ENGSTER: How long will the Miles honeymoon last?

CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo says she seeks similar qualities in a stock as she does in a companion: "rapid growth and explosive performance."

She certainly would have liked Nick Saban's parade through TigerTown, which produced just one less victory in five years than LSU recorded on the gridiron in the previous eleven seasons.


Bartiromo's quote is difficult to top, but chances are good that Skip Bertman is speaking in similar superlatives of his new hire as LSU's football coach. The low-key Bertman is gushing with pride over the new man on the Ponderosa.


The honeymoon for Les Miles is off to a blissful start with the signing of the top prep quarterback in the land and gobs of good will being dispensed from Homer to Houma by the Bayou State's newly crowned pigskin prince. If the next eight years go as well as Miles' first eight months, he might even reject the overture that will someday come from his alma mater, the University of Michigan.


Before a street in Baton Rouge is named in honor of Miles, it is important to take a breath and realize Bertman's recruit from Stillwater hasn't coached a game in Death Valley.


Miles was 28-21 at Oklahoma State, heading a program that is generally thought to be several strides behind its rival in Norman. As one pundit mused, "They don't call Oklahoma the Sooner State for nothing."


Victor Sachse, who holds three degrees from LSU and has owned Centaur Records in Baton Rouge for nearly 30 years, recently shared a note he received from a fellow classical music buff at Oklahoma State.


The letter was composed by an associate professor of piano in the Department of Music at Oklahoma State. Here is an excerpt from the Jan. 4th missive:


"LSU just hired away our head football coach, Les Miles…Believe me, there are tough times ahead for LSU's program! (There has been too much rejoicing here, with everyone kind of wondering why on earth LSU wanted him after his tenure here. Oh well, go figure…"

The sentiments show it is impossible to please everyone. Forget the fact that Miles' OSU Cowboys beat Oklahoma twice during his reign at Stillwater, an accomplishment that has escaped the celebrated Mack Brown of Texas.


Wherever he coaches, Miles is only as good as his last game. In his finale at Oklahoma State, his troops were pummeled by Ohio State. The LSU honeymoon will last until the Tigers lose a game, something they did 16 times in five years under Nick Saban.




Jere Longman is a top sportswriter for the New York Times and is a 1976 graduate of the LSU Journalism School. He will be inducted April 20th into the LSU Journalism Hall of Fame and is no stranger to the Ole War Skule since his departure.


Longman covered Shaquille O'Neal's graduation from LSU on the front page of The New York Times a few years ago. How many other universities can claim a story about a graduate important enough to garner a spot on page one of the newspaper of record written by a graduate of the same university?


Longman was back on the front page of the Times last week as New England beat Philadelphia to win Super Bowl XXXIX. In a straight story, fresh angles were found to capture the significance of the 24-21 triumph by the Patriots. Here is a sampling of Longman's writing on deadline as New England won its third title in four years:


"In the age of salary-cap restrictions when spending limits are set on payrolls, Coach Bill Belichick will now be considered to have built a dynasty in New England.

"Philadelphia continues to suffer the longest championship drought of any city with teams in the four major sports.


"It was been 22 years since the last major title in the city, when the 76ers won the 1983 National Basketball Association championship. The Eagles have not won a National Football League title since 1960."


It appears Longman performed as well on Super Bowl Sunday as did a handful of former LSU football standouts, who collected another championship ring with the Patriots.

It will be interesting to see if Longman gets another front page assignment when Shaquille collects his master's degree in law enforcement from the University of Phoenix.




Former LSU Public Relations Director Oscar Richard had a special bond with former German heavyweight champion Max Schmeling, who died this month at age 99. Schmeling visited Richard and other American POW's in a German prison camp on April 3, 1945, the same month Richard was freed, and the same month in which FDR, Hitler and Mussolini died.


Schmeling autographed a picture for Richard in his visit to the camp 60 years ago. Richard says the German, who had defeated Joe Louis nine years earlier, got mixed reviews from the American prisoners. Schmeling walked a fine line during WWII as a pawn for the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler and a fighter, who was managed by a Jewish man in America named Joe Jacobs.





Jim Engster is a featured columnist in Tiger Rag, plus the general manager of WRKF-FM in Baton Rouge where he serves as the host of the "The Jim Engster Show," a daily talk show in the capital city. Jim can be reached by e-mail at jim@wrkf.org.

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