The others who were welcomed to the J-School list of luminaries were Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden, who was a reporter for a few years before he became a political powerhouse, and New York Times reporter Jere Longman, who credits fellow Hall of Famer Jim Featherston as his mentor.
The Hall of Fame is big enough that Holden and Featherston are rubbing shoulders in the shrine. Before he died in 2000, Featherston, a Pulitzer Prize winning professor at LSU, was sued by a student named Melvin Holden. The 30-year-old case is vivid to many this day with respected journalism practitioners like Errol Savoie and Mike Dunne on opposite sides.
Kudos go to Dean Jack Hamilton for ushering both of these talented and tenacious men into the LSU Hall. The biography of Melvin "Kip" Holden is inspiring to any underprivileged youth trying to find his way, and James Shoaf Featherston was my favorite curmudgeon and journalist when he died on Oct. 19, 2000.
My last conversation with Featherston came a few hours before his death. I told him he needed to go to the hospital. "I am avoiding that at all costs," he said. A few hours later, the end came at his home near the LSU campus.
Tiger Rag founder Steve Myers recalls the day that Representative Kip Holden contacted him about forming a similar publication for his beloved Southern University. "We'll call it the Jag Rag," Holden, a Southern Law School graduate proclaimed. The magazine never materialized, but Holden was looking then as now for a way to bridge the gap between blacks and whites in his hometown.
Sadly, Featherston and Lynch were enshrined the year after they died. They would have delivered memorable acceptance speeches had the honor come a year earlier. Longman was a worthy inductee, but Peter Finney and John Ferguson deserve Hall of Fame distinction, as well.
Finney is a graduate of LSU and has been the most recognized sportswriter in the state for years. "He's the best writer at the paper," my former Reveille colleague Alex Martin told me in 1987 when Martin was employed by the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Martin, another Featherston protégé, won a Pulitzer for his work at Newsday a few years ago.
In addition to being the Voice of
the Tigers for four decades,
Joe Dean turns 75 this week, and
looks like he could still hold his own in a street brawl. "I love a good fight,"
Dean once told a reporter. To those who know him well, Dean is an ambassador for
the Ole War Skule and his state. He adopted
Dean has survived the death of his wife, Doris, and surrendered the leadership of the LSU athletic ship in 2001, but he remains active as a consultant and is a deal maker extraordinaire. Dean will be remembered for hiring Nick Saban and for keeping Skip Bertman and Pat Henry, the two most successful coaches in LSU history.
The Tigers endured six straight losing seasons on the gridiron from 1989 to 1994. Dean weathered the criticism for hiring Curley Hallman by keeping the budget in the black, and Gerry DiNardo brought the magic back for three seasons.
Firing DiNardo was Dean's most
gut-wrenching move. Dean was following orders from Chancellor Mark Emmert when
DiNardo was pushed out in 1999. Rather than wallow in defeat, he then hit the
road and found Saban through an old contact, Sean Tuohy, the former Ole Miss
basketball standout from
Saban is gone, but his impact will
reverberate through the bowels of
As he celebrates three-fourths of a century of life, an appropriate salute to Dean would be for the LSU brass to name the athletic administration building in his honor. It was his idea to bring the Tiger family together, and this edifice is a testament to his foresight.