Even though the programs have shared space among college football’s elite for much of their existences and are separated by less than seven hours of driving, Texas and LSU never really have had much of a rivalry. Entering this season, they had faced each other only 17 times, with their previous regular season meeting taking place in 1954. They simply were two powerhouses who rarely crossed paths.
Then Texas and LSU played Saturday in Austin, and suddenly we have a capital-R college football Rivalry, with all the delicious pettiness that comes with it.
The game itself was a delight, with the teams combining for seven touchdowns in the second half of LSU’s 45-38 win, but the fun started well beforehand when Texas’s defensive backs came out for warmups wearing T-shirts that read “There’s only one DBU,” a shot at LSU’s perceived status as the nation’s ultimate producer of defensive backs. This did not go over well:
Meanwhile, LSU’s band likely had trouble keeping tabs on all this because its assigned seating section was in what astronomers probably would classify as “low Earth orbit.”
The game began, and Tigers running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire upped the pettiness quotient by, oh, 8 million percent by turning Texas’s horns-up salute into a horns-down taunt after scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown.
The horns down was the subject of some talk last season when West Virginia’s players flashed it after scoring during the Mountaineers’ win at Texas, drawing unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties. Greg Burks, the Big 12 coordinator of football officials, was asked about it at Big 12 media days in July and said future uses likely would not draw penalties unless they were prolonged or directed toward an opposing player. Edwards-Helaire was not flagged.
And then there was LSU’s locker room, which Tigers Coach Ed Orgeron said was not air-conditioned on a day when temperatures in Austin approached 100 degrees. He was prepared, however, after talking to someone at Louisiana Tech, Texas’s season-opening opponent: The Tigers brought fans with them.
“It wasn’t great, but it was better. At least we had air in there,” Orgeron told reporters Monday. “[Louisiana Tech] didn’t have air. We had some blowers in there. I don’t think that caused as much as going out there and having to play 93 plays on defense. I think that had a lot to do with it.”
For what it’s worth, Louisiana Tech Coach Skip Holtz said Tuesday that he wasn’t the one who alerted LSU to the steamy Texas locker room.
“I don’t remember it being like a sauna, and I don’t remember it being cool,” he said.
In a statement released Monday, Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said the school never would think about making things unnecessarily uncomfortable for an opposing team.
“The comment today about lack of air conditioning in our visiting locker rooms is the first we’ve heard of any issues in that area,” he said. “We provide one of the best visitor setups available and are proud of the efforts we put forth in hosting our guests. Our facilities staff did not receive any complaints from either Louisiana Tech or LSU, and we’ve confirmed that our air conditioning in the visiting locker room is in good working order.”
Thankfully, these teams play again next September in Baton Rouge, so we’ll likely get another dose of all this wonderful shade in 2020. Per the contract between the two schools, LSU must provide Texas with 3,000 tickets to the game, but it doesn’t say where those seats must be located in the stadium. (For SEC games, half of the opposing team’s ticket allotment must be in the stadium’s lower bowl.) So expect the Longhorns’ band and their fans to be ducking airplanes along with any other projectiles that could be headed in their direction.
“We’re going to do the same thing to them, too,” Verge Ausberry, LSU’s executive director for external relations, told the Advocate.