As we approach the always crazy LSU v. Auburn football game, many of you know that I was a member of the Golden Band from Tigerland for five (5) years; from 1999-2003. Throughout that time period, playing trumpet, I witnessed the re-emergence of LSU Football with Coach Nick Saban, saw countless incredible games both in Tiger Stadium, on the road, and at bowl games, and culminated my tenure with the LSU National Championship in 2003 at the Sugar Bowl in defeating Oklahoma. Those five years were some of the best of my life; I followed in the footsteps of my grandfather John “Wimpy” Miller who played trumpet in the LSU Band from 1936-1938. His first year in 1936 was the first year ever that LSU had their fight song called “Fight for LSU”. The song was co-written by Governor Huey Long and band director Castro Carazzo. Castro Carazzo actually was the former bandleader at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans and actually recruited my grandpa to go to LSU that first year in 1936 with him. Great story, huh?!!
One of the wildest games ever was LSU v. Auburn in 2001 at Tiger Stadium a/k/a Death Valley in Baton Rouge. Auburn and their head coach Tommy Tuberville were known for being dirty and classless at the time. They had smoked cigars on our field after a victory in 1999, and proceeded to stomp on the eye of tiger at midfield before the game in 2001. I couldn’t stand them even before what took place next….
During halftime of this game, BEFORE the end of our halftime show, the Auburn special teams, including kicker Damon Duval, decided to start warming up in the middle of our show. Seriously, they started kicking the ball and throwing it around in the middle of the band. It lead to the fans booing BIGTIME, and led to scuffle with myself, and some other bandsmen. The whole event is actually chronicled on Wikipedia and other websites:
WIKIPEDIA ENTRY FOR THE LSU V. AUBURN FOOTBALL RIVALRY – 2001 GAME POSTPONED BECAUSE OF 9/11:
Originally scheduled for September 15, the game was moved to December 1 because of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The rescheduling resulted in an SEC mini-playoff, as the winner of this game would be the West champion while the winner of the Florida-Tennessee game the same night would take the East. The game was marked by bad blood from the 1999 cigar incident. Auburn added further fuel by stomping on LSU’s midfield logo during pregame warmups. The action drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, allowing LSU to kick off from the 50. LSU successfully ran a surprise onside kick which, along with a hit by Michael Clayton on Auburn returner Roderick Hood a few minutes later, set the tone for the game resulting in a 27–14 LSU victory. In addition, Auburn kicker Damon Duval got into an altercation with LSU marching band members Mark Aycock and Joey LaHatte during their halftime performance. It was believed that the Auburn special teams units prematurely started post-half time warmup while the LSU Band was still performing its halftime show. After this incident Duval did not make another field goal that night. Tommy Tuberville later sent a letter to the band leader Frank Wickes apologizing for Duval’s actions.
It is pretty accurate, and my friends and former bandsmen still talk to me about it to this day. I wanted to throw punches, but drum major Tony Marinello thankfully broke up the fight before it could get any worse. It made me immediately believe that Auburn was LSU’s biggest rival at the time; and I enjoy nothing more today than LSU destroying Auburn anytime they play. I hope to meet Damon Duval one day and get a picture with the guy; it would be hilarious.