Families takes sides on BCS championship game

Published 12:26 am Monday, January 9, 2012

Eric Shelton | The Natchez Democrat — It is not difficult to see for which team Marie Marks and her family root, even if she does live on Alabama Street. Marie stands outside her house decorated in everything purple and gold.

VIDALIA — If you drive past the home of Marie and Fred Marks on Alabama Street in Vidalia the front porch will leave no doubt about where their allegiances lie in tonight’s BCS championship game.

The Marks’ door is decorated with a purple and gold wreath as well as several other pieces of LSU paraphernalia that show the couple will be rooting hard for the Tigers tonight.

“I like to be festive,” Marie said. “I just got my Christmas stuff down Monday and Tuesday. I’m a little festive for each season. You can tell the florist didn’t do (the wreath).”

Marks said now that the holidays are over it’s back to being football season, and she replaced Santa Clause with Mike the Tiger.

Tonight the Marks family will head to the home of Danny Hankins, another big LSU fan, to watch the game while enjoying some homemade jambalaya and navy beans. And the couple said they have been waiting a long time for the rematch.

“It will be a relief if we win,” Fred said.

“Don’t say if we win,” Marie replied. “When we win. Many years ago I was a cheerleader, and I say we will win by two touchdowns at least.”

Marie, who was a cheerleader at Vidalia High School, said her cheerleading past causes her to be a little more optimistic than her husband, who played football at Ferriday High School. While at Ferriday, Fred said his head coach took the team to an LSU game in Baton Rouge and that just reinforced his love for the Tigers.

The Marks said they have been lifelong LSU fans, and this season has been very enjoyable so far.

“(The season) has been great,” Marie said. “But this game is still as if it was the first.”

Fred admitted that when the BCS matchup was announced he was not thrilled with seeing Alabama again.

“I thought that we didn’t want to play them (when I saw the matchup),” he said. “We’d rather play Oklahoma State. Alabama is tough, and they will be hard to beat.”

Fred said the key for the Tigers would be to stop Alabama’s running game.

“If we slow down (Trent) Richardson — you can’t stop him — but if we slow him down, we might have a chance.”

The Marks said they hope to enjoy this year’s BCS Championship like their son, Chad Marks, enjoyed his team’s championship last season.

“My son is an Auburn fan,” Marie said. “He got his master’s in chemical engineering at Auburn. I really wanted him to go to LSU.”

Chad played four years of football at Millsaps College before going to Auburn for graduate school, Marie said. He was named to the 1989 All-SCAC (Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference) team.

Chad was able to attend last year’s BCS Title Game in Arizona to enjoy watching the Auburn Tigers defeat Oregon for the national championship, but his parents decided they would rather stay home to watch their Tigers play.

“It’s a lot easier to watch on TV,” Fred said. “I don’t think I would go if someone gave me a ticket. You don’t have to fight the crowd (at home).”

And as for the Marks’ home street bearing the name of tonight’s opponent, the family said it was not something they ever considered.

“We actually never really thought about that (until last week),” Marie said. “But it was interesting that Chad lived on Auburn Street in Natchez.”

Plenty of other Miss-Lou residents that bleed purple and gold will be tuning in tonight to cheer for the Tigers like the Marks, but there are also a handful of residents that will be wearing crimson and white.

Natchez’s Tim and Blanche Morrison met each other as students at The University of Alabama in the late 70s and early 80s, but their love for the Crimson Tide reaches even further.

“In the state of Alabama you grow up an Alabama fan or an Auburn fan,” Blanche said. “You have to pick when you’re young. All my family were Alabama fans, and I had several relatives that went to (Alabama).”

Blanche said the Morrison’s moved to Natchez in 1997 and raised three children to be Alabama fans as well. Jesse and Tyler Morrison are both current students at Alabama, while their oldest son Ryan is a Mississippi State alumni but an Alabama fan.

Blanche said Jesse and Ryan are in New Orleans for the game, and she and Tim will be, “sitting on the edge of our seats,” tonight.

As for being the minority fan base in town, Blanche said they do not get too much ribbing from their friends.

“(We get) a little, not too bad,” she said. “We all know it’s just for fun. They love their school just as much as I love my school.”

Blanche said she would not predict the outcome of the contest, but she knows it will be an entertaining game.

“It’s going to be just like the last game,” she said. “It’s two really good teams that have really good defensive players. Both teams love their school and love competition. It’s just going to be another battle just like the last time.”