If you are over the age of 50, do you remember where you were 40 years ago Sunday?

Unless it’s your anniversary, probably not. Crazy if you did.

It’s not my wedding anniversary, but I am crazy, so I remember.

Forty years ago in late August, Sheriff J.R. “Snap” Oakes drove me to Joe Aillet Field House on the Louisiana Tech campus and told me I was going to be the equipment manager of the Tech football team. I told him I wasn’t and that I had a good job at Beacon Gas Plant, which is why I had concrete all over me at the time and smelled like a dumpster. (He’d picked me up at my house 30 minutes earlier as I was getting out of my car in Homer after coming home from work.)

He said I WAS going to Tech, and that I could be in real jail under his watch eventually—he was playing the odds—or in college jail in a week or two when two-a-days started. A few days later I was learning how to put a facemask on a football helmet.

Anyway, 40 years ago right now it was a Thursday, September 14 (it’s a Friday in 2018) and we were getting ready for the season home-opener against Tennessee-Chattanooga. We should beat anybody with a hyphen in their name, right? NEG? We came in second, 12-7, on a soggy night in Joe Aillet Stadium. (We beat them the next year in Chattanooga in their neat old cozy stadium.)

That loss was on Saturday, September 16. Forty years ago Sunday. Except 40 years ago it was on a Saturday.

I know. I don’t know why I remember this stuff either…

We had 133 yards in total offense. Three interceptions hurt us. We gave up 243 total yards, which isn’t a lot. But all I could think of was we had practiced for three weeks and scored one more touchdown than I would have scored by myself if I HADN’T practiced and had kept working at Beacon Gas.

Of course it was one of the best things that ever happened to me, getting dropped off at Tech. Which is another story for another time.

But the point of this brief essay is, if your team starts out badly, don’t panic. We went on to win the Southland Conference title and make it to the Independence Bowl. September is the beginning, not the ending.