LSU fires Johnny Jones after five seasons

By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor

The Johnny Jones era is officially over.

LSU has fired its 21st basketball coach, a source told Tiger Rag. Athletic director Joe Alleva announced the decision Friday at a press conference.

“I felt like in the direction of the program, we needed a change,” Alleva said. “We’re all about excellence and competing for championships and we weren’t going in that direction.”

Along with Jones, all three assistants — Brendan Suhr, Robert Kirby, and Randy Livingston — have been fired, as has director of operations Charlie Leonard. The buyouts of the staff, including Jones, should total around $2 million.

Jones, 56, leaves LSU as the program’s fourth-winningest head coach, posting a 90-72 record in five seasons.  Those 90 wins are the most by an LSU coach in his first five seasons, as are his 42 SEC wins. The Tigers failed to qualify for postseason play in 2016 and 2017, however, and Jones’ final team finished 2-16 in league play, losing a school-record 15 straight games in the process.

“Obviously, last year did not live up to our expectations,” Alleva said. “And this year, when you lose 19 out of 21 games, that’s pretty obvious. I think the past two years have been a bit of a disappointment.”

Taking over for Trent Johnson in 2012, Jones led LSU to seasons of 19, 20, and 22 wins in his first three seasons, respectively, with an NIT berth in 2014 and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2015. Under Jones, LSU also improved its SEC record from 7-9 the year before his arrival to 9-9, 9-9, and 11-7 from 2012-2015.

A player under Dale Brown from 1980-1984, Jones began his coaching career as an assistant with LSU in 1985 and remained on Brown’s staff until his retirement in 1997. He returned to LSU in 2012 after 11 seasons at North Texas, where he won 196 games and led the Mean Green to two NCAA Tournaments.

At LSU, Jones recruited five top-50 prep players and coached four NBA draft picks, including 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons and 2015 first-rounder Jarell Martin. Under his watch, LSU produced 10 All-SEC players, including Antonio Blakeney in 2016.

LSU will now embark on the search for its 22nd head coach. The Tigers have not won an NCAA Tournament game since Johnson’s first season in 2009, when LSU won the SEC title and defeated Butler in the first round of the NCAA tourney.

The Johnny Jones File
Year,Record,Conference,SEC Finish, Postseason
2012-13,19-12,9-9,T8th, N/A
2013-14,20-14,9-9,T6th,NIT Second Round
2014-15,22-11,11-7,T3rd,NCAA First Round
2015-16,19-14,11-7,T3rd, N/A
2016-17,10-21,2-16,13th, N/A
LSU Totals,90-72,42-48
Career Totals,295-234,140-147 [/table]

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Cody Worsham

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