Talking LSU with Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal, one of the greatest athletes in LSU history, spoke with TSD's Ben Love Friday about the future of the Tiger basketball program under Johnny Jones and his role in recruiting.

SPRINGFIELD – TSD publisher Ben Love caught up with former LSU and NBA great Shaquille O'Neal Friday at his annual golf tournament, which provides aid for Tiger student-athletes.

O'Neal opened up on a number of LSU-based topics, including his views on the basketball program under Johnny Jones and what his level of buy-in and commitment is to the Tigers currently. He also spoke about the prospects of sending his son to LSU, how much he sees the LSU brand name out in the world and who his favorite Tiger football icons are.

Check out all the quotes below O'Neal gave while making the turn at the Shaquille O'Neal Life Skills Golf Classic at Carter Plantation in Springfield, La., 30 miles outside of Baton Rouge.

On the job Johnny Jones did in year one …
"He's doing pretty good. We had a conversation the other day, and I told him if he needs help any in recruiting, I'd help him out. But Johnny is a proud guy. He knows it's going to take time, but hopefully they'll get some big-name recruits or some talented recruits in here to get us back on track."

On his level of buy-in to the program now that Jones is the coach …
"I owe the program everything. Without this program, there wouldn't be a Shaq. When I talk to recruits or their parents, I just tell them, ‘Listen, it's a great place for your kid to come. It's not one of those fast cities where your kid can get out of control. It's college life. You come here, you tailgate, you party, you go to school, and that's it. It's good honest people.' I don't try to oversell it. I say, ‘The reason why I came here is when I came to visit, they took care of me.' I went to a place in Gonzales and they gave me some hot boudin and some cold couscous. When I went home, I was like I think want to go to school there."

On seeing LSU and the brand name everywhere …
"All the time, especially during football season, but some during basketball season. I found about LSU by accident. But now, especially with football always being ranked in the top 10, (it's different). I'm still upset about the Alabama championship (in the 2011 season) that they supposedly won. And one of you will have to explain to me the rules on that one day. Yeah, LSU is a big, big-name college. I'm always talking to my son about it, but he wants to stay home, talking about UCLA or USC, but I'm trying to get him to come here."

*Publisher's Note: I believe when he's referring to his son he's referring to Shareef Rashaun O'Neal, who is either 13 or 14 years old.

On his favorite football icons at LSU …
"My favorites were always Todd Kinchen and Tommy Hodson. When I first got here, Tommy was like a god … Me and him became good friends. And then Todd Kinchen, he was always just a guy who every now and then would get those 70 or 80-yard runs. The stadium would go crazy, but there are a lot of good guys."

On memories of students rushing the field when it rains in Tiger Stadium …
"I told my boy about it yesterday. Usually when it rains, a couple of students try to get on the field and get tackled by cops. I'm telling you now, if it's raining tomorrow, I'm getting on that field. I'm getting on that field, and we're going to see if the cops can catch me. I used to love that. I'm telling you now, if it rains tomorrow, I'll be out there. The Baton Rouge police will not be able to take me."

On attending the game tomorrow against Auburn …
"There's nothing like the first football game. I know it's not the first football game, but it's the first for me this year. So I'll go tailgating and it brings back old memories, seeing old friends and old teachers."

Discuss Shaq and his relationship with LSU


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