FISCHER: Outside the Box
2013: A year of change for LSU
One of my favorite quotes from Monday Night Football’s tremendous color commentator John Gruden goes as follows.
“You never stay the same. You either get better or you get worse.”
As simple as it may be, it’s so true in the never-ending jockeying for position in the landscape of college athletics.
And the quickest way to get better or get worse is to change things.
It could be as big of a change as changing your personnel and philosophy or as small as a few tweaks here and there.
But change is one of the few constants in athletics, and they all have positive or negative impacts on your program.
That’s why 2013 and the changes that LSU’s three major sports have made, are making and will make are pivotal to both the short-term and long-term futures of the university’s athletic endeavors.
First up, I’ll start with the school’s bread and butter and its money-maker - the football program.
With six defensive starters and several more contributors headed to the NFL, the 2013 Tigers will look nothing like the 2012 Tigers on that side of the ball.
The field will be filled with youth and inexperience in key spots next year, and that’s sure to be a negative change. That’s why LSU hopes to make a positive change with its offense in 2013 by bringing in long-time NFL assistant Cam Cameron to take over the offense — likely to soon be a done deal — can only help matters.
LSU has finished no better than 73rd offensively in the past four seasons, and quite frankly, the offense is going to need to be better and even carry the defense at times for the 2013 campaign to be a success.
In Alex Box this season, the baseball Tigers will also be going through some offensive changes by bringing in more speed and more left-handed hitting this offseason. You can read about these additions extensively in the corresponding glossy edition.
In a nutshell, the acquisitions of junior college transfer Sean McMullen, freshmen Mark Laird and Andrew Stevenson and the return from injury of Chris Sciambra will give LSU an added dynamic at the plate and in the outfield that Paul Mainieri just didn’t have a year ago.
Two of the four will lock down the center field and right field jobs when the Tigers open up versus Maryland Friday night, and the other two will compete for time at DH, but you can bet that all four will see plenty of playing time in the first few weeks of the season.
All four hit left-handed and have base-stealing ability - with Laird and Stevenson having the best speed of the group.
These additions to LSU’s lineup will give the Tigers more variety in both the types of hitters they can throw out there 1-through-9 and the side of the plate they hit from. That’ll give LSU more versatility and decrease the likelihood of game-long power outages simply because a certain type of pitcher is a bad matchup.
Then there’s the changes on the hardwood where Johnny Jones already started molding the team in his image in the latter stages of 2012. However, he doesn’t quite have the horses yet to play a 40-minute, high-tempo game like he’d like to. But that’s going to change in 2013 when Jones sees the spoils of his highly-touted recruiting class headlined by five-star forward Jarell Martin. The 6-foot-9 Baton Rouge prospect is one of the most sought-after players in America, and keeping him in-state (unlike heralded recruits of years gone by like Chris Duhon, Hollis Price and Greg Monroe, among others) is a tremendous statement for the direction Jones is leading this program.
Add fellow newcomers Tim Quarterman, Jordan Mickey, Deng Deng, and most recently the verbal pledge from Australian seven-footer Darcy Malone plus transfer John Odo becoming eligible, and the pieces will finally be in place for Jones to take his first big step at LSU in 2013.
So 2013 will be an important year of change for LSU athletics. And in an ever-changing world where you’re either getting better or worse, you must adapt to fall in the former category. The plans are in place. Now, let’s see how they get executed.
Richard Fischer is the associate editor of Tiger Rag Magazine covering football and baseball. He is a graduate of LSU Journalism. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.