She certainly would have liked Nick Saban’s parade through TigerTown, which produced just one less victory in five
years than LSU recorded on the gridiron in the previous eleven seasons.
Bartiromo’s quote is difficult to
top, but chances are good that Skip Bertman is speaking in similar superlatives
of his new hire as LSU’s football coach. The low-key Bertman is gushing with
pride over the new man on the Ponderosa.
The honeymoon for Les Miles is off
to a blissful start with the signing of the top prep quarterback in the land and
gobs of good will being dispensed from Homer to Houma by the Bayou State’s newly crowned pigskin prince. If
the next eight years go as well as Miles’ first eight months, he might even
reject the overture that will someday come from his alma mater, the University of Michigan.
Before a street in Baton Rouge is named in honor of Miles, it is important to
take a breath and realize Bertman’s recruit from Stillwater hasn’t coached a game in Death Valley.
Miles was 28-21 at Oklahoma State, heading a program that is generally thought to
be several strides behind its rival in Norman. As one pundit mused, “They don’t call
Oklahoma the Sooner State for nothing.”
Victor Sachse, who holds three
degrees from LSU and has owned Centaur Records in Baton
Rouge for nearly 30 years, recently shared a note he received from a
fellow classical music buff at Oklahoma State.
The letter was composed by an
associate professor of piano in the Department of Music at Oklahoma State. Here is an excerpt from the Jan.
”LSU just hired away our head
football coach, Les Miles…Believe me, there are tough times ahead for LSU’s
program! (There has been too much rejoicing here, with everyone kind of
wondering why on earth LSU wanted him after his tenure here. Oh well, go
The sentiments show it is
impossible to please everyone. Forget the fact that Miles’ OSU Cowboys beat
Oklahoma twice during his reign at Stillwater, an accomplishment that has escaped the
celebrated Mack Brown of Texas.
Wherever he coaches, Miles is only
as good as his last game. In his finale at Oklahoma State, his troops were pummeled by Ohio State. The LSU honeymoon will last until
the Tigers lose a game, something they did 16 times in five years under Nick
Jere Longman is a top sportswriter
for the New York Times and is a 1976 graduate of the LSU Journalism School. He will be inducted April 20th
into the LSU Journalism Hall of Fame and is no stranger to the Ole War Skule
since his departure.
Longman covered Shaquille O’Neal’s
graduation from LSU on the front page of The New York Times a few years ago. How
many other universities can claim a story about a graduate important enough to
garner a spot on page one of the newspaper of record written by a graduate of
the same university?
Longman was back on the front page
of the Times last week as New England beat Philadelphia to win Super Bowl XXXIX. In a
straight story, fresh angles were found to capture the significance of the 24-21
triumph by the Patriots. Here is a sampling of Longman’s writing on deadline as
New England won its third title in four
“In the age of salary-cap
restrictions when spending limits are set on payrolls, Coach Bill Belichick will
now be considered to have built a dynasty in New
“Philadelphia continues to suffer the longest
championship drought of any city with teams in the four major sports.
“It was been 22 years since the
last major title in the city, when the 76ers won the 1983 National Basketball
Association championship. The Eagles have not won a National Football League
title since 1960.”
It appears Longman performed as
well on Super Bowl Sunday as did a handful of former LSU football standouts, who
collected another championship ring with the Patriots.
It will be interesting to see if
Longman gets another front page assignment when Shaquille collects his master’s
degree in law enforcement from the University of Phoenix.
Former LSU Public Relations
Director Oscar Richard had a special bond with former German heavyweight
champion Max Schmeling, who died this month at age 99. Schmeling visited Richard
and other American POW’s in a German prison camp on April 3, 1945, the same
month Richard was freed, and the same month in which FDR, Hitler and Mussolini
Schmeling autographed a picture for
Richard in his visit to the camp 60 years ago. Richard says the German, who had
defeated Joe Louis nine years earlier, got mixed reviews from the American
prisoners. Schmeling walked a fine line during WWII as a pawn for the Nazi
regime of Adolf Hitler and a fighter, who was managed by a Jewish man in
America named Joe Jacobs.
Jim Engster is a featured columnist in Tiger Rag, plus
the general manager of WRKF-FM in Baton
Rouge where he serves as the host of the “The
Jim Engster Show,” a daily talk show
in the capital city. Jim can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.