By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former LSU great John Hazard. Hazard was recruited by Head Coach Jerry Stovall and played at LSU from 1983-1986. He would begin his career in purple and gold by playing on the defensive line during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Hazard then made the move to offensive tackle for his final two seasons and became one of the top O-lineman in LSU history. A neck injury would keep him from pursuing a NFL career. John has been in the tobacco business for several years and resides with his family in Metairie, La.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
John - It no longer plays, but it was "Brockmire"
Q - What is your favorite Food?
John - Boiled seafood. Crabs are my favorite. I love them, my kids love them. I love boiled seafood.
Q - Who is your favorite Pro Athlete?
John - Drew Brees
Q - Who are the favorite sports teams that you enjoy following?
John - Now it will be UL, Because that's where my son plays. University of Louisiana. The Ragin' Cajuns. He's a freshman and plays nose guard. #91.
Q - Your Favorite Movie?
John - Hidalgo
Q - Who is your Favorite Actor?
John - Got to say, Harrison Ford.
Q - Who is your favorite Music Artist/Group?
John - Led Zepplin and ACDC, It's a tie.
Q - I see that you were born in New Orleans. Did you live there until you left to go to school at LSU?
John - Yes.. I actually was born on the night of Hurricane Betsy, September 11th, 1965. A tree fell on my parents apartment and then my mother went into labor. Then a birthday on 9-11..
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
John - A veterinarian. I grew up around horses and livestock. I graduated in Agricultural
Q - Did you play multiple sports in high school while attending Jesuit?
John - Yes. I wrestled and played football. I was in wrestling my freshman, Sophomore, and junior year. Didn't wrestle my senior year because I was taking football recruiting visits.
Q - Is there anything as far as athletic accomplishments both personal or team fro high school that you would like to mention?
John - I'm still close friends with a lot of the guys I played with. We won the district championship my junior season. My brother got to play behind me during my junior and senior year. I played defensive end in a 5-2. I want to give a shout out to my head coach who was Billy Murphy and our defensive line coach Tom Groover. They both were great. Tom Groover was a math teacher and he was one of the first coaches in New Orleans to use statistic tendencies in coaching. He was very cerebral in his approach and very much a technician.
Q - Want to tell us a little about your recruiting process?
John - I was on the front page of first "Parade Magazine All-American". Rod Woodson was on it with me. He went on to have a pretty good career. Max Emfinger, I was on the cover of his first ever recruiting magazine in 1981. I was heavily recruited. I had offers from every conference. I was the number one defensive lineman in the Country I believe. I was on USA Today's All-American team.
So recruiting was fun. I went to SMU and yes, they were very scary illegal. That was the
year before they got the death penalty. I went to University of Texas. I went to Auburn. Auburn was my favorite visit because I got to go quail hunting. I went to Penn State right after they won the National Championship in New Orleans in January of 1983. And went to LSU. But LSU was the most memorable.
Jerry Stovall was the head coach at LSU and Pete Jenkins was the recruiter there and he was great. He started to recruit me during my sophomore season because Eric Kittok played nose guard and played next to him as a sophomore. They would double team Eric and I would win one-on-ones and make plays.
Q - Why did you choose LSU over all of the other schools who were recruiting you?
John - Two things. One, my dad had been a walk-on there and the second was I went to the LSU vs. Auburn basketball game when Charles Barkley was playing. I had never been to a game in Tiger Stadium or in the Maravich Center until that year in 1982. I went to that basketball game and it was crazy. We beat Auburn and Barkley was a stud. But we beat them and that was it. I was able to sit in the student section and I loved it.
Q - Want to tell us a little about your freshman season with Stovall as your head coach?
John - I enjoyed Coach Stovall. I read what Michael Brooks said, and yes he was definitely tough and it wasn't just him, it was his staffs mentality. They wanted all hard nose, tough players, physically conditioned. But I was use to that. That's what we had a Jesuit. But we had a guy called Coach Jerguson, we called him Sluggo. This is kind of a add-on to Michael Brooks's story. He had us do the two craziest things I've ever done. This was during the summer before our season started. We had to push Clarence Osborne in his Datson B2-10 all the way from the end of one stadium parking lot to the other. That was like 200 yards, pushing this car with a man in it. In August on that black-top. The soles of your shoes came unglued. They had us also do a conditioning drill where we were in a wheelbarrow going up the stadium, bleacher to bleacher, hand to hand with your partner carrying your wheelbarrow. If you messed up, you were cracking your face. That was the Paul Harvey to what Michael Brooks was talking about. Night and day difference Coach Arnsparger was. It wasn't necessarily revolutionary what Coach Arnsparger did, but it was evolutionary for us as players. To come in and treat us the way we were treated.
Q - How did you guys handle the coaching change with Bill Arnspager coming in?
John - I hated Arnsparger when he came in because he was so monotone and he immediately put us on the red boot table. Everybody that had body mass index over "X" for your position, had to go on the red boot table. Mrs. Mosely who was the dietitian would come and watch you make your plate. I ended up finished playing at 258-pounds and had 11% body fat. That was Arnsparger's speed and quickness.
Q - Your freshman year you were on the defensive line. How did the situation come about having you move from the defense to the offensive line?
John - Arnsparger saw that I wasn't a good pass rusher. I was a technique player. I got to start my freshman year due to inury. So I got to play quite a bit. The last five games of the season I guess. Then the next year Bill comes in and we were stacked on defense. We needed backups for offense so I became Lance Smth's backup. That was a good spot to be in instead of second team defense and have to go against Lance everyday Tom Clapp had too.
So as a sophomore I was backing up Lance, then Roland Barbay got hurt. Clarence Osborne was the backup and he got hurt. So they pulled me back from offense to defense. I got to start the last three games then missed the Tulane game of a neck injury. I played three years Brachial Plex injury that took me seven years to get over with physical therapy after football. It really messed me up. I couldn't pass my physical with the Cleveland Browns because of my neck.
Then my junior year I moved back to offense and I don't believe I started every game because it was my first year of trying to play offense. But we had a good coach, Pete Mangurian. Pete ended up becoming Arnspargers protege. He was a young guy. He was 26 years old. I was 20. He was very smart. Very cerebral. Big time OCD, detail oriented. Then we had a coach named Terry Lewis, who didn't have the same approach that Mangurian had. Pete Manguarian was more of the chisel and Coach Lewis was more of the hammer. But they made a good team. That's why we had such a good season our senior year. They taught us all a lot.
So my senior year I became a captain and played every game. Had a wonderful career and made great friends. Then I went to sign a free agent contract with the Browns and I could pass the training camp physical because of that brachial plex injury. I talked to Arnsparger about it and he said, "You know, you're about to get your degree and you have an injury that is pretty serious. Once you fail a physical with a NFL team, you're protected by the union and preexisting soft muscle tissue issues aren't accepted." So I realized that and went on to finish my academic career. But it was nice because before the 1987 fall semester began, the folks who were filming "Everybody's All-American" came in and I ended up getting a job with them being John Goodman's body double. Working on the movie was 12 hour days for four weeks. Because I was in the Agriculture Department and we had smaller classes. I went to all my professors and they allowed me to come and pick up and do my assignments, then turn them into them on the weekends so I could graduate on time. I saved the money I made from that movie and bought my first house in Little Rock with it.
Q - Can you tell us about some of your favorite games and/or moments as a LSU Tiger?
John - Yea, for one of them I wasn't wearing any pads. It was when I was hurt at the end of the
1984 season. I'm on the sideline. Steve Rehage is next to me with a concussion. It was very cold and I'm in street clothes. At the end of the game, a brawl breaks out between both teams in the south end zone. I ran out there with no pads on and all of a sudden my best friend Greg Jordan who played for Tulane grabs me and we start hugging. Then an East Baton Rouge Sheriff grabs me, puts the move on me, gets me to the ground and handcuffs me. I start yelling, "Stop, I'm a player! You're killing my neck! You're killing my neck!" .... They just ran me out of the stadium. After they get me out, one of the officers recognize my name and takes the cuffs off. I run around, beat on the door and get into the shoot and I hear Arnsparger yelling, "We beat them in the game! We beat them in the fight! Lets go break some furniture!" ... That was the last thing I heard. That was probably the craziest I've seen Tiger Stadium stand out.
There are other great times. Going to Neyland Stadium and playing Tennessee as a freshman and seeing Reggie White play. He is the only player I ever saw, other then one other player, who gave Lance Smith any trouble. The craziest thing was that Eric Kittok was the player of the game on defense. He beat out Reggie White for that honor and Eric Kittok was 6'1", 240-pounds. That was crazy. That was a great memory being in that stadium.
Beating Notre Dame in South Bend was exciting.
The game that was probably the most difficult was when we played at Alabama my sophomore year. I was playing hurt and it was a rainy day. They had like a foot of water in the locker room. We battled those guys in the rain all game long. I don't remember the score, (LSU won 16-14), but at the end, Pete Jenkins was crying, I was crying, and all my friends were laughing at me. It was a good game.
Q - Can you tell us what you do as a career now?
John - Well, first off for enjoyment, I volunteer coach at Jesuit. This will be my sixth season there. Before that, I helped coach for one season at Houma Christian, a "A" school, when my kids were living in Houma. My son played as a 7th grader on the varsity.
I'm still in the Agriculture Business. I work for a tobacco manufacturer. We make handmade premium cigars, it's called Drew Estate. I've been in the tobacco business now for 33 years. God Bless America for having choices.
Q - Is there anything you would like to tell the LSU fans?
John - To people who maybe aren't LSU fans and the doubters especially now with COVID. I would tell them LSU always has a way of finding how to get the best out of the players. Some how the young guys who go to LSU think they have a chance to play and when they do get to play, most of them contribute. I think that's one of the best things about LSU. They don't shy away from putting the best players out there to make everybody better. When I hear people saying, "Well, you lost this guy! You lost our best wide receiver! We lost our quarterback! Now we lost our best lineman!" ... So what.. There will be someone else up next who is hungry. Bear Bryant use to say, "The number of freshmen you start is the number of games you're going to lose." ... Well times have changed. We will be competitive and we'll get through this season. Beat Bama!