BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana State University sports fans have probably seen Dean Hotard’s signs at a few football or baseball games over the years. The large banners capture the feel or issue of the moment with art and a snappy saying.
But do you know who is behind them?
Architect Hotard aka “The Sign Man” and his crew typically display the design for that week at their tailgate. It is put on a homemade PVC stand and taken down before game time, then paraded around the stadium and brought inside for the game.
So who makes up some of The Sign Man’s crew? His wife Stacie Hotard; friends David and Denise Rodrigue; daughter Brandy Loupe (psych nurse); son Brady Hotard (civil engineer); and youngest daughter Brooke Alexander (lawyer).
The latter three play an integral part in the creative process.
The work doesn’t start until a day or two before the game. That way, the sign can reflect the most current news, he said.
“Each game I send three or four possible sign ideas on a group text, and the children, along with their spouses will bluntly critique my ideas,” Hotard said. “Eventually, I (or we) decide on an idea and go with it.”
That brings us to the magical run made by the LSU baseball team. The Tigers recently won the 2023 Men’s College World Series by defeating the Florida Gators.
Hotard, Stacie and their friends the Rodrigues made the trip to Omaha this year. Dean said it took them around 14 and a half hours to get there.
“It was the most unbelievable experience we have ever had on a sports-related road trip,” Hotard said.
They watched all eight of LSU’s games during the College World Series.
“After each game, we worked our way behind home plate to display the sign of the day,” said Hotard. These were the signs featured during the CWS. A recurring theme was LSU fans trumping the other competitors in the Jello Shot Challenge.
So how many banners has “The Sign Man” produced over the years? Hotard estimates somewhere between 150 and 200.
One became famous in 2009 when LSU baseball won its sixth national championship. Hotard went to the final three-game series versus Texas and dropped a sign over the left field wall as soon as LSU got the final out in game three. That’s when his phone started ringing off the hook.
Someone from “the Louisiana Seafood marketing association was searching for the person who made the sign that said ‘LSU fans love oysters and championships by the 1/2 dozen,'” according to Hotard.
That led to a reception for Hotard, his family and friends at Acme Oyster House in Baton Rouge. According to Hotard, the sign he hung in Omaha was framed and still hangs inside the restaurant.
So, what about the future? Hotard said the tradition is in good hands. It’s being handed down to his two grandchildren.
“With a little coaching and one weekend of ‘Sign Man Clinic,’ the boys seem to be catching on,” he said.