Alexander: On a strangely quiet weekend, Louisiana football fans ‘stop and enjoy it’

Can you remember a weekend quite like this one?

No Saints.


No Southern or UL or Tulane or Grambling or Northwestern State or Nicholls State or ULM or Southeastern or McNeese State. Out of all the major football teams in Louisiana, only Louisiana Tech played this weekend.

Of course, UL and Tulane had games earlier this week, but this might be the second fall weekend in half a century — and the first since 9/11 — that almost every major football team in the state didn’t play, though research proved inconclusive because of incomplete records.

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There were other games to watch as college football continued across the country, culminating Saturday night in the first marquee matchup of the season between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia, and the two Major League Baseball League Championship Series reached pivotal games.

But in terms of football, not much happened in Louisiana.

UL lost to Coastal Carolina in a Wednesday night game, then Tulane lost in overtime to SMU on Friday night. The only other football game came Saturday evening when Louisiana Tech hosted Marshall.

“I’m curious to see what the ratings are on that game,” said Leroy Mitchell, a Saints fan known as “Whistle Monsta” who wears a Saints uniform and a giant whistle on his head at the Superdome.

Mitchell chatted between a break cleaning amberjack fish. Instead of watching the Saints, who have a scheduled open date, Mitchell fished in the Gulf of Mexico. He left Venice Marina with a couple friends, got sea sick for the first time in his life and returned with about 150 pounds of amberjack.

“You’ve just got to stop and enjoy it,” Mitchell said. “Maybe the universe wants us to slow down.”

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The postponement of LSU’s game against Florida gave the Tigers extra time to improve their defense.

Not since 9/11 had a fall weekend passed with so few games. After the coordinated terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, sports shut down as the country mourned the deaths of 2,977 people. Football teams didn’t resume games for another week. Sometimes longer.

While hurricanes have disrupted games in Louisiana before, either forcing postponements or location changes, and teams have shared open dates — LSU and the Saints had the same open date once last year — so many teams rarely waited idle at the same time.

The coronavirus pandemic created this scenario. Grambling, Southern, McNeese State, Southeastern, Nicholls and Northwestern State won’t play until the spring because their conferences postponed the season. ULM and the Saints had previously scheduled open dates.

Then LSU, which would have played No. 10 Florida in the Swamp this weekend, had its game postponed until Dec. 12 because of a coronavirus outbreak within the Gators’ program. Head coach Dan Mullen announced Saturday he had tested positive for COVID-19. Now LSU has two open weekends this month.

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When LSU would’ve kicked off at 3 p.m., Brian Falgoust prepared to co-host an engagement party. A long-time LSU fan, Falgoust schedules his fall Saturdays around the games.

“When LSU’s on, I’m watching LSU,” Falgoust said. “I would’ve probably come to the party a little bit later after the game ended.”

Instead, Falgoust bought ice and got ready for an outdoor celebration. He planned to arrange televisions for the Georgia-Alabama game. If LSU had played at night, he would’ve watched the Tigers instead.

Without much Louisiana football this weekend, hopefully you spent your time doing something productive, ideally outside in this perfect fall weather. Maybe you cleaned out your closet or pulled weeds. Or perhaps you crossed a few items off your to-do list, waiting until football returns next weekend.

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