SMU's Larry Brown scolds students for choosing Mardi Gras over March Madness
MAR 01, 2014 8:38p ET
Brown noticed empty seats in the student sections during Saturday's 70-55 win over UCF, despite the game officially being a sellout. He made a point of expressing his disappointment in his postgame press conference.
"I didn't see all our students," Brown said. "That kind of bugged me a little bit. Maybe it's the weather. Is there a beach around here?"
Brown's comment drew laughter from reporters. Then someone mentioned that a lot of students were probably in New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
"Mardi Gras, that's what I heard," Brown said. "Great programs, no matter who you play, they're there. I don't take it lightly, the support we've had has been great. They've meant a lot to us."
Crowd support, in particular from the students, has been a big part of No. 23-ranked SMU's resurgence this season. The Mustangs have sold out six games and all tickets to Wednesday's game against No. 7 Louisville have already been snatched up.
Students have camped out in freezing weather to get seats. But even a Top 25 team has a hard time competing with Mardi Gras for students' attention.
"Is Mardi Gras on Wednesday?" Brown asked later. Brown was then informed that Mardi Gras is a weekend-long celebration culminating in Fat Tuesday, March 4.
Brown then recalled his days in the late 1960s as a player with the New Orleans Buccaneers of the old ABA.
"I played down there," Brown said, pausing. "They came to our games."
SMU is 15-0 at home this season, including 9-0 since Moody Coliseum (capacity 7,086) re-opened after a major renovation in January.
The noisy crowds have been a factor in games like the 21-point win over then-No. 7 Cincinnati last month.
"I want people to dread coming in here," Brown said. "We're not going to be able to hang with Louisville unless we have a better crowd than we had with Cincinnati, and I didn't think that was possible. But we'll see."
As Brown stood up to leave the press conference, he drew more laughs when he muttered with mock disgust: "Mardi Gras."
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire