Johnny Football is coming to Death Valley, where one of college football's most imposing traditions awaits the SEC's most exciting player.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel makes what is expected to be his one and only visit to LSU's Tiger Stadium on Saturday in a game nationally televised by CBS. A big performance against the Tigers would surely boost Manziel's chances of winning a second consecutive Heisman Trophy, but he'll have to conquer one of the game's great home-field advantages. For opponents, perhaps there is no better symbol of the intimidation factor at LSU than the school's live tiger mascot, Mike.
As we continue our season-long look at the great traditions of college football, this week we look at the origins of LSU's famous symbol. Mike the Tiger made his debut at LSU in 1936 after students raised money -- literally a quarter at a time -- for a live mascot. Since then, six generations of live tigers have represented LSU, making Mike a vibrant part of the university, its football program and the experience at Tiger Stadium. Over the years, Mike has entertained millions of fans in stadiums and on television and created some lore along the way. There was the time Mike III escaped his enclosure in 1998 and roamed the campus for an unsupervised stroll, checking out the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and the university's track stadium. And more than a few opponents have had their back hair raised by a well-placed Mike and a well-timed roar.
Mike VI has been LSU's mascot since 2007, and lives in a 15,000-square foot habitat fit for the lord of the Bayou. He weights approximately 500 pounds and eats approximately 175 pounds of food per week.
For the record, Manziel weighs 210 pounds. It remains to be seen if Mike and the Tigers will bite off more than they can chew on Saturday.