In coaches’ hiring and firing, where’s the truth?
By GLENN GUILBEAU
Tiger Rag Featured Columnist
BATON ROUGE - One good thing came out of the Patrick Murphy fiasco with LSU last week - the truth.
Now, when LSU hires its next softball coach, it cannot say he or she “was the only one offered the job.” Almost all schools say that virtually every time they hire a coach, which is truly amazing when you think about it.
It means major colleges are batting 1.000 when hiring. No one ever turns them down. They always get the man or woman they want. It’s unbelievable, because it’s often not true.
And the other amazing thing is on the other end of that. We often hear coaches discuss - off the record of course - how they’ve turned down numerous jobs over the years, which would mean that schools are not batting 1.000. Rarely does one hear of a coach discussing how he was up for a job but didn’t get it. They’re batting 1.000, too.
Everybody can’t be batting 1.000. If so, the NCAA would have to investigate, but even in those the schools always say they “self-reported.” If there is so much self-reporting going on, why are there so many investigations going on? But that’s another story.
Michigan played this hire’s poker game last January when it tried to say new coach Brady Hoke was its first choice. Athletic director Dave Brandon homered, and he was batting 1.000, even though few outside of Michigan had ever heard of Grady Broke or Brady Hoke. Even fewer believed it. Michigan actually offered the job to outgoing Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh first and LSU coach Les Miles second.
But not even LSU officials would say on the record that Miles was indeed offered the job, probably to keep the code going in case they wanted to bat 1.000 in a coaching hire down the road. But naturally, they did say off the record that, “Why yes, Miles was offered the job.”
Finally, LSU Board of Supervisors member Stanley Jacobs, who like other board members, knows as much or more than most in LSU’s athletic department, grew weary of the charade and said publicly that not only did Michigan offer Miles the job, but it raised the ante during a second offer.
Miles has played both ends of this game. He maintains he never offered then-New Orleans Saints assistant Ed Orgeron the recruiting coordinator/defensive line coaching job after the 2008 season. Those close to Orgeron and then-Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin said he did. Others at LSU confirmed that Miles did offer Orgeron the job, too, but off the record of course.
Miles is apparently batting 1.000 in another version of this game. As much as he has changed his staff - replacing two defensive co-coordinators and an offensive coordinator among others - since the underachieving seasons in 2008 and 2009 and a third straight year of troubled offense in 2010, he has apparently never fired anyone. Amazingly, the exact guys he wanted to replace just happened to find other jobs just in time. Miles’ actions here though are all class and not as egotistical as constantly saying no one turned you down. He was trying to help his coaches move on without the slap of being fired. LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri tried to do this with assistant David Grewe as well. They were all able to accurately say they resigned and could save face to some degree, but to be truthful, they were let go.
Funny thing is, Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy, who accepted the LSU job only to change his mind and return to Alabama a few days later, was not LSU’s first choice. LSU previously had sent out feelers to Arizona coach Mike Candrea, a New Orleans native who has won eight national championships in softball. He was not interested.
When asked if he spoke to Candrea, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said no. His statement may have been accurate, but it wasn’t very truthful. In fact, it was misleading. For had Candrea showed some initial interest in LSU, there is no way Alleva would not have offered him the job. If Alleva later made Murphy the highest paid softball coach in the country at $215,000 (for three days), surely he would have thrown a similar pitch Candrea’s way first. But Alleva did not want to risk his 1.000 batting average on a cold call to Candrea. In other words, by turning down LSU interest, Candrea turned down LSU. That’s true and accurate. Candrea even told friends of his in the softball coaching network that LSU came after him.
Through former LSU coach Yvette Girouard, whom Murphy worked for at Louisiana-Lafayette in the early 1990s, Alleva knew he had a shot at Murphy.
But LSU will never admit it went after Candrea, and Candrea will likely continue to tell other coaches and reporters - off the record of course - that he could have gone to LSU. Unbelievably, both maintain their 1.000 batting average.