit of working hard. But it's a lifestyle that you need to be willing to commit to. It's a change in your diet. It's a change in your sleep pattern. It's a change in what you put in your body. It's a whole routine.
Once I took that on two years ago and really decided to be serious about it. Now I'm leading people in the right direction. Now people are coming to me for advice. If I want to preach it, then I need to practice it. I've got to be about it. I can't just talk the talk. Anyone can talk it, but not many can walk it. So I want to be the person that people say, "She doesn't just mean what she says and speaks on it, but she does it on a daily." ... So it's something that I'm embracing and that I want to further myself in the career of.
Q - Anything you want to tell LSU fans?
Quinn - As always.. Geaux Tigers and Forever LSU!