Mannasseh molded journalistic minds

At last there will be a place at LSU to house the Manasseh School of Journalism, not to be confused with the Manship J-School.

There are those grads who will tell you they got their degrees from the latter, but learned their craft from the former.


Paul Manasseh was the former LSU and Louisiana Tech sports information director, a man whose work was admired by his peers across the country, having been elected to the sports information hall of fame long before his death in 2000. He also shaped what you read in sports outlets across the country, training a cadre of students who have gone on to . . . well, I don't know if we can use the word "distinguished'' when discussing sportswriters, but really there isn't a more appropriate adjective.


People like Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Ron Higgins of the Memphis Commerical Appeal, Gil LeBreton of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jere Longman of the New York Times, Scooter Hobbs of the Lake Charles American-Press, Scott Ferrell of the Shreveport Times, Bob Tompkins of the Alexandria Town Talk, Glenn Guilbeau of Gannett newspapers, Herb Vincent, now an associate athletic director at LSU, Larry White, the SID at Alabama, and Steve Townsend, founder of (italics) Tiger Rag (end italics) and now also an administrator at Bama, were all among those careers were molded by Manasseh.


That is group that ranks with the best LSU has ever graduated in any field. 


They were LSU journalism students who wanted to get into sports and worked part-time in the sports information department. To a man, they'll say they received the bulk of their journalism education under Manasseh, who was really as much a reporter as a PR man for the Tigers.


"Get it first, but, more importantly, get it right,'' is a Manasseh maxim that still rings in their ears, along with "Work smarter, not harder.''


Saturday, before the Alabama game, the new pressbox at Tiger Stadium will be dedicated to Manasseh, fittingly because a good number of his "graduates'' will be covering the game, no doubt with some of his instructions swirling in their brains.


Always quick with a quip, Manasseh hid his caring side with a curmudgeon persona, one that could cut anyone with an inflated ego down to size. He always had a thing that LSU was well known enough in sports that its initials were sufficient identifaction. When Manasseh made his case to a USA Today reporter, who explained it is the paper's style to use the full name, in this case, Louisiana State University, on first reference. At which time, Manasseh retorted he was canceling his subscription to "United States of America Today.''


And, like all good reporters, he had a long memory. Forty years after the fact, he angrily blamed Coach Bernie Moore for the "hidden ball'' trick that cost LSU a 7-6 defeat at Vanderbilt in 1937, then convincingly explained why. And, like all good reporters, he had sharp deductive powers. In 1979, when Athletic Director Paul Dietzel was searching for a coach to succeed Charlie McClendon, Times-Picayune columnist Peter Finney asked Manasseh what he thought.


Manasseh advised Finney to throw away the list of candidates the media was using. "Dietzel's looking for someone young, but someone who has already shown he can win,'' Manasseh said. "I think I'd look at Bo Rein of North Carolina State. He fits the bill.''


Finney predicted in print that Rein was Dietzel's man, making Finney look like a prophet when Rein got the job.


Manasseh always denied he had inside information, that the prediction was just a matter of putting two and two together.


Still, Manasseh was always at his best in deflating egos. In 1972, LSU rallied to put on a scintillating drive in the final three minutes against an Ole Miss team that outplayed the Tigers all night to tie the score with no time remaining. The winning extra point to make the final 17-16 was made with the scoreboard clock showing 0:00.

When Manasseh saw an elated Charlie McClendon, he cracked to the coach, "If you really had any guts you'd have gone for two.''




Marty Mule' can be reached at

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