Phillip Thompson

Crime Fiction writer

Anybody who knows anything about me (and now that includes you) knows I love football — especially SEC football. Is it the rivalries? The skill with which the game is played? The traditions? The athletes? The gorgeous women in the stands? The legends?


Watching LSU play on TV always evokes a long list of memories and stories (full disclosure: I’m not a fan), some good, mostly bad. One of my most vivid memories is of a game years ago that still rankles the Ole Miss faithful. I listened to the game on the radio, lying across the massive bench seat of my father’s Ford, 10-year-old fingers hovering over the AM dial as Stan Torgeson called the action. Like many Ole Miss-LSU games, this one was close for four quarters. The quintessential “seesaw battle for the lead” in a Saturday night game in Baton Rouge. Ole Miss led 16-10 with :04 to go. LSU’s quarterback, Bert Jones (whom I would later admire in the NFL, but not this night) flung a pass downfield, incomplete. Over the scratchy radio, I could hear an anguished Cajun groan. Ole Miss had won!

But wait.

No, there was, impossibly, one second left on the clock. What the? Even my 10-year-old brain, with only Ole Miss Radio audio to guide me, knew that the play took at least four seconds. Now, I’m not accusing anybody of anything, but one freakin’ second? Are you kidding me? Pandemonium broke out. Stan Torgeson was beside himself, and I sat up straight in the Ford in disbelief — and hoping my dad didn’t notice that I’d been listening to the car radio for hours, sucking down the battery.

LSU lined up, and Jones flung another pass as time expired — a touchdown with no time left on the clock. Game tied, 16-16. But because a touchdown had been scored, even with no time left, LSU was allowed — had the right — to kick the extra point and win the game, 17-16. I sat in the dark in that car for a long time, too shocked to move.

They don’t call it Death Valley for nothing. Talk about bitter.

Tiger Stadium is also one of the scariest places I’ve ever been (combat included). You haven’t heard loud until you’ve been there — these fans were so loud at a game that the noise actually registered as a earthquake (look it up). You don’t know the emotion “hostile” until you show up repping the other side. I’ve only been there once, when I was in college. A night game on Halloween weekend. I was an Ole Miss student sitting on the LSU side (hell, all sides are the LSU side at Tiger Stadium) — the girl I was with was a Baton Rouge native. I didn’t say a word all night (Ole Miss lost). There were moments when I, literally, feared for my physical safety. I even once heard a story of LSU fans throwing an opposing team’s fan off the top of the stadium. Again, not accusing, just sayin.’ With those fans, who knows?

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