Emile Fournet

Emile Fournet played on LSU's Chinese Bandits defensive unit during the 1958 national championship season.

Editor's note: The Advocate is counting down the days to LSU's Sept. 4 season opener against Florida State with excerpts from the book "LSU By the Numbers." Friday marks 65 days until kickoff, so we're looking back at the Tigers' greatest No. 65, Emile Fournet:

65 Emile Fournet

DT/OG, 1957-59

There was probably no family that had a greater legacy in LSU football in the 1950s than the Fournets.

Sid Fournet was an All-American for the Tigers in 1954 and went on to play seven seasons in the NFL. And younger brother Emile Fournet was a member of the Chinese Bandits, probably the most celebrated third string in college football history.

“The Bandits,” Fournet said, “were quick and fiery.” And famous, once LSU started climbing the national rankings, allowing coach Paul Dietzel’s three-platoon system of the White Team, Go Team and Chinese Bandits to gain notoriety.

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Born in 1938, Fournet said he didn’t feel any pressure to go to or stay away from LSU in the wake of his brother’s celebrated career with the Tigers.

“I was just a kid who played football to have fun and wanted to go there,” Fournet said. “Paul Dietzel came (to Bogalusa) to scout me, and I said, ‘Sure.’”

While Fournet and the rest of the Bandits played most of the 1958 season on defense, they had to know some offense, too. Fournet was a right tackle on defense and left guard on offense.

With their three units, the Tigers were able to wear down other teams that depended primarily on their first-stringers. The White Team ended up playing a little more than half of each game, while the Go team and the Bandits split the rest of the playing time. It also helped team morale to have, in a sense, 33 “starters” instead of just 11, a mental plus in LSU’s march toward that season’s national championship.

With one of the Tigers’ few seniors from 1958, Larry Kahlden, departing, Fournet moved up to the White Team for the 1959 season. LSU, the preseason No. 1 this time, stomped through its first seven opponents to extend its winning streak to 19 games dating back to the 1957 season finale against Tulane (still a school record). That win streak culminated with the Tigers' legendary 7-3 Halloween night win over Ole Miss, but the Tigers fell the following week 14-13 at Tennessee and would finish No. 3 in the final polls behind Syracuse and Ole Miss.

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