Most people remember Huey Long as the only dictator in the history of the United States.
Technically, though, he was a U.S. Senator from the state of Louisiana in the early-to-mid-30s. In a real sense, though, he was “coach” of the LSU football team that lost to Tulane, 14-13, in the last regular-season game of the 1934 season. (He had a puppet Governor installed and puppet head coach, but Long was on the sidelines, made the important decisions and often got into heated arguments with the refs.) Had the Tigers scored two more points, Long’s team would have gone up against one of the legendary college coaches of all time, Temple’s Pop Warner, in the 1934 Sugar Bowl.
That near brush with Long has to rank as one of the strange circumstances surrounding Temple football history. As it was, Tulane, not LSU, was the southern representative in the 1934 Sugar Bowl and Long never had a chance to match wits with Warner. He was in the stands, though, at the Sugar Bowl, rooting for Tulane according to newspaper accounts of the day. The temperature for that game was in the mid-50s, a day after it reached 78 degrees in New Orleans.
Four months after Tulane’s 20-14 win, Long was assassinated. He was 42 and planning to challenge Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the Presidency. An Oscar-winning Best Picture, All the King’s Men, was made on his life in 1949 and it won the Best Actor Award for Broderick Crawford, who played Long.
10-4? (That’s a Highway Patrol reference.)
Now, the Owls and Tulane and even LSU have come full circle for the 2015 game. The Owls are a 15-point favorite and Sports Illustrated (in the form of Stewart Mandel) this week has projected them as the Group of 5 representatives in the Peach Bowl against LSU.
Pretty heady stuff for the Temple fans who will flock to Lincoln Financial Field for the most festive and optimistic Homecoming in, err, Temple Football Forever. It points up how things can change in college football in such a short time because it was only two years ago that the Owls came into Homecoming 0-6 and came out 1-6 after beating Army.
Now they are about as near to the top of the college football world as the 1934 Owls were. Somewhere, Huey Long is looking down and taking it all in, probably ambivalently.
Or, maybe in his case, looking up.
Tomorrow: Some Informed Speculation on HC Attendance
Saturday: Game Day Preview With Updated Depth Charts
Sunday: Complete Game Analysis