The LSU football season is so much further away than any of you want it to be.
But we at SEC Country want to make the wait go by a little bit faster. So every Saturday that you don’t get to watch college football, we’re going to give it to you anyway with a throwback-style countdown of how many weekends you have left before LSU kicks off its 2017 season on Sept. 2 against BYU in Houston.
Counting today, there are 24 more Saturdays until that BYU game. So let’s take a look at all the reasons the number 24 is significant in LSU football history to keep your mind occupied and dreaming of returning to Death Valley.
A stadium is born
Described as the hardest place to play in college football by everyone from Bear Bryant to Mike Huckabee, LSU football’s Tiger Stadium is one of the most iconic venues in college athletics. And it dates back to ’24.
Tiger Stadium first opened its doors in 1924. Then a 12,000-seat alternative to State Field, Tiger Stadium has grown into the sixth-largest stadium in America, a 102,321-seat behemoth that ranks as one of the five biggest cities in Louisiana at full capacity.
Nicknamed “Death Valley,” Tiger Stadium is consistently ranked as one of the loudest stadiums in college football, and one of the hardest for opposing teams to play in.
The mystique of Tiger Stadium is hard to explain if you’ve never seen it in person. So I’ll just leave it at this: If you’ve never been, fix that. And if you have been, keep going.
From one iconic stadium in Louisiana to the other, the next notable 24 moment in LSU football history took place in the Superdome down in New Orleans.
The 2008 BCS National Championship Game, hosted in New Orleans, pitted No. 2 LSU against No. 1 Ohio State. Led by the Big Ten’s second-leading rusher Chris “Beanie” Wells, Ohio State had a potent offense averaging more than 30 points per game.
But LSU’s defense came out and shut down Ohio State in the last three quarters, while LSU’s offense thrashed through Ohio State’s No. 1 rated defense for 38 points, as the Tigers went on to win the game 38-24.
With the win, LSU became the first school to win two outright BCS National Championships and the first two-loss team to win a championship in almost 50 years.
Who wore it best?
For two of his three years in Baton Rouge, standout defensive back Tharold Simon wore No. 24 for the LSU football team.
Over those three seasons, Simon intercepted 7 passes, recorded 99 tackles and broke up 22 passes, including 10 in 2011.
One of Simon’s best games came in the 2011 SEC Championship Game versus Georgia, when the then-sophomore intercepted a pass and broke up another, helping lead the Tigers to an undefeated season and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game versus Alabama.
Simon was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, for whom he played for three seasons, where he intercepted one pass and played in one Super Bowl.
Who else wore it?
Other than Simon, there haven’t been many super notable LSU football players to don the No. 24. That said, there have been a couple of names you might remember from the last 20 years or so.
- Linebacker and safety Harry Coleman wore the number between 2007 and 2009. A starter in his last two seasons in Baton Rouge, Coleman recorded 183 tackles, broke up 11 passes and forced 4 fumbles in his LSU career.
- A future third-round draft pick of the then Tennessee Oilers, Denard Walker sported No. 24 from 1994-96 for LSU.
Record book rewind
Back in 1989, LSU quarterback Tommy Hodson set what was then an LSU football record with 24 total touchdowns in one season. He threw 22 touchdowns, which stood as the LSU record for passing touchdowns in a year until 2003, and rushed for another 2 to break Al Risher’s record of 21 set in 1982.
Hodson was a four-time first-team All-SEC quarterback, the only LSU player ever to achieve that record, and graduated as the SEC’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns. To this day, Hodson is still LSU’s all-time leader in total touchdowns, total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns. He’s also one of two LSU quarterbacks to throw for 400 yards in a game, along with Rohan Davey.
Check back to SECCountry.com every Saturday between now and football season for more trips down memory lane.