BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - I just made 15 years as a sportscaster and reporter at WAFB-TV. I often tell people my time here has perfectly and very luckily aligned with Louisiana's Golden Era of sports. Anything any sports fan would want to happen has basically occurred since March of 2001.
LSU football has won two national championships and played for another - all in the city of New Orleans! The Saints were obviously never going to sniff a Super Bowl. Well, they won one during the 2009 season. We were given a second chance with an NBA franchise, LSU baseball added another national championship to its trophy case in the summer of 2009 and the LSU women's basketball program reached five straight Final Fours from 2004 to 2008. I've also covered four World Series teams with the LSU softball program. The list just goes on and on.
But through all of that, perhaps the most fun I've ever had covering any season or team occurred a decade ago this spring. Maybe because it was unexpected. Maybe because the personalities and talent on that 2006 LSU Final Four team were just so admirable. Or maybe it was because head coach John Brady kept speaking into our camera about all the "exclusive coverage" we were getting. I was a one-man-band covering that squad throughout the NCAA tournament - that big camera, the laptop editor, the tapes, all that stuff. And it was the time of my life.
From Jacksonville to Atlanta and finally the disappointing ending against UCLA in Indianapolis, I chased the Tigers from bus to bus, from arena to arena. It was an adrenaline rush, a natural high. I obviously wasn't taking enough time to eat, as friends and family told me how skinny and sick I looked when the whole thing ended.
Darrel Mitchell's lengthy shot to beat Texas A&M and send the Tigers to the Sweet 16 was the biggest single moment on the run. Full Story
And despite the fact it was Texas that LSU had to beat 70-60, in overtime mind you, to reach the Final Four, many of the players I spoke to seem to agree - for better or worse, that contest almost seems like a footnote to the one that occurred before it.
The Tigers defeating Duke 62-54 on March 23, 2006 is one of the single biggest wins in the history of LSU athletics. LSU held superstar JJ Redick to 3-of-18 shooting from the field, as Brady's defense and rebounding first philosophy put the clamps on college basketball's premier program and legendary coach. The Blue Devils made just 28 percent of their shots that night and was held to their lowest point total in a decade.
So, let's relive some history together, shall we? Let's venture back to the Georgia Dome on that exhilarating day, where a group of homegrown kids thrilled Louisiana and shocked the world.
I sincerely enjoyed talking to all these guys again. Revisiting the journey not only reminded me how talented the team was - most of these interviews were done by phone because these guys are still playing pro ball, several of them overseas - but also what genuinely nice and courteous people they are.
Sit back and enjoy!