Magnificent, maddening, thrilling, heartbreaking--over the years, LSU football has been called many things; boring is not among them. But no period in the team's history exemplifies the extreme highs and lows of sport better than the past fifteen years. In 1993, the Tigers were in the midst of a record six-season losing streak and the program was struggling to dig its way out of its darkest days. By 2008, LSU had emerged as one of the premier college football powers in the nation and the unprecedented two-time winner of the BCS national championship. In The Fighting Tigers, 1993-2008, award-winning sportswriter Scott Rabalais chronicles the Tigers' fantastic rise to the top of the college football universe, vividly detailing the victories and defeats, the coaches and the players, the tears and the titles of this sometimes frustrating, always fascinating period of LSU football.
Game by game, Rabalais recounts the tenures of the four head coaches who led the Tigers during these years--"Curley" Hallman, the strict taskmaster whose mounting losses created dissension and apathy among the Tiger faithful; Gerry DiNardo, the charismatic salesman whose efforts to "Bring Back the Magic" temporarily vaulted the Tigers again into the national polls; Nick Saban, the intense workhorse who steadily rebuilt the program and led the team to its first national championship in almost fifty years; and Les Miles, the engaging wildcard who finally emerged from Saban's shadow with a championship of his own. Rabalais provides expert analysis of the 2004 and 2008 BCS national championship games and other postseason bowl games as well as the "ordinary" games that have crossed over into legendary status--1993's "Pigs Will Fly" victory against Alabama, "The Night the Barn Burned" at Auburn in 1996, and 2002's "Bluegrass Miracle." Along the way, Rabalais recounts the incredible athletic feats of numerous standout players, including Eddie Kennison, Kevin Faulk, Josh Reed, Michael Clayton, Marcus Spears, Chad Lavalais, and Glenn Dorsey.
Throughout, Rabalais interweaves off-the-field events that have affected or enhanced the LSU football legacy: the return of the traditional home white jerseys; the creation of the Bengal Belles; two expansions of Tiger Stadium; the death of Mike V and the introduction of Mike VI; and perhaps most poignant, the Tigers' volunteer efforts and emotional responses in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
An appendix contains the vital statistics of LSU's entire football history. Individual and team records in every area, coaching records, All-Americans and Academic All-Americans, year-by-year results, top ten Tiger Stadium crowds, Tigers in pro football--all of this and more will satisfy even the most hardcore LSU sports statistician. Peter Finney, venerable author of the three previous volumes of The Fighting Tigers, passes the official historian's torch to Rabalais in a compelling foreword that emphasizes the significance of the Tigers' recent run of success.
To many die-hard Tiger fans, LSU football is a religion all its own. With The Fighting Tigers, 1993-2008, Rabalais has written the next book of its bible.
Scott Rabalais has covered LSU athletics for The Advocate (Baton Rouge) since 1992.
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