Congrats to LSU

January 10, 2008 | By Chris Graythen | Sport

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The NCAA football season is finally over, and it’s been a roller coaster since the start. College football is always full of unexpected upsets, last second victories and intense rivalries. The Louisiana State University tigers had their fair share of all three, but somehow managed to end up on top in the final game of the season. The game itself was exciting, but as an LSU alum, and resident of New Orleans (which is only 90 miles from the LSU campus) This one was a little more exciting.

At the end of the game, I stayed with head coach Les Miles from the time the clock stuck :00 on the Tiger’s 38-24 victory over Ohio State until he left the field. The end of the game is always a giant confusing mess, and the bigger the game, the bigger the mess. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place for the coaches meeting at mid field, as well as when the team gathered to sing the Alma Mater.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Once the team left the field, I was fortunate enough to get permission from the athletic department to be in the LSU locker room once the game was over. This was a once in a lifetime experience. The room was packed, just me, the staff, the players and the coaches. Coach Miles recognized the players, the hard work and effort they they gave through out the year to earn them the national championship. The seniors lead the team in singing the LSU fight song, and Coach Miles lead the team in a prayer. It was really amazing, and even with the widest lens on that I own, it still wasn’t enough to capture the feel of being there. I was very lucky to be there, and thankful to the LSU athletic staff for letting me in. I hope I get to experience this again!

Being the newest member of the Getty Images staff, as if having the BCS Championship in my town wasn’t enough, this was a great weekend for me as I got to show some fellow staff members around my town that is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. After the first night of customary trips down in the French Quarter to a great restaurant called Palace Cafe for dinner, and eventually to see the lights and sounds of Bourbon Street, where it almost seems as if nothing happened, I took everyone out on the ‘Misery Tour’ around the flooded areas of New Orleans. It’s a tour I’ve given a million times, to friends, family and reporters from all over the country, as I never left during “The Storm” working for Getty Images news as a freelancer. But this was special. For Brock Smith, Travis Lindquist and Streeter Lecka, it was also their first time in New Orleans – they never got to see it, as we say, “Pre-K.” We passed around the now empty lots where my parents and family used to live in the Lakeview area, as well as driving through mid-city and the Lower Ninth Ward. We saw waterlines from as low as 3-4 feet, to as high as 17 feet.

My parent’s house (from L-R) pre-Katrina, during the flooding, 3 months after Katrina, 2 years after Katrina

Travis Lindquist/Getty Images – Getty Images photographer Streeter Lecka looks around a house that was devestated in Hurricane Katrina.

As many times as I’ve given this tour, this was the most inquisitive group I’ve ever been with, and I tried as hard as I could to answer all the questions. We eventually stopped at a gutted out church, and stopped to take a photo of the four of us on a set of steps where a house used to be. In fact, there used to be houses and churches and stores all around, but most either floated away, or have been demolished.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images – Team Getty Images (from L-R): Streeter Lecka, Chris Graythen, Brock Smith and Travis Lindquist

I’m glad that I got to show my co-workers, and good friends that while the city is well prepared to handle tourists and put on a good show for the BCS, the NBA All-Star, the Arenabowl, and other major events, there is still a lot of work to be done, and recovery is moving forward, but is going to take a while.

So come on down, wether for a sporting event, Mardi Gras, or just to experience a little southern hospitality and some great cajun food. And let me know if you need a tour guide! Misery tour only on request.

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  • Maxx

    I need a tour guide from Feb. 14-18… Be prepared…

  • Brandon

    One of my favorite blogs Chris. Great personal touch.