Posted: January 8, 2017 in Uncategorized
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This will appear in the Bernice Banner, Bernice Louisiana, the week of Jan 8, 2017.

There is no doubt that Huey Long loved LSU and he especially loved his LSU Tigers.  He wanted to turn LSU from being merely a southern university to being a premier school of the United States.  He knew that it would take more than academics and he began to work on all aspects of the University.

LSU is the flagship of Louisiana Universities and Long decided that the LSU band could make a positive statement for the state and the school.  Long frequented the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans and while at the Blue Room, touted as being the first Hotel Lounge in America, he saw an Orchestra Leader by the name of Castro Carazo.  Long had a body guard bring Carazo to his room and Long then hired him to bring spark to the LSU Band.  Over the years Long and Carazo together wrote several LSU fight songs. One song, Touchdown for LSU, is still played at the LSU pregame show.  Long also molded the band into a true half time show.  He discarded the military style uniforms and changed to a flashier band garb.  The band also expanded to 250 members and was referred to as “The showband of the South” because of its’ flashy halftime performances.  There were times when Long would lead the band into Tiger Stadium as the drum major.

Long also knew that participation at LSU games could lead to success so he negotiated with the railroads to provide discounted tickets for the LSU band and students to be able to travel with him on away football games.  He once felt threatened when Ringling Brothers, Barnham and Bailey brought their show to Baton Rouge and were scheduled to open on a Saturday when LSU had a home game.  Long asked that they delay the opening but the circus declined.  Long then dispatched his head of the Department of Agriculture to the circus.  Louisiana had a law that any animal entering the state had to be dipped to kill any ticks that could infect Louisiana livestock.  The head of Louisiana Agriculture wanted to see the dip certificates for the large animals; lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, etc.  The circus decided that they needed a day’s rest and the circus would open on Sunday.  The circus was granted a waiver for the dip.

Another action that Long took to build LSU and other schools across the state, was to rebuild the buildings on the campus.  He hired an architect from New Orleans by the name of Leon Wise.  Wise transformed the school utilizing WPA funds available during the great depression.  Long also wanted to expand the then existing stadium to become a southern hallmark for college football.  WPA funding refused to fund the new stadium.  The federal government did not build college football stadiums.  Wise came up with the idea to transform Tiger Stadium into a student dorm and funding for new dorm rooms was approved for LSU.  It is doubtful that it was fully understood that the dorm would be in the expanded Tiger Stadium.  The dorms remained in use until the 1980s.  Wise is identified as an architect with a degree from Tulane and was born and raised in rural North Louisiana in Farmerville in Union Parish.

This coming year will please Huey Long.  I have a vibe that LSU is going to enter into a new era of football prominence.  The new coach brings an excitement and enthusiasm that is infectious.  He is not only going to infuse this excitement into the team but into the entire state.  Louisiana has a large pool of some of the best football players in the country and the talent drain to Alabama is going to slow down if not turned off all together.    The Nick Sabin mystique to walk into the LSU backyard and poach some of the state’s best players is going to take on a serious challenge and its’ about time.  This year LSU will play with new found momentum and the offense will mix up a plan that will open the full potential of the team.  They will have a Heisman candidate who may well take home the trophy and will do so with grace and enthusiasm.  2017 will also  be the year that LSU beats Alabama and they will do it in Tuscaloosa.  Huey Long will be proud.


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