EPISODE 19 (17:58)
This is the third episode that correlates to the LSU Libraries Special Collections exhibit “Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium” which showcases the players, the games, the facilities, and the culture of LSU Tigers football. The exhibit is located in Hill Memorial Library’s Lecture Hall, is open to the public until December 21, and will be available online in the near future. Come by Hill Memorial if you can to check out a sampling of LSU football treasures from the University Archives, the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, and the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History — all housed in LSU Libraries Special Collections.
Part of this exhibition is a listening station that features over sixty oral history clips about LSU football, and from these clips, we’re sharing content with our listeners. Episode 19, “Capturing the Moments” features clips chosen by one of the exhibit’s co-curators, Assistant University Archivist, Barry Cowan. Barry is the author of the recently published book, Louisiana State University, which is a campus history, and he has co-authored, with Mark Martin, Historic Photos of LSU Football. Barry grew up listening to LSU football games on the radio and he was one of the thousand of fans that caused a seismic shift at the 1988 LSU v. Auburn game, so the clips he chose for today’s episode hold a personal significance.
The oral histories you’ll hear today are from the Williams Center’s University History Athletics Collection, and while we are grateful to have the current content, this series is by no means comprehensive. If anyone out there listening or reading knows someone who ought to be interviewed, or wants to be interviewed themselves, please contact Jennifer A. Cramer at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to make a donation to help the Center document University Athletics, please contact Jennifer or visit our donation page.
AUDIO EXCERPT TRANSCRIPTIONS AND CITATIONS
JOHN HUNTER is the key excerpt. *For full transcription, see below.
* John Hunter: Jim Corbett [LSU Athletic Director]. When I became President [of LSU], I told Jim, I said, “Now I want to tell you something. You run that Athletic Department,” but I said, “It sure better be run right, because,” I said, “You know, General [Troy H.] Middleton, I remember him making a statement that if LSU is ever involved in anything that isn’t totally and completely legal, that whoever the coach is involved, I’m going to fire him off the next day.” And I said, “I’ll do the same thing.”
So we didn’t set up a search committee to find a . . . find a head football coach. One Sunday morning, down when I lived on Brame Drive [in Baton Rouge], shortly after I had become . . . had been inaugurated . . . Well, it was before I was inaugurated. Jim Corbett came down to the house and he said, “John . . .” And now in the meantime, [Paul] Dietzel had gone to West Point. He’d hauled off everybody he could haul off with him except Charlie McClendon and maybe one or two other people. And Jim came to me and he said, “John,” he said, “Let’s make Charlie Mac head football coach.” He said, “I’ve struggled with this.” And I said, “Jim, that’s fine.” So at this point we got on the phone from the kitchen and my bedroom and merely called John Doles [John J. Doles, Sr.], who was chairman of the [LSU] Board [of Supervisors] at that time, and said, “John, we want to make Charlie Mac our football coach. But, we got a problem: Kentucky wants him also. So we don’t want to do anything without the Board’s knowing about this thing.” John said to me, he said, “John, you all go ahead.” He said, “I know whatever you all do, is all right with the Board.” But he said, “I’ll call the Board, too.”
Well, of course we get a hold of Charlie Mac and sure enough Kentucky’s board is meeting that afternoon! Well, I knew Frank Dickey, President of the University of Kentucky. I knew him well, so I called him, and I said, “You call him out of the meeting.” And I said, “Frank, are you all considering Charlie Mac as your new head football coach?” He said, “John, we sure are.” And I said, “Well, we’re going to try to keep him from going. I think we would like to keep him here.” He said, “Well, that’s fine with us,” but I said . . . He said, “But he is . . . will probably be elected up here.”
So we called Charlie Mac, and he came over to the house and we . . . never forget this, back in my bedroom, we were sitting there on the edge of the bed and chair and here is Charlie Mac, who all of the sudden realizes, he is not stupid, he knows he is being considered in Kentucky. And all of a sudden here’s this LSU thing. And it was not easy to convince him to come to LSU. A graduate of University of Kentucky, he felt a real strong desire to go back there. Well, I don’t . . . I’ve forgotten how Jim and I did it, but anyhow Charlie Mac finally said, “Well, all right, I’ll do it.” But I said, “Well, first, let’s get your wife down here.”
So we called Dorothy Faye [McClendon] and she came back to our house and in the meantime my wife was off in the kitchen minding her business and wondering what in the heck was going on back in the kitchen . . . back in the bedroom, except she knew we were trying to hire Charlie McClendon. And Dorothy Faye came in and . . . By the way, whatever history shows, I hope they show that she’s one of the loveliest, prettiest, sweetest people that has ever been connected with LSU. She is a marvelous lady. Well, I told her, I said, “Dorothy Faye, we want Charlie Mac to become football coach and we just . . . he has about agreed to do it, but we want your total approval of it also.” And she said, “Well . . .” She always called me Dr. John, and she said, “Dr. John, whatever you all want it is fine with me.” So at this point, we shook hands with Charlie Mac, and said, “Go on about your business, keep your mouth shut, give us a few minutes.” I got on the phone in the kitchen, called John Doles and told him that we had hired McClendon, and we would like to poll the Board to approve our decision. And from the kitchen phone we telephoned every member of the LSU Board and they said, “Well, sure that’s great!” And that was it, and that was it. Then, two hours later Jim Corbett called [Vesta] “Bud” Montet, I believe, down at the [Advocate] newspaper and had a short press conference. Charlie Mac was coach.
Hunter, John, interview by Jack Fiser, audio recording, 1982, 4700.0028. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
John Ferguson: I was going to tell you about Tiger Stadium and had the background sound during our broadcast. We worked very hard, very hard, in creating, in transmitting the sounds of Tiger Stadium to the people who listened on the radio. Tiger Stadium is a place with a lot of presence, partially because it’s a bowl and just the way . . . just the way the sound rolls around in that . . . that big edifice. We made sure, we had parabolic microphones and . . . We just didn’t hang a microphone for crowd noise out of the front window and so forth. We didn’t do that. And we had a parabola especially for the band. We had the best band pick up of any broadcast network in the country. And we used the band a lot. They don’t do that anymore, and I think that’s sad. The band is a big part of all of this, of the spectacle. But when we let you hear the band, I mean, it was like the microphone was right in the middle of the 300-piece outfit.
Melisse Campbell: Right.
Ferguson: So . . . But we did work at that. And the reason was, wasn’t that we thought it would just be nice to do that. It was for a reason, for a purpose. We wanted you . . . If you were in the Midwest and you were in your car driving along the highway and you just . . . you just were thumbing along looking for something on the radio, and you would hear this. Even if nobody was saying a thing, you would recognize the crowd noise and the sound of Tiger Stadium. We worked on that. And as a result, we attracted a lot of people throughout the country on that, in that way. We did have a wide audience, by the way, just getting off into another subject. We . . . using all those things, we had a very wide audience. We used to get correspondence from all over the country and overseas and so forth. A lot of our games were picked up by American Forces Network.
Ferguson, John, interview by Melisse Campbell, audio recording, 1994, 4700.0480. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Jim Hawthorne: Tom, you had an awful lot of thrills at LSU and we all enjoyed a lot of them along with you. But, of course, the one play that I guess will always live in the folklore of LSU is the pass that beat Auburn that you threw to Eddie Fuller. Can you recall what was going on and describe to the people what was happening about that play?
Tom Hodson: Well, that was a play that had worked for us for a couple of years and we’d had a lot of success with it. The defense really played well that game. Auburn was beating up on us, actually, on offense. And our defense was beating up on their offense and really couldn’t get much going and . . . That was a play that we’d always fallen back on and that was a play that worked for us. And I was so happy that Eddie got to catch it in the end zone because he had that foot out on the first down. And finally we got it in on fourth down. It was just a big play for us and a lot of fans were there and went crazy and all that stuff so . . . It was a big game and a big play for us.
Hawthorne: David, backing up to that game with Auburn, now. When the six points were scored, it was up to you to kick that extra point to win that ball game.
David Browndyke: It was kind of odd because I think everybody was figuring the touchdown was seven points so we’d already won the game. And by the time people had realized that you needed an extra point to make seven, it was already through, so they just continued to cheer.
Hodson, Tom, David Browndyke, et al., interview by Jim Hawthorne, audio recording, 1993, 4700.0264. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
This podcast was co-authored and produced by Jennifer A. Cramer and co-authored by Barry Cowan. The audio engineer is Kyle Tanglao. Special thanks to contributors Erin Hess, Leah Jewett, Wyatt Winnie, William Mitchell, Louise Cheetham, Gabe Harrell, Michelle Melancon, and Germain Beinvenu.
Eddie Fuller: Courtesy of Steve Franz, LSU Sports Information.
Paul Dietzel and Charles McClendon: Charles East Papers, Mss. 3471, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, LA.
Page from the 1960 LSU Gumbo (yearbook)
Tommy Hodson: Courtesy of Steve Franz, LSU Sports Information.
King, Freddie, interviewed by Tatiana Clay and Eric Julien, audio recording, 2008, 4700.1921. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
This podcast is copyrighted by LSU Libraries Special Collections.
For a full transcript of the podcast, please contact Jennifer Abraham at email@example.com.