By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of “The Sitdown” from the Tiger Rag Extra’s December “Money Issue.” To read the interview in full, click the link at the bottom of the interview and sign up for Tiger Rag Extra’s FREE digital eRag. Once signed you, you can access every issue of Tiger Rag Extra for free.
LSU basketball fans who tune into the radio broadcasts of the games on the LSU Sports Radio Network have been hearing a familiar voice this season, though it might be difficult to recognize it directed professionally and calmly into a microphone rather than loudly and angrily at officials.
Former Tiger hoops coach John Brady – who won 192 games from 1997 to 2008 at LSU, with two conference titles, three divisional titles, two Sweet 16s, and a Final Four – is back on the sidelines, teaming up with the Voice of the Tigers, Chris Blair, as the color commentator on basketball broadcasts.
Brady, nearly 10 years removed from coaching his last game in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, sat down with Tiger Rag to talk about his new gig, the emotions of returning to LSU, and his thoughts on the past, present, and future of Tiger basketball.
TIGER RAG: Tell me what life is like from the radio side of things instead of sitting on the bench. How has that adjustment been?
JOHN BRADY: The whole perspective is different. I never really knew there was a different life after coaching, because I was wrapped up in that all my life. There is a life after coaching. To see the game from where I sit now, it’s important. It’s important to the coach, his family, the players that play, the fans, but at the end of the day, it’s not the most important thing. That’s what I really see now. From where I sit now, at times, I wish I would’ve enjoyed it more, as opposed to fighting it like I did, wrestling with it every day. I wish I’d have slowed down and maybe breathed the air a bit along the way.
It’s been good. I’m in a good place. I enjoy working with Chris Blair. He makes it easy. He’s a real pro. He’s made it easy for me. All I’m doing is talking about what I see. I’m not there to criticize, or say, ‘I would’ve done this.’ There’s a lot of ways to coach the game. I just look at Will Wade’s personality and how he handles things, he’s got a nice way about him for being 34 years old. I could’ve never done it at 34, I struggled enough with it at 42. I’m really impressed with his personality and how he handles things. This will be an up and down year, and a tough year, but from where I’m sitting, I like where I am, enjoying being with Chris Blair. I couldn’t say more nice things about the administration, how kind they’ve been to me. It’s been unbelievable. I appreciate and am glad and am happy for the opportunity.
TR: Was that ever, not a concern, but a question that you had, about being a coach that got fired, then coming back and working for the university? Was that ever a weird dynamic for you, or do you think enough time has passed?
JB: I never left here angry or upset. If you look back on the interview – I still have it – the interview I did with Joe Dean, Jr. the day of the Tennessee game (the day after Brady’s firing was announced), it opened the broadcast. Then at the press conference, and I met with the Sixth Man Club. I never left here blaming anybody or angry. I left here appreciating the opportunity LSU gave me. And I think time has reflected back on that a little bit.
I think the 11-year run we had was pretty good. The last year wasn’t as good as we’d have liked. Tasmin Mitchell didn’t play. We had some issues there. But I think the redeeming thing about it all is how I left. I really appreciate LSU for giving me a chance. Joe Dean hired me when he shouldn’t have. I was a no-name guy from Samford University, and we came here and did some good things, and I’m proud of that. But I also look back (at) the team that I left. Most coaches that get let go, the program’s in disarray. It needs a change. There’s no good players left. The team we left, when it got healthy, it did win the league next year. It was the only team to play North Carolina to single digits in the NCAA Tournament, and they went on to win the national championship. (Editor’s note: LSU lost that game to North Carolina 84-70, but LSU led by as much as five in the second half and did offer the Tar Heels their toughest test of the tournament). That collection of players we left, the program was in good shape. I think time has proven that a little bit. I was never angry at anyone.
I appreciate Will Wade for not being insecure and not having a problem with me sitting there. And I’m not there to judge him. I’m there to help him and explain to people what the team is doing and why they’re doing it.
TR: I think you’ve told this story before when we were doing radio together, but Will has a story he’s told about his first team meeting at LSU. Some of the guys weren’t wearing LSU gear, and he said something to them. Do you recall the cleaned up version of your first meeting with LSU players?
JB: I’ll never forget it. I’d just hired Kermit Davis to be my assistant, he and Butch Pierre…
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