I remember the first time I realized hurricanes happened during the football season.
We were living in Baton Rouge, and my father told me that the LSU game was postponed. I thought, “This must be something big.” It was. Hurricane Hilda slammed into the central Louisiana coast.
Seventh-ranked LSU played Florida in the final game of the 1964 season and was upset, 20-7. The Gators had some guy named Spurrier playing quarterback.
Ten years later, the build-up to Tulane’s season opener with Ole Miss was substantial. A huge crowd was expected at Tulane Stadium. Tulane was coming off a nine-win season that included its first victory over LSU in 25 years.
In anticipation of the game, Ole Miss planned to spend several days practicing for the game in Gulfport. But, Hurricane Carmen caused postponement to the end of the season. On Nov. 30, 1974, a very cold day, the Green Wave lost to Ole Miss, 26-10 in its final game at Tulane Stadium.
For years, many of my friends and colleagues talked of those days with a bit of nostalgia.
As I peck away at my laptop on the night of Sunday, Aug. 26, three days before the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I wonder how much more can one area absorb?
In 2005, the Saints played a preseason game at Oakland on Thursday night, Aug. 25. I don’t remember one thing about the game.
The first LSU game I watched was Sept. 10, when the Tigers won one for Louisiana. LSU beat Arizona State in Tempe in an LSU “home” game. Ironically, LSU’s opener that year was supposed to be at home against North Texas. And, wouldn’t you know, North Texas was scheduled as the opener in 2012.
In late September on a Monday night, LSU played its first game of the 2005 season at Tiger Stadium against Tennessee. The outcome (a 30-27 Tennessee victory) wasn’t nearly as important as this – the game provided a few hours of normalcy in the midst of a terrible human tragedy.
In 2008, LSU’s home opener against Appalachian State was moved to 10 a.m. on a Saturday in advance of Hurricane Gustav. For the most part, Gustav spared New Orleans but did considerable damage in Baton Rouge.
This spring, I was interviewing Archbishop Rummel head coach Jay Roth for a story that would air this fall on the great rivalries in southeast Louisiana. Rummel vs. Shaw is one of those. The winner gets the treasured megaphone. In one of the great traditions in prep football, the teams meet at the center of the field after the game to handoff the megaphone.
As we were taping the interview, Roth reminded me that three of the last seven seasons, tropical weather had forced the cancellation of the game. There was Katrina in 2005, Gustav three years later and tropical storm Lee in 2011.
In response, I said what are the chances of that happening again?
I should have kept my mouth shut.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.