Of course Bryan Madden is a tough guy.
After all, he’s 6-foot-4, 300 pounds and a Louisiana state trooper. And not just any state trooper, but perhaps the most visible of them all: He’s the one who guards the LSU football coach.
Pregame, during the action and postgame, Madden is there, looking tall (“because of the hat,” he insists) stone-faced and ready for the worst-case scenario.
“I’m always thinking of what could happen,” he says. “And predicting. You’re always looking ahead, and I pride myself on it and I think I do it well.”
But Madden is also known by his friends as the man who loves to hug, share a laugh, and lose his mind when watching his wife coach the Parkview Baptist volleyball team.
Manning the front-row spot at everything LSU football, by the way, is his off-duty job. Madden is also part of the governor’s detail. Oh, the places he’s been and the people he’s met by guarding first Bobby Jindal and now John Bel Edwards.
Not bad for a lineman from inner-city Indianapolis, who started his own college football career at Purdue—where wife Becky also played volleyball, although they wouldn’t get together until later. He wound up transferring to LSU in 1991, following coach Phil Bennett.
Back then, Madden hoped to become a pro football player, but life had other plans. By the time the LSU football gig came up in 2008, he’d already been a state trooper for nearly 15 years.
He gives the credit for his re-entry into the sports world to LSU deputy director of athletics Verge Ausberry, another former Tiger football player. Ausberry wanted LSU players to see someone who was one of them in that role.
“He was talking to a guy who loves watching football on Saturdays, cooking and drinking and having a good time,” Madden says with a laugh, remembering when he was first approached about the football role. “So I initially would have said no.
“But after he said the part about how these kids need to see the view that if you don’t go pro what’s out there. And he said, ‘I think you’re that view.’ And how do you say no to that?”
“Since then, we’ve probably had five [former players] who have joined the state police.”
It was also in 2008 that Madden joined the Jindal detail, just a few weeks before he began his LSU position. It’s not lost on him all the places his day job and LSU football gig combined have brought him. He ticks off destinations like Lambeau Field in Green Bay; Banff, Canada; and Osaka, Japan.
“Both jobs have had just amazing opportunities to travel,” Madden says.
He turned 50 last month. He still loves LSU football just as much as always, and like anyone watching, he gets caught up in the moment.
But he relies on his training to maintain self control. For all those years with Les Miles and now Ed Orgeron, the focus has to be the coach’s safety, above all.
“When you see me hug myself during a game, that’s me staying professional,” Madden says. “I think it’s easier for people to accept you if you’re not a fan.
“Even Coach O says, ‘Bryan, smile. We just won.’ But until I get to the locker room, I really don’t let loose.”
Just don’t sit too close to that bear of a man when Parkview Baptist is locked in a close volleyball match.
“I get really excited,” he says, laughing.
This article was originally published in the August 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.
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