Death Valley Feeling the Heat, Southern Breathes Sigh of Relief

Sunday, August 20, 2006, is a day that could have lived in infamy but it didnÂ’t. On this oh-so-unfortunate, late summer evening, a small fire in a concession stand in the southwest corner of LSUÂ’s Tiger Stadium produced a large amount of smoke inside the holy sanctuary known as Death Valley. Now, albeit the fire was small and contained and put out very early, the fear of losing Death Valley consumed the minds of LSU students, season ticket holders, and coonasses of all kinds. Nicholson Drive turned into a virtual parking lot as concerned motorists pulled over to the side of the road to marvel at the smoke and to pray to Touchdown Jesus for the security of the southwest end zone and entire stadium.As I made my way over to the parking lot adjacent to the stadium where the news media and spectators gathered to watch the fire department put out the blaze, thoughts of what could have been ran through the consciousness of many of the faithful. Also realizing that I was the only black man in the area at the time, I had to bring up suspects for who or what actually started the blaze, in fear that I would be taken in for questioning for merely WFWB (Watching Fire While Black). I first said it was Auburn University trying to retaliate for the fire that was set to a barn during their game against LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 1995. I then suggested maybe Governor Blanco and her fellow ULL alumni were trying to get a jump start to her campaign-funded RaginÂ’ Cajun Tailgate Party set for Saturday, September 2, at the GovernorÂ’s Mansion.

Finally, once the smoke had been cleared and the damage was found to be minimal, Tiger fans started to think, “What if this had been a disaster?” “What if Death Valley was no more?” Some said, “We would just play in the Superdome.” Yeah, bright idea, Bubba; that thing doesn’t even have a complete roof on it. Plus, LSU fans aren’t going to drive that far to tailgate and drive back to go to Walk-On’s after the game. It’s just not going to happen, period.

Then it came to me like a revelation in a bad dream. The whiter-ups, I mean, higher-ups at LSU would simply take over the Southern University campus for use of A.W. Mumford Stadium and force the Jaguar Nation over to Olympia Stadium.

I know what you’re thinking: “This is an even worse idea than playing in the still-flooded Superdome.” Bear with me folks; imagine a Saturday afternoon in Scotlandville. You drive down Harding Blvd. and where once stood the Jaguar Nation, cooking turkey necks and a huge pot of chitterlings, playing hip hop and soul music out of every speaker around, now stands The Krewe of Ragu and the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fan club, cooking a big pot of jambalaya, with alligator being baked in the RV. Also, the ever-popular purple-and-gold Confederate flag flying high while “Freebird” is played over and over through the P.A. system. In the midst of all of this, the residents of Scotlandville pick their jaws off the pavement in just the amount of time it would take to load their guns.

Alright, IÂ’ll stop there, but I am sure you can see the disaster that would loom if that indeed did take place, and the pure comedy that it would create for the city of Baton Rouge. Well, in reality, the fire at Tiger Stadium didnÂ’t do any damage significant enough to create a setback to the September 2 season opener. The citizens of Scotlandville can rest easy that their land wonÂ’t be taken over by the purple-and-gold-painted French, and ULL can rest easy, knowing that they will still get their behinds handed to them, one JaMarcus Russell pass at a time, in a full, 92,200-strong Death Valley.