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The LSU Cow Suit of '02 (

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    Stoops Does Work

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By Mark Story

Replayed over and over on cable TV sports networks, they have become iconic images on the American sports canvas.

The premature Gatorade bath given to the coach who turned out to be the game's loser.

Fireworks shot into the air to celebrate a home team's victory literally as the game was being lost.

It's now been four seasons since LSU's Marcus Randall and Devery Henderson combined on that 75-yard, last-play miracle touchdown pass that, depending on your perspective, is known as the Bluegrass Miracle/Nightmare.

Yet, as Kentucky and LSU prepare to meet Saturday for the first time since the 33-30 LSU stunner of 2002, at least two vital questions remain.

1.) How in the heck could a whole gaggle of Kentucky defenders fail to knock down that confounded pass?

2.) What was up with that dude in the cow suit?

For Kentucky fans, the first question, I fear, will never yield a satisfactory answer.

But I can help on the second.

If you read the Herald-Leader game coverage on Nov. 10, 2002, you almost certainly recall a picture (taken by Charles Bertram) that ran on the newspaper's front page. It showed a dejected UK cornerback, Leonard Burress, kneeling, a look of shocked disbelief on his face.

Behind Burress in the photo was a guy shouting in exultation -- who appeared to be wearing a purple-and-gold cow suit.

If you're even remotely like me, your reaction when you saw the picture was, what the bleep?

His name is Joey Herzog. On Nov. 9, 2002, the Kenner, La., native was a 21-year-old LSU student who, along with four classmates, had piled into a "small SUV" and driven all night from Baton Rouge to be in Commonwealth Stadium.

These were college kids on college budgets so there was no money for a motel. What there was no shortage of, however, was that quaint old concept known as school spirit.

Herzog and his pals decided that just going to the games and cheering wasn't nearly enough.

"We wanted to make a statement," Herzog says. "We wanted the nation to see we were really excited about football at LSU. We wanted recruits to look at us and say, 'Man, it's insane over at LSU.'"

The way to send the nation this message? In the reasoning of a group of college kids, it was obvious. Attend games in costume. Think purple-and-gold Elvis and Batman.

But a cow suit?

"I just thought it was funny," Herzog says.

The cow gets decked

Shortly before the trek to Lexington, Herzog says he went to a Halloween store, plopped down some $20, and bought a "regular black-and-white cow suit, and I painted it purple and gold myself."

What Herzog remembers of the most famous college football ending ever (non-Stanford band division) is the fireworks. In his line of sight, he was following the arc of Randall's pass as UK's premature celebratory fireworks exploded.

Then came the chaos.

Time had already expired when Henderson entered the end zone. Thousands of UK fans were lining the field, having been prepared to tear down the goal posts after the upset of No. 16 LSU.

Now, they were joined by LSU fans who were celebrating with the ecstasy that comes only from watching a favorite team dodge what had seemed certain defeat.

"We were just pure energy," Herzog says. "I was so ecstatic. I was just running."

Without any intention, Herzog says, his celebration wound up directly behind Burress, the UK defensive back who was among the players on the field when LSU scored.

Kneeling on the turf, Burress says he kept watching the replay of the final play being shown on Commonwealth Stadium's video screens.

"I was just in utter disbelief about the whole thing." Burress says.

Eventually, Burress says he became aware of someone behind him shouting, "Oooh, we won!!! I knew we would win!!! Kentucky sucks!!!"

Herzog, for his part, says he has no recollection of saying anything derogatory about Kentucky. "I wasn't trash-talking at all," he says. "I was just excited."

At the time, Burress says, he had no idea the guy behind him "was in a cow suit. I was thinking I need to turn around and defend my school. But one of our fans just decked him."

In a sequence of pictures that our newspaper did not run at the time, an unidentified man is seen tackling the cow.

A Louisville TV station, however, had the events on film and did use it. During the weeks after the game, that tape of the "guy in the cow suit going down" became an Internet sensation on UK sports message boards.

Herzog says he did not see the man who tackled him. "Totally blindsided," he says. At the time it happened, he says, he thought Kentucky football player Claude Sagaille (No. 31 in the accompanying pictures) had hit him.

For what it's worth, the tackle of the cow didn't hurt.

"I didn't even feel it," Herzog says. "I was so happy, nothing could bring me down."

The aftermath

The Sunday after the game, Herzog and his crew were back in Baton Rouge, having again driven all night.

His phone rang. A buddy in the LSU band was calling to tell Herzog that his picture was on the front page of the Lexington paper.

"I couldn't believe it," Herzog says.

Next day, Herzog says his mom called Lexington and bought several copies of the paper.

Today, the guy in the cow suit is doing graduate work at Notre Dame toward a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

In his dorm room in South Bend, Ind., he reports that he has a framed copy of the cow picture, a ticket stub from that 2002 UK-LSU game and a small piece of the Commonwealth Stadium sod.

He says he meets Notre Dame students from Kentucky who will see the photo, say they were at that game and ask, "You were the guy in the cow suit?"

Of course, from the local perspective, there would have been a far better ending had Kentucky knocked down that pass instead of knocking down the guy in the cow suit.

Still, down in the Memphis, Tenn., home of Leland and Shirley Burress, they too have the photo of their son on the front page of the paper.

Losing a football game in such a shocking manner is a pain that never fully goes away, Leonard Burress says.

"At least," Burress says, "I got a funny picture out of it."


Here you can see the UK fan grabbing Herzog and tackling him. There are other photos, but for some reason, the website loaded this one in all of the slideshow frames.  It's hilarious anyway:
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The Architect

The Architect

    drawin' pitchers n' such

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That was hilarious when cow-dude got clocked! Somebaody should do a story on the tackler!! The game sucked. THE WORST UK football memory I have. The blocked field goal @ Papa Johns in 2000 is second. 7 OT loss to Arkansas is third. (These are all first-hand experiences, mind you).

On any other day, I would have really liked the cow suit dude. That was some funny get-up!

AU Blaaaaaaaake

AU Blaaaaaaaake
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I bet he smelled like a corn-dog too!

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AU Blaaaaaaaake said:

I bet he smelled like a corn-dog too!

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