Cover Story

UL Football Survival Guide

by Dan McDonald


With success comes greater interest, which translates into more people attending UL games.


*PARKING With success comes greater interest, which translates into more people attending UL games. Starting this year, the entire West side parking lot, including the gravel section, is reserved for Ragin' Cajun Athletic Foundation Annual Fund contributors at the $250 or higher level. If you're not a donor on that level, the closest parking will be in the North lot (next to Congress Street), and once that's full, the alternatives will be the limited parking at the Cajundome, and then the areas at Blackham Coliseum and behind the Hilton Garden Inn - which is where you'll wind up if you get to the stadium less than 90 minutes prior to kickoff. (Beware, don't park in the shopping center lot across Bertrand Drive in front of Rouse's; cars are routinely towed from there.)

*TAILGATING Acadiana folks are second to none in hospitality, and tailgating is a great example. It's a good bet you'll bump into someone you know just by walking around the tailgating area, and you'll likely be offered an assortment of food and drink. Again, the earlier you arrive, the better the parking lot buffet will be. UL also provides bands performing on the Gate A stage (next to the big oak tree and the baseball field) beginning two hours before each game, with this year's lineup including Lil' Nate, Nik L Beer, Lafayette's Bayou Boys, Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin' Cajuns, Krossfyre and Cajunation.

*CAJUN WALK For every home game, the Cajun team unloads its buses in front of Cajun Track near the Bertrand Drive parking entrance (across from Joey's Deli and Catering) precisely two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff. Fans line Reinhardt Drive to talk to and high-five the players as they make the quarter-mile walk to the stadium. A great place for kids and fans alike to see the team up close.

*HILLSIDE SEATING Many fans holding tickets opt to sit instead on the grass areas behind both end zones of Cajun Field. That's also the area for overflow seating should Cajun Field reach sellout status (a possibility for the Homecoming game against Tulane and if the Cajuns have early-season success). Again, the best spots for spreading blankets go to the earliest arrivals.

*THE BIG FLAG Before every home game, members of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship unfurl "Louisiana," the 80-foot by 53-foot Louisiana state flag, during "Louisiana's Victory Run" pregame activities on the Cajun Field turf. The 160-pound flag includes around 7,500 square feet of fabric and three miles of polyester thread, and is the largest Louisiana flag in existence.

Follow UL gameday activities on Facebook
( and Twitter (@ULGameday).

Few teams in the country had as many games go down to the final seconds as the Cajuns in 2011. The best of those:

*UL 32, San Diego State 30, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
All appeared lost when Aztec quarterback Ryan Lindley's third touchdown pass to Colin Lockett gave SDSU a 30-29 lead with 35 seconds left. But a two-point conversion pass was incomplete; back-to-back Blaine Gautier passes to Javone Lawson, a short pass to Harry Peoples and a five-yard penalty with 0:02 showing left Brett Baer with a career-long 50-yard field goal. Baer nailed the biggest kick in UL history through the uprights at the Poydras Street end of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and set off a Cajun celebration that went well into the morning hours.

*UL 36, UL Monroe 35
Two touchdowns in the final 2:05, sandwiched around an unlikely onside-kick recovery by standout tight end and now NFL performer Ladarius Green, all but clinched that New Orleans Bowl spot. Even after tailback Alonzo Harris scored with 1:06 left, ULM still managed to drive inside UL territory before time expired.

*UL 37, Florida Atlantic 34
The Cajuns led by 14 points with less than six minutes left before FAU scored two late touchdowns to tie the game. But UL drove in the final 1:48, with Blaine Gautier completing seven passes in a game-winning drive and Harry Peoples' record-setting 12th catch of the game setting up Brett Baer's final-play 26-yard field goal.

*UL 36, Florida International 31
This time, it was UL's defense that came up with the big play at the end. Lionel Stokes' interception at the Cajun 17 halted FIU's last-minute drive and preserved UL's first Sun Belt Conference win - and one over the preseason league favorite and a team getting votes in the AP Top 25 poll.

*UL 20, Kent State 12
The Cajuns took their first non-conference road win since 2006, with Brett Baer kicking a field goal with six minutes left and UL's defense holding Kent twice on downs in the final four minutes.

DOsĀ  and DON'Ts

Food and Drink.
Unless you're using them just for tailgating, don't bring alcohol, cups, cans, coolers, bottles, ice chests and picnic baskets. They'll be confiscated at the gate. Likewise for umbrellas, weapons, artificial noisemakers and pets. Fans will be asked to display contents of bags coming into Cajun Field.

Arrive Early.
Ticket booths and stadium gates open 90 minutes before kickoff, and the gates get crowded 20 to 30 minutes before kickoff.

It's been the unofficial theme song for Cajun sports for years, and it applies now more than ever. Treat folks in your seating area with respect, especially those visiting from other locations and from the opposing school. If not, you'll wind up with a reputation similar to fans 50 miles to the east, who famously dumped over and rolled a portable toilet with a Georgia fan inside not too long ago.

Red Zone.
If you're a UL student with an ID, join the Red Zone. It's the area right behind the visitor bench, starting with the very front row on the 50-yard line on a first-come basis. Your ID is your ticket, and students may visit the Union Program Council tent inside the stadium to sign up for giveaways and chances to take part in halftime contests. But wear red if you don't want to stand out like a sore thumb.

Contributors to the Ragin' Cajun Athletic Foundation Annual Fund get reserved parking, access to better season tickets and other benefits. RCAF donors also get first crack at the best bowl tickets, a key benefit if the Cajuns go bowling again this year.

Don't Get Cocky.
Even though 2011 was hugely successful, it was still only the second winning season since 1995. It's not time to start trash-talking yet.