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Spotlight on Former Athlete: Robby Waguespack Football 1990-93

Waguespack, ’93 Cajuns deserved a bowl game 

By Bruce Brown


Special to Athletic Network


Robby Waguespack remembers the feeling at halftime of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 1993 season opener against Utah State at Cajun Field.


Coach Nelson Stokley’s squad was starting life as a member of the Big West Conference, with a league game right out of the gate, while Waguespack was the starting center among a senior class seeking a rebirth.


The 1992 Cajuns had finished 2-9, and in 1991 they were 2-8-1.


Things couldn’t be that bad again, could they?


Problem is, USL couldn’t do a thing on offense with a variety of veteran quarterbacks trying their hand, and had zero points at half. USU was in control.


Stokley and the staff then made the fateful decision to insert freshman Jake Delhomme from Teurlings Catholic under center. They were going to roll the dice with the local star.


I remember (assistant coach) Doug Fertsch telling me we were going with Jake, and that he wanted me to help him out,” Waguespack said. “I thought we were giving up. Jake was good, but had been practicing like a redshirt freshman.”


Utah State built a 31-0 lead before Delhomme produced a pair of scores in the final minutes of a 34-13 defeat. It was a bad start, but there was a pulse.


I said, ‘OK, we’ve got some momentum,’ ” Waguespack said.


The next week at Miami of Ohio, a big Cajun lead melted into a 29-28 loss and a 0-2 start. The Cajuns and their fans had seen this movie before.


(Tight end) Buck Moncla and I were walking off the field, and we said how can we turn this program around and start winning?” said Waguespack. “I think the coaching staff knew we were good. We just had to play better.”


A 17-15 win over Memphis broke the string, and suddenly the Cajuns couldn’t lose. They beat Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Arkansas State, Northern Illinois and San Jose State – 6 in a row.


Not even a 61-14 loss at Florida could knock them off track, as they topped UNLV and La. Tech for an 8-3 record that remains one of the best in school history.


They were Big West co-champions, and in today’s world they would certainly have been invited to a bowl game. But there were only 19 bowls in 1993 – fewer than half of the opportunities currently available.


Instead, co-champion Utah State hosted and won the BWC’s Las Vegas Bowl, 42-33 over Ball State.


We needed a three-way tie, but Arkansas State hit three passes and beat Nevada 23-21 in the last game, so it was two-way,” Waguespack recalled.


A year earlier, the 1992 finale with Arkansas State had been called early with 7 minutes to go by a torrential storm with tornadic winds. ASU won, 20-7.


Those were bad conditions,” Waguespack said. “The ball was floating in 3 inches of water when I’d get ready to snap it. It was a fitting end to that season.”


The 1993 campaign was much better, despite missing a bowl.


Waguespack earned Honorable Mention All-Big West Conference and was named permanent team captain as he and other seniors took Delhomme under their wing and the team took off.


Although they were leaving, those seniors set the stage for years of 6-5, 6-5 and 5-6 behind Delhomme.


They needed that kind of finish after enduring those two disheartening two-win seasons.


One game from 1991 remains etched in the memory of any who were there – the 13-12 road victory at Northern Illinois in the most brutal conditions imaginable.


Temperatures dipped well below freezing. Crosswinds gusted to 40 mph. Extra point kicks were an adventure. Standing still was a challenge. Frostbite was a factor, as was hypothermia.


Yet the Cajuns’ Richie Cunningham somehow kicked two long field goals to win it.


It was amazing,” Waguespack said. “We were not prepared for it at all.


You put on socks, then a plastic bag over that, then more socks. We had tights, and gloves. Tape over the ear holes to keep the wind out. You could hardly snap the ball in pregame.


I was in the center on our kickoff return team, over the kicker, and he shanked it at me. When it hit my stomach it felt like someone had sliced me open with a knife.”


Most of those 1991 games were rough, but nothing like NIU.


USL was a half-game worse in 1992, although the Cajuns did improve against Auburn, losing 50-7 in 1991 and 25-24 the next year after leading 24-10 at half.


There was a 9-7 loss at Arkansas in 1991 – a missed point-blank field goal – and a combative 25-6 home loss to Alabama in 1990 as the Cajuns met challenging foes.


Along the way, Waguespack grew into an all-league center, much as he had done at E.D. White High in Thibodaux.



Growing into his role


I played center my sophomore year in high school, and I was terrible,” said Waguespack, who began playing football in 8th grade. “I didn’t like it. I actually signed as a defensive tackle, at 6-1, 235.”


That didn’t last.


(Assistant coach) Gerald Broussard said, ‘you’re coming with me. You’re playing center.’ I backed up Troy Wingerter for two years. I did OK in practice against Terrance Matthews, and said, ‘I can play it.’


The first year and a half, I didn’t take it seriously. Then my sophomore year I realized I was next in line behind Troy. I weighed 250 and eventually played at 280. My best was probably 270, but I thought I needed more. I came out of the spring (1992) as the starter, and never looked back. I made it through the bad times; had to earn my keep.


I learned about toughness from Coach G. Fertsch was a technician. I guess he saw a lot of himself in me.”


Waguespack took a turn or two as a backup tight end to best friend Moncla, but dropped the only pass James Freeman sent his way.


I got back to the huddle, and James said, ‘Where’s Buck?’ “ Waguespack said with a laugh.


When it came to turning things around, Waguespack credits the coaches.


Vic Eumont came in and brought a whole new mentality to the defense,” he said. “We already had Lewis Cook on offense.


And coach Stokley had a great football mind. We seniors held a meeting, and told him we’d like him to put the headsets on. We wanted him to unleash that knowledge. That took us to another level and gave us confidence.”


When the season was done, Waguespack and Moncla attended a scout camp in Houston to catch the attention of pro teams.


Waguespack played for the Fort Worth Cavalry of Arena Football in 1994 before moving on with his life.


I played center and noseguard,” he said. “Pass blocking was my forte’ and we did a lot of that. I hurt my foot in preseason. Went both ways one game, and that was interesting.


But I realized it wasn’t a path to the NFL or the CFL.”



Different paths


Waguespack has carved a different path as a salesman in the medical field – most recently with K2M Inc., which specializes in spinal implants.


He and his wife Jamie, whom he met at UL, moved back to Lafayette in 2007.


Older son William was a linebacker and defensive tackle for St. Thomas More’s state finalists of 2015, daughter Grace will run track for STM as a sophomore this spring, and son John Hayes plays football and basketball at Fatima.


Waguespack remains fast friends with Moncla, and is pleased with Mark Hudspeth’s success in guiding the Cajuns to four New Orleans Bowls (with a shot at another bowl in 2016).



Waguespack and the other 1993 Cajuns wouldn’t have been picky. They would have played in any bowl that called. They were just 23 years ahead of their time.

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Click here for Robbie’s Athletic Network Profile.

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Robbie and his 1993 teammates are below. He is in the 7th row from the bottom and is the 8th player (L-R). #55

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Click here for the chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.  


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