Cheers, in and out of the cup
For years, Louisiana fans looked forward to a long football tradition to go along with their Thanksgiving turkey.
The rivalry began on Nov. 25, 1893, when Tulane beat LSU 34-0.Thereafter, the teams played nearly every year at Thanksgiving, until LSU dominance caused the game to lose its luster.
The Tigers and Green Wave played 98 times over the years after that first game. LSU won 69 of those games, Tulane won 22, and there were 7 ties.
After winning every game between 1982 and 2009, LSU paid Tulane $700,000 to void the final six years of the home-and-home series and that ended the rivalry.
Beginning in 1940, the winner took home a satin flag that because it resided so often in Baton Rouge came to be known as the Tiger Rag —a fter the LSU fight song of the same name.
Unfortunately, the flag was in New Orleans after the Tulane victory in 1982, and was destroyed by a fire at the Tulane University Center.
It’s said the flag was created to promote sportsmanship after rowdiness among the fans escalated into a riot after Tulane’s victory in 1938.
That was a far cry from earlier days, if newspaper reports can be believed. In 1913, for example, the Houma Courier reported that an amazing 3,000 people turned up to watch LSU beat Tulane 40-0 for the state collegiate championship. But even with the lopsided score, all was sweetness and light.
“Fifteen Rahs!” the story began.“Whoop! Whoo-oo-ee Tigers! Hullabulloo Ra-Ra! Tulane! Such ejaculations as these are largely typical of what has been happening at the Louisiana State University for the past week.
“The streets of Baton Rouge rang for one whole day with the cheers and yells of the two schools. The city was brightly decorated in its best regalia for the great crowd. The girls from Newcomb were here, vying with co-eds in emitting … yells. And then the jolliest of them all were the alumni, who had put away business cares for a day. They were here, there, and everywhere, telling of their school days and of the gridiron battles of long ago.”
LSU used “old style football” to win the game, “crashing again and again through the [Tulane] line for gains.” But the Tulane students took the drubbing stoically. “Not a whimper was heard and they stood by their team until the final whistle.” Then they “danced merrily down the street returning from the game, their band playing as loudly … as ever.”
Some of them boarded trains to go back to New Orleans, but most of the Tulane students stayed overnight for a big dance thrown in their honor.
“It was a full-dress affair with the most elaborate decorations. Every girl in approachable distance from Baton Rouge was there in her newest and best dress, and the affair was pronounced the greatest social function ever given at the University.”
Good sportsmanship and a greater civility in that day may have been a part of all of this fellowship in defeat.
But let’s not forget that one of the best loved Green Wave songs of the day urged fans to:
Drink, drink, drink, drink
Drink, drink, drink, drink,
Drink... to Ole Tu - lane.
Gather ‘round, gather ‘round,
Drink it down, drink it down.
Drink a cup and sing a song of cheer.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.