Dig Baton Rouge

The Sports Troll: What happened to Death Valley?

I miss the days when LSU actually had a game-changing home field advantage.

The days when fans overflowed Tiger Stadium as soon as the gates open. They came early and stayed late – committing themselves to making life miserable for opposing teams throughout every game.

They were days when LSU was virtually impossible to beat at home and because of that dominance, LSU won many, many SEC Western Division crowns, a few SEC Titles and even two National Titles.

But those days are gone.

Tiger Stadium used to be an amazing atmosphere for college football.

But now, it’s a joke – a mere shell of its former self.

Since the program’s small slide, fans have bailed. Instead of full crowds, the stadium is only ever 85-90 percent full at opening kickoff – if that much.

By the mid-second quarter, half of the students are gone, which drops capacity in half.

By the third quarter, everyone is gone, leaving just the most dedicated 15,000-20,000 people to ride out the night, while others opt to beat the traffic.

The problems are multi-faceted and can’t be fixed in the context of a single column.

They involve multi-generational season ticket holders who are now complacent and spoiled, a student section far too large and an inability to punish the “bad” fans who routinely leave and/or sell their tickets – even if to opposing fans.

But today, let’s just focus on the present and state this as loud and as bluntly and I can in hopes of influencing a few fans along the way.

We need Tiger Stadium to be alive on Saturday against Auburn.

There are literally no excuses. The game is at 2:30 p.m., so claiming fatigue from a day of tailgating is invalid. The early kickoff also means that very few fans should be in danger of driving late into the night in traffic logjams which some fans use as an excuse as leaving.

The opponent isn’t the issue, either.

Auburn is one of the best teams in the SEC – maybe the single biggest threat to Alabama in the whole league. To top it off, those guys beat LSU last year in the last game of Les Miles’ tenure.

Hell, Les, himself, will be at the game, as part of a reunion being held for the 2007 National Championship Game.

Don’t like Coach O? Then go and support Les and the former Tigers – if for nothing else.

When LSU plays Troy, no one gets excited. The stadium is dull and the players can’t pool energy from their surroundings.

And the team plays flat and fans have the nerve to wonder why.

Let’s not let that be an issue on Saturday.

Show up early, leave late and root on LSU as they get set to tackle a big-time foe.

Tiger Stadium hasn’t been great in a decade. It shows up in spurts, yes, like the Alabama game last year. But consistent excellence? No way.

At its peak, it’s the best venue in college football. But it hasn’t been at its peak in many, many years.

Let’s bring it back on Saturday.

There are no excuses.

Either show up ready to party and make noise or sell your ticket to someone who will.

Those guys on the field need it.

Let’s make Tiger Stadium Great Again!


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