Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Bayou Classic Weekend (video)!

You've heard of Mecca in the Middle East?
Well, this weekend is the football equivalent in Louisiana.
In Baton Rouge every year, the Friday after Thanksgiving,, we'll kick it off with LSU beating up on the Razorbacks. It's extra special this year because LSU is No. 1 in the nation, and the Razorbacks have two diesel running backs, especially the Heisman-hyped Darren McFadden. But the other guy, Felix Jones, is just as good and will run for 180 yards on your tail if you're not careful. Then on Saturday we'll enjoy the Southern Jaguars against the Grambling State Tigers in the Bayou Classic in New Orleans. It's the biggest tradition in Louisiana from two of the biggest black schools in the country, as far as brand recognition is concerned. Grambling was coached by the late, great Eddie Robinson for more than half a century. He never had a losing season until the 1990s, when the AD took most of his power, and clout with it. When I think about the Bayou Classic, I think about him, mostly, even though I root for the Jaguars, who have never had a quarterback and offensive line in the same season. Their coach, Pete Richardson, is probably the best coach in black college football, and he's wrapping up his 13th season in Baton Rouge.
The Bayou Classic has been broadcast live on NBC for over 15 years now and is the only black college football game to get that type of exposure.
NBC has had to talk to its advertisers about it though because a black college football game is a lot longer than any other kind of college football game: It's a lot more sloppy, with penalties, a fair share of bad calls by the referees, not to mention that the halftime bands will not be rushed off the field, but will use all 15 minutes of their time. As a matter of fact, the longest broadcast in the history of network television? You guessed it, a Bayou Classic broadcast from the early 1990s (I forget which year). NBC didn't like that too well, and they kind of got on the game's organizers. If you watch the game closely, you can see in the fourth quarter, the refs will let a lot of stuff go just to keep the clock moving. A player could probably slap somebody and they'd let it go, because NBC wants the game to conform to the length of its other college broadcasts. But the problem is, the Bayou Classic is not like any other broadcast. It's a unique institution in Americana.
After the game, people "hit Bourbon Street" It's a tradition. You could "hit Canal" as well, but it's not as fun. Actually you'll have to "hit Canal" before you "hit Bourbon" because Bourbon is off of Canal Street. But, then again, if your hotel is on Bourbon or just off Bourbon then you don't necessarily have to hit Canal, but ... you understand.

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