Monday, October 27, 2008

"Death Valley" (or Tiger Stadium)

The football stadium here at LSU is Tiger Stadium, and it is nicknamed "Death Valley." And for good reason. The stadium with a capacity of 92,400 (6h largest in the NCAA, 3rd in the SEC) has a long history and many traditions behind it. The band is a large part of some of these traditions, as the band's pregame show is cheered on by everyone in the stadium and is so well known. Every single person in the stadium will notice and know when someone messes up during pregame, as it is that well known and that obviuos when someone does.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest Death Valley tradition is that of the night game. The words by the announcer "It's Saturday Night in Death Valley...and here come your Figting Tigers of LSU." ring throught the stadium as a deafeaning roar from the stadium erupts at the end of pregame when the band plays the fight song as the football team runs out from the locker room, underneath our H-style goalposts and through the band tunnel onto the field. Death Valley is one of the most intimidating places to play on a Saturday night, and is reffered to by many and is voted in many polls as a dreaded place to play on the road. It is one of the greatest college football venues in the country. The following is taken from the LSU Sports website information on Tiger Stadium:

"Part of the lore of Tiger Stadium is the tradition of playing games at night, an idea that was introduced in 1931 against Spring Hill (a 35-0 LSU victory). In 2006, LSU celebrated its 75th year of playing night football in Tiger Stadium. Since that first night game in 1931, LSU has played the majority of its games at night and the Tigers have fared much better under the lights than during the day. Since 1960, LSU is 206-59-3 (.774) at night in Tiger Stadium compared to a 20-23-3 (.467) record during the day over that span. "

One of the things every member of the band looks forward to each year is an "epic" pregame. This means doing pregame at night for a HUGE game such as games against Auburn, Georgia, or Florida, and sometimes (this year being one of them) Alabama. However this year, the Georgia game was played at 2:30. This was a huge disappointment. This was because CBS chose to broadcast the game at that time. Today, the same was announced for the Alabama game on November 8. You can imagine how upset everyone in the band is. This years freshmen will not experience a true, "real" night in Death Valley this year. And maybe not next year, either. It all depends on CBS now. This is because the SEC (Southeastern Conference) is in a TV deal with CBS, and CBS chooses what games they want to show when. 2:30 is their favorite time slot to show their games, because they opt to show regular tv shows during the night game hours instead of huge football games that will probably draw even larger audiences if shown at night. I wish they would realize this. The day I found out I made Tiger Band after the pre-season week and cut night, I was waiting for the Georgia game, hoping to be at night. It wasn't. And neither is Alabama. The two biggest home games of the season, played in the daytime. Its upsetting. I have never really liked going to football games during the day. I always enjoyed the night games, and being under the stadium lights. Its disappointing.

Here is some more history of Tiger Stadium (which I'm sure you will find very interesting) from the LSU Sports website:

The home of one of football's proudest traditions, Tiger Stadium once served as a dormitory for approximately 1,500 students, and while Broussard Hall, then LSU's athletics dormitory, was being renovated during the fall of 1986, the LSU football players lived in Tiger Stadium.

The original phase of construction was completed in 1924. This first phase included the east and west stands, which seated about 12,000. Seven years later (1931), the sides were extended upward to accommodate an additional 10,000 fans, raising the capacity to 22,000. In 1936, the stadium seating capacity was increased to 46,000, with the addition of 24,000 seats in the north end, making Tiger Stadium into a horseshoe configuration.

The next phase of construction took place in 1953 when the stadium's south end was closed to turn the horseshoe into a bowl, increasing the seating capacity to 67,720.

The original upper deck atop the west stands was completed in 1978, and it added 8,000 seats to the stadium's capacity. Additional seating in two club level sections, which flanked the existing press box, brought the total addition to approximately 10,000 seats and raised the stadium's capacity to approximately 78,000.

Refurbishing began on the stadium in the summer of 1985, when the east and west stands were waterproofed, and 25,000 chair back seats were added to replace the older "bench" type seats. Another phase of improvements was completed in 1987 when the north and south stands were waterproofed and newer bleachers were again installed to replace the older ones.

The playing field was moved 11 feet south in 1986 to provide more room between the back line of the North End Zone and the curvature of the stadium fence, which surrounds the field. It also put the playing area in the exact center of the arena's grassy surface.

Prior to the 1987 season, more seats were installed at the upper portion of the west lower stands in Tiger Stadium. Also, the stadium's seating arrangement was renumbered to make all seats a uniform size. The addition of bleacher seating in 1988 brought the capacity to 80,150, but the elimination of some bleacher seating after the 1994 season dropped the capacity to 80,000.

Now the sixth largest on-campus stadium in college football, Tiger Stadium continues to provide fans with the ultimate college football experience. Eight years ago, 11,600 seats were added with the installation of the east upper deck, bringing the capacity to nearly 92,000. In addition to the new east upper deck, 70 skyboxes, called "Tiger Dens,” were built, giving Tiger fans luxury accommodations. The addition of the 11,600 seats in 2000 marked the first expansion to Tiger Stadium since 1978, when the original west upper deck was completed.

The distinctive environment of Tiger Stadium became even more pronounced in 2005 as the ambitious West Upper Deck project was virtually completed. Construction on the project -- which began immediately after LSU's home finale against Ole Miss in November of 2004 - carried a $60 million price tag and rebuilt over 3,200 special amenity seats as a well as a state-of-the-art press box to Tiger Stadium. The west side renovation, which included the removal and rebuilding of the upper deck to mirror the east side upper deck, was finished during the 2006 season.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Memorial Tower

On campus, by the parade grounds near the Student Union (pretty much the center of campus) is the tall clock tower, the Memorial Tower. This clock tower goes off every 15 minutes using the Westminster chimes sequence. It can be heard somewhat easily from the Pentagon where I live. It is quite convenient to figure out what time it is, having the clock tower go off every 15 minutes. At least, until 10 PM. The bells stop ringing at 10 PM daily. Every day at noon, after the full on-the-hour sequence is played and the 12 chimes of noon ring, the Memorial Tower then plays the LSU Alma Mater in its entirety, all two verses. Just a unique thing about the LSU campus.

Oh, and on a side note, I received my absentee ballot in the mail a couple weeks ago and waited until after the last presidential debate (the "Joe The Plumber" debate) to fill it out. I mailed it in at the end of last week. Now I just have to sit back and wait for everything to be counted.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Big Weekend In College Football

Every weekend is big in college football, and this weekend is no exception. This weekend, during college gameday the winner of the "Battle of the Bands" contest will be announced. You can keep voting up until then, and all your support is much appreciated. Also, this weekend includes some big matchups between some good teams.

Oklahoma and Texas face each other in the "Red River Shootout." Both teams are undefeated and ranked in the top 5 of the AP poll. The winner has the easier path to the Big 12 championship game, and more than likely to the national championship game. However, both teams still have very difficult schedules remaining after this weekend. Also in the Big 12, Oklahoma State and Missouri will play each other. Both are undefeated as well.

In the SEC, LSU (Geaux Tigers!) will play in the swamp at Florida. This is one of our biggest east-west games every year. The LSU-Florida game is always a game to watch. For this game, the band is sending a 100 member pep band. Some of those who are not going in the trombone section are planning to get together to watch the game. The band has not had practice all week because this weekend was originally going to be fall break, meaning we would not have had classes on Thursday and Friday. The band directors had planned on us not having rehearsal this week. When fall break was canceled due to Gustav, they were nice in letting us still have the whole week off of rehearsal. It was definitely nice not having practice all week and not having anything to worry about after lunchtime all week (aside from a required recital Tuesday night and concert band on Monday). Also in the SEC, Vanderbuilt, a surprise 5-0 team, plays Mississippi State, a 1-4 team. Many people are expecting that this is where Vandy could end up tripping up, looking forward towards their game with Georgia next week. I hope they stay undefeated.

In other conferences, USC plays Arizona State. I hope Arizona State beats USC. I always like it when USC loses, as I've never much liked them. I was very happy when Oregon State beat them a couple weeks ago. I was not so happy about 30 minutes later when the fire alarm in my stack went off because someone knocked the cover off the fire alarm. Oh well, those things happen. In the Big 10, Michigan State plays Northwestern, both sleeper teams for the Big 10 title. We'll see what happens.

Although it is not college football, I am happy to say that the Oakton Cougars football team is 6-0 at the moment, having defeated Chantilly at home on Friday. Tomorrow night they play at Centerville, who is a surprising 1-5 so far this season. After last seasons disappointing ending, missing the playoffs (which were expanded last season as well, doubling the number of teams who make playoffs) by losing the last two games of the season, the Oakton Cougars football team took very seriously preparing for this season. The moment the season ended, they began preparing for this season, determined not to let there be a repeat of last year.