ENGSTER: Brady returns biggest puzzle piece

John Brady's ninth season was much like Dale Brown's ninth year at LSU.

The Tigers won the SEC title, traveled to the Final Four and were eliminated from the Big Dance two wins shy of a national title.

Brown's first Final Four visit was accompanied by the exit of four major contributors as Rudy Macklin, Greg Cook, Ethan Martin and Willie Sims departed LSU for professional basketball endeavors. Brady's best player from his ninth season, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, returns for another campaign. There is hope for Brady that his tenth tour of duty at the PMAC will provide another run at conference and national honors.

Daddy Dale went 14-14 overall and 11-7 in the SEC in his tenth season on the bench at TigerTown. His seventh, eighth and ninth seasons were the most impressive in LSU basketball history. Brown's Bengals went 80-17 overall and 45-9 in the SEC from 1979-81. The burning issue for the often embattled John Brady is whether he can put together a comparable three-year run. The biggest piece of the puzzle is in place with the return of Davis to his lineup.


Peter Finney's entrance into the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication Hall Fame was long overdue. At 78, the New Orleans Times-Picayune legend has been writing about sports for 61 years.

During his induction ceremony, Finney recounted his associations with some of the legendary local and national sports heroes – Paul Dietzel, Charles McClendon, Pete Maravich, Dale Brown, Joe Louis, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio.

The 1957 recipient of a master's degree in Journalism from LSU recalled Pistol Pete's fascination with UFO's. In fact, Finney said Maravich was consumed by his belief in unidentified flying objects at the time of his death on Jan. 5, 1988.

Finney wrote the definitive book about Maravich, "Pistol Pete." Another Manship Hall of Famer, Woody Jenkins, composed and recorded the definitive song about Maravich in 1970.

In recalling Ted Williams, Finney says the Splendid Splinter's 32 inch waist was retained despite mountains of ketchup that Williams poured on his meals. Finney's meeting with Teddy Ballgame was memorable for his batting tips and watching Williams consume gobs of ketchup with every bite of his veal cutlet in a balmy evening at a New Orleans eatery.

The biggest regret for Louisiana's best known sportswriter occurred off the field. Finney says he missed a significant global moment when Dale Brown met with Mother Teresa.

There is little doubt the man born in the French Quarter would have crafted memorable prose about the convergence of two of the world's greatest missionaries.

Finney also recalled Huey Long warning LSU football coach Russ Cohen to never lose to Arkansas because Louisiana had more paved roads than Arkansas. It makes one wonder if Huey's fascination with the number of paved roads would have allowed him to endorse a coach named Les Miles.

Finney was only seven years old when the Kingfish was assassinated, but his distinctive columns have given us insights about the games people play from the early days of the Truman administration to the latter days of the second Bush administration.

The furor over alleged steroid use by baseball great Barry Bonds has reached hyperbolic levels. The evidence is compelling that Bonds juiced up for his run at the game's home run record of 755 by Hank Aaron.

But nobody is suggesting that Gaylord Perry surrender his Hall of Fame pitching credentials. Perry was inducted at Cooperstown despite admitting that he cheated in his book, "Me and the Spitter."

Nobody suggested that Bill Arnsparger forego a Sugar Bowl visit in 1984 when star defender Roland Barbay tested positive for steroids. Nobody is suggesting that home runs by Sammy Sosa and Albert Belle be discounted because they used corked bats.

Bonds was already the best player of his generation before he allegedly began juicing up in 1998. He has many personal peccaddilloes, but so did George Herman Ruth. And the Babe has been canonized in the lore of the national pastime.

Talk of keeping Bonds out of the Baseball Hall of Fame is ridiculous when it is pointed out that O.J. Simpson is a card carrying member of the Football Hall of Fame. Bonds is no angel, but he didn't kill anyone.

The most remarkable statistic in Barry's arsenal is not the 73 homers he clouted in 2001. It's the 232 bases on balls he received in 2004. As one pundit remarked, "Is he putting steroids in his eyes?"


Jim Engster is a featured columnist in Tiger Rag magazine and the general manager of WRKF-FM in Baton Rouge. Reach him at jim@wrkf.org.

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