LSU honored longtime equipment manager Jeff Boss on Sept. 29, 2003, as the school named the football locker room for him at a ceremony that saw dozens of former Tiger football players return to campus for the event.
Boss, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after the Tigers returned from the Cotton Bowl last January, passed away less than a month later on Oct. 27, losing his 10th-month battle with brain cancer. Boss, a native of Lake Charles, La., and a graduate of McNeese State University, continued to work while undergoing treatment for his illness until June. His memorial service on Oct. 29 was attended by hundreds as former players, current and former coaches as well as many of his friends from all over the country stopped to pay their respects.
"Jeff, this is a real tribute to you and I hope you know and appreciate why all these people are here and what this is all about," LSU Chancellor Dr. Mark Emmert said at the ceremony. "When you build a program like the athletic program and like Louisiana State University, what you're so proud of isn't just wins and losses or all the statistics, it's the culture that gets built around that program. It's the people that come into it and the unique flavor that gets built into a program that's as wonderful as LSU.
"For 24 years you've been the core of building that culture and that community. Somebody who is always there, always did his job, always supported people, always represented the University in a first-class way, always did things behind the scenes that other people need to be successful and did it without complaints, did it with enthusiasm. That's a remarkable thing to contribute. That's why these people are here--because you touched all these lives. Not because you were just good at your job, but because you touched people and you shaped the culture of the University that continues forever and ever. And for that we cannot thank you enough. It's a wonderful, wonderful legacy and we're very, very proud of you and we're very, very honored to have you as our friend."
Boss wasn't on the sidelines for LSU's game against Louisiana-Monroe to open the 2003 season, the first time he's missed an LSU game in 24 years. Two weeks later, LSU coach Nick Saban along with a dozen football players visited Boss at his home and presented him with a game ball from the Louisiana-Monroe contest.
LSU has since dedicated the 2003 season to Boss and the Tigers will wear the letters "JB" on their back of their helmets for the remainder of the season. In addition, the Tigers will wear a black patch with the letters "JB" on their jerseys for the remainder of the season.
During his illustrious career, one that saw Boss always work behind the scenes with little or no fanfare, he was named the winner of the Glenn Sharp Award in 1990, which goes annually to the Equipment Manager of the Year as chosen by his peers. Boss' years of expertise in the field of equipment management also aided him in the design and development of a football shoe, the "Boss Shark", which was nationally marketed for intercollegiate play by Nike.
"I don't think there is anyone in this program in the four years I have been here, that has given more unselfish devotion to LSU, but probably more importantly to the players themselves," LSU coach Nick Saban said. "I think the most special quality that Jeff has is that he never thinks about himself. He never thinks of himself first. He has an unbelievable ability to put the other persons feelings first. That quality above all others is something special that I wish everyone had and I know that it would make the world a much better place.
"There is not one person in our organization that the players hold in higher regard for what he does for them. I know that people like Jeff Boss make our job possible and we thank you for that. I cannot express the gratitude and appreciation that we have as coaches and players for all that you have done for us."
Boss came to LSU from Morgan City High School, where he served as a teacher and football coach for five years. He also held similar positions at Kaplan High School in 1974-75. Boss began his athletic administration career at Franklin Junior High in 1972 before serving as athletic director and head football coach there in 1973-74.
Boss is survived by his wife, the former Karen Ibert of Franklin, La., and a 13-year old daughter, B.J.
Please click here to view the photos from this ceremony.