The end zones will be painted purple and gold, as usual, and the iconic Tiger eye will be prevalent at midfield when the LSU band takes the field for its time-honored pregame ritual in Tiger Stadium on Saturday.
As always, LSU will occupy its locker room beneath the north end zone stands and its players will make the short dash over to the west sideline when the Tigers burst out of the chute that leads to the field.
But there will be one big difference for LSU’s Southeastern Conference matchup against South Carolina, which was moved Wednesday to Baton Rouge because of recent flooding in that state: The Tigers will wear their purple road jerseys in a conference game for the first time in more than two decades.
Because it’s a South Carolina home game despite the late change in venue, the Gamecocks had the choice of jersey color and coach Steve Spurrier planned since the summer months to have a “white-out” game this week.
South Carolina stuck with that plan when the school announced late Wednesday morning it was moving the game in the wake of the devastating flooding in and around Columbia.
LSU athletic department officials stressed Wednesday that South Carolina is still the home team despite its surroundings Saturday.
“Our goal is to make South Carolina feel at home … we want our fans to make them feel at home,” LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said. “We really hope our fans come out and support this game, and support both teams. So we’ll treat South Carolina as the host team, for the most part.”
That includes wearing its choice of jersey color, per NCAA rules.
“We knew that going in,” LSU associate athletic director Eddie Nunez said. “Coach Spurrier requested to wear white this summer. Again, it’s their home game and we support them.”
LSU coach Les Miles, who had to move his first home game as the Tigers’ coach to Arizona State in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, said hosting South Carolina was “exactly the right thing to do.”
Even if it means having to don purple jerseys in Tiger Stadium for a second week in a row after wearing them on Saturday against Eastern Michigan.
“We wore purple last week and kind of enjoyed that, and we’ll wear purple again this week,” Miles said. “It’s their ‘home’ game. They can wear any color they want, and I’m for ’em. We’re very fortunate to have colors we enjoy, and we’ll wear them and be awfully proud of them.
“It’s unfortunate they can’t host a home game in their own stadium,” he said. “Obviously, we have a real quality venue that can accommodate the game. That was the right thing to do. … We’re good with it.”
The last time LSU wore purple for an SEC game on its home field was when Alabama beat the Tigers 35-17 on Nov. 5, 1994. That was the year before Gerry DiNardo became coach and successfully petitioned the NCAA to allow schools to wear white at home, with permission of the opponent.
The last time LSU was forced to wear purple jerseys for an SEC game was in 2009 at Mississippi State, when the Tigers beat the Bulldogs 30-26.
They wore gold jerseys against Vanderbilt in 1996 when Rod Dowhower, who succeeded DiNardo as coach there, refused to let LSU wear white in Tiger Stadium and again in 1998 at Florida when Spurrier was the head ball coach there.
Alleva said some people asked about painting the end zones in Carolina’s primary colors of garnet and white, but having a home game here next week against Florida prevented them from doing that.
“While we really think it’s a great idea, we’re not going to be able to do that,” he said. “The field basically is going to be the same as it is always for an LSU game.”
During pregame, South Carolina players and coaches as well as fans who can make the trip will hear the sounds of their fight song and alma mater, courtesy of LSU’s Golden Band from Tigerland.
“We contacted the South Carolina band directors and asked if they would like for us to perform the alma mater and fight song as a courtesy for not being able to bring a pep band,” said Roy King, director of athletics bands at LSU.
King said they obtained the music Wednesday morning and planned for the 325-member Tiger Band to rehearse it Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“It was our first thought with all the people over there,” he said. “First, we hope they’re all OK and they weathered the storm without injury. We know the band directors very well and they’d do the same thing for us.
“We’re quite certain of that, they would do the same things.
“I took a look at the music and think we can do it (with just a couple of days preparation),” King said. “I only hope we can play it as well as the South Carolina band plays it.”
Even if it’s a little strange for the Tiger Stadium faithful.
“Overall, we’ve had very good response,” Alleva said. “Everybody has been very understanding and willing to make this work.
“Again, it’s a home game for South Carolina, but our fans and our groups that work all our games are on board and willing to make this a great experience.”
Advocate sportswriter Ross Dellenger contributed to this story.