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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Early Draft look

It's never too early at ESPN to think about the 2009 draft and the network's Web site even has a 2009 mock draft.

To me, it wasn't as interesting that there were four LSU players in the first-round as the fact that there were two Ole Miss players in the first round.

The scary thing there is they will actually be coached now by Houston Nutt instead of the previous nut, Ed Orgeron.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Welcome back, baseball

Who saw that sweep of South Carolina coming? Uh, no one if they are honest.

If ever a coach and a team needed a sweep it was LSU last weekend.

Has LSU baseball turned the corner? I don't know if I would go that far. I mean this is a team still fighting to get into the SEC Tournament.

But I will say this, if LSU makes the SEC Tournament and somehow gets into the NCAA Tournament, the year will be a success.

I realize LSU baseball seasons are gauged by Omaha and not by NCAA appearances, but for this time in the program's history, getting back to the tournament would be big.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Draft Day Part II

Give the San Diego Chargers credit for rolling the dice on Jacob Hester.

The Chargers traded up in the third round to select Hester. The team is getting bashed on some Web sites for giving up too much -- a second-round pick in 2009 as well as swapping thirds this year -- on a player they could have likely have gotten without the trade.

Who knows about that? It only takes one team to keep you from getting the guy you want.

Hester should be a good fit. He can be a fullback for LaDainian Tomlinson or he can fill in as a backup since Michael Turner left for Atlanta.

That he is playing for an offensive-minded coach in Norv Turner should also certainly help.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Draft talk Day I

Man, that Les Miles must be a great coach.

Only one guy drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. And even that player, Glenn Dorsey fell to five after having been considered No. 1 or No. 2 through the whole year.

That's tough for a proud senior class.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Stay away from Dorsey, Saints

BATON ROUGE - There has been some talk that the New Orleans Saints would like to trade up from their No. 10 spot in the first round of the NFL Draft Saturday to acquire LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, who has a very good chance of being selected by the St. Louis Rams with the second pick.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis could not hide his enthusiasm for Dorsey at LSU's Pro Day last month. Dorsey is the type of player the Saints' sorrowful defense desperately needs. All he knows is winning in his four years at LSU, too, so that could do nothing but help the Saints.

Unfortunately, the Saints are the exact opposite of consistency, and should that continue I'd hate to see Dorsey subjected to the malaise that is Saints history. As much excitement as coach Sean Payton has created in his two seasons in New Orleans, he has only three more wins and one less loss than Nick Saban had in his two years with the Miami Dolphins. And most everyone sees Saban as a failure in Miami.

Payton is 18-16 as the Saints coach with a 1-1 mark in the playoffs. Saban was 15-17 with the Dolphins in a clearly better division and probably a better conference.

Payton has the exact same record that Jim Haslett had after two years. Each went 11-7 in year one, including a 1-1 trip to the playoffs. Haslett had exactly one more winning season after his first year before finally getting fired after the 2005 season. Haslett and Payton both benefitted from inheriting the easy schedule of teams that went 3-13 before them.

Who knows? Maybe Payton will end up being a consistent winner, but Saints history tells another story. The Saints have not had back-to-back winning seasons since 1991 and 1992 under coach Jim Mora. Since 1967, the only three-year winning run was 1987 through 1989. There were five years between their last two playoff seasons. Before the 2000 playoff appearance, there were seven non-playoff years.

It may not even be the best professional sports organization in the city with the New Orleans Hornets looking like one of the best teams in the NBA at the moment. The Hornets are a little friendlier as well. They're not skimming off the top of the state's budget quite as blatantly as the Saints have been for most of this decade like no other professional sports franchise in history.

If the Saints could get their act together, Dorsey as a Saint would be a great story. Here's a guy who grew up in Gonzales - right in the middle of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. He won a national championship with LSU in the Louisiana Superdome, where the Saints play. It could be perfect. But just the way the Saints are and have been worries me. I'd hate to see a guy with the class of a Glenn Dorsey end up with such a franchise.

Go elsewhere, young man.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Record money numbers

BATON ROUGE - The LSU Board of Supervisors will likely set a record today. Contracts worth in the neighborhood of $4.8 million are expected to be approved for football coach Les Miles and new basketball coach Trent Johnson at the board's monthy meetings this afternoon.

Miles, who made $1.8 million last season, will be making $3.751 million a year this fiscal year beginning on July 1 based on bonus clauses in his original contract from 2005. Since Miles' Tigers won the national championship in 2007, his contract dictates that he must be at least the third highest paid college football coach in the country.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is the highest paid college coach in the country at $4.2 million a year, according to the CoachesHotSeat.com website. USC coach Pete Carroll is No. 2 at $3.8 million. Alabama coach Nick Saban was third at $3.75 million a year, but Miles was bumped $1,000 more than that for the No. 3 slot.

The board is also expected to approve Johnson's contract, which is expected to pay him in the neighborhood of $1.2 million a year. Johnson was making between $500,000 and $600,000 as Stanford's coach.

New athletic director Joe Alleva's contract, which will pay him in the neighborhood of $500,000, should also be approved.

The bumped contract will cap off quite a month for Miles, who visited the White House on April 7 as his team was honored by President Bush for winning the national championship. On Monday, Miles had dinner with Bush and about 150 other people, including Governor Bobby Jindal, Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Hornets point guard Chris Paul, at Commander's Palace in New Orleans as Bush visited New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

"I really enjoyed it," said Miles, who spoke briefly with Bush. "And the bread pudding was outstanding."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ice hockey?

OK, it's not an athletic department-sanctioned team ... yet.

But LSU apparently has an ice hockey club that will be competing with other SEC schools.

Just think, if the SEC ever decides to get serious about this then the conference will probably whip up on the Big Ten in this sport as well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What were they thinking?

I love the NFL Network as much as the next guy, but exactly what were those folks thinking when putting together their NFL's Top 10 Footbal Factories?

I can buy Alabama when you look at the history of the NFL. And I get Miami and Michigan and Notre Dame and Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee and USC.

But Syracuse? Don't bring me that Jim Brown and Donovan McNabb crap. That's two players decades apart.

And the MAC? What were they afraid of a lawsuit.

So you're telling me that Florida State wasn't a football factory in the '80s and again in the '90s? You're telling me in this decade LSU and Texas don't belong?

Get real.

Monday, April 21, 2008

More draft talk

No matter how NFL teams try to nitpick Glenn Dorsey, he'll be gone in the first three picks of the NFL Draft.

Now, whether anyone joins him in the first round is up for debate.

Most mock drafts don't have any other LSU players going in the first round. There has been an occasional one with Early Doucet getting into the opening round.

Ali Highsmith, Chevis Jackson, Jacob Hester, Craig Steltz and Matt Flynn all look like second-day picks. But with only the first two rounds on Saturday, there's no shame in that.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hard to get excited

So on the day LSU makes a dramatic eighth inning comeback against Georgia, the Tigers' bullpen can't give the hitters a chance to finish it off in the ninth.

That is probably a heartbreaking thing to the fans who still care.

But that number is dwindling. LSU's stuck-in-the-mud baseball program makes it harder to get excited, even when the team makes a great comeback against the No. 7 team in the country.

College baseball is supposed to be a sport where you can make a quick turnaround. So far the LSU turnaround doesn't seem all that quick.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Draft dish

Just scanning the Internet and checking out a transcript from a conference call with NFL Network Draft analyst Mike Mayock gives you some insight into the upcoming draft next weekend.

NFL Network's Adam Schefter had a report about the Saints possibly trading up to the No. 2 slot to pick Glenn Dorsey. On paper, that figures to be a good move. Whether the Saints can pull it off or not, who knows.

Mayock was talking about wide receivers the other day and said if Early Doucet lasted until the third round teams would be all over him.

Remember when Doucet was a sure-fire first-round pick?

Apparently he'll be doing good to be a first-day pick.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Daniel Bradshaw couldn't hold the lead against UNO tonight and LSU lost another baseball game, 6-5.

This isn't to knock Daniel Bradshaw. I feel quite certain he isn't trying to relinquish the lead.

No, this is to question whether LSU's coaching staff has become hardheaded in the sense that it keeps running Bradshaw out there in crucial situations.

The kid is 1-5 with a 5.00 ERA. It's obvious he has good stuff -- he's averaging a strikeout per inning and opponents are hitting .269 against him -- but for whatever reason this isn't working out too well.

Maybe some appearances in a less challenging role is what is needed. Maybe he just needs confidence.

Or maybe the LSU coaches are right and he'll pitch his way through this. But the recent results open up the question.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Silly season

You can tell we're in college football's silly season when things like "ranking the coaches'' come out in various publications.

The Sporting News has one that can be found here.

LSU fans may not like what they see, but there are a few things to remember. One, opinions are just that. They are not fact. They are what someone thinks. And two, Les Miles is a hard guy to figure when it comes to rankings.

Here's what I mean, I was asked recently on a sports talk radio show how I would rate Miles as a coach.

My response ended up sounding like a politician, but it wasn't meant that way. I said you can't call him a bad coach because he just won a national title and there's no way you do that as a bad coach. But I also said, it's not like he is revolutionizing the game or anything. And he isn't. He is playing with good defenses and strong running games. The way people have won football gams for years.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Task at hand

It appears the biggest job facing Trent Johnson right now as the LSU men's basketball coach is keeping his recruiting class together.

If you're keeping score this is what you need to know: UCLA is circling around center J'Mison Morgan of Dallas. Houston point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin is planning on reopening his recruitment with LSU in the mix with Texas, A&M, OU, Baylor and others. And forward Dennis Harris of Georgia says he's still coming to LSU.

Now, this may sound crazy, but even if LSU were to lose every player in this class it may be worth it to have Johnson on board.

You have to figure that Johnson will be able to recruit now that he won't be saddled with academic restrictions. And he's proven himself to put consistent winners on the floor in his final years at Nevada and throughout his time at Stanford.

Certainly, LSU wants to keep the recruiting class. But a one-year blip may not be the worst thing that could have happened -- which would have been letting the program slip deeper into mediocrity.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lost weekend

Just when you think this LSU baseball team is getting ready to turn the corner, they leave you scratching your head.

The Tigers got a quality win in the middle of the week at Southern Miss on the heels of winning a series against Alabama.

Now, winning two out of three at Ole Miss might have been a bit much. And Friday's game certainly had its heart-breaking moment. But Saturday's 7-1 decision makes you wonder.

Of course, this is baseball. Anything can happen and one game rarely means anything.

Two runs scored in two games means (a) Ole Miss is pitching great and (b) LSU isn't manufacturing any runs.

LSU has made progress this season. But this rebuilding job Paul Mainieri has is moving slower than expected. A 5-9 record in the league would have had folks up in arms in the past. Now it's the slow price of progress.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Most of the ingredients

BATON ROUGE - New LSU basketball coach Trent Johnson, who was expected to be officially introduced at 3 p.m. today, really is a home run hire.

Say Alleluia, because LSU now has an offensive coach. Johnson is a veteran head coach and assistant in the Pacific-10 conference, which is very offensive minded for the most part and either the best or second best conference in the nation year in and year out.

Johnson's Stanford team usually pounded it inside this past season on its way to the NCAA Sweet 16, but that was because of the 7-foot Lopez twins. That's what they should have been doing. But when Johnson has the right talent, he will run. His Nevada team in the 2003-04 season ran its way to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history and helped get Johnson the Stanford job.

Johnson is a disciple of Mike Montgomery, who took Stanford to 10 straight NCAA Tournaments from 1995-2004 and to the Final Four in 1998. Johnson was Montgomery's assistant from 1996-99. Montgomery left Stanford for the NBA at Golden State. NBA teams usually do not hire defensive coaches.

USC's Tim Floyd or Washington State's Tony Bennett would have been great hires for LSU, too, but they tend to have the same philosophy toward offense as did former LSU coach John Brady. Johnson is clearly more on the offensive end of the spectrum. This could be much more fun, particularly if he starts signing and keeping point guards.

Johnson, 51, has been a college head coach for nine years, including four years at a super conference. He has taken five teams to the NCAA Tournament, including two to the Sweet 16. LSU has never hired a basketball coach with those kinds of credentials.

He has had to recruit to a superior academic school with much more stringent entry requirements than LSU or any Southeastern Conference school other than Vanderbilt. He has had to recruit against other mega programs in the Pac-10.

Johnson is an African-American. He is the first African-American coach of a men's sport at LSU. He was the best coach available if he was orange. The fact that he happens to be black could be a major fringe benefit. LSU has lost great black basketball players from the New Orleans area in recent years - Chris Duhon to Duke, D.J. Augustin to Texas and Greg Monroe to Georgetown (this year). Maybe Johnson could stop this and sign players of all races from Louisiana who have been getting away to other schools for years.

The only thing Johnson is not is an exciting, gregarious personality the likes of former coach Dale Brown. Johnson will not be a media darling coach like a Bruce Pearl at Tennessee or a rock star like Rick Pitino at Louisville. He will not dress up in purple and gold body paint for an LSU women's basketball game next season.

Johnson tends to be quieter, though he is extremely intense during a game.
You can't have everything. What LSU has is the most established basketball hire it has made in its history. As great as Brown was, LSU took a chance on him. He was just an assistant coach. John Brady was at smallish Samford, which he never took to the NCAA Tournament.

LSU was extremely fortunate to get Johnson, but it should be commended greatly. Had Stanford's athletic director been quicker to get Johnson a new deal, this might not have ever happened. The Lopez twins just deciding to enter the NBA Draft and Montgomery, who is a great friend of Johnson's, taking the job at Stanford-rival California also made Johnson look elsewhere. LSU was ready for that look.

Go South middle-aged man. You may just like it here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hoops talk

It appears LSU did rather well for itself in landing Trent Johnson as men's basketball coach. When is the last time the Pac-10 Coach of the Year took an SEC job?

It also appears Johnson has above-average (for a college hoops coach) character. He has at least one Bay Area columnist writing that he didn't leave Stanford for the money.

Of course, because Johnson is getting the job and not Butch Pierre, the UCLA buzzards are already circling LSU recruit J'Mison Morgan according to one SoCal paper.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What if Randolph had a coach?

BATON ROUGE - LSU freshman forward Anthony Randolph announced he would be turning pro on Tuesday after one season with the Tigers. He is one of the most well-rounded, gifted freshmen to play at LSU in recent years. When former LSU coach John Brady and still-interim coach Butch Pierre signed him out of Dallas, they knew there was a strong chance he would leave after one year.

But it would have been nice to have a head basketball coach in place for the last few weeks so he could have at least tried to talk to Randolph. Someone like Virginia Commonwealth coach Anthony Grant, who is a considerably strong role model, could have made an impression on Randolph. Maybe Grant, whose season has been over for weeks, could have gotten Randolph about playing next season for a new coach, a new system and with a good group of players coming in next season.

But Grant or whomever LSU finally hires to be its coach will never get that chance.

Randolph played his first basketball game at LSU in November. The "search" for a new LSU athletic director began in the same month. It just ended last week. Had LSU president John Lombardi, the LSU search committee and the Dan Parker search firm knew what they were doing, LSU could have hired an athletic director months ago so it could have hired a basketball coach weeks ago.

It's amazing how poorly these two searches have been conducted at supposedly such a big time school as LSU. LSU has been without a permanent basketball coach since Feb. 7 and has done very little toward hiring a new coach. It's amazing how naive some of the people involved are.

It was as if they thought basketball season needed to be over before an athletic director could be hired so he could hire a basketball coach. LSU chancellor William Jenkins said two weeks ago that LSU could not talk to certain basketball coaches - the search firm had to. The seasons were over for almost all the coaches under consideration by LSU. All LSU had to do was pick up the freakin' phone.

Other schools that had openings for much shorter periods than LSU were publicly interviewing coaches. And here was LSU trying to operate in secret.

The secret's out. LSU has no idea what it's doing.

Who can blame Randolph for leaving this mess?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Another disappointment

The LSU Lady Tigers made it 0-for-5 on Sunday night.

This one may have been the cruelest of all.

LSU's Erica White made two free throws to give her team a one-point lead with 7 seconds remaining.

All LSU needed was one more stop. Just stop the dribble. Forget the second shot on the putback. Just stop the dribble.

But LSU couldn't stop the dribble and couldn't get the stop it needed.

It's hard to believe, but LSU failed to win a Final Four game with Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles.

The hope for LSU fans was Van Chancellor would be the missing piece to get the Tigers over the top.

Maybe next year, or rather, next time.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mr. April

Is anyone surprised Richard Murphy had a big spring game today?

Heck, he was a revlation last year in the spring game. I remember looking at video of him and going,"Who is this guy?''

For all of the talk about running back by committee, Murphy may be the guy to take the lead role. He runs with a passion and he doesn't appear to be a guy to lay the ball down on the ground.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Joe Alleva?

LSU announced its new athletic director today -- Duke's Joe Alleva.

I've got to say my initial reaction was not good. Nothing against Joe Alleva. Nothing against the finalists, I was just expecting something more.

Apparently Alleva got the job for a couple of reasons:

1) He was a sitting AD. Just like LSU apparently won't be hiring any assistants coaches for head football or basketball coaches anymore, apparently the school isn't looking for assistant AD-types.

2) Alleva apparently is a big-time fundraiser. That's all well and good at Duke, where money grows on trees. Now he is coming to the flagship school of a state that was poor before Katrina.

Reservations aside, we'll have to see how Alleva does. He gets a chance to hire a coach right out of the chute with the basketball hire. Maybe Mike Krzyzewski can give him a hand in that one.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Athletic director search is lost

BATON ROUGE - It is unlikely, but LSU president John Lombardi and/or interim chancellor William Jenkins could reject some or all of the four finalists given to them Wednesday by the Parker "search" firm and LSU search committee.

For the good of LSU, those recommendations should be rejected, and this search needs a timeout.

One would think that a school like LSU, which has had an elite, monster, money-printing football program for most of this decade and has made major strides in other more important areas, could hire a sitting athletic director from a reputable school.

Instead, of the final four finalists for the job, only one is a sitting athletic director, and he has a checkered past. Plus he is at a place where football is merely a distraction before basketball season. The fact that Duke athletic director Joe Alleva is the only sitting athletic director on LSU's final four is a complete embarrassment to LSU, its administration, its fans, its alumni and the Southeastern Conference.

The Parker Executive Search firm should be relieved of its duties immediately and not paid $75,000. The best candidate of the four is clearly associate athletic director Herb Vincent, who has been at LSU for the most part since he was a freshman in 1979. Did it take a "search" to find him? His office is about 10 yards from outgoing athletic director Skip Bertman's office. Another candidate is LSU associate athletic director Verge Ausberry, who is right across the hall from Bertman.

The fourth candidate is Kentucky associate athletic director Rob Mullens. If you're going to hire an assistant athletic director - in other words an apprentice - it should be Vincent. Vincent would probably be a very good athletic director. Other than former chancellor Mark Emmert - the best chancellor in LSU history - there has not been a better communicator at LSU. Vincent is extremely knowledgeable of major college athletics and is tremendously respected across the SEC.

He is not a sitting AD, though, and one would think a high-priced search firm and a search committee that has been working on this for several months could find a decent sitting AD who doesn't have to answer questions about his past. Alleva was peppered with questions Wednesday about the lacrosse controversy at Duke. Did Dan Parker, CEO of the Parker search and destroy firm, not know this? Probably not.
Another recommendation by this dubious firm was former Florida State athletic director Dave Hart Jr. Key word, "former." Hart was just ousted from Florida State in light of an academic fraud case involving athletics that the NCAA is still investigating. Does the Parker firm read the paper?

And get this. Parker did not even recommend Vincent, who is clearly the best of this group and would be a find for any search firm. Parker gave five names to the search committee Monday and Vincent was not one of them. Someone on the committee asked about Vincent. They went into executive session, and Vincent emerged as a finalist.
LSU should either hire Vincent and demand its money back from Parker or take another look at the interested athletic directors rejected by Parker in addition to Vincent, and then fire Parker. Some of Parker's rejections are far better than some of the recommendations. Maybe the firm had the two reversed.

Meanwhile, LSU will try to hire a basketball coach once the athletic director circus ends. Complete and utter chaos, folks. Funny how this often happens when academia tries to play sports. Emmert was the only one at LSU who could swim in both pools.

Had LSU's Ringling Brothers Board of Supervisors listened to Emmert back in 2000, Mitch Barnhart would still be LSU's athletic director, and we wouldn't be having this conversation. Emmert wanted to hire Barnhart from Oregon State. But some board members wanted local guy Doug Moreau, a former Tiger football player and a district attorney. Only he had no experience in an athletic department. Bertman, a coach who knows coaches and how to build a program, was brought in as a compromise and has done a great job.

Had LSU allowed Bertman to stay on for a year or two more, he would already have a basketball coach hired. But politics, petty jealousies and agendas continue to rule. You're trying to do too much, Mr. Lombardi. And you're messing everything up.

It's amazing, at times it looks like LSU is really moving forward as an institution. And then with episodes like this joke of an athletic director/basketball coach search, it looks like crazy days at LSU all over again.

If Bob Brodhead was still alive, Parker would probably recommend him. Then again, Parker may not know he passed away.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Les, your program is calling

BATON ROUGE - The face of the LSU football program needs to show its face. Coach Les Miles was not available on Monday or Tuesday to discuss the giant Britney Spears in the room - quarterback Ryan Perrilloux. He is not scheduled to be available until Thursday. This is irresponsible.

By Thursday, the heightened talk of Perrilloux will be into its fourth consecutive day. Miles could have nipped it in the bud by speaking to reporters on Monday or Tuesday. He can change his schedule. He rarely sticks to a schedule. Practice days and times and interview times are frequently being changed by him because he tends to wing it.

And don't tell me he's busy. It's spring football. He doesn't have a game coming up.

Instead we are left with sports information director Michael Bonnette to take the onslaught of questions. This is Miles being irresponsible again. Bonnette does not make $3.75 million a year. He shouldn't have to be the face of the program.

On Tuesday, Miles' players had to answer the questions about Perrilloux Miles should be answering. This is bordering on cowardly.

Miles could clear the air on Perrilloux, and the story would go away for awhile, and everyone could focus on other, more positive aspects of the football team. Yet Miles is sitting back, doing nothing. If Perrilloux is continuing to foul up, Miles needs to say that. He is the one who lifted Perrilloux's suspension last week. If Perrilloux has done nothing wrong and merely not quite finished his workouts, Miles needs to clear his name. At any rate, Miles needs to do something - not just let the clock run down to one second as he did against Auburn.

And this is not just my opinion. Here's a portion of an e-mail from an LSU fan:
"Les Miles should do the best thing for the LSU football program and clarify the facts publicly NOW, not later. Because Miles does not have the capacity to ad-lib or speak without a prescribed written script, Michael Bonnette should write the detailed press release and Miles should read it word for word, no cute deceptive crap by Miles! The man is an infuriating communicator. That may have worked at Oklahoma State, but LSU is several leagues above that school!

"Our fans are more involved and more demanding! Clear up the story and not poison the fan's impression of the young man. If he actually did something wrong say it, if not say it. This matter is not being managed professionally!"

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Another candidate?

Dale Brown was in town today to talk to some students and then a Rotary Club group.

In between the two events, I got a chance to talk with the former LSU coach.

He has an interesting take on which coach he would like to see in his old office. He makes an argument for Johnny Jones. He says Jones has built the North Texas program from the bottom up and taken it to the tournament while doubling attendance along the way.

It remains to be seen if Jones will be a serious candidate. While people are beginning to remember Brown's career as a whole and not the last four years, you'll still have some that remember Jones as an assistant in the final days.

Just like some will hold his association with John Brady against Butch Pierre.

But it is food for thought while this AD/hoops coach search drags on and on.