Now, I'm not an "official" Tiger. I do not hold a degree from Louisiana State University. I cannot say I have attended a single class in Baton Rouge. But make no mistake, I am a Tiger... by birth and by blood. The Craig Family has been attending and graduating from Louisiana State University for over a century - dating back to my great-grandfather. Since then, my grandparents, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins and then some have attended LSU. I personally have walked under the shade of the oak trees on campus since the time I could walk. I have belted out "Geaux Tigers!" since the time I could talk. I am a Tiger, I feel and possess the spirit.
Last night, Tiger Stadium was FILLED with the spirit of LSU. The air was charged - truly unlike any game I've EVER seen (and I've seen my fair share, ladies and gentlement) in my entire life. Charged with anticipation, charged with alcohol-induced insanity, charged with the memory of January 9, 2012, charged with HATE. You felt at times so charged and elated you could just be sick from pure exhaustion and adrenaline, to only fall to the pit of complete, hollow deflation. An emotional journey.
But for me, a game at Tiger Stadium is so much more than two final numbers left on a scoreboard once the dust settles... It's the experience. It's the older gentlemen turning to his wife when the band first marches onto the field that says "my hair just raised on its end... it gets me every time" with the sparkle of a nostalgic wink. It's the new-found friends that share high fives, life stories, less than impressive dance moves, hugs of pure bliss and a certain kindred spirit. Yes, the experience is even rooted in the shouts and vicious banter, shoves, cursing (and yes, even police) attempting to simmer the fervent animosity of hatred that burns between the Tigers and Tide (and that was just in our section!).
I cannot fully describe the LSU spirit in words. It's not something you can capture. It's not something you can copy or recreate. The towering shadows and beaming lights of Death Valley stir something in your soul and in your heart. It may be where "opponents dreams come to die", but it's where our dreams come to life.