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Monday, September 11th, 2023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


I was paying my bill at the local supermarket here in Baton Rouge when the lady at the cash register asked me, “Are you going to the game in Tiger Stadium Saturday night?”  I paused for a minute, then told her: “I think my days going to Tiger Stadium are over.”  She looked disappointed and told me, “Yeah, they sure are off to a terrible start. That Florida State game was embarrassing.”

It just wasn’t the loss that turned me off.  Yes, like so many other Tiger fans, I had such great expectations. You have this coach that is paid $10 million a year, and recruits that have been brought in from all over America.  No, it’s not the loss to Florida State.  It’s my recognition that LSU football has evolved into a professional, curated, revenue-generating activity, and we are all forced to admit that football in the Bayou State has become a professional sport.  It’s pay to play at the state’s flagship university, where every angle is used to bring in the big bucks.

 LSU has dived headfirst into vice attractions including alcohol sales at home football games and wide-open sports betting.  In fact, the state’s major university was openly soliciting students to gamble online. Even though it’s against the law for someone in Louisiana to gamble who is under 21, LSU had been illegally soliciting students to sign up for an online account and gamble on any number of sports.  Soliciting underage students only stopped when this column pointed out this illegal effort.  So we have alcohol and gambling as cash generators at LSU.  Is cannabis next?

The college transfer portal has allowed players to jump from school to school at will.  Thirteen new transfer players are on the LSU roster this year, with many racking up on big bucks from NIL (name, image and likeness) dollars.  There are seven football players who are bringing in as much as $700,000 based on their NIL valuation. Many of these transfers come and go, and are out the door and out of state the minute they’re eligibility is over, or they become unhappy with how much playing time they receive.

Remember the old days when we watched Louisiana high school football players excel with their hopes of playing at LSU? And if they were lucky enough to get a scholarship and come, they stayed for four years. And for the rest their lives they considered LSU a highlight in their aging experience.  How about all American Bert Jones from Ruston, three time all American Tommy Casanova from Crowley, all American running back Kevin Faulk from Carencro, and of course everybody’s all American Billy Cannon.  All Louisiana guys who we followed from high school to their stardom at LSU, and all who went  on to  live and working in Louisiana. With the transfer portal in play, those days are gone.

Every athlete on scholarship at LSU receives a baseline deal of $25,000.  Better players collect much more, and many even have agents representing them. Players are no longer college kids but are considered employees of the university.

I understand that athletes are told there are three priorities at LSU.  Number one is football, number two is football, and number three?  Why football of course. The Wall Street Journal released it’s ranking of colleges across the United States this week.  LSU academically came in at 199th.

 Head football coach Brian Kelly summed up the university’s thinking when he talked about his former coaching job at Notre Dame. Kelly told ESPN that “the whole landscape there is different than it is here. It just is. There are priorities at Notre Dame. The architectural building needed to get built first. They ain’t building the architect building here first. We’re building the athletic training facility first.”  Well put Coach. To hell with academics. It’s all about football.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com. You can also listen to his regular podcast at www.datelinelouisiana.com.






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