It’s early Sunday morning, the day
after one of the most historic days in LSU football. And the chatter is as
lively as ever on Internet message boards around Tiger Town.
On Saturday, a record four Tigers
were drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft with quarterback JaMarcus Russell being taken No. 1 overall by the Oakland Raiders.
Many expected LSU to get three in
the first round, with the Tigers claiming two high profile draft prospects in
Russell and free safety LaRon Landry. Wideout Dwayne Bowe was also expected to
go within the first 32 picks.
But things didn’t stop after
Russell (1st), Landry (6th) and Bowe (23rd) were taken in
the first round. Wide receiver Craig Davis was selected as the 30th
pick giving LSU a record four first round picks, surpassing the 1951 draft, in
which the Tigers had three players picked in the first round.
“This is a great day for LSU and a
great day for these young men and their families,” said LSU coach Les Miles on
Saturday. “We are very happy for these guys. They are very deserving of being
picked in the first round and we are very proud of them. All four of these guys
have worked extremely hard to get to this point in their careers. They all
played a major role in the success of our football program and LSU athletics in
general over the past four years.”
Speaking of the past four years,
that is where the debate begins.
This class of seniors departing LSU
is the most successful group of players in Tiger football history. Over the past
four seasons, LSU has compiled a sparkling 44-8 record, including a victory in
the 2003 BCS national championship game.
That level of success was evident
by the quartet of players selected in the draft on Sunday. Heading into the 2006
season, pundits and prognosticators nationwide said LSU had the most talent in
all of college football, but in the end, a demanding road schedule could hold
back Miles’ team.
That did prove to be the case as
LSU dropped early season games at Auburn and at
eventual national champion Florida to erase the Tigers from the national
championship picture. After watching four LSU players have their names called in
the first round Saturday, one has to wonder (and plenty are right now) if the Tigers missed a
golden opportunity in 2006 to fly another national championship flag over Tiger
Hindsight is 20/20 and it seems
useless to debate the past. However, while LSU fans were celebrating the Tigers’
place in the sun on Saturday, they did so with a sour feeling in their
collective bellies. The sting of a missed opportunity still leaves Tiger
fanatics a little miffed.
Since nothing can be done about the
past, it is time to look toward the future. Sure enough, Russell, Landry, Bowe
and Davis are gone. That chapter at LSU is closed. The question that now remains
is, “What’s next?”
Since Miles’ arrival at LSU, he has
been scrutinized and second-guessed on virtually every decision he has made.
Constantly compared to his predecessor Nick Saban, Miles hasn’t been and never
will be given full credit for the 22 wins he compiled in his first two seasons
While Miles did coach all four of
the aforementioned players the past two seasons, Saban recruited and brought
them to Baton
Rouge. Many of Miles’ detractors have said he can’t fully
be judged as the Tigers’ coach until he has the majority of his recruited talent
on the field.
Well, that seems to be the case
heading into the 2007 season. That, of course, brings about the next
Is this a turning point for the LSU
football program? Can Miles sustain the level of success in the post
Make no mistake; Miles does two
things as well as anyone in the country. He can recruit and hire good assistant
coaches. As long as he does that, he will be successful. But can he mesh it all
together with his talent and keep the Tigers at a championship caliber
We shall see come
Even though she is no longer the
head coach of the Lady Tigers, LSU hasn’t heard the last of Pokey
It has been almost two months since
Chatman resigned her position as head coach of the LSU women’s basketball
program, but most everyone figured Chatman wasn’t about the fade into the
Forced out because of alleged
inappropriate sexual contact with former players, Chatman stepped down just
before LSU began play in the NCAA Tournament. Associate head coach Bob Starkey
stepped in as acting head coach and led the Lady Tigers to the program’s fourth
consecutive NCAA Final Four.
Chatman was nowhere to be
In the wake of the Lady Tigers
tournament run, Starkey said he wasn’t interested in the job permanently so LSU
turned to former Ole Miss and Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor. The legendary
coach, who won four straight WNBA crowns after a 19-year career with the Lady
Rebels, signed on and was a slam dunk hire. Chancellor brought immediate
credibility and stability to a program that could have floundered in scandal in
the wake of Chatman’s resignation.
Chancellor met with his team, with
the media and all seemed well in the world of LSU’s women’s’ basketball
You didn’t think Chatman was going
to go quietly without having her day in court, did you?
Chatman is set to walk away from
LSU with $66,000 in salary for the months of March and April. She is also set to
receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $160,000 in the form of a bonus for the
Lady Tigers’ appearance in the Final Four, in which she never coached. Not bad
for two months of “non-work.”
But that is not enough.
Chatman is saying she was forced to
resign her position after she technically didn’t break any laws or university
regulations. Chatman retained the services of Baton Rouge attorney Mary Olive Pierson and is
actively seeking a great deal more money than the aforementioned
Pierson is asking LSU to honor the
last two year’s of Chatman’s contract at $400,000 per season ($800,000 total) as
well possibly more than $100,000 in damages. Basically, Chatman wants $1 million
and she’ll go quietly.
LSU System general counsel Ray
Lamonica is saying “no way” is LSU going to pay the settlement in which Chatman
and Pierson are requesting. He went even further in saying if Chatman presses
for the money, she will not be paid the Final Four bonus and will then be asked
to re-pay the $33,000 in salary for the month of April.
Pierson responded to Lamonica’s
stance by saying the postseason money was already promised and non-payment would
be a breach of contract.
No lawsuit has been filed, but
Pierson claims Chatman was pressured to resign with inadequate and false
information provided to the university. LSU claims they have solid evidence that
Chatman was behaving inappropriately, but a story in the Baton Rouge Advocate on Saturday centers around
comments made by former LSU all-American Seimone Augustus. In the story written
by Scott Rabalais, Augustus says she
didn’t know of any inappropriate contact by Chatman, but that she “went to
practice and left. She (Chatman) always conducted herself as a coach in front of
me. Other than that, I don’t know what happened with other people.”
What this all boils down to is
basically a big game of chicken.
Who will flinch first?
Pierson and Chatman want to settle,
but the LSU administration is refusing to pay. It is pretty obvious neither side
wants this matter to go to court. From Chatman’s perspective, if the case does
reach the courtroom, LSU could provide damaging evidence that could affect any
future she may have in coaching.
It also could cost her dearly
monetarily. For LSU, the university will stand strong on its promise of
non-payment, but it cannot afford to go to court with Chatman and further
blacken the eye for the university and its women’s basketball
It will be interesting to see who
Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger
Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.