Today we are sharing the story of how one of the coolest team nicknames, the Louisiana – Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, came about. The Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute opened in 1901, with a total enrollment of 100 students. The years that followed would witness the school becoming known first as Southwestern Louisiana Institute of Liberal and Technical Learning (SLILTL) and then simply Southwestern Louisiana. Eventually, the school would change its name to Louisiana University, though the state legislature would overturn that, leading to its current name of Louisiana – Lafayette, because of its location. The school has an enrollment of more than 17,000 and has received accolades from several publications, including U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review.
So while the school changed its name several times, the teams did not. For the first 60 years, the University had kept the nickname of the Bulldogs. This mascot was identified by an actual bulldog that would lead the team onto the field before most of the football games. So with a 60-year history as the Bulldogs, how and why did Southwestern Louisiana become the Ragin’ Cajuns? In the early 1960’s, Head Football Coach Russ Faulkinberry needed a way to fire up his football team. He began to call his team the Raging Cajuns since 95 percent of the football team was from the Acadiana area. The Acadiana area was home to French-Canadians that settled in the area in the late 1700’s after being forced to leave Nova Scotia. They retained the French language, and a distinct cultural identity. When bits and pieces of these other cultures were added to the Acadians, a variation was created, and the people and culture would become known as Cajun. As you might expect, fans loved the name as it represented all that is the Cajun culture and the Acadiana area. Sports Information Director Bob Henderson decided to honor the team and the Cajun heritage by calling them the Raging Cajuns. The nickname of the Bulldogs was officially replaced in 1962, and eventually the apostrophe was added, making the name, Ragin’ Cajuns.
Note the pepper used the apostrophe at the end of the word Ragin’.
76 more days until college football kicks off!
Our countdown started with the history of different school nicknames:
Friday – Demon Deacons
Saturday – Eagles
Monday – Falcons
Tuesday – Gators
Wednesday – Hokies
Thursday – Jayhawks
Friday – Knights
Monday – Lobos
Tuesday – Minutemen
Wednesday – Nittany Lions (Sick Thursday and Friday)
Monday – Owls (Sick Tuesday)
Wednesday – Pirates
Thursday – No team starts with Q
To answer a few questions:
After we make it though the alphabet once, we will go through the other rest of the team nicknames. It won’t be alphabetical, but at the end, have a summary so you can easily find out about an name that you wonder about.