MULE': Just who is interested in LSU job?

Let's see: Mike Bianco of Ole Miss isn't interested; George Horton of Cal State-Fulleton isn't interested; Ray Tanner of South Carolina isn't interested. Just who is interested in the job at what not so long ago used to be college baseball's "Team of the Decade.''

There are always people willing to take a job, of course. Some with sterling credentials and almost all of those with deficiencies to match.

 

It's hard to find the perfect match. Just ask Skip Bertman who five years ago hired his longtime assistant, Smoke Laval, who left LSU to successfully coach baseball at Louisiana-Monroe before being lured back. We all know how that turned out. In what he said was the hardest decision of his professional life, Bertman had to let Laval go.

 

It's always much easier for the fans, who can sit back with a newspaper in hand, look over the candidates, then pontificate who should be hired and why. They don't know the inside concerns of the athletic director. And they won't have to fire the one he picks if things don't work out.

 

Another former LSU assistant, Alabama's Jim Wells, is the people's choice at the moment – though you have to wonder how popular he'd be in Baton Rouge after a couple of the down years he endured with the Crimson Tide before this season.

 

Here's a suggestion for an interview. A man who has dominated his conference with 11 championships, has a 629-337-1 career record, has produced top draft choice athletes, and was himself a player in the major leagues.

 

And he wouldn't even cost LSU the expense of a long-distance phone call. Just the time to ask him to swing by and spend a little time talking things over, to see if they might have a mutual interest.

 

The man, of course, is Southern University's Roger Cador, who has done a magnificent job at a school with limited resources – a school which cut his program by scholarships from the usual 11.7 after winning a SWAC title for the Jaguars three seasons ago.

 

He's never said anything about the LSU job, and efforts to reach Cador were futile. But someone from the Tigers ought to get to him soon. Any day now he's going to interview for the Jackson State job, frustrated with his alma mater's and employer's road blocks for an even more successful program.

 

If money's a problem for LSU, seeing as how the Tigers still owe Laval a year's salary, Cador probably wouldn't ask as much as other candidates from so-called "big'' programs. The 55-year-old Cador is eligible for retirement pay from the state after three decades of producing mostly outstanding teams for the Jaguars. Just a thought.

 

This is not to say picking any coach is a sure shot – though former Tiger AD Bob Brodhead had a magic touch. Think about this: Brodhead hired football coach Bill Arnsparger, who went 26-8-2 and whose teams played in two Sugar Bowls in his three-year tenure; Sue Gunter, who breathed life into the women's basketball program, reaching the Elite Eight; and an unknown University of Miami baseball assistant by the name of Skip Bertman. I think we know what happened to him. He's out right now  beating the bushes to find a successor for his successor.

 

Bertman might have inherited some of Brodhead's touch. He hired Les Miles, and despite the fact that some fans still think it was a mistake, Miles steered LSU through the most grueling football season in its history with the aftermath of Katrina and the moving around of games, and still posted an 11-2 record. It may not always have been pretty, but the end result is impressive.

 

‘Course, on the flip side of the coin, Bertman also hired Laval, so the jury's still out. 

 

Giving Cador the ball at Alex Box Stadium, though, could be a win/win situation for all parties concerned. LSU would get a proven winner, without even having to pay moving bills, and Cador would get those two scholarships back.

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Marty Mule' is recently retired from the Times-Picayune and an upcoming inductee into the Louisiana Sports Writers Hall of Fame. Reach him at MJM981@bellsouth.com


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