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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Visitors to Louisiana State's 'Death Valley' face hostile experience

by Wally Hall | November 13, 2021 at 4:27 p.m.

At around 4:30 p.m. today, the buses will pull up in front of Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, and there will be an outrageous greeting.

These are the Arkansas Razorback buses, loaded with players, coaches and other essential employees who have the challenge of playing wildly talented LSU on their home turf. It's "Death Valley" in the darkness.

The unofficial welcome will be proof enough that, for most of the day, the LSU faithful have been more interested in what is 100 proof. By the time the Razorbacks climbed out of bed before breakfast, Tiger Stadium had already been surrounded by tens of thousands of fans who set up camp to drink, eat, drink, talk, drink and then drink some more.

No doubt the No. 1 conversation would be about who is going to replace Ed Orgeron as the head coach. A few may remember him for his undefeated 2019 national championship season, but most LSU fans have moved on.

Several hundred fans, maybe even a thousand, will forget everything when the Hog buses approach the stadium. It is their chance to be part of the game, at least in their minds.

Many of them will shout obscenties, try to rock the Arkansas buses and — age doesn’t matter — give the players the one-finger salute.

It is just a tradition.

Razorback fans making their way to the game will be extra careful. Some still remember the Georgia-LSU game in 2003, when a Georgia fan, whose only mistake was wearing Bulldog gear, entered a portable toilet that was then turned over. ESPN reported that the Georgia fan was assaulted as he tried to climb out.

That’s one of the reasons no one likes to play the Tigers in the dark. But the Razorbacks will arrive and they will ignore the fans, focused on the challenge at hand.

LSU is a hostile environment, maybe the most hostile in the Southeastern Conference, and that’s why a win there by a visitor is always especially sweet. And a lot of the Tiger fans won’t remember it.

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