Husky fan survives ‘Death Valley’

I thought the University of Washington Huskies legitimately had a shot to beat LSU last weekend. I really did.

Well, I was wrong. I hate being wrong, but as anyone who knows me will tell you, it’s definitely not unfamiliar territory.

I went to Baton Rouge last weekend with my friend Lance for the Huskies-Tigers game because, for some reason, we thought our presence there would guarantee a victory for our alma mater.

Well, we were wrong.

While the game didn’t go quite as well as we hoped, we still had an incredible time down south. We spent Friday night on Bourbon Street in New Orleans where we saw a slew of Husky fans, which got us pumped for the next day’s game.

That’s really the only story from that evening that’s printable.

The next day was game day. After a swim in the pool at the Baton Rouge Ramada Inn — which, by the way, we nicknamed “the Party Palace” because A) we had consumed a few alcoholic drinks, B) we earned naming rights because we were the only guests who used the pool — we suited up and headed to the stadium.

We looked pretty intimidating with our Washington eye black stickers and our 2-year-old Dawg Pack shirts from back when we were in college. You know a surefire way to make yourself feel old? Use the phrase, “Back when we were in college.”

Without giving too much away, we have a pregame ritual that, back when we were in college, almost always guaranteed football success. It involves singing a Disney song and dancing uncontrollably to a DJ Khaled song where he talks about his penchant for not losing.

It started losing its magical powers at last year’s Alamo Bowl, but we just chalked that up to bad luck. We thought that was just a fluke. We knew we’d win this time.

Wrong again.

But we gave it a shot and headed to Tiger Stadium. We parked our car and walked through the beautiful LSU campus, where we were shocked by what we experienced.

The LSU fans were nice. Like, ridiculously nice. So unbelievably incredibly nice, it almost made us angry.

We were walking by and a woman came up and asked us if we’d like some jambalaya. We had no idea what that was, but, well, I was hungry.

My parents taught me not to talk to, or take candy from, strangers. For one brief moment I thought, “What if this is a diabolical plan to kidnap me?” Then, I took that first bite of jambalaya and immediately wished this woman would kidnap me and take me to a land where there’s nothing but jambalaya, Bud Light Platinum and Kate Upton.

I have no idea what’s in jambalaya — besides heaven — but it was delicious. It was pretty much at that point I fell in love with Baton Rouge. And then I heard something that really blew my mind. Diana, my jambalaya angel, wasn’t even going to the football game. She and her friends had been tailgating for more than 24 hours, for a game they weren’t going to attend. And that was normal.

I consider myself an incredibly loyal sports fan — I mean, I shelled out an ungodly sum of money for a game that, deep down, I probably knew was not going to well — but this is a whole different level. Death Valley, as Tiger Stadium is known, seats almost 93,000 people, and there were still fans sitting outside the stadium watching the game in high definition.

I’ve spent the last week of my life trying to forget the actual football game, except for the first 10 seconds because those were 10 of the happiest seconds of my life. The next three hours got rough fast. My friend, who works for an oil company in the south because he was a genius and didn’t major in journalism at UW, learned from his boss that the $160 tickets we bought on Stubhub were “in the visiting team section. I think.”

It’s good to know we’re not the only ones who were wrong.

We walked up the stairs to row 35 of section 420 and looked down in horror as we realized we were right in the heart of the Tigers’ season-ticket holders. We were surrounded by purple and gold, but not the good purple and gold. The evil purple and gold, with things like “Geaux Tigers” and “Honey Badger don’t care” written on them.

Not surprisingly, the people in our section were friendly. Granted, if my team was winning by 38 points, we would’ve been pretty jovial, too. There was some good-natured teasing, but I got the feeling they respected us for coming down, and they just wanted to make sure we had a good time.

Which we did. Even though my hunch about the game’s outcome — and the numerous bets I placed with friends based on that hunch — was wrong.

After the game, in an attempt to forget the 41-3 drubbing, Lance and I went to Tigerland, LSU’s U-District. We went to a bar with a live band and lots of beverage options and proceeded to dance the night away. Louisianans saw our UW shirts and didn’t care.

I was even taught how to dance like they “do in the south” from an LSU fan who had me swinging her around in circles.

The next morning we got up, checked out of the Party Palace and made one stop on the way out of town. That’s when it happened. I couldn’t help myself. I had to buy a “Geaux Tigers” shirt. I think I’m an LSU fan now, which is not the outcome I expected from this trip. I thought we’d win. I thought I’d hate Tigers fans. I figured they’d be like Oregon fans on steroids.

Shock of all shocks, I was wrong.

David Krueger covers high school sports for The Herald because, as this plainly shows, there’s no way he’s unbiased enough to cover UW football. If you have any thoughts on the column, or can teach him how to make jambalaya, he can be reached at

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