Combination of bad luck, poor recruiting and parity has hit Tigers programs

Tuesday, May 10
May 10, 2011
Thursday, May 12
May 12, 2011
Tuesday, May 10
May 10, 2011
Thursday, May 12
May 12, 2011

Love purple but live for the gold.

That’s an expression that not a single LSU fan uses, but is constantly thrust into the faces of the unwilling Tigers faithful who refuse to embrace it amidst the countless other chants the school has.

The premise of this university-created slogan is simple: Love the colors of the team, but live for what the colors embody – success in the name of awards or championships.

OK, I have to admit. It’s a pretty clever slogan. It really is. Considering that I graduated from the university during the “Welcome to the Now: Evo Devo” era, I’ll take this new slogan any day. If you don’t know what “Welcome to the Now” means, Google it. It’s always good for a laugh.

But the problem I have with this new slogan is why I am here today, it’s not being executed, especially not by LSU’s athletics department.

The early-to-mid part of the past decade was truly a golden era for LSU athletics.

I know first-hand, because I was there to see it all in person.

Skip Bertman was the athletics director and the ship that is Tigers’ sports purred across the SEC without skipping a beat.

During my four-year stay at the school, the football team won a national championship, the men and women’s basketball teams each made Final Fours and the baseball team won the College World Series.

That all happened in FOUR years. It would take countless other universities a lifetime to achieve such a widespread level of success.

Aside from the major sports, the gymnastics team made it to the Super Six, the soccer team advanced to their first NCAA Tournament in program history and the woman’s track team won a national championship.

I truly could go on and on with accomplishments of this sort, but I’ll spare you all the reminiscing of good times that have gone awry.

Because they pretty much all mean nothing ever since new Athletics Director Joe Alleva took over.

Alleva has been with LSU since July 1, 2008. He landed in that post after a decade-long stint at Duke University.

Let’s take a look at the things Duke athletics did under his watch:

Sure, the basketball team dominated and had success as they always do. But did Alleva hire Coach K? Nope.

So if he didn’t hire the one successful major sport coach the school has, then who did he hire?

The football team went through three head coaches and compiled a collective 17-98 record during his tenure at Duke. For those keeping score at home, that means Duke won 14 percent of its games.

The school’s baseball team had to fire its coach, Bill Hillier, because of allegations that Hillier (who Alleva hired) had encouraged steroid use among his players. It didn’t do much good. The Blue Devils were 121-214 under Hillier’s watch anyway.

And then there’s the biggie, the lacrosse situation. Yes, Alleva was in charge at Duke when one of the largest collegiate athletic scandals of all-time swept through that school.

That scandal involved criminal charges being brought and eventually dropped against four players, but resulted in the cancellation of a full season within the program.

Sure sounds like a guy who deserves a pay raise and a step up the career ladder, right?

LSU thought so and the results they’ve seen are about what should be expected.

The Tigers’ football team won the National Championship in 2007. They’ve never been back to a BCS bowl.

The baseball team did win the College World Series in Alleva’s tenure, but the team has since fallen from prominence and has dropped out of the top 25.

Both the school’s men and women’s basketball teams have fallen flat with the men dropping from mediocrity to the epitome of terrible and the women’s team dropping from the epitome of dominance to mediocrity.

Sure, it’s not all one man’s blame and all of this has a lot more to do with bad breaks, poor recruiting decisions and other prevailing factors than they do one man who doesn’t coach nor play.

But I also know that at some point short-term patterns can become long-term trends, and I don’t see a single sport at the university that is definitively pointed in the right direction currently.

And that does fall on the head of Mr. Alleva.

Most people who try to replace a legend end up falling on their face in failure.

Skip Bertman was a legend, a true icon in LSU athletics.

It seems only right that Alleva wouldn’t succeed at LSU.

So far, through three years, it sure seems like that’s the way things are unfolding.

Maybe at some point they’ll change it to love purple, but starved for gold.

Because right now, I see no one at LSU chasing gold until next September when football kicks off the 2011 season.

And that’s not the way things were when Mr. Bertman was captaining the ship.