First Football Game At Cajun Field - Sept. 25, 1971 - "The Way It Wuz"
First Football Game at Cajun Field - Sept. 25, 1971
When visiting with the Past Ballplayers Association on Nov. 23, 2019, some of the conversation shifted to the first football game at Cajun Field. Several of the PBA tailgating group like Tommie Rogers and Charlie Fox, were participants in the game.
Since that time, the Athletic Network (www.athleticnetwork.net) has endeavored to capture more information/photos of that game, a major historic event for the university. The AN went back to yearbooks and other sources to attempt to provide more information.
Although the microfilm of the Daily Advertiser at Dupre' Library was no longer accessible, Danielle Gautreaux, Reference and Research Services, Dupre' Library, used some creative strategies and went to extra lengths to obtain several newspaper articles. Please overlook the quality of some of the articles and rejoice in the fact that they are posted on the Athletic Network.
One story about that first game is rather obscure in that it is not a newspaper article, but listed in the "Blackjack" Landry Memorials. Click here and scroll down that page for the story below. The story by Joseph "Chip" Sanches is one of over a dozen stories (fond memories) of Blackjack. You will enjoy this trip down memory lane.
February 20, 2019
Faux Pas Becomes Tradition: The Blackjack, Lou Polk and Chip Cajun Field First Line-Marking Story....
We had finished our final football season at McNaspy the previous fall and all of us were anxiously awaiting the first home game of the 1971 season at the new Cajun Field. If I remember correctly there was still some "finish" work going on at the stadium, but, by and large, the stadium was ready and the excitement was palpable.
Part of our job as equipment managers was to line and paint the field. We had transitioned a few years before from "chalking" to actual paint. Bill, Lou and I had painted the field at McNaspy the year before so I felt comfortable with the process. I recall the flag of Acadiana which we painted at midfield being the center-piece of a very attractive playing surface.
Bill and I were at the field early on Saturday to get started. The natural grass surface had been cut by the grounds crew on Friday, so the painting had to wait until Saturday. Lou hadn't showed up yet, so Bill and I got started with the lines on the field - they had been "staked" the day before.
We began to get concerned about Lou, but calls to his home went unanswered. We began to worry about finishing, particularly regarding the time needed for the paint to dry.
Bill and I forged ahead, knowing that Coach Faulkinberry would be incensed if he showed up and we weren't finished. We positioned the template for the flag at mid-field and sprayed the appropriate colors through it and onto the grass. It looked really good, so we were quite proud of ourselves.
The only thing remaining was to spray the yard-line numbers along both sides of the field. With our new-found confidence in full bloom, Bill and I used the large number templates and proceeded to paint the numbers - 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc. up and down the field.
As we were finishing up, quite proud of the finished product, both Lou and Coach Faulkinberry showed up simultaneously. Our satisfied smiles turned into horrified, open-mouthed, wide-eyed stares as Coach launched into a profanity-laced tirade the likes of which I had never heard before or since.
Apparently, never in the history of college football, had a field been painted with all the yard-lines marked. Only the 10, 20, 30 (and so on) yard lines were supposed to be marked.
Lou Polk was rapidly darting his eyes between Coach, the painted field and Blackjack and me while trying to make himself as small as possible. He was probably trying to decide whether to blame the two of us for the faux pas and, in so doing, admit that he had slept in or take the blame himself. In the end, he stood silent, letting the chips fall wherever Coach threw them.
Coach quickly came to the conclusion that the damage was done - the painted numbers couldn't be removed - and he was simply going to be embarrassed at the inaugural game at the new Cajun Field.
Bill and I and Lou spent the afternoon wondering and worried what the consequences would be for us. I envisioned running "stadiums" until I threw up or fell unconscious.
The final chapter of this story was written later that Saturday evening. Apparently the university officials and the press attending the game thought the field was beautiful and particularly complimented the innovative yard-lines marking scheme. The yard-lines marking error became the standard for the entire 1971 season. We heard through the grapevine that several other schools were so impressed, that they also began marking the 5, 15, 25... just as Cajun Field was marked!
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Please click here for the links to the PBA Spotlight on Former Athletes feature by Bruce Brown and the photo gallery of the Nov. 23, 2019 PBA Tailgating visit by the Athletic Network.