DEVILLE: Brady Makes Classy Curtain Call

Fire John Brady. It is a phrase that has been heard a lot in recent years around the Pete Maravich Center.

It's no secret John Brady wasn't one of the most popular coaches to lead an LSU team. Recently, one fan Web site conducted a poll as to who were the most hated coaches in LSU history.

Curley Hallman was mentioned.

So was Lou Tepper.

And, you guessed it, John Brady.

Sure enough, a man who won two conference titles, reached the Final Four, produced three SEC Players and four Freshmen of the Year will go down as a villain. Well, in some people's eyes, that is.

There have been plenty of folks who have been clamoring for years to see Brady issued a pink slip. Last Friday, they got their wish.

After 11 seasons at the helm of the LSU Tiger basketball team, Brady was fired by athletic director Skip Bertman.

"I met with John (Brady) and informed him that LSU and I decided to make a change of leadership of the men's program," Bertman said in a press conference last Friday afternoon.

Brady, who was only one full season removed from leading the Tigers to the pinnacle of college basketball, was shown the door as his team entered the weekend a lowly 8-13 on the season, 1-6 in SEC play, and last in the western division.

"The ultimate reason that John was fired isn't attendance; they just didn't win enough basketball games since the Final Four," Bertman said.

Plain and simple.

Since the Tigers made a magical 14-2 run through the SEC and defeated national powers Duke and Texas en route to the program's fifth NCAA Final Four, LSU has gone 6-17 in SEC play and done nothing but slide further into mediocrity.

Bertman made the call on Thursday, pulling Brady out of practice to meet with the embattled coach one final time.

Word spread like wildfire Friday morning and by 1 p.m. that afternoon, Bertman appeared before the media to formally announce the decision. Surprisingly, Brady was by his side.

"This is not a situation where a coach doesn't show up at this type of press conference and leaves with animosity," Brady said, fighting back tears. "That is not the case."

Brady was emotional throughout his 15-minute address to the media. His wife Misty, to whom he was married just prior to the Tigers' 2005-06 Final Four season, sat quietly in the corner along with his daughter, Brittany. Brady's oldest daughter sat quietly yet showed no emotion. Misty shed tears early during Brady's remarks. As her husband found it harder and harder to choke back tears, she sobbed uncontrollably.

"This is about appreciating the opportunity I have had here at this great school," Brady said, pausing for long periods of time between sentences to fight off his emotions. "I am thankful to LSU for the experience. It is a great university and I have met some wonderful people."

It seemed ironic for Brady to be so emotional on the day he would leave LSU. Appointed the head coach in March of 1997, Brady wept tears of joy at his first press conference, overcome with emotion upon his hiring by LSU.

LSU associate athletic director Verge Ausberry said it best after the press conference ended on Friday. He said, "It is inevitable in this business; this happens to everyone."

Brady showed a great deal of class in showing up to his farewell press conference. He also turned out to speak with his 6th Man Club prior to Saturday's game with Tennessee.

Brady also announced plans to attend his weekly radio show on Monday night to bid one final farewell to his loyal fans.

Later Friday afternoon, Brady met with a collection of reporters in the Maravich Center for a more informal question-and-answer session. While he doesn't necessarily agree with the move by LSU to dismiss him in midseason, he does respect the decision.

"Skip (Bertman) and I had some long talks yesterday and then again this morning," Brady said. "I don't know what he has told you guys, and we hadn't scripted anything; but if it was a decision that was going to be made, then you might as well make it now, I suppose, and not mislead anyone. If they feel those decisions that are being made help the team, then I respect that decision. I certainly have the option to not agree, but I certainly respect it. I don't accept it, but I respect it because somewhere down the line you have to adhere to what decisions they make. I don't run this university, but I've always been a part of it."

Brady said that while he didn't necessarily agree with his termination and the way it was handled, he refuses to leave the university on bad terms.

"One thing I did not want to do, regardless of the argument for or against me as the coach … In the history of LSU there have been too many coaches that when they have left, for whatever reason, they have left in an inappropriate way – on both sides," Brady said, "where they don't speak. And I was determined – as was Skip – to not let that happen. Regardless of if we didn't agree in principle of who's going to coach tomorrow, the rest of the season or next year. To harbor those kinds of feelings over a long period of time does not do the soul well. I wasn't going to do that because if you think back 11 years ago, I was a fortunate choice to be the coach in the first place."

And finally, there were plenty of fans out there that weren't fond of Brady, his coaching style, his attitude, or his career at LSU. But in his final conversation with the media, you couldn't help but feel his care and devotion to the university, his players, and the program.

"I put my heart and soul into this. I've put a lot of my health into this. Nobody can question my passion or my concern," Brady said. "We've had some exceptional times here and some great wins over No. 1-ranked teams, beat four or five hall of fame coaches and had streaks of 19-straight SEC wins in a row at home. I am appreciative of the opportunity this university gave me to do that. I will always appreciate that. I could still be at Samford coaching, but they gave me a chance. For almost 11 years, I was a good steward of my time here."

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


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