Every year, LSU-Alabama seems to be a huge game. How could it be any other way? Louisiana and Alabama are both annually loaded with top caliber high school football talent, and the top players from the respective states annually choose to play for LSU and The University of Alabama. Both teams are well-coached and always seem to be loaded with NFL caliber players. Both schools have recently won national championships. Both schools have football-crazed students, alumni, and fanbases. Both schools possess a mutual respect for each other. But it ends there.
Both schools' students, alumni, and fanbases hate each other. The hate seems to be stronger from the LSU end. A big reason is that up until the last fifteen years, Alabama has dominated the series. Another reason why the hate isn't as strong from the Alabama end is that there are two schools that they hate more than LSU, in Auburn and Tennessee. But make no mistake about it, the feeling is mutual. The people who support the University of Alabama hate LSU.
My first real memory of LSU football was when I was a little boy around the age of four. Our family was sitting in the living room of our little old house in South Slidell on a Saturday watching the LSU-Alabama game. I remember previously comprehending LSU football. I remember comprehending them as the "good guys." I remember comprehending them as protagonists. I remember comprehending them as the "heroes." I was old enough to comprehend that the game was big and important, and I was able to sense the excitement and the intensity. I don't remember exactly what I asked my Dad, but it was something to the nature of, "Who is LSU playing?"
My Dad answered, "They are playing Alabama."
It was then that I began to associate the men in the crimson uniforms with the numbers on their helmets as "the bad guys." I began to associate The University of Alabama as "the villains." I began to see them as evil. These villains in the crimson uniforms from Alabama were beating our heroes from LSU. I vividly remember my disappointment and perplexity, because heroes are supposed to win. I remember, as a four year old, feeling a hint of anger while sitting in our living room.
Afterwards, when wanting to insult children my age, I would tell them, "Naa! Naa! Na-naa! Naa! I'm from LSU. You're from Alabama."
The hate didn't end. I remember how angry I was, as a high schooler, watching Shaun Alexander break the NCAA single game rushing record in Tiger Stadium against LSU. I remember my disappointment walking out of Tiger Stadium, again as a high schooler, after watching Andrew Zow torch our Lou Tepper coached defense, and hearing the familiar chant from Alabama Fans, "HEY TIGERS! HEY TIGERS! HEY TIGERS! WE! JUST! BEAT! THE! HELL OUT OF YOU!!" My hate for Alabama football grew.
I was in Tiger Stadium for last year's win against Alabama. Apparently, I'm not the only person from Louisiana who hates them. I remember a particularly vocal middle aged LSU fan sitting behind me. He was dignified in his dress. He was tall, handsome, and probably successful in whatever he did. I remember the intensity in his face throughout the game. I remember after the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt, he stood up and began the familiar chant. He did so in the manner that could only be done by a stiff white middle aged man. His face became redder, and his eyes got bigger. I thought they were going to pop out of his head when he began to mockingly shout the chant owned by Alabama supporters, "HEY ALABAMA! HEY ALABAMA! HEY ALABAMA! WE! JUST! BEAT! THE! HELL OUT OF YOU!!" He authoritatively pointed his finger at the Alabama section of Tiger Stadium with each chant.
I realize that the game is more than a week away, but it is the biggest game in the history of the series, and one of the biggest games in the history of LSU football. LSU is ranked #1 in the country, and is undefeated. Alabama is ranked #2, and is undefeated as well. Both teams have consistently dominated their opponents, and the excitement is evident in both fanbases. I am excitedly looking forward to the game, because I am confident that the Tigers will walk into Tuscaloosa, AL and beat The Alabama Crimson Tide. And no win feels better than a win against Alabama.