Fans get ready as LSU goes for championship

Published 12:42 am Sunday, January 6, 2008

NATCHEZ — Danny Stutzman is one big LSU fan.

Stutzman, originally from Natchez and now living in Shreveport, displays his Tiger pride everywhere he goes.

He was in town visiting relatives over the weekend dressed in purple, including LSU basketball shoes.

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“I got a great deal on those,” Stutzman said. “They were just $29 at an outlet mall in Bossier City. I wear something purple and gold every day. But Monday I’ll be dressed from head to toe in purple and gold, including underwear and socks.”

Such is the life of an LSU fan these days now that their beloved Tigers are playing for a national championship against Ohio State Monday night.

Stutzman is not the only one promoting his LSU fanhood. Numerous fans from the area have headed down to New Orleans for the game and sporting goods stores around the area can’t keep LSU merchandise on the shelves.

“The LSU stuff has just been flying out of here,” said Susan Myers, owner of Hometown Sports in Vidalia. (The business) had a very good Christmas.”

Sports Center in Natchez has also been selling numerous LSU items since the Tigers were selected for the BCS Championship Game on Dec. 2.

“Some of our stuff has already sold out,” Sports Center athletic manager Chip Sturdivant said. “We’ve had a big boom on sales since it was announced LSU would play in the championship game in New Orleans. (LSU sales) probably doubled.”

Some of the biggest items that have sold, according to the sporting goods stores, are t-shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys, car flags and decals and house flags.

While some are buying LSU merchandise to show their school spirit around town or at their championship game party, others are wearing their LSU apparel to the Big Easy to watch the game in person.

One of the lucky ones who will be in attendance is LSU senior and Cathedral graduate Sue Ann Bernard.

She found out she would be going on Christmas Day, when a friend sold her an extra ticket at face value.

“It was a great Christmas present,” Bernard said. “I didn’t have to pay a crazy amount for it. The tickets that are being sold online are selling for over $1,000. I was really lucky.”

Bernard is traveling to New Orleans today and will stay with friends through Tuesday.

“I’m real excited to be going,” she said. “It would be an amazing experience to win and finish (her college career) with a bang.”

The chance to be there for a national championship is also what made Vidalia native and LSU junior Will Carter make the trip to see the game.

Carter, whose whole family is going to the game, said it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“The experience of being in school when you are playing for a national championship is a unique opportunity,” Carter said. “It was over 40 years between LSU’s first national championship in 1957 and the one in 2003. Who knows how long it will be before we get to another one? You’ve got to take advantage of it while it’s there.”

And it is people like Burgess and Carter who hope to make the Louisiana Superdome into a home away from home against the Buckeyes.

“It’s going to be like a home game,” Burgess said. “Everybody is going even if they don’t have a ticket just to be part of the experience. It’s going to be great.”