Success Means Getting and Keeping Politics Out of LSU Football
By Chris Warner (Chriswarnerauthor.com) “Inside the Eye of the Tiger” (Simmons)
October 5, 2021
Politics determines who gets what, when, where and how much. However, in a world engulfed by blind wokeness and mind-numbing political correctness, politics is the wrong place to look if you want excellence in anything—especially in college athletics—which requires a vision, discipline and follow through consistent with winning in business, as it is an organizational challenge, demanding resources, leadership, passion and conviction—free of debilitating political interference.
LSU’s next football coach must be proven and talented; sure, but he also must be given a real chance to succeed. In order for that to happen, the Athletic Department needs purging, as the current administration’s many toxic, complicit actors led to the current fall. Just as business needs government out of the way in order to succeed, so does the LSU Football Coach with respect to campus and state politics, as the competition is keen and the necessary inputs for success, fleeting; especially in this spiraling epoch defined by unsustainable losses, waning interest and lagging revenues. Nick Saban demanded insulation from the Louisiana political chicanery that had anchored previous head coaches. He knew better—and he got it. The rest is history.
As LSU’s Board of Supervisors considers the difficulties inherent in firing and hiring a new football coach, it should examine the many legal problems within the department that have manifested parallel to those on the football field—which are absolutely inter-related; they are no coincidence. LSU’s on-the-field problems are tied to political problems stemming from department failures—specifically the failure to follow the prescribed rules and laws governing college athletics. There is also an immoral aspect to the fall, as it involves the failure to fully protect its underage, student-athletes from harm, as required by law. Discovery in two related lawsuits alleging impropriety and a cover-up, is imminent, so there will be much for everyone to fully consider—including any potential new LSU football coach.
Cleaning Things Up
What happened when LSU hired Nick Saban? It cleaned up its political act. The President, the Chancellor and the Athletic Director got out of Nick’s way and gave him the resources he needed to succeed. They watched his back. Three years later he rewarded their wisdom, commitment and patience with LSU’s first national championship in 45 years. The powers that be at LSU had finally gotten it right. They did it the Alabama way.
Alabama succeeds in football because it has great politics. It has great players and coaches, that’s a given, but it also has great politics. This Alabama political establishment, unlike in Louisiana, is devout in its support of the program. It is ingrained. In Louisiana—not so much, as there is always dissention within the political ranks, as the Board of Supervisors is a favorite political plum, and its membership is all-defining when it comes to the hiring and firing of the aforementioned Four Musketeers: The President, the Chancellor, the Athletic Director and the Head Football Coach. These four must be on the same page, committed to the same plan for success, bound and determined to keep distractions and interference at a minimum, as it is essential in such a competitive market. Thirteen other schools are investing vast resources and intellectual capital towards the same goal. There is no room for political chicanery for serious contenders. The competition is too keen and there is simply too much at stake. This is what Oklahoma and Texas fans know nothing about.
Inside the Eye of the Tiger
Louisiana politics has been called a viper pit. The Machiavellian nature of the game is unforgiving, and the competition is often cut-throat, as the old adage foretells that all is fair in love, war and politics. The LSU Athletic Department, a subset of this challenging political system, under the LSU umbrella, operates much like its larger, guiding, enabler, subject to all the pressures, influences and demands inherent of the state legislature, the governor’s office and his appointed Board of Supervisors.
Often, what you see from the outside looking in to the athletic department is not always a true picture of what actually happens. Inside the Eye of the Tiger is the story of what really went on behind the scenes of the LSU Athletic Department over two tumultuous decades in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Coach Dale Brown introduced Hall of Fame LSU Tennis Coach Jerry Simmons to me in 2003. Over ten years we wrote his memoirs, “Inside the Eye of the Tiger,” detailing his experience at LSU after having coached 11 years at UL in Lafayette. A Texan, Simmons provides an interesting account of South Louisiana, LSU, state politics and the LSU Athletic Department you won’t soon forget. It will also help you understand why things happen the way that they do at LSU, through the Rise, The Fall and Rise of LSU Athletics, from 1981 to 2003, culminating with Nick Saban’s 2003 National Championship.
Getting Things Right Again
Any die-hard, caring LSU alumnus, parent or fan who reads this should have a much better understanding of what is happening at LSU. Once an outsider understands the political forces that hang over the program are the same dark machinations that built the phallic-shaped state capitol building down the road, the sooner and closer they are to realizing what lies ahead for the program—and its downtrodden fan base.
The problem is a departmental one—and it’s political. Once the department is cleaned up, the Title IX concerns are quieted and justice is determined in a court of law, the process of rebuilding a winning athletic program can start again.
*Chris Warner is a double graduate of LSU. He holds a doctorate from the University of New Orleans. He is the author of 25 books, including the forthcoming historical romance novel, “Mamou” (May 2022).
To learn more: chriswarnerauthor.com
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