LaRose says goodbye to Tiger Rag

The New Year is known for bringing about change and perhaps there will be few in my life to rival the start of 2003. As Tiger Rag publisher Bill Rigell details on page 3, I am stepping down as editor of the magazine to follow my wife to the New Orleans area where she is embarking upon her accounting career.

After spending almost six years with the magazine and 15 years in Baton Rouge, the decision to leave was a very difficult one given all of the personal and professional relationships I've established. But seeing as how we've only relocated about an hour away from Tigertown, I don't necessarily feel as though I'm leaving it all behind.
So rather than make this strictly a sappy good-bye piece, I'd rather offer a few reflections on the state of LSU athletics.

- Although it can sometimes be a misplaced priority, passion for LSU sports is a good thing - whether positive or negative. Of course the Tigers want your support, and I've seen it make the difference in games. But even when you have something bad to say about the players, coaches or the administration, it can be constructive as long as it doesn't fall to the level of personal insults or attacks.

- As LSU fans, you should demand a high level of accountability from those who cover the Tigers for a living. In other words, don't believe everything you read on the Internet - especially if someone isn't willing to attach his/her name to it. Insist upon verification, particularly if you are being charged for access to the information.
Those of us in the field of journalism aren't above making the occasional mistake, but at least we are all willing to stake our reputations each time we place a byline. That takes guts, in my opinion.

- Fight for your rights when it comes to the price of tickets, adequate parking and other customer service issues. The athletic department wants to make you a repeat customer, so make sure they're doing everything possible to attract and keep your business.

- There is no denying that LSU athletics is a business, and it needs a steady flow of capital to keep pace with other entities. But this shouldn't create a carte blanche environment on college campuses where athletics is put ahead of all other matters.
Can a successful athletic program enhance the overall image of a university as LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert claims? Yes, but only as long as that success doesn't come at the price of compromising the integrity of the institution.

- Give a hoot. Don't pollute the LSU campus. Anyone who knows me well can confirm that I'm no tree hugger, but I will back any measure within reason that protect the scenic appeal of Tigertown. There are still too many game day litterbugs, and LSU hasn't quite met the demand for trash receptacles. But significant strides have been made in improving the campus for those of us who work there on a daily basis.

- In closing, I need to offer sincere thanks to all the people who made my job easier over the years. The talent and guidance we've had on board at Tiger Rag played as big a part in its success as anything I ever offered.

- Shellie Schmidt and Carolyn Roche have brought customer service at Tiger Rag to an all-time high by performing most of the thankless jobs that don't earn enough praise from the rest of our staff or our readers.

- Michael Hudson, Jeanne Smith, Jennifer Marsh-Heno and John Woodworth enthusiastically supported my vision for Tiger Rag through their tireless efforts on the advertising sales front. They weren't familiar with the constraints of a weekly magazine when the business changed hands back in 2000, but they eagerly accepted the new challenge and have put Tiger Rag at the forefront among independent college sports publications nationwide.

- Graphic designer Jason Brown is a rarity in his profession - a user-friendly component who can be counted upon through hell, high water or Mac crashes. Go back and look at one of my first issues in March 1997 and pick up a recent issue of Tiger Rag, and that's all you need to know about what Jason's has brought to the magazine. And to boot, the guy is ten times the writer he thinks he is.

- Tiger Rag would have ceased to exist without the contributions of the columnists and freelancers who have contributed to the magazine. Special thanks to Jim Engster, Gerry Johnson, Perryn Keys, Jimmy Hyams, Sonny Shipp, Scott Hotard, Billy Gomila and Flynn Foster.

- Ann Edelman is another of the behind-the-scenes people who offered valuable guidance during my time as editor. She originally brought me to Baton Rouge to work at WJBO Radio and later convinced me leave radio for the field of print journalism. Her consistent reinforcement helped me in all the facets of the day-to-day management of the magazine. Because of Ann's presence over the years, working in radio and print was far more enjoyable than slinging hash.

- Former Tiger Rag publisher George Jenne and current CEO and president Bill Rigell played a successful game of professional ping-pong in so far as my employment was concerned. I worked for both men twice over four separate stints and I will be hard-pressed to find employers who offer such an ideal balance of support and autonomy.

In fact, it was Bill who allowed me to handpick my replacement. I feel confident that Matt Deville will maintain Tiger Rag's position as the foremost source of information on LSU sports and recruiting, and take the magazine and Web site to the next level of success.

Last but not least, thanks to each and every Tiger Rag reader. Many of you have complimented me in person, and those words were truly taken to heart. And as Tiger Rag's magazine and online subscription rates reach unprecedented levels, I leave my post knowing I have received an overwhelming endorsement for a job well done.

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