Each week I (Matt) will highlight my LSU gameday experience as I find the Best Places to Watch the Tigers. To request that Matt attend your party, or to suggest Best Places to Watch The Tigers: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ESPNU quoted LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger after the Bayou Bengal’s 38-22 win over the Towson Tigers:
“It was just sloppy play,” Mettenberger said. “We have been sloppy week in and week out. We have to clean it up. Right now, we are not playing LSU football. I’m very disappointed in myself and the team right now.”
The team was decisive enough in its 12-10 victory against Auburn last week that the BCS only dropped the Bengals one spot to No. 3. It’s hard to say that the level of play on Saturday against Towson was the third best in the nation.
On Saturday, everything started with the rain. And, boy, did it rain. I woke up to a soft drizzle that gently stopped for my first cycling session of the day (I’m training to lead a group around the country on bicycles in January). And the rest of the day went in spurts: hard, soft and slightly ceasing before another hard session.
[More Tigers: LSU fans tie the knot during Tigers tailgate party]
I stopped by the Parade Grounds in the middle of LSU’s campus. Purple pop-up tents, clever Tiger coolers and barbeque grills dotted the grounds. It was quite a sight for so much rain. In fact, even the frat boys—donning the classical jacket, tie and beers—were soaked…and I think it was due to rain.
I even saw nipples through the white Polo button shirt of one particular hairy, pudgy boy.
Make-up was running. Dresses were sagging. Heels were sinking into the grass. And, to make matters uglier, beer was flowing. There’s nothing uglier—and therefore funnier—than a shapely brunette stumbling around in a cream dress with tiny rivers of black streaming down her face, chest and dress. It was safe to say that the rain didn’t complement many Greek folk Saturday.
What it did complement, however, was a group of coeds dressed in tube socks, T-shirts and athletic shorts. They were playing beer pong near the entrance to the grounds. They had come to party—not make a sly attempt at a male’s wet t-shirt contest. I felt a little like the guy in the Miller Highlife commercials (minus the plethora of beer), walking over to congratulate them for recognizing the situation and coming to make the most of it.
Instead of congratulating them, though, I mentioned I was writing about the game, asked them a few questions, and before long I was allowing myself to indulge in a quick game before I headed home to get cleaned up for the evening.
This nice girl, Anna, and I were partners. She was in her second year with big brown eyes and studying biology (for now). Maybe it was the depth of her eyes or her tendency to keep eye contact, but she seemed so innocent, like she’d grown up in Vermont and was raised by alpacas.
Wild, I know!
But that didn’t turn out to be the case since she both made all of our shots (we won) and drank all of the beer. She also wasn’t from Vermont—somewhere in Northeastern Louisiana.
And so it goes.
I had to leave to get cleaned up before the evening: I’d been invited for dinner with family and friends for the game. It sounded like an older crowd, but I still had high hopes.
I arrived clean, comfortable and (relatively) dry for dinner. Greetings were allotted, small talk was made and the meal was finally served: pizza and Mexican Coke. I was sated before long. Then LSU opened up…struggling, again.
The crowd in the living room wasn’t as passionate about the Tigers as it was about each other. Given the caliber of game and general quality of the people, I quickly forgave them. It was evident from the beginning that the family was extremely invested into the small crowd—each was talking about the loneliness, failures and successes in his or her life with such openness.
They sat around the living room, decorated in a particular style one might find in Ohio: standard drywall, multiple family portraits and a plethora of wooden accompaniments with dark-blue clothe and a deep, soft carpet. It was strangely comfortable.
The Tigers were also apparently comfortable after Russell Shepard ran 78 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. After that, there was a fumble, a couple penalties and the next two scores were made by Towson, 9-7.
Who is Towson again? I mean, I have at least heard of Idaho…
Aside from the filth strewn across the television, the conversation in the mid-western-style living room was actually positive (and completely unrelated to football).
“…what very few people are actually living is relationship,” John, the host, was saying. “What relationship is is walking beside people in life—hearing about and being a part of life’s ups and downs. It’s too lonely being disconnected from others so often and in so many facets of life.”
The room was completely immersed in the ideas of struggling and celebrating together.
“What would y’all say joy is?” John asked maybe an hour later into the evening.
The responders presumed it was rhetorical and didn’t answer. John kept looking around. Not rhetorical. Somebody mentioned something about it being a more permanent sense of happiness.
“Joy is what happens when someone walks with another—when we’re walking together! When we come beside each other and play an active role in listening to and helping someone—Joy is found there. And when something good happens, when we achieve something—when we’re happy alone because we’ve succeeded—joy is what happens when we come together to celebrate, when we share that success!”
It was actually pretty profound. Sitting there and watching the game, this guy was giving away wisdom—for free.
LSU, on the other hand, was giving away the ball—for free!
Yes, you may have guessed, it was at this moment—just after Towson’s safety Jordan Love fumbled a punt and LSU recovered on the Towson 8—that our beloved Kenny Hilliard tried, on behalf of LSU, to give the ball back to Towson again. Luckily, the Bengals collectively thought better of Hilliard’s attempt at generosity. We recovered, and JC Copeland scored the next play.
It was then 24-9.
Let’s be honest, no one was ever really worried about LSU losing the game. It’s expected that teams like Towson don’t have the ability to hang on for the long haul. Everyone knows that.
What we’re still wondering is whether LSU is going to try to gift away tickets to this year’s national championship over the next few weeks during SEC competition. There’s certainly no doubt that its SEC family will quickly accept any possessions, yards or games that the Tigers are looking to give away.
And I don’t care who you are, there’s no joy in walking out of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Florida’s stadium) beside your teammates after you gave the game away.
So here’s to more than just good conversation as we get ready for some hard-hitting, standard-of-the-nation SEC play.
Best Places to Watch the Tigers