Spotlight on Former Athlete: John Bordelon Football 1973-76
Spotlight on Former Athlete: John Bordelon Football 1973-76
Bordelon wants UL success to be a habit
John Bordelon has a true appreciation of the 9-4 season recorded by coach Mark Hudspeth's UL Ragin' Cajuns in 2011.
Bordelon played on the last Cajun team to previously record 9 wins as a senior defensive lineman on the 9-2 squad of 1976, some 35 years before the 2011 campaign.
It had been even longer since a UL team had finished the season in a bowl game, more than 40 years since the Grantland Rice Bowl following the 1970 season, so the Cajuns' heart-pounding 32-30 victory over San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl was a night to remember.
But Bordelon's goal, as chairman of the Ragin' Cajun Athletic Foundation (RCAF), is to have that kind of success happen with much greater frequency at his alma mater.
“There have been good football teams at the University,” Bordelon said. “The problem has been sustaining it. Sometimes it has been luck. You want to have more than one year.
“A lot of things go into success. You have to have a plan to sustain that success, and we're still putting forth our plans. We have a master plan for all our facilities.
“We want to continue to help build, continue to exercise best practices, to do what others have done to be successful. At the end of the day success in college athletics comes from football and basketball, because that's where you generate the most income.”
UL had an indoor practice facility before Auburn, the 2010 national champion, so strides are being made in facilities and salaries to make the Cajun program competitive on a consistent basis. That all leads to getting better players.
“We want to eliminate reasons they don't want to come here, eliminate excuses,” Bordelon said.
Bordelon arrived at UL in 1973, in the final year of legendary coach Russ Faulkinberry. That year's team struggled to a 0-10 finish, which led to the arrival in 1974 of Augie Tammariello as the Cajuns' coach.
Tammariello's first team finished 2-9, but the Cajuns were 6-5 in 1975 and 9-2 in 1976.
“Russ truly was a good coach,” Bordelon said. “I had a lot of respect for him, and discipline was an important part of it. He was 'old school,' and there was push-back from some of the players that contributed to our lack of success.
“I remember being 2 seconds late to a pregame meal for a scrimmage, and he made me run stadiums. Russ said, 'I bet you think I'm a tough coach,' and I said, 'You didn't do anything my dad hadn't already done.' After that, we got along fine.”
But Faulkinberry was soon gone, and Tammariello brought his own brand of excitement the next year. Four years later, they won 9 games.
“We went from 0-10 to 9-2 in four years,” Bordelon said. “The 2011 Cajuns went from 3-9 to 9-4 in one year. It was a miraculous thing.”
After the 1974 season, Tammariello and his staff amplified the roster with junior college transfers to improve the squad. The 26 seniors in 1976 were a combination of signees and JC players.
“We had a comraderie and unity on offense and defense that we didn't have the year before,” Bordelon said. “You want guys you can depend on, and we bonded. We had a lot of fun.”
Bordelon quickly drew close to defensive coordinator Sam Robertson, who eventually succeeded Tammariello as UL coach in 1980.
“That first day of spring (1974), we ran up to Sam after the fourth or fifth station (of drills), and he called us Cub Scouts and told us he was tired of us loafing. He said he was going to turn us into Marines.
“He hadn't even taken the job yet, but he told us what he wanted to do.”
Conditioning drills became a hallmark for the defense under Robertson, but Bordelon and others stuck with it to help turn the program around.
“They brought a lot of energy, told us a lot of motivational stories,” said Bordelon, who remains friends with Robertson as well as dozens of teammates. “They gave us different angles for each game.”
Bordelon saw a similar drive and spirit in the 2011 Cajuns.
“They had discipline and work ethic,” Bordelon said. “When I interviewed Hud, I had a list of 20 things I wanted to talk about, and he hit on 19 of them. He paid a lot of attention to details, and knew he wanted to recruit better.
“The shape they got in for the season was phenomenal. Like our team in 1976, no starter was lost for the year with injury. That's big for a program like ours, because you generally have 22 starters and a few others you can count on, and the rest need development.”
That focus on fitness and the winning record it produced impressed Bordelon, who once considered coaching but uses many of the same skills as a successful banker in Lafayette.
“Coaching is a difficult life,” Bordelon said. “You move around a lot, and your success is determined by a lot of 18-21 year-olds.
I have a lot of respect for coach Hud. He wants his players on the front row of every class, and holds them accountable for everything they do.
“Work is the same way, that hard work ethic, being prepared. You never want to ask a question you don't have an answer for. You have to anticipate.”
Thanks to Hudspeth's dramatic first year of success, anticipation has never been higher for a Ragin' Cajun football season than it is this summer. But Bordelon and the RCAF want that to become the rule rather than the exception.
“As chairman, my strength is in organizing and incorporating a plan,” Bordelon said. “In Division I, 88 percent of schools collect student fees. We don't. We have to go against many programs that have more money. Our problem becomes how to get more money, and we're addressing that. If you want success, there is cost associated with it.
“There is a lot of growth to go.”
The Cajun program showed great promise in 2011, but there is still work to do.
“I want to see how long it takes to develop the attitude from our fan base that expects to win every game we play,” Bordelon said. “When we see that, we'll know we've arrived. I want people to be hungry to be a part of it.”
Written for the Athletic Network
John is married to Suzanne Green Bordelon, member of the Sweethearts 1973-76. Click here for the photo of the 1976 Sweethearts and captain Suzanne.
Click here for John and his 1974 football teammates. You may click each of the years 1973-76 for those photos.
John Bordelon, Alumni Association President, honors Hollis Conway at Cajun Field for winning the silver metal in the high jump of the 1988 Summer Olympics.
Click here for the AN profile of John Bordelon.
Click here for the beginning of the Ragin' Cajuns Athletic Foundation in 2009 and click on the RCAF interview with John Bordelon on the right side of the top row.
Our rich athletic traditions were entrusted to the vision, hope, loyalty, and dedication of those former athletes and we will forever owe them a debt of sincere gratitude. May God bless each of them and their families.
Anyone with information, materials, pictures, memorabilia, etc., of the university's former athletic program participants is requested to contact Ed Dugas at email@example.com Thank you.
The Photo Gallery Link located on the left side of the home page at www.athleticnetwork.net contains over 10,000 pictures of former and current athletes and support groups. Just click on photo gallery and when the menu appears, click on the sport or support group you wish to view. The years of pictures posted for that team or group will appear and you may click on the year you wish to view. One click on a thumbnail picture or narrative and it is enlarged; a click on the enlarged photo and it reverts back to the thumbnail.
The Athletic Network seeks to post pictures of each team and support group for each year they represented the university.
The stories of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 honorees featured in the Spotlight on Former Athletes are still included in the News Page and may be viewed by clicking on "more news" at the bottom right of the News Box, scrolling down, clicking on the title of the story. Those spotlight features which are no longer shown in the News Page, have been moved to the Lagniappe Link of the "History of UL Athletics" located on the left side of the home page.
The Spotlight on Former Athletes announcement has also been placed in the profile of each honoree, excluding the pictures.
Ed Dugas served as feature writer.
January - Tim Thompson Men's Basketball 1957-61.
February - Gene Bacque Baseball 1956 & 57.
March – Dr. Louis Bowers – Tennis 1956-58, Track 1955, Coaches 1964-66.
April - Dr. Carter Lomax, Jr. Tennis 1974-76.
May - Johnny Morris, Jr. Football 1927-29,Men's Basketball 1927-30,Track & Field 1928-30, Golf 1927-28, Coaches 1947-49 .
June - S.L.I.I. Athletic Pioneers I
July - S.L.I.I. Athletic Pioneers II
August - 1912 - A Special Year - First L'Acadien
September – Glenn Davis Lafleur Football 1966-69
October - Bill Bass – Boxing 1938 & 39, Football 1938-40, Coach 1971-75 & 1983
November - Tom Nolan – Cross Country & Track & Field 1971-76, Coaches 1978-83
December – Military Personnel – Military Page posted
Ed Dugas served as feature writer.
January - Alvin Dark Football, '43; Basketball, Baseball, Golf, Track, '44; Coaches, 1947.
February - Alyson Habetz Women's Basketball 1991-95 and Softball, 1991-94.
March - Ron Guidry Baseball 1968-70.
April - Edgar "Glynn" Abel Baseball 1939, Track & Field 1937-39, Football 1937-39.
May -Christian Keener "Red" Cagle Baseball 1925-26, Basketball (M) 1922-26, Football 1922-25.
June - Paul "Buddy" Short Golf 1962-65.
July - Louis "Louie" Campbell Boxing and Football 1940-41.
August - Dudley Wilkins Track & Field 1933-35.
September - Brad Hamilton Football 1963-66.
October - Brian Mitchell Football 1986-89.
November - Kimberly "Kim" Callaway Morvant Volleyball 1988-91.
December - Kenneth "Mike" Stansbury Weightlifting 1956 - 1957.
Ed Dugas served as the initial feature writer and continued until Bruce Brown began writing in 2010.
June – Michael Langston Football 1973-77;
July – Hollis Conway Track & Field 1986-89;
August – Leigh Hennessy Gymnastics/Trampoline 1976-1980;
September - Dean Church Basketball (M) 1961-65;
October - Dr. David Fisher Football 1946-49 Track & Field 1947-50;
November - Kim Perrot Basketball (W) 1986-90;
December - John McDonnell Cross Country/Track & Field 1966-1969;
Peace, Ed Dugas
Ed Dugas, Coordinator