Boy, we really did. It's hard to believe those seemingly never-ending days – and never-ending controversies and shenanigans – of the Bob Brodhead regime are now two decades in the past.
At that time, there was never a break for the news media covering LSU athletics. It had to always be on guard because some outrageous occurrence or statement by the Tiger athletics director always seemed to be just around the corner.
This was also the AD, remember, who took every occasion to publicly – and almost always negatively – evaluate the football coach he inherited, Jerry Stovall.
The AD who pleaded guilty to ethics violations in regard to approving trips with businesses that try for contracts with LSU, such as track manufacturers.
The AD who dropped 50,000-watt
radio station WWL-AM – with its reach of 42 states – from carrying LSU football
and basketball after 42 years, saying LSU paid too much for being on its
The AD who introduced LSU to TigerVision, neglecting to mention one of the commentators would be his daughter, another ethical slip.
The AD who fired his baseball coach without telling him. Jack Lamabe found out he was being relieved by reading an ad for a baseball coach at LSU in a newspaper.
This was also the AD, remember, who eventually was caused to step down because he planted bugging devices in his office where interviews were being held between LSU basketball players and NCAA investigators trying to get to the bottom of alleged recruiting irregularities.
What brought on this flood of memories is the sudden jolt of agent "runners" in the headlines, bringing on the possibility of NCAA exploration, just like in the old days, though current AD Skip Bertman did nothing to bring it on.
There is, however, also a spate of stories and speculation on Bertman for what has the surface appearance of relatively benign insinuations fueled by sources seemingly trying to even some score.
A self-conducted LSU investigation is looking into whether LSU baseball players got a break on apartment fees during the years when the Tigers ruled the sport under Bertman and his successor Smoke Laval. A rule is a rule, no one disputes that, but we're talking the difference of maybe $75 a month – less than $20 a week – for places that weren't that hot to begin with. And we're not talking football or basketball players here. This is for players (and this is important) not one of which was on full scholarship.
On the face of things, nothing under the watch of Bertman appears to compare with the ongoing drama of the Brodhead years.
A personally charming and
intelligent man, Brodhead, who died several years ago, could turn surly and
combative when challenged. When Brodhead heard former Gov. John J. McKeithen, a
member of the LSU board, opposed some of his proposals regarding stadium
expansion, he shot back, "What does McKeithen know. Look at the white elephant
he built, the Superdome!" On his own radio show, Brodhead criticized the
operation of the
In other words, the waters were always roiled during the Brodhead years.
Give the man this, though: He could pick coaches. Brodhead did hire Bill Arnsparger, maybe the best game coach LSU football ever had; he hired Sue Gunter, who made the Lady Tigers into a factor in SEC women's basketball; and oh, yeah, brought LSU unparalleled success in what had been the casual spring pastime of college baseball when he hired … irony of irony, Skip Bertman.
Marty Mule' can be reached at MJM981@Bellsouth.net.