LSU football pride

Mike the Tiger stands guard at Tiger Stadium

It’s not yet fall, but LSU football fever already is building. The three-time national champions will take to the field Aug. 30, and from that point on the team will be in pursuit of a fourth NCAA national championship.

LSU football mascot Mike the Tiger

A bronze of LSU football mascot Mike the Tiger stands before the west gates of Tiger Stadium.

Mike the Tiger is part of the LSU tradition that began in 1934 when then Athletic Director trainer Chellis Mike Chambers, Athletic Director T.P. Heard, swimming pool manager and intramural swimming coach William G. Hickey Higginbotham, and LSU law student Ed Laborde began a campaign to bring a live tiger to the college. The group raised $750 by collecting 25 cents from each student, and purchased a 250-pound, 1-year-old tiger from the Little Rock (Arkansas) Zoo.

The tiger, originally known as Sheik, was renamed “Mike” in honor of Chambers. Mike I was brought to the LSU campus on Oct. 21, 1936, with onlookers lining Highland Road. Students staged a campus strike to welcome their new mascot, and Mike I assumed his officials duties three days later.

Mike I served for 21 years, traveling with the team and making appearances at home games to intimidate the team’s opponents

LSU football mascot Mike the Tiger

A bronze of LSU mascot Mike the Tiger seems to be prowling in front of the LSU football stadium.

Mike I died on June 29, 1956, of complications associated with kidney disease. He has been succeeded by five Bengal tigers, all named Mike. Mike the Tiger stopped traveling with the football team 1970 after his cage overturned on the way to a game. But the tradition of home-game appearances continue today.

Mike VI is now housed in a state-of-the-art, 15,00-square-foot facility outside the north gates of Tiger Stadium, where fans can watch their mascot prowl and lounge around.

His bronze likeness also stands guard at the west gate, posed in an eternal roar.

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About Andy Crawford

Andy Crawford has been a photographer and writer for more than 20 years, with thousands of images and articles published in magazines and newspapers around the country. He now focuses on Louisiana photography, landscapes, HDR photography, urban prints and other fine art photography. He also is a portrait photographer.