by Doug Ireland
Heard any real buzz about this year’s Heisman Trophy race?
Didn’t think so. It’s an underwhelming field, but somebody will win it, a very good player who’s had a very good season for a very good team. It’s no longer going to the best senior (offensive) player of the season in major college football, but to the stat-stuffer, any classification, for a top five team. Reality.
In the run-up to the Dec. 10 presentation, any Heisman discussion around these parts will take maybe a half-minute before Joe Burrow’s name enters the conversation.
That will lead, naturally, to talk about LSU’s first Heisman winner, Billy Cannon.
Did you know Dr. Cannon was not the first Louisiana star to win the Heisman? Cannon, born in Mississippi, raised in Baton Rouge and undeniably the most dynamic player in the game as a senior for Paul Dietzel, captured the 25th Heisman – the only one made of silver, not bronze – in 1959.
Two years earlier, it went to a Louisiana native, a humble country boy from Springhill, John David Crow, a running back from Bear Bryant’s Texas A&M Aggies.
Did you know Burrow is not the last Louisiana product to win the Heisman? After LSU’s modern-day golden boy snagged the award in 2019, a year later, it was Amite product DeVonta Smith, a sensational and soft-spoken Alabama receiver who now stars for the Philadephia Eagles.
Not a lot of states can boast four Heisman winners – no others whose population is about 4 million humans.
Did you know soon you’ll be able to soak in Louisiana’s Heisman heritage in Natchitoches, at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame museum on Front Street? As of the evening of December 7, it’s open to enjoy, and the ribbon cutting ceremony will be free of charge and full of excitement – along with representatives of each of the four home state Heisman winners.
In an opening reception hosted by the museum, FLASH (Friends of Louisiana Sports and History) and the LSHOF Foundation (led by Menard graduate Ronnie Rantz), the permanent exhibit debuts. The extra special piece – Cannon’s 1959 trophy.
There’s much more to marvel about. You need to come see. December would be a fine time to visit the museum, either on the evening of December 7 or afterwards, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and hang around a little longer to enjoy the fabulous Christmas lights and perhaps some dinner at the several outstanding eateries, or just the traditional turkey legs and such on the riverbank.
Or come early, build in lunchtime (which puts a couple of the classic Natchitoches dining favorites, Lasyone’s and Merci Beaucoup, into the mix of meal choices), blend in some bopping and shopping with a museum visit and a look at the lights. You’ll still be home well before bedtime.
The grand opening has a VIP champagne toast reception from 5:30-6:30 – to join that mini-party with the Heisman family members and friends, you’ve got to be a FLASH member (rates start at $35, and graduate up; all revenue directly supports the museum, and all levels provide some free admissions, with $100 and up granting free admission to all nine Louisiana State Museums along with accredited museums around the country).
The ribbon cutting and exhibit opening is free from 6:30-7:30. Time enough to not only see the new exhibit, but to make a quick trip through the two-story, 27,000-square foot museum that was named the world’s No. 1 new architectural project of 2013. Second was an addition to the Louvre (In Paris). No other project in North America made the top 10.
How do you get a FLASH membership? They’ll be available at the front door of the museum all day on Dec. 7 leading into the 5:30 VIP reception. For more information, call the museum at 318-357-2492.
After all, it’s your museum. And as Terry Bradshaw says in the welcome video, “folks, enjoy it! It’s special.”