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Friday, March 14, 2008

Hot news in Hot-lanta

ATLANTA - LSU's men's basketball team may have had a brief appearance in the Southeastern Conference Tournament here, but it continues to be the talk of the town because of its two major job openings.

The imminent hiring of Virginia Commonwealth coach Anthony Grant to be LSU's men's basketball coach has been a major topic of discussion among the flock of athletic directors, assistant athletic directors, coaches and the like in town. Most of the coaches Grant worked with while an assistant at Florida remain at Florida. Another coaching friend of Grant's from his Florida days is Arkansas first-year coach John Pelphrey.

South Carolina, which also has an opening for a basketball coach, was once thought to be a contender for Grant, but it has virtually conceded the fact that LSU will get him.

Georgia could enter the Grant sweepstakes should it pull the trigger on struggling, five-year coach Dennis Fulton. Fulton is still alive, though, as the Bulldogs won a thrilling, overtime game on a banked buzzer beater by Dave Bliss late Thursday night despite two fouls of Ole Miss shooters in 3-point range at critical times in regulaton and overtime.

Grant, who is represented by a major agent player in Atlanta called Career Sports & Entertainment (CS&E), could have his head turned by Georgia, which has the talent-rich Atlanta area from which to recruit. LSU could still be seen as a more attractive a job than Georgia, which has an aging arena that is often criticized.

LSU does not have the most modern arena either, but it's probably better than Georgia's. Grant would likely find it tougher in the SEC East with the likes of real programs like Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Vanderbilt. The West is usually very average with most of the programs just passing time until football season. Grant could dominate that division. He won't dominate the East. There has been talk of eliminating the basketball divisions in the SEC, though.

Meanwhile, Atlanta may be involved in the LSU athletic director search as well.

Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich, who operated virtually as an athletic director under outgoing LSU athletic director Skip Bertman from 2001-06, could be a major candidate for the LSU job if he wants to be. There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Radakovich is interested. Atlanta is a much better place to live than Baton Rouge, and the traffic is not much worse if it is. But Georgia Tech is not the national player that LSU is on several levels.

If not Radakovich, LSU's next athletic director will likely be Florida Atlantic athletic director Craig Angelos. Angelos is a rising star in the business. Bertman nearly hired him back in 2001, but he chose Radakovich instead. Angelos visited LSU during the interview process and was shown around campus. Angelos' name was added to LSU's pool of candidates last week by LSU's search committee, which is working with the Parker Executive Search firm, which is based in Atlanta.


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