December 2, 2021
By Chris E. Warner (Chriswarnerauthor.com)
“With A Coach Secured LSU Turns Its Focus to Within”
LSU shocked the college football world earlier this week when it announced the hiring of 60-year old Brian Kelly as its 33rd head football coach, succeeding fallen Louisianian, Ed Orgeron. The Everett, Massachusetts native attended the Roman Catholic Assumption College in Worcester, its motto, “Until Christ be formed in you,” where he was a four-year linebacker. He coached at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, at Cincinnati and of course, at his last, and most conspicuous stop, a pronounced, ten-year stint with Touchdown Jesus, in South Bend; en route becoming the most successful, winning coach in the school’s storied gridiron history, forever endearing himself to the Notre Dame faithful.
Signing a patron saint of the Golden Dome and historically the Irish’s most successful, winning field general, LSU Football has joined the fabled ranks of Rockne, Parseghian and even Holtz; adding to its already storied history and tradition of gridiron excellence; solidifying its spot further up among the game’s great competing programs.
Cleaning up the Department
As LSU, the institution, moves forward, it must protect its hefty investment in Brian Kelly, insulating him from the internal political turmoil and chicanery that can, and will bring down an empire—of any size.
LSU must settle lawsuits related to alleged impropriety and specific Title IX violations. One, seeking in excess of $50 million, is a hostile work environment claim from a current female employee, Sharon Lewis. The other, is a class action comprising seven disgruntled, former female students, whose well-being is inherently protected under strict Title IX guidelines. They allege LSU failed to protect them from sexually predatory athletes. These two cases are moving their way through the process. They are heading to court.
Whether LSU rolls the dice and litigates or quietly settles, it must make clear departmental changes. Many involved in this alleged cover-up are still on campus. Some are in high profile positions within the department. Ed Orgeron’s record was unacceptable the last two seasons, but the fact that the class action lawsuit relates directly to his tenure as head coach had as much to do with his jettisoning as 11-11.
President Tate wants excellence in academics and athletics. For that to happen, LSU must have excellent administration. Handling these lawsuits and creating a new and improved culture within the department—one that will heretofore do things professionally and by the book—is paramount to helping Coach Kelly win.
The Fifth Column
The term "fifth column" was coined in the 1930s in Spain, during the Spanish Civil War, by General Francisco Franco, leader of the revolutionary, nationalist forces. Franco claimed there were four Nationalist columns approaching Madrid and a fifth column waiting to attack from the inside—a devoted group wanting to help overthrow those in power.
The LSU Athletic Department is always susceptible to this notion of a fifth column, as it is a political organization, one of followers and aspirants. Ask Ed Orgeron. His successful, column-led coup of the Les Miles regime in 2016, led to his fateful, golden opportunity. So it can, and will happen; again—if we allow it.
Two books on LSU athletic department history chronicle for posterity a difficult political environment for any LSU head football coach. “Sacked,” by Bob Brodhead and “Inside the Eye of the Tiger” by Jerry Simmons, both tell stories of pervasive, crony-driven, departmental in-fighting that results in the fall of the mighty football program, its precious, primary revenue source. Let us not forget history repeats itself.
A Home-Run HIre
By hiring Brian Kelly LSU solidified itself as one of college football’s great and enduring programs and among the elite SEC’s most competitive. As the conference inches toward super-conference status with the nearing additions of Texas and Oklahoma, it reigns as the standard-bearer in terms of indispensable coaching talent.
Coach Kelly, like his new and eager fan base, is a devout Catholic. He appears demanding, direct, even hard-charging; but at this point in time, he is just what LSU Football needed. LSU fans should hope for the best for him—that he is afforded the same courtesy and respect Coach Saban demanded when he got here—that the administration give him the resources he needs to succeed; the privacy to coach the team his way; and the protection he needs from what Bob Brodhead called “…the parasitical forces…” always at work within the department to bring you down.
If LSU can overcome its current legal and departmental challenges, it will emerge better equipped to create a new culture within the athletic department—and maintain a continued, championship-winning college football program, one much more like its Western Division, Tuscaloosa-based nemesis.
*Chris Warner is a double graduate of LSU. He is the author of over 20 books, including, “Inside the Eye of the Tiger,” with Jerry Simmons. He will release his seventh novel, “Mamou,” a historical romance novel depicting Mardi Gras in the Deep South, next spring. Visit his web page for more information. Chriswarnerauthor.com.
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