How LSU fans opened their state and made it home for the Gamecocks

I was always told to fear LSU fans, that they were rowdy, raucous and mean-spirited toward any away fans venturing onto the Tigers’ campus. What I got when I drove into Baton Rouge was completely different from that.

I went down as a fan, mainly because LSU was giving out tickets to Gamecock students for $5. The low-ticket prices are what Tiger students pay for their tickets, and it was one of the many ways the university tried to make South Carolina feel at home.

As soon as my car got into Baton Rouge, signs plastered along the freeway reading “Geaux Gamecocks” greeted it. There was a church with one of those signs hanging from its entrance, giving away free parking to South Carolina fans.

Walking around, other churches on that street would stop and talk to the garnet-and-black-clad fans.

Tailgating was unique, as fans that may normally be cold to opposing fans were warm and welcoming, offering free food and drinks to anyone from Columbia.

The LSU student government put on a tailgate for South Carolina fans, introducing them to homemade Louisiana jambalaya and white beans. Scattered about were LSU students mingling with the Gamecock faithful.

They really made playing in a state 733 miles away feel like home.

The fans were courteous, willing to talk to the Gamecock fans and offer condolences to those affected.

Walking around campus, “Go Cocks!” rang out by not only those donned with Carolina gear, but purple and gold too. Some LSU fans, which live about 68 miles from New Orleans, were decked out in garnet and black beads.

They were friendly enough to offer free food, free drinks and free hospitality to those affected by serious flooding.

Students told stories about Tiger fans paying for Gamecock fan’s tailgating supplies. Another student in the section dedicated to South Carolina students, mentioned how an LSU fan came up to him in the stadium and paid for his concession stand food.

At the game, there was no hostility, no real booing from Tiger fans; they cheered and clapped for the Gamecocks when the team came out to their famous 2001 theme. They cheered and danced during Sandstorm.

They did everything in their power to give the game a homemade feel.

After a tough week with so much despair and uncertainty, South Carolina fans were treated to true Southern hospitality.

After getting through talking to a couple from LSU, the three friends and I shook their hands and told them thank you for the genuine kindness. The husband looked at the four of us and told us no need to thank him.

“You’d do the same for us,” he said.