The Football Coaching Hero LSU Needs and Deserves
By Chris Warner (Chriswarnerauthor.com) “Inside The Eye of the Tiger” (Coach Jerry Simmons)
October 28, 2021
The old adage foretells that history repeats itself. Those who know it understand you can unwind any story, and find its parallel, new beginning in the present, theretofore acting accordingly ahead of the arc, for inherent benefits and success. By paying close attention to history, one can also learn exactly what not to do in a situation—for instance: Like that time almost 20 years ago that a very different University of Alabama tried to hire a capable, big-time college football coach and instead, had an irrevocable date with destiny—that in the end was fortuitous, as it made all the difference; it was an ill wind that blew well for one Nicholas Lou Saban, and ultimately the Capstone, and its many alumni and fans, as Saban turned out to be the gridiron hero Crimson Tide fans badly needed—and deserved.
Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore struggled earnestly to get it right. In doing so he went through several coaches. There was Mike Dubose, then Dennis Franchione, then Mike Price and finally, Mike Shula. None was a fit—until he found Saban; and had history not gone temporarily bad for Alabama, the Tide may have never ultimately dominated like it has since the precipitous fall. Consider what transpired.
In the spring of 2003, the newly-minted Alabama Head Football Coach, Mike Price, addressed the Orange Beach Sunrise Red Elephant Club—a Crimson Tide breakfast booster group in the busy ante room of a popular café called Hazel’s, before heading east down the Gulf Beach Highway to Destin for the annual SEC head coaches meeting. Price was hired five months earlier, in December 2002, lured from a successful stint at Washington State, where he developed the talents of NFL quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Leaf. Price was bent on making his mark in Tuscaloosa; and he did. Unfortunately for him it turned out to be a skid—and fans were unfairly deprived of the annual Saban versus Price matchup between LSU and Alabama. Oh, what could have been.
In the spring time in Destin things got sketchy fast; Price got stinking drunk and unwittingly hired an unscrupulous, Cajun prostitute, a woman he claimed to have met at an upscale Pensacola adult dancing establishment, Arety’s Angels. As it turned out, the clever hooker got her wings that night. She got Price loaded on Jack Daniels charcoal-filtered whiskey and stole his cash, jewelry and credit cards. That was not all. While he snoozed off the booze she ran up a $2,000 hotel room service tab—much of which she boxed, bagged and left the hotel with before Price awakened. There was also a down side to the fall.
The sordid Southern saga made national news, and within days the imbroglio forced the resignation of the newest Alabama Head Football Coach. This happened before Mike Price ever coached a game. After Price’s successor, Mike Shula, was hired it was revealed that the questionable lady of the evening responsible for Price’s downfall was named “Boudreaux,” a fact not lost for laughs on the LSU Tiger fan base. As an asterisk, a terminated Price finished an auspicious 0-0 as head football coach at Alabama—which means they’ll never call him a loser, for scoring. Nevertheless, somewhere in the fog of the embarrassment and shame, was a lesson learned.
Mistakes can and will be made when it comes to hiring—and in the end it is better to be lucky than good, as one could argue that had Price not gone to Arety’s and gotten drunker than Cooter Brown, then Nick Saban wouldn’t be coaching at Alabama today, as Price could have been the one to duly surmount the Bear, instead of the wily West Virginia native who won championships in Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa.
Finding Their Guy
So as LSU looks to fill its head football coaching void it should do so with patience and thoroughness, as it must be a perfect fit for both the coach and the school. Ideally LSU will get a disciplined, intelligent family man with excellent credentials and recommendations, as in Baton Rouge the expectations are as high as the proven potential for success.
Much like the political tradition of voters replacing a perceived corrupt, free-wheeling governor with a reform candidate, the LSU Football Program at this juncture needs more of an engineer than a cheerleader—someone capable of achieving and sustaining championship results in this ultra-competitive, ever-changing, increasingly political collegiate athletic environment. History has prepared LSU for future championships. The last piece of the puzzle is finding the hero its downtrodden fans so desperately need—and deserve.
Until next time...
PHOTO: Charles McClendon
"Be as positive as you can to everyone you meet--and they'll always think you're a winner!"
*Chris Warner is from New Iberia, Louisiana, but gets his hair cut in Lafayette—when he visits Acadiana. He is a double graduate of LSU and holds a doctorate from the University of New Orleans. He is the author and publisher of over 20 titles. Visit his website to learn more: chriswarnerauthor.com
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