Former McNeese State sports information director Louis Bonnette, who recently retired after 46 years on the job. (Karen Wink / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 7:17 PM
So the multitudes were seated, the proclamations all got whereas-ed, the banquet dishes were cleared and the lights went down.
Time for the main course at L’Auberge du lac Casino Resort.
The “Louis Bonnette Roast” was a fitting last chance to skewer, simmer and sauté the longtime McNeese sports information director who recently retired after 46 years on the job.
Well, it was a dud. Nobody’s fault, really.
But if you came looking for blood, you went away disappointed.
Basically, a distinguished panel of unrepentant ruffian roasters tried in vain to roast the unroastable.
What did you expect?
Bonnette, a man with no visible vices, other than golf, and precious few eccentricities, other than fishing, proved too tough a nut to crack, even for some real smart acres.
It was a new twist on the timeless dilemma of what to get the man who has everything — how do you ridicule a man who doesn’t cuss, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, ages way too gracefully and never, ever misses a fairway?
For his late night milk and cookies?
For his definition of a really wild night defined as having the grandkids over?
Or maybe there’s a tale of a big bass that got away, if one ever did, or boss that crossed him.
Perhaps once in a blue moon he might three-putt.
But even for a guy who survived 46 years at McNeese, he looks way younger than can be good for a 71-year-old, so the old-age jokes were out.
The roasters were at a loss Tuesday night.
So the roast, as it was, ended with Bonnette no worse for the wear than medium rare.
Not that they didn’t try.
But there was political veteran Vic Stelly summing it up best.
“I don’t remember anything Louis ever said that’s funny,” Stelly said in what passed for a put-down. “I don’t think he’s ever done anything dumb, either.”
But the politics, Vic, tell us about the politics.
Then you remember that, although Bonnette probably knows where all the bodies are buried at McNeese, he would never divulge any locations.
He survived happily underpaid out there all those years by staying out of any silly squabbles and the petty politics inherent on any college campus.
He just showed up for work every day and did his job.
What are you going to rip about that?
Instead, we got a heartwarming tale of how Bonnette saved Stelly from the eternal damnation of former head coach Jack Doland.
There was Ron Hayes, a faithful Bonnette golf partner on all those McNeese trips.
He had nothing more incriminating than golf on Bonnette, and it took a mighty leap of faith to believe Bonnette ever hit a clubhouse with a wayward shot in Austin, Texas.
Bobby Dower, the American Press’ managing editor who in a former life as sports editor covered the Cowboys, surely tangled often with Bonnette over player access, coaching lies or … something.
Dower was effective early, scoring impressive shots while mowing down Stelly, Hayes, McNeese broadcaster Johnny Suydam, even taking potshots at the governor … and then was reduced to one-liners when he turned his turrets on Bonnette.
“It’s a roast, folks, it’s a roast,” Dower yelled to explain that Bonnette might possibly have strayed from the straight and narrow at some point.
Finally, perhaps in frustration, they brought in the heavy artillery from upstate, a born wisecracker named Jerry Pierce from Northwestern State.
You knew it was serious as Pierce is widely feared as the state’s verbal assassin when it comes to the dais of a roast.
He landed a few classics but there was too much love and respect there to fool anybody.
As for the rebuttal, well, you guessed it, Bonnette comes from the school that was taught if you can’t say something nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all.
He preferred to talk about his family.
He taught his two sons the SID trade well enough for Matthew to take over for him at McNeese and for Michael to decipher and translate Les Miles at LSU.
To that, I once noted that Bonnette is to SIDs what Archie Manning is to quarterbacks.
He thought it was funny, but he said it was the first nice thing I ever said about him.
That’s probably the first time I ever caught Bonnette in a lie.
A lie, I’m telling you, an outright lie! Or, as Miles might say, a misspoken truth.
And that’s the best (worst) thing I can come up with against Louis Bonnette from my end.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at email@example.com