On Saturday night, when the Tigers take on Alabama in Tuscaloosa, no one will mess with Les.
As the LSU head football coach treks back and forth along the sidelines, he will be stalked by a 6-foot-4 shadow — 320-pound Bryan Madden, a Louisiana State Police sergeant, former LSU football player and fried wing enthusiast.
Madden has been at the coach’s side at every home and away game for the past eight seasons.
So far, Miles’ most visible bodyguard says he has never had to get physical with anyone, “but it’s only year eight.”
On the road, home teams, including those of the crimson persuasion, are responsible for providing police to help get Miles and his family to and from the game.
But if LSU beats Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Madden will have his hands full, saying with a laugh that sometimes their police officers have “other places to be.”
He is sometimes surprised at how close LSU fans like to get to Miles. How does the 46-year-old Madden handle that?
“No one messes with my coach,” he says.
Madden said he and Miles joke that there are palm prints on people’s chests across the SEC from Madden making his way through crowds of rowdy fans.
“You put that uniform and that hat on and it just kind of changes,” the state trooper says.
Madden was born and raised in Indianapolis and had never been further than Tennessee before he came to LSU in 1991 to play offensive and defensive tackle.
Initially, he played football at Purdue University but followed his defensive coordinator to LSU for a better opportunity at making it to the pros. As the trooper puts it, those were “not so golden years” for the Tigers. Even so, he insists, “it was still LSU football and a great opportunity.”
Playing professionally was the goal, but Madden says he came to realize that while football was his love, law enforcement was his passion. He started training at the police academy the spring after he graduated from LSU with a degree in mass communication.
Madden said Col. Mike Edmonson, security for LSU coaches the previous 26 years who went on to command State Police, encouraged him to pursue this career path. In August 2008, Madden was chosen to take over Edmonson’s position and become Miles’ new shadow.
“I originally was thinking about saying no because I liked my Saturdays off, but it’s hard to say no to making a difference,” Madden says. “I kind of like giving back.”
He is on official duty for home games, but, while the state pays for his board and room at away games, he volunteers his time.
As a former player, Madden says he hopes he can be an example for current student athletes, proving there is a future outside of professional football.
“You’d be surprised how many doctors are former LSU players,” he says. “This is the kind of stuff these kids need to see. There’s a whole life outside of football.”
Despite obvious benefits and sideline views of every game, his job is no walk on the field. Madden won’t allow himself to be a fan while on duty.
The hardest part, he says, is staying calm during exciting game moments, keeping his arms folded and eyes focused, anticipating what might happen next. There is no room for slip-ups, not even a clap of the hand after a winning touchdown.
But Madden is not just a stern, confident face; the man has insecurities, too. He talks about losing weight for the camera so his grandma won’t call him and say, “Baby, you look kind of puffy on TV.”
“The camera is not your friend,” Madden said, laughing.
He cuts out carbs three days before a big game and tries to maintain a workout schedule to stay in shape, although he acknowledges it isn’t always easy with the busy schedule in the fall.
During the week, Madden works on the governor’s protection team and is primarily assigned to Bobby Jindal’s children but occasionally travels with the governor.
“I spent a lot of time at daycare,” Madden says as he talked fondly of both Jindal’s and Miles’ children who went to the same center.
Jindal sometimes brags that Madden is Miles’ bodyguard, and Miles likes to mention Madden’s duty with the governor. Madden said he would stay working for them both “as long as they’ll let me. It’s a pretty coveted spot.”
Between his jobs, Madden, who lives in Gonzales with his wife, likes to enjoy some chicken wings, fried well.
Through all the hard work, celebrity status friends and traveling perks, Madden insists it has “never changed who I am.”
Spending every game day on fields across the SEC is something he calls a pretty good deal. Tiger Stadium is still his favorite.
“There’s nothing like it,” Madden says, “and I’ve been a lot of places.”