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Football: Former Faulkinberry players recall iron rule by Bruce Brown
Former Faulkinberry players recall iron rule
By Bruce Brown
They can laugh about it now.
There were times when Russ Faukinberry's Ragin' Cajuns weren't so sure they'd see the light of the next day.
What do you expect when one of your drills is called the Bataan Death March?
But they survived, and most of his players from 1961-73 count themselves bettter for the experience.
“”He made me what I am today,” said Carlton “Bubby” Falgout (1958-61), who only played one year under Faulkinberry - a 2-8 shakedown cruise at that - but who learned about life in the process.
“He was tough, but fair.”
“Russ was hard on everybody,” Robbie Juul (1969-72) said. “Our class had 30 people in it. There were 7 at the end.”
“I don't think he changed much in 4 years. I changed.”
“He was Bear Byant through and through,” said Charles Fox (1969-72). “Wore a houndstooth hat inside him, near his heart. I love the man.”
Falgout, Juul and Fox recently joined Jerry Streva (1961& 62) and Kent Finley (1964-67) at Olde Tyme Grocery to recall the days of UL's winningest football coach, marking the 50th anniversary of Cajun Field.
Faulkinberry compiled a 66-62-2 record at rhe school, highlighted by a 26-25 loss fo Tennessee State in the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl.
He was 35-28 against in-state schools, held an edge over four programs, was tied at 6-6 with La. Tech and only fell short against Northwestern State (5-7)
But it was how he conducted business that will stick with his players for life.
Fox and Juul got an early introduction to how life would be.
“We were wrapping up one of our first practices, and the freshmen had their names taped to the front of our helmets,” Juul said.“Russ told us (assistant) coach (Irwin) Sibille was going to say something. When he finished, I raised my hand and said I couldn't hear, and could coach Sibille repeat it.
“Russ blew up. Turned around and slapped the first freshman he saw in the head.”
That was the unlucky Fox, who later told Juul, “Juul, the next time you have a question, just ask me.”
But there was more to Faulkinberry than quick anger.
“My sohomore year, I had gotten knocked out in a game as a freshman,” Fox said. “Out cold. They thought I was dead. So, I'm in the dorm and word goes around that Coach was coming."
“He finds me and asks, 'Boy, do you want to play football? And I said, 'Yes, sir, I do.' He said, 'Get in the car.'
“He took me downtown to Bell's Sporting Goods and told them he wanted to see the best helmet they had – the kind with the most advanced padding. He remembered how I got hurt and wanted to protect me.
“If you wanted to play, he would help.”
Then again, he could be on edge again.
“He had this tower where he would watch practice,”Juul said. “One day at practice, I was watching and didn't have my chinstrap fastened. He yelled down, 'Juul, something wrong with your chinstrap?' 'No, sir Coach.' He made sure it was snapped from then on.”
The gruff exterior, common with football coaches in the day, covered a teacher-leader whose aim was to create reliable grown-ups.
“Coach really cared about you,” Falgout said.”He didn't know how to show it.”
“He would break you down and build you back the way he wanted,” Juul said.
“It took you about four years to build yourself back up,” said Finley, who enjoyed a successful high school coaching career using much of what he learned at USL.
“Coach would talk to you, and you'd look in the mirror and keep trying,” said Streva. “He appreciated the effort.”
Fox and Juul were established players by the time the Cajuns moved into Cajun Field for the 1971 season, after two seasons at tiny McNaspy Stadium on campus.
Scott High School product Fox, a defensive back, scored the first defensive touchdown at the new arena with a pick-6 interception return in a 21-0 shutout of Santa Clara in the 1971 home opener.
Juul, a De La Salle product from New Orleans, led the team in passing with 608 yards and 5 TD psses and had 1,000 yards of total offense for the 5-4-1 Cajuns. This despite taking the field at times with his ankles, knees, shoulder and ribs wrapped.
“Should have called you The Mummy,” Fox said.
“We played two years at McNaspy, and we're watching them build that thing,” Juul said. “Then, instead of just walking onto the field before the came, we come down that tunnel into Cajun Field. It was a big deal.”
“We had some good athletes, but ran the wrong offense,” Fox said. “We didn't have wishbone running backs.”
What they did have was players who would leave it on the field for their old-school coach.
“”I used to ask players (who came) before us, 'What did you do to make him so mad?'' “ Juul said.
Not mad. Just very, very focused on teaching the game he loved.
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Athletic Network Footnotes by Dr. Ed Dugas - firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for the 1971 Football Photo Gallery.
Gerald Hebert, President Savoie, Bruce Brown, Robbie Juul, Cecil Fuselier, Charlie Fox, Carlton “Bubby” Falgout, Kent Finley, Glenn Murphree and Becca Murphree, Olde Tyme Grocery.
Group enjoying OTG lunch while Bruce continues to document stories and Becca continues to serve her guests. Thanks.
L-R: Jerry Streva (61 & 62), Carlton “Bubby” Falgout (58-61), Ed Dugas, Robbie Juul (69-72), Kent Finley (64-67), Charlie Fox (69-71). Robbie scored the first offensive touchdown at Cajun Field and Charlie Fox scored the first defensive touchdown (pick 6). Robbie thought of photo as we were leaving and Becca assisted.
Please click below for tributes to Coach Faulkinberry and some of his assistant coaches. Included in each tribute are the fond memories of some of their players and others whose paths crossed with them in a meaningful way. Their efforts to strengthen our football program are some of the reasons why Cajun Field exists today - they built a strong foundation.
Click here for the tribute to Coach Faulkinberry.
Click here for the tribute to Coach Blanco.
Click here for the tribute to Coach Banna.
Click here for the tribute to Coach Cole.
Click here for the page of the Past Ballplayers Association - article and photo gallery of many who played in the first football game at Cajun Field.
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