BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In the year 1965, the Sugar Bowl is in New Orleans, and LSU would defeat Syracuse 13-10. The game also stands out as a time that LSU is crossing a thresh-hold. The all-white Tiger team is facing its first opponent with black players. Syracuse even has a black team captain on the field. Doug Moreau of Baton Rouge was there. WAFB's Donna Britt met up with Moreau at LSU's Andonie Sports Museum.
"Back then LSU ran the football," Moreau smiles, "much like LSU does nowadays. We ran the football first and passed when it was necessary."
Moreau remembers, "You couldn't find a game where you could watch Syracuse play and find out about it." He points out that there was no Internet, only three TV networks, and only one color live TV camera, that had been designated for the Rose Bowl, so LSU's Sugar Bowl game was broadcast in black and white.
When asked if he was aware of Syracuse's black players, Moreau said they were outstanding. "We knew about Floyd Little, we knew about Jim Nance. These were two great running backs and they were people who had hit it big on the national stage."
As an LSU junior, Doug Moreau would win Sugar Bowl's Most Valuable Player award for his final quarter one-man rally.
Sugar Bowl's announcer's voice crackles in the old game film, about the quarterback.."..fakes a pass, throws on the second effort. Moreau is clear! He gets past the Syracuse secondary, catches the ball on the Syracuse 25 and goes all the way!"
Moreau later kicked a field goal literally scoring 75-percent of the points LSU would need for victory.
Up until then, Moreau said, all white U-High and all-white LSU were not an opportunities to meet black athletes. and football was a competitive game, pure and simple. Moreau said even if there had been blacks, he believes the most physically able would've gotten the spot on the team, that race wouldn't have mattered.
Donna Britt headed to the Bluff, to find out what football was like on the other side of town in 1965.
Former player Bob Bennett said, " It was another world for us here at Southern university."
He met Donna and 9-News on the field at Mumford Stadium to talk about the separate and apart football programs. Bennett had been quarterback in 1965. Retired nfl defensive end Rich "Tombstone" Jackson also joined them. Jackson had been a Jag in the early 60s.
Looking at Mumford Stadium of today, both men said in 1965 the end zone seating did not exist.
Tombstone gestured "This stadium was from the 20(yard line) to that portion right there, and here to right there. now this is the field that we played on." He gestured to the field's 20 yard-lines as the 1965 footprint.
Bob Bennett said back then football was an event, and the grandstands were always packed to capacity.
Donna asked Bennett, "Were there any white faces at all?"
Bennett thought for a minute, "None that I know, unless there were reporters, sideline reporters. I don't remember seeing any."
The two men surprised our news team by revealing that even as Southern's campus was ablaze with civil rights activities and fervor, their coaches did not want football players to have any part of it.
Tombstone, who was there in the early 60s said "They (the coaches) pleaded with us, not to March."
Tombstone remembers March 30th 1960, when almost 2-thousand students marched from Southern to the state capitol to protest the jailing of Southern students who staged a sit-in at the Kress lunch counter.
Bob Bennett said in the mid 1960s, "Our coaches told us not to get involved with the movement, the type of demonstration that was going on. He (Coach Smith) told us we were here to play football."
You might think that Southern would not have enough money, but Bennett says t hey had very nice road trips back then, "Had it not been for Southern University, I would never have had a chance to fly on airplanes. A lot of times where we went, a lot of people thought it was our own airplanes. but it really wasn't, and we stayed in some of the finest hotels." Bennett said the only game they never flew to was Alcorn.
Present day, Jaguar track teams were practicing during our 9News visit. That seemed right because Tombstone Jackson was a Jaguar javelin, runner and national champ shot putter. Immersed in sports, a student could be sheltered from off-campus harsh racism: the restaurants who refused you a seat; the bus that refused to drop you off at Southern even though it passed right by there....
Jackson said a Kansas City Southern train often would park on the tracks blocking the entrance to Southern's campus from 7am to 9pm. Jackson said community activists had to negotiate to correct the situation. Tombstone said as a kid growing up in a racially mixed New Orleans neighborhood, he did not always recognize racism for what it was. There was an innocence about his youth.
"So you could see some things, and then as you grow, you go "ahh, so that's what they were doing," Jackson said. Now he's wiser.
For a time, however, students were safe to dream and excel on both college campuses.
Moreau at LSU, Jackson and Bennett at Southern.
Tombstone succeeded as an NFL player (Cleveland and Denver)... Bennett as an assistant football coach at Southern over the years, and Moreau as a judge, district attorney, and NFL player.
He sat and signed autographs at the LSU Andonie Museum as he talked with 9News.
9News thanks the Andonie Museum, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, EBR Parish Library and SU Cade Library Archives for their historical film and pictures.