GRAY: Is Bertman on the way out?

You don't need a Quija board to figure out that LSU will likely soon be facing another change at the helm of athletic director.

First the Smoke Laval-Skip Bertman $100,000 secret deal, then the questions about preferential treatment for housing baseball players and now a coach arrested for introducing student-athletes to an agent.  The NCAA has a phrase for it. ... It's called "lack of institutional control." And athletic directors, whether directly responsible or not, rarely survive it long-term. Even presidents who preside over sticky situations often get shuffled off to Professorland. Simply put, it signals the beginning of the end.


Rather than speculate about what happens next, let's assume for a minute that change is definitely in the air. 


So who looks like a hot prospect to follow in the Skipper's cleats when he's ready to ride off into the sunset?



1. Let's start with East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Doug Moreau, who was the favorite of many Tiger faithful until former chancellor Mark Emmert blocked his hiring and brought in Bertman as a compromise. 


Moreau has hinted that he may not complete his current term at district attorney and hasn't expressed interest in running for higher office, like attorney general, where his name is frequently mentioned. Many locals and former football players are still smarting over Emmert's treatment of Moreau, who has an impeccable reputation. 


In Moreau's favor:  He has served as a judge and prosecutor, and now that LSU athletics is under a cloud of unethical and illegal charges, he might be just the medicine needed.


His years as color analyst for LSU football have earned him close relationships and deep respect from athletic department staff. And it doesn't hurt that the words "former All-American" also precede his name. 



2. On some lists is Louisiana Tech athletic director Jim Oakes, a quiet but politically connected AD with strong ties in the LSU administration.


In Oakes' favor:  He is an experienced athletic director, having managed a solid program at Tech for 12 years. His years as Senator J. Bennett Johnston's chief of staff helped bring federal funds to LSU for research. He has been a successful fundraiser, drawing celebrity athletes like Karl Malone and Terry Bradshaw to contribute to Tech's program, and he has hired successful coaches and scheduled a record number of televised games for Tech football. He's definitely ready for prime time.   



3. Another sitting athletic director who would be a strong candidate if fans could get past the color green is Tulane AD Rick Dickson.


Dickson was previously AD at Washington State and University of Tulsa and would have been recruited by a larger program if the Tulane administration didn't pull out all the stops to keep him in place to develop a plan for their long-term financial stability in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 


The odds: A long shot because of his current position and Tiger fans' feelings toward the intrastate rival.  However, he's considered rock solid and will certainly be on many short lists as vacancies at major programs come available.



4. In a similar position is Southern University athletic director Greg Lafleur.


Lafleur formed strong ties with the Louisiana business community and LSU donors when he served as associate AD at LSU. Lafleur has always been a strong candidate to be LSU's first African-American athletic director.


Strengths: He knows those who contribute heavily to LSU athletics and earned the respect of board members, faculty and staff in his years as associate AD. He has been active in the "L" Club and understands the need to keep former athletes close to the program. He could keep the current senior staff intact and reduce the natural attrition that follows a change at the top.


And besides, he may be the only candidate with a recipe in Chef John Folse's best-selling cookbooks, known for his championship tailgating skills. 



5. There's always an insider pick whose name is kicked around in athletic director searches, and I would have to believe senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent's name would rise to the top of the current staff.


Vincent is an insider's insider, coming from the sports information staff to serve as a confidante to ADs and head coaches in decision making for the department. His strength may also become a mark against him: Vincent is the department spokesperson when there is bad news to deliver to the faithful followers. Coaches and ADs are usually happy to deliver the good news themselves. Because of this, some may have a hard time seeing him as a motivational figure for fundraising.



6. How about a familiar name as a wild card?  Joe Dean.


No, not the Daddy. … Joe Dean Jr., successful athletic director at Birmingham Southern College who built a name much as his father did as an announcer for Jefferson Pilot basketball.


Joe Dean Jr. sits on bank boards, has managed successful businesses, is a chip off the old block when it comes to marketing and was born and raised in the coaching fraternity, giving him a national base of relationships in college athletics. What would make me think he could handle the job? As his father's best friend and confidante, he probably has more insight into LSU sports than any candidate who will surface. But even LSU may not be big enough for two Joe Deans. 



OK, I'm not saying the powers that be will choose from my list – only that in some circles, the search has begun and names like these are being discussed over lunch, at tailgate parties and just about anywhere two or more Tiger fans are gathered.  


Fans always love to speculate about who will be the next coach or athletic director, while no one ever cares much who the next president will be – unless there is some hint of chicanery involved in the selection process. 


Oh, I almost forgot. We've had that, too. 




Rannah Gray is a featured columnist in Tiger Rag Magazine. Contact her at

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