Whatever Happened to the UL Memorial of Their Win Over Texas A&M? Rumor Has It…
Twenty-five years ago tonight, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajun football team (then referred to as USL) earned their first win of the modern era against a team ranked in the top 25.
#25 Texas A&M came to Cajun Field on September 14th, 1996. The Aggies were coming off a loss to BYU, trying to find their footing in their first year in the Big 12.
Despite the 0-1 record, A&M was still ranked. They carried a cache that many opponents who played USL at Cajun Field did not.
The fervor and excitement of the night the Cajuns topped the Aggies 29-22 made it iconic.
Many retrospectives have been written over the years, with individuals who were present that evening (whether it be player, coach, or fan) glowing with nostalgia.
Photojournalist Brad Kemp told me the goalpost on the tunnel side was guarded by police, but the one on the north end zone was not.
When the game ended, fans darted to the hillside of the stadium and ripped it down, marching it down Reinhardt drive, across Bertrand, and into the now-defunct Ray's Sports Bar.
It's a game that deservedly will always hold a special place in the history of Louisiana athletics.
For several years following USL's upset win over #25 Texas A&M at Cajun Field in 1996, a gaudy memorial with a heavy plaque and replica goalpost sat outside Gate A.
Until it didn't.
The memorial seemingly disappeared around the spring of '04.
I searched for a photo of the memorial, reaching out to several individuals who I was hoping may have a copy, but no one can seem to find one anywhere.
Truth be told, I've never seen it. I've only heard rumors.
I've been told the plaque was heavy and somewhat resembled a tombstone. A model goalpost sat behind it, described to me as much smaller than an NCAA goalpost, but was still big enough for kids to be lifted up to climb around it on gamedays.
Whatever happened to the memorial?
Rumor has it (I'm about to use this phrase as much as Adele), and I want to stress the word rumor, the plaque and goalpost were removed in the middle of the night by hardcore fans of the program.
Why would fans expunge a tribute to an iconic moment?
Rumor has it, some of the fanbase and perhaps a few individuals in the administration did not like it.
Louisiana had not had a winning season since 1995, and felt the constant reference of "Well at least we beat A&M that night", an A&M team that didn't finish with a winning record in 1996, was a hindrance to growing the program to new heights.
If the perceived biggest moment in program history was a home win against a #25 team that ended up going 6-6, what kind of message did it send to recruits?
Whether you agree with the line of thinking or not, rumor has it, it was the belief of a large portion of fans and some within the administration.
Fast forward 25 years later, and the feelings of nostalgia surrounding September 14, 1996, amongst Cajun fans is altogether positive.
For the record, they always have been. It wasn't the victory, but the memorial that created a juxtaposition for some.
The program is on a much different footing now than it was a few years removed from the early 2000s.
Some have wondered about the whereabouts of the memorial.
I have no idea, but rumor has it, the commemorative goalpost was removed with various tools, and dumped in woods near the Cajundome.
And the plaque?
Rumor has it local authorities procured it well after it disappeared.
No one seemed to notice the memorial was missing, at least not for several months.
The only thing remaining at the site was the bottom of the replica goalpost, which was stuck in a slab of concrete, while the rest of it was gone.
It became a question fans would ask one another.
"Hey, didn't there used to be a goalpost or something from the A&M game outside Cajun Field?"
"I think so. Whatever happened to it?"
Well, rumor has it...
25 of Brad Kemp's Favorite Ragin' Cajun Sports Photographs