DEVILLE: The only question now is "when?"

Well it looks as if LSU is going to be in the market for a new basketball coach.

Who knows if John Brady is going to be fired today, next week, next month or at the end of the season? But it is apparent that there is going to be a change.

The Tigers lost their eight straight game Saturday night falling to Arkansas 68-52 in the Maravich Center. With the loss, LSU fell to 7-12 on the year and are off to an 0-5 start in SEC play. Dating back to last season, the Tigers have now lost 15 of their last 18 regular season SEC games.

It seems Brady's tenure at LSU is about to come to an end, a fiery one at that. That run to the 2006 Final Four seems like centuries ago. It just goes to show nothing in life lasts forever. Things can change in an instant and the 2008 season is proof positive for the 11th year coach.

Just before LSU left for Indianapolis in April 2006, a pep rally was held in the Maravich Center to wish the Tigers well in the Final Four. Players were smiling, fans were cheering, the band was playing; things were grand.

Last Thursday, amid swirling rumors about his future with the program, Brady called a press conference pleading with fans to attend Saturday's game. He asked them to not stop supporting the team despite recent hard times. Athletic director Skip Bertman, who issued the kiss of death a week earlier giving Brady a "vote of confidence," dispatched an e-mail that reached some 30,000 LSU fans urging them to remain in support of the team.

Brady was asked at that press conference about the possibility of this being his final season. He said it was out of his hands and that it would be a decision for a later date, but you could almost see it in his eyes that he knows his time here might be drawing near its end.

There has always been a collection of fans that weren't in favor of Brady. Even when his teams experienced success, those in opposition never gave him full credit for the accomplishments. There are those that still refuse to acknowledge Brady for the Final Four run stating the players were responsible. However, that is a bit contradictory because if you blame the coach for losses, you are inclined to reward him for victories as well.

As things began deteriorating down the stretch last season, more and more fans began turning on him. By the time LSU blew a 21-point lead in the final eight minutes at Villanova this season, you could smell blood in the water. Then injuries and bad luck befell the team and the witch hunt was on.

FireJohnBrady.net is up and running. The list of names on online petitions is growing by the thousands demanding Brady's removal.

You know its coming, you can feel it like a stiff winter breeze. Brady stood behind that podium last Thursday and talked about his team and its upcoming opponent, Arkansas. He's still coaching, but you can hear it in his voice; see it in his eyes. It's the big fat elephant sitting in the middle of the room, yet no one wants to talk about it.

Despite the public outcry for Brady's removal, it really is a shame.

Take your Brady-Hater ball caps off for a minute and think about this for a second. There are roughly 350 Division I basketball schools in the country. Don't you believe that among those programs, probably 320 of them would sell their souls for the success LSU has had on the hardwood the past eight years.

Two SEC Championships.

Four NCAA appearances.

Two Sweet 16 appearances.

One NCAA Final Four appearance.

Three conference players of the year.

Four conference freshmen of the year.

Two first round draft picks.

Not bad for a school not named Duke or North Carolina where basketball is an afterthought compared to the football giant on campus. Conversely, just how good are the football programs in Durham or Chapel Hill?

Anywhere else, the basketball coach would be a god considering that amount of success in such a football dominated landscape. But here, just one season removed from reaching the pinnacle of college basketball – the Final Four – Brady will likely be packing up his office.

And why?

To preface this, there is no question John Brady is a good basketball coach. Game-planning, X's and O'S, creating strategy; Brady is as good as you are going to find in college basketball. No matter what anyone says, a coach doesn't accidentally stumble into an NCAA Final Four. A huge amount of coaching goes into success of that magnitude.

But what Brady lacks is the aspects of coaching that go beyond breaking down game film. The McComb, Miss. native and former Crowley High and Samford University head coach isn't known as the most warm and cuddly in the business. He doesn't like to sugar coat anything, kiss up to boosters or stroke the cash cow in the 92,000-seat stadium across the street.

That is not his style, not that he can help it.

Any other coach could have turned on the charm and parlayed a Final Four run into at least three or four more years, no matter how bleak.

Brady is brash, isn't the most eloquent speaker and if he is not dealing with his wife or two daughters, probably not the most sensitive guy you'll run across. All of this is likely one of the reasons why so many players have left the program during his stint as head coach, a number Brady detractors love to point out, especially after losses.

A sour disposition at times, inability to retain players and questionable recruiting will go on record as Brady's downfall. Sure he and lead assistant Butch Pierre have reeled in some great players, i.e. Stromile Swift, Brandon Bass, Glen Davis and Tasmin Mitchell. However, there have been plenty of disappointments as well. Names like Tack Minor, Regis Koundjia, Magnum Rolle, Shawnson Johnson, JueMichael Young; all were highly touted recruits that never panned out once they arrived.

Lately, the one glaring difference in recruiting is the lack of a big body in the middle. Brady, who is known for suffocating interior defense, is lacking the defensive stopper inside this season. Even Brady himself said after the loss to Miss. State that this is the softest team he's ever coached.

But if you look at his track record, Brady has recruited big physical guys like Swift, Jabari Smith, Jaime Lloreda, Bass, Davis and Thomas. Lately, Brady has turned his sights to taller, leaner players like Koundjia, Rolle, Chris Johnson and Anthony Randolph. All of these players were highly-regarded, but too thin to take the pounding game in and game out in the SEC.

The bottom line is Brady will go down at LSU as a good basketball coach that was able to do some special things during his decade-plus in the capital city. Unfortunately, he will be remembered more for what he lacked rather than what was achieved while he was here.

And like it was stated earlier, that's a shame.

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Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag. Reach him at matt@tigerrag.com.


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