The little lady wearing Tiger blue didn't seem to be a match
for the thousands of Mean Green fans rushing to get into the
New Orleans Superdome.
Street becomes a sea of blue during the U of M parade
the night before the New Orleans Bowl.
"I just had foot surgery," said the fan, Ann Martin, as she
hobbled through a massive wave of North Texas and Memphis
supporters near a stadium entrance.
That wouldn't stop the elderly lady obviously in discomfort
as she rolled left, threw a stiff arm and disappeared
into the stadium with a move that even Tiger coach Tommy West
would have appreciated.
"You do what you have to do," Martin said. "Even with a broken
leg, I would not have missed this game for the world."
Martin and her husband, Gene ('76), were just two of the
more than 12,000 Tiger fans doing what they had to do to witness
the U of M's first bowl appearance in three decades, a 27-17
victory over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl. Not since
a 28-9 Pasadena Bowl victory over San Jose State in 1971 had
Memphis played in the postseason.
Tiger supporters arrived by plane, train and automobile to
turn the Crescent City into a sea of blue. A U of M parade
the night before the Dec. 16 game closed several arteries
in the city as Bourbon Street became "Tiger Central."
"We were going to go to the bowl wherever the team went,"
said Ann Williams (BBA '63), echoing the sentiment of most
"We have been there through thick and thin so this makes
it even more special," added husband Wayne ('73). "And this
won't be the last bowl Tommy has the program headed
in the right direction."
U of M alumnus Chris Williams knew when he picked up a Memphis
newspaper in early December and saw mention of Tiger football
that the program had reached new heights.
"You get so used to seeing a small article near the end of
November with the headline, 'Tigers Lose Again,'" said Williams
(BEd '88), a former equipment manager for the Tiger football
team. "That would be it until the following football season."
Ray Daniels ('57), a past president of the Highland Hundred,
noted, "Tiger football has been like a salmon swimming upstream
we have had to start over so many times. But the wait
has been more than worth it."
the Tigers' bowl victory, the team hoisted Coach Tommy
West on their shoulders.
Former Tiger tailback Leo Cage (BSET '80), one of dozens
of former players to attend the game, said, "Words can hardly
describe what this team has done. If we keep Joe Lee Dunn
and Tommy West, we will build a powerhouse."
Memphis began the contest playing like a dominating force,
jumping to a 17-3 halftime lead on the strength of game-MVP
Danny Wimprine's 7-yard TD run and 10-yard TD pass. A 42-yard
field goal late in the contest by Stephen Goskowski helped
the Tigers thwart a North Texas comeback.
"This has been a long time coming for this University," said
West. "We fulfilled two of our goals tonight. We got to a
bowl game and we won. It is just another memory to add to
The victory concluded a memorable season for the Tigers.
Victories over Ole Miss and Louisville and a late season six-game
win streak propelled Memphis to a 9-4 campaign.