Friday, December 05, 2003


by Wayne Robins

You would think that up here in New York City, we’d have enough teams of our own to root for. But despite our rich selection of professional teams, New York can’t fill the hole in my heart for college football.

Filling that hole, I’ve got the LSU Tigers.

Growing up in suburban Long Island, just across the New York City line, I’ve been a Tigers fan since I was nine years old, in 1958: the last year LSU won a national championship.

Up until a few years ago, I would win many a sports bar bet by being able to name the entire starting backfield from that team: Not only the immortal Billy Cannon, who is to many of you folks what Frank Gifford is to USC and New York Giants fans.

But the name Warren Rabb, that LSU team’s quarterback, does not just roll off the tongue of even the most devout New York sports fan: I doubt if the know-everything’s at the Big Apple’s sports talk station WFAN even know about Rabb.
Then there was the right halfback, Johnny Robinson. And though I knew that J.W. Brodnax was the fullback for the “White” team, it was “Go” team fullback Tommy Davis that always stuck in my mind, since he also kicked the extra points and field goals. (I do admit that the concept of “White” and “Go” teams perplexes me now as much as it did when I was in the fourth grade.)

In these politically correct times, of course, it would be unseemly for any squad to be known as “Chinese Bandits,” as the defensive team was called. In these days of 350 pound steroidal mutants who can run the 40 in 4.6 seconds, size matters for lineman.

But Coach Paul Dietzel had only two defenders who weighed more than 200 pounds. And it was suggested to me that the unit was called the Chinese Bandits because it was small, quick, fearless, and created a lot of turnovers. Sounds respectful to me.

As an undersized, slight (though obviously precocious) nine-year-old I could identify with a smallish team. Eventually I sprouted, or more like budded, to be between the size of cornerback Hart Bourque (5’8”, 165) and Go team left halfback Don Purvis (5’7”, 160).

As the years went on, I had other reasons to root for LSU. The great Tiger quarterback Yelberton Abraham Tittle (Y.A., of course) finished his Hall of Fame career as quarterback for my beloved New York Giants 1961-1964.

During the rest of the 1960’s I paid little attention to college football: I seem to recall there was an establishment to overthrow, a little sex, a few drugs, and an enormous amount of rock and roll to partake of.

With no college football tradition in New York City, I was fortunate to gravitate to the University of Colorado in Boulder. Football wasn’t the religion at CU that it was, say, in Nebraska or Oklahoma, which is why during my years, the Golden Buffaloes were usually thrashed by those super powers in what was then the Big Eight.

But it was big time college football, and I never missed a home game, nor a chance to commiserate over a defeat or celebrate a win with thousands of other party animals.

Besides being a student, my “day job” at Colorado was being the pop music writer for the college and other local papers. I’d always loved New Orleans r&b, even before I knew what it was called. Around the time I recognized I was the proudest youngest Tigers fan on Long Island, I also bought as one of my first singles Huey Smith’s “Don’t You Just Know It.”

Hearing Professor Longhair when I was in college was like graduating to the hard stuff. My first reaction was: Where do I get some crawfish? I soon went on the first of many pilgrimages to Louisiana.

How deeply do I identify with the Tigers? This year, as I have cleared my Saturday schedule to watch as many of the resurgent LSU games as possible, I am reminded of the spiritualist my ex-wife sent to examine me who suggested I may have been Cajun in a past life.

It’s not so hard for me to imagine it: my name could easily be transformed to Wayne Robichaux.

In any case, with LSU ranked three in the polls and the possibility of a decisive win over Georgia giving the Tigers a shot at the BCS national championship, this must the best of all possible lives.

So I’ll be with y’all in spirit in front of my TV set here in New York on Saturday, scaring the family with persistent shouts of, “Geaux Tigers!,” and try to explain to my children why I spell “go” so funny.

Wayne Robins is a journalist who lives in New York and who is happy he has never had to face the conflict of a Colorado/LSU football fame.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Thanks to Ida for turning me on to this 1980's music quiz. (Click on the sneaker at the bottom of the page). As a working rock critic during that decade, I probably should have done better than 62.5. Then again: even though I was there, I really missed a lot of the eighties. Or at least forgot more than I can remember to forget.

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