Posted at 12:04 pm on March 20, 2017

ENGSTER: Money talks in LSU basketball hire

Joe Alleva LSU Tiger Rag
Jonathan Mailhes
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By JIM ENGSTER | President, Tiger Rag Magazine

Athletic Director Joe Alleva is shopping for a third time for a head basketball coach at LSU. The first two hires by Alleva have been less than successful with Trent Johnson and Johnny Jones combining for three winning SEC seasons in nine years.

The conference record for LSU under Johnson and Jones the past eight seasons is 54-84 (12-36 under Johnson and 42-48 under Jones). LSU has produced just six winning SEC records on the men’s court in the last 24 years. The job, which was one of the plums in the industry 25 years ago, presents a major rebuilding operation for the successor to Jones.

Missouri, which finished tied for last with LSU in the SEC with a 2-16 mark this season, snatched Conzo Martin from California with a seven-year, $21-million deal. The question for Alleva is whether he will open the vault for a big hire in TigerTown. It will take a ton of money to lure a coach from a major conference to LSU.

It is amusing that mediocre coaches in college basketball now earn multi-million dollar salaries. Conzo Martin was born in 1971, when John Wooden of UCLA was in the process of capturing ten NCAA titles in 12 years. Wooden, who retired in 1975, never earned more than $32,500 as head coach of the Bruins.

Martin is 186-120 as a head coach for nine years and will earn approximately $100,000 per game. Wooden, in final nine seasons at Pauley Pavilion, was 259-12 with eight national championships. He earned approximately $1,000 per game during an unprecedented reign over the game.

LSU Championship trophy sold for a song

A Waterford Crystal football awarded to the LSU athletic director when the Tigers beat Ohio State 38-24 in January of 2008 for the BCS crown has been sold at auction for a surprisingly low price of $22,500. Skip Bertman sold the trophy through Goldin Auctions after receiving 32 bids. The trophy was estimated to be worth $30,000 even before the sentimental value and historical importance are considered.

Bertman, who was athletic director from 2001-2008, received one of three trophies before he turned the office over to Alleva. Retired car dealer Marvin Smith of Orange Beach purchased a significant pierce of Tiger history on the cheap. LSU has possession of two other trophies from the same year, but curiously, Les Miles did not receive one while Bertman did.

A shattered Coaches Trophy from Alabama’s 2011 BCS Championship earned with a 21-0 win over LSU was sold for $105,000 in 2013. The trophy was accidentally shattered by a player’s father. The remains collected more than three times the amount that Bertman’s intact glassware received.

Since an Alabama man has possession of the trophy, he should deliver it to Nick Saban, who contributed to LSU’s championship by losing to the Tigers 41-34 in Tuscaloosa in his 2007 debut season with the Tide.

Saban is 12-4 in the LSU-Alabama series, going 4-1 vs. Alabama when he was coach at LSU and 8-3 vs. LSU as head man of Bama. The series between the SEC titans is even at 9-9 in the 21st Century, which indicates that the quality of the head coach may be the biggest factor in victory.

Ramsey Dardar hoping for prison release

James Ramsey Dardar, the former LSU defensive lineman who is now 57 years old, may soon be free from prison. The Louisiana Pardon Board has voted in favor of releasing Dardar, who has been jailed for the last 20 years. Gov. John Bel Edwards will make his decision known soon. Reports from prison officials indicate Dardar has been a model inmate. This columnist received a well written letter a few years ago from Dardar, who claimed prison life was no picnic.

Dardar was arrested in 1997 for burglary and assault on a police dog. Reports stated that Dardar was rolling a wheelbarrow with stolen items down a street named Lovers Lane when police gave chase and sent a trained dog under a house in pursuit of the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Dardar. At the end of the fracas, Dardar was arrested but only after severely battering the animal.

The big man from Cecilia had a previous brush with incarceration after pleading guilty in 1990 to simple burglary. During legal proceedings, it was revealed that Dardar had scored a 3 on his ACT when enrolling at LSU.

Dardar, who was an All-SEC nose guard his senior year, dominated Nebraska’s Outland Trophy winner Dave Rimington in the 1983 Orange Bowl as the 11-1 Cornhuskers edged the Tigers 21-20. Dardar was drafted in third round by the St. Louis Cardinals and played one season before his career was ruined by cocaine use.

Charlton Heston was inspired by Y.A. Tittle

The actor Charlton Heston is the focus of a substantial biography from Marc Eliot that profiles the venerable film star, who had legendary roles ranging from Moses in Ben-Hur to astronaut George Taylor in Planet of the Apes.

Heston also played a New Orleans Saints quarterback, Ron “Cat” Catlin, hanging on at the end of his career in the 1969 film, Number One.

Catlin leads the Saints to the NFC Championship Game against Dallas. On the final play, he gets pummeled and he lies on the field, broken and bloody.

Heston was inspired for the role by examining the iconic photograph of former LSU star Y.A. Tittle in his final season with the New York Giants. The photograph of Tittle was taken by Morris Berman on September 20, 1964 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 37-year-old Tittle was driven to the ground by the Steelers’ 6-foot-7, 280-pound defender John Baker, who hit Y.A. so hard that he lost his helmet, broke his sternum and received a concussion. In one of the league’s most memorable images, Tittle is kneeling with his bald head bloodied as he ponders the last chapter of a career that included four NFL MVP awards.

Eliot writes that “Heston was mesmerized by the photo, unable to take his eyes off it; it proved the key to finding Catlin’s character.”

The footage used in Number One was from Billy Kilmer, the Saints first starting quarterback 50 years ago.

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James Moran has been the associate editor of Tiger Rag Magazine since 2014. He covers LSU football and baseball and is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

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