One of the most successful careers in LSU athletics comes to a sort of close today, as Skip Bertman, overseer of 5 National Championships as the LSU baseball coach, and overseer of 2 National Championships and 3 SEC Championships in football, 4 Final Four appearances in women's basketball, one Final Four appearance in men's basketball, two College World Series appearances in baseball, and countless other accomplishments, steps down as Athletic Director today.
He'll be gone, but he won't go far. He remains with the program in a fund-raising capacity. Officially, his title is "Athletic Director Emeritus." He leaves his post with LSU football, LSU baseball, LSU track, LSU women's basketball, and LSU gymnastics all appearing to have bright futures. He has overseen the hiring of a football coach, the hiring of a baseball coach, the hiring of two women's head basketball coaches, and the hiring of a men's basketball coach. His football hiree has been an unqualified success. The women's basketball coaches have both had success on the court. The latest baseball coach appears headed to great things. We'll have to wait and see on the basketball coach, but there are high hopes.
On July 1, Joe Alleva takes over the reigns of one of the best athletic departments in college sports. He follows, and is in the midst of, a golden age of LSU athletics in general, and of football in particular.
Welcome to work, Joe Alleva. I hope you know how.
Skip Bertman takes some heat for a few things, but he has left LSU athletics much stronger than he found it, and that's the mark of a successful tenure. If Alleva can make LSU athletics even better, it would be remarkable.
For all of Skip's accomplishments, I think his legacy as Athletic Director is defined by the hiring of Les Miles. Football is King in Baton Rouge, and let's face it. Miles was not a popular choice at the time. He had had moderate success at a second-tier BCS school, but nothing to jump out at you other than a couple of high profile upsets. He seemed unlikely to have all that much success here, and if he did, he seemed likely to leave us for Michigan whenever the opportunity came up.
Bertman's gamble paid off. Les Miles has proven to be more than up for the challenge of keeping the LSU train rolling both on the field and in recruiting. He guided LSU through the disaster of Katrina and then guided us to a National Championship. Even better, when (allegedly) given an opportunity to leave LSU for his first love of Michigan, he didn't go. Now he's ours for the foreseeable future. I for one wish Rich Rodriguez a lot of success.
Of course, all of this could turn around with two straight disappointing seasons, but all signs point to this being a great hiring. If it continues, Bertman will be an unqualified success as an AD and a legend as a baseball coach.