Scooter Hobbs column: Fans with a healthy respect

Published 10:46 am Friday, September 10, 2021

It still seems odd to be writing McNeese and LSU in the context of a football game, as will apparently happen.

But LSU will probably do what it has to do Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, most notably win and move on.

Dog bites man.

McNeese will do what it can do, try to hang tough against the far superior resources of Flagship U., not to mention the superior talent.

But man has bitten dog before.

Meanwhile, Lake Charles has had a wind-blown laundry list of natural disasters and insurance meltdowns in the last 54 weeks.

So our fair city should be able to survive another awkward meeting between the area’s dominant fan bases of, many of whom hold dual fanship.

There’s a whole lot of mixed marriages in the city this week, even more whole families split down the middle, some with purple/blue slashed shirts to prove it.

Seemingly half of McNeese’ staff and players have some kind of connection to LSU. There’s no shortage the other way either.

And surely by now I don’t have to tell you that LSU head coach Ed Orgeron will have to watch his own son play quarterback for the Cowboys.

He even trades in his LSU purple for McNeese blue on his many visits to Cowboy Stadium.

Maybe only McNeese and LSU could pull that off.

Not that big of a deal, really. Around these parts, it seems to be a friendly enough affair. Most of the fans of one at least seem to casually pull for the other.

This is only the third time the city has put up with the run-up to a game pitting the two local favorites sort of against each other, and it will be a victory for all if a second game gets played.

It didn’t when last attempted in 2015 because, contrary to a popular myth, it does occasionally rain in Tiger Stadium, sometimes in sheets.

It was a fairly benevolent storm that night by Lake Charles’ and Baton Rouge’s more recent standards, but the rain and lightning stopped the fight at 0-0 less than five minutes in, never to be finished.

LSU’s top brass didn’t handle it quite well in pulling the plug early — or at least finishing the next day — although the Tigers were kind enough to show the Cowboys the money. That was kind of the point anyway.

And maybe that was best for all involved. No ill will among good friends.

McNeese fans could point out that it was no worse than a draw for the brief skirmish and even note that the Cowboys were wild-eyed champing at the bit to get back on the field.

LSU fans could smugly assume the inevitable was on the way.

No hard feelings either way.

For that matter, it had been a beautiful afternoon, and tailgating went off apace and without incident.

So two of the best pregame fan bases in their respective football subdivisions got to break bread, imbibe responsibly and socialize peacefully.

This Saturday they’ll do it again in what will be the LSU campus’ return to its full-contact tailgating after last year’s socially distanced letdown.

And if McNeese fans tarry late in this parking lot, this time it will backfire on them as they will miss the LSU game as well their own Cowboys.

They can even discuss the one game in the “rivalry” that did get played, a 31-10 LSU victory in 2010.

The final hardly constituted running up the score, McNeese accounted well for itself, yet it was a comfortable enough margin that Tigers fans didn’t have to listen to a lot of woulda-coulda-shoulda talk around the office water cooler.

Nobody got their feelings hurt.

That 2010 score also accounted for McNeese scoring a touchdown, which both fan bases could gleefully point out was one more touchdown than Louisiana-Lafayette (by any of its names and aliases) had managed in 113 years and 22 games of trying against LSU.

It gives McNeese and LSU some common ground. They’re just different. And it’s healthy.

What is it they call it in soccer?

A friendly.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com