Jim Engster: Is Jayden Daniels better than Joe Burrow?

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) has led the Tigers to an 8-2 overall record, No. 6 national ranking and the SEC Western Division crown this season. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

A trio of LSU football titles in the 21st Century have been fueled by veteran quarterbacks. Matt Mauck in 2003, Matt Flynn in 2007 and Joe Burrow in 2019 were fifth-year seniors when they guided the Tigers to the victory circle.

The national championship runs of coaches Nick Saban, Les Miles and Ed Orgeron were delivered by exceptional quarterbacks with vast experience. The quality of the person at the helm of the offense is the rising tide that lifts all boats. Orgeron was 25-3 in two years with Burrow as his quarterback. His Tigers were 26-17 in four seasons without the Heisman Trophy winner on the field.

Burrow showed promise his junior season but was not as prolific in his debut with LSU as Jayden Daniels has been through nine games this year.

Here is the comparison of Burrow and Daniels at LSU after facing Alabama in
2018 and in 2022.

Burrow: 1,728 yards, 6 touchdowns, 4 interceptions…138 completions in 258
attempts, 53.4 percent.
Daniels: 1,994 yards, 14 touchdowns, 1 interception…187 completions in
268 attempts, 69.8 percent.

Daniels is a vastly superior runner. In nine games at LSU, Daniels has rushed for 619 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games. In his junior season, Burrow amassed 399 yards and seven scores.
Daniels is the better junior, and if he stays for another season, he will require some spectacular numbers to keep up with Burrow, who passed for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns with just six interceptions in his magical run of 2019.

Brian Kelly’s greatest move was to coax Daniels to Baton Rouge. Without the kid from San Bernardino, California, LSU would not be 7-2 and vying for conference honors.

DALE BROWN COURT IN JEOPARDY

The LSU Board of Supervisors voted 12-3 on Sept. 10 of last year to name the court at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in honor of Dale Brown, the greatest basketball coach in the school’s history.

LSU President William Tate has reversed course and has rescinded his support for the Dale Brown Court. He is asking Board members to vote early next year in favor of the Sue Gunter-Dale Brown Court. A motion offered by Board member Mary Werner to do just this was defeated resoundingly at the Board meeting 14 months ago.

Tate was present at a January dinner hosted by Coach Brown in Baton Rouge and voiced his approval for the Dale Brown Court. He has since worked behind the scenes and even showed up with a Board member at the residence of Brown on the coach’s 87th birthday to inform him he had defected to the other side on this issue.

To add insult, a bogus flyer has also been prepared by someone at LSU that is erroneous in comparing the credentials of Brown with Gunter. Among many inaccuracies, the flyer reduces Brown’s SEC victory total by 30 games and states that Gunter coached LSU in a Final Four.

Gunter already has a statue inside the PMAC, Brown does not. The real score for Final Four journeys is Brown 2, Gunter 0. The score for SEC regular season titles is Brown 4, Gunter 0.

The score for legitimate sellouts at the PMAC during their tenures is Brown 255, Gunter 1. LSU was so popular in the salad days for Brown that fans unable to secure tickets were hauled to the old gym armory to watch games on closed circuit television. Locals were leaving their season tickets to loved ones in their wills.

Gunter was a woman of integrity who died more than 17 years ago. She was a good coach, but not in the same league with Brown or her protégé’ Pokey Chatman.

Here is a comparison of the records of Gunter and Chatman.

Years as head coach at LSU: Gunter 22, Chatman 4.
Overall records: Gunter 442-221 66.7 percent
Chatman 105-19 84.7 percent
SEC records: Gunter 132-111 54.3 percent
Chatman 45-9 83.3 percent
SEC titles: Gunter 0, Chatman 2
Final Fours: Gunter 0, Chatman 3

The Final Four that admirers of Gunter claim for her was in 2004 when she resigned because of ill health and left with 20 games remaining. Chatman coached the team to the Final Four, not Gunter. Chatman was released in 2007 and her last team also advanced to the Final Four under Bob Starkey, who rightly received plaudits for the accomplishment. It would have been asinine to credit Chatman for something she did not do.

Chatman, not Gunter, is more worthy of having her name chiseled on the court of the PMAC. Comparing Chatman to Gunter is like comparing Nick Saban with Gerry DiNardo. One was an elite coach. The other was not.

If an LSU football coach were in charge for 22 years and never captured a conference regular season crown, he would be fired. Gunter on the record is not in the same class with Chatman, who gave her mentor her greatest success both as a player and as an assistant, recruiting the best players in the history of the program. Without Chatman, Gunter endured a three-year span in the SEC with a 3-30 record.

Chatman then led LSU to heights on the women’s court not seen before or since. She resigned in scandal, but how many other LSU coaches have been involved in issues of sexual misconduct?

With the trial of former LSU Associate Athletic Director Sharon Lewis slated next year, LSU should be wary of snubbing one of its most gifted alums, who is also an African-American female. Lewis is a former LSU track all-conference performer who helped her squad to several national titles and is the current president of the National L Club for all Tiger lettermen and letterwomen.

It is a case of racism to honor Gunter, a mid-level plodder of a coach, and not celebrate the overpowering achievements of Chatman?

And there are multiple ways to pay homage to Gunter for her longevity without changing the name of Dale Brown Court.


President Tate should reconsider his reversal on this matter and appreciate the harsh reaction that will be unleashed should he slight the most popular coach LSU ever.

Brown has showcased some of the most exciting teams in school history with an array of players, who have reigned as titans of athletics and business and reigned as superb ambassadors for LSU. To stab an octogenarian legend in the back, to appease a few naysayers, is an insult to the coach and to his 160 players of which 114 have graduated.

The LSU women’s team that came closest to winning a national title was in 1977 when the Lady Tigers lost in the championship game to Delta State. That team coached by Jinks Coleman was 29-8 and featured Julie Gross and Marie Jackson from Australia. They were brought to LSU by Brown as he was recruiting Andy Campbell for the men’s team.

Brown assisted Gross and Jackson in retiring their bills until they were settled in Baton Rouge. The Dale Brown Foundation also paid for LSU great Joyce Walker to return to school and obtain a degree. Walker was inducted in the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017.

When the man from Minot, North Dakota arrived in Baton Rouge in 1972, Collis Temple was the only Black player LSU had ever featured in basketball. Five years later, Brown rolled out an all-Black starting lineup and coached the first 89 Black players in the history of the university.

President Tate is the first person of color to lead LSU. He has acknowledged the legacy of Brown and has the capacity to prevent this injustice against a trailblazer who risked life, limb and career to bring the program into the modern age.

Tate should act soon to thwart this travesty

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