Well, LSU has a new athletic director in Scott Woodward. What do you think of the move, and what are your hopes for the new regime?
It’s hard to not think this is the best possible outcome. Woodward is a Baton Rouge native with deep ties to the area, deep ties to NCAA leadership and a proven successful track record at Washington and Texas A&M and, to top it all off, we yanked him away from our burgeoning divisional rival? Hell yeah.
Hopes? Alignment. Alleva turned LSU into a money-making machine, but it still felt a little like pulling teeth to get that cash into motion. It never felt like we had a coordinated, focused deliberately run department. Instead, it was faction warfare that wound up preventing LSU from operating at the highest levels, despite the shiny financials. Woodward is that unifying voice. He won’t face nearly as many political hurdles as Alleva and he’s already evidenced he’s a much more ebullient, personable guy. He can schmooze and he can do PR. Alleva laid a solid financial framework, so take that and pair it with a people person and you’ve got the elements of meteoric AD.
Overall, this is a good hire for LSU. Woodward is clearly passionate about Baton Rouge, his hometown, and walked away from a solid setup with lots of money involved in conference rival Texas A&M. He seems to value the long-standing traditions at LSU, and you get the sense he truly does have the best interest of the staff, athletes and fans in mind. It will be interesting to see how he handles issues like the Will Wade situation still at hand, as well as how much he sticks to his word moving forward.
I don’t think there’s any question that this was probably the best outcome LSU could have hoped for in regime change. Woodward’s a rare fit in that he’s very much a member of the Louisiana “good ole boy” power structure that also happens to have a strong track record as an administrator.
More importantly, the quickness of the move indicates that, in another rare instance, factions of the LSU power structure pulled in one direction.
That said, this is more of a long-term move than most think. Woodward isn’t coming in here guns blazing, and he doesn’t have to. LSU’s athletic department is in pretty good shape right now; nearly every major program is successful and has an entrenched coach, and most of the facilities (sans the PMAC, but that’s a much larger project) have mostly received (or are in the process of receiving) recent updates. That was not at all the case when Joe Alleva was hired, and there was no equivalent to Woodward among those candidates.
I don’t think you’ll see many immediate changes. The commodification of gamedays are here to stay as long as it makes LSU money. Mike the Tiger isn’t going back inside the stadium. You aren’t getting to park for free. And you aren’t getting Neck back either. He has to hire a soccer coach, and he’ll likely be hiring a women’s basketball coach in the next year, but that’s about it for now (barring any major revelations on the Will Wade situation). Mostly, I think you’ll see him work on building the relationships that will be the most beneficial for the future of the department with politicians, boosters and other major stakeholders. Trying to get LSU’s three major fundraising arms on something resembling the same page is a task in and of itself.
On a grass roots level, that won’t be change most of us see. But it’s still important.
I think Woodward will roll back some of the more onerous money-making schemes on GameDay, which will have the effect of legitimizing the ones he decides to keep, while maintaining his popularity. I think paid parking, particularly for tailgating, is here to stay, but he might have the good sense to make sure there are more public restrooms and trash cans. He also gets one year to figure out postgame traffic. These are little things, but they matter a ton to the fans.
We have just gone through a building spree, but Woodward’s major issue is what to do with the PMAC. The PMAC was nearly out of date when I went to school, and that was. um, a long time ago. The PMAC opened in 1972, the Carl Maddox Fieldhouse opened in in 1975, and Bernie Moore Track Stadium opened in 1968. Our swimming and diving team has never been competitive, and the LSU Natatorium dates back to 1985. That’s a lot of outdated facilities which house roughly half of LSU’s teams.
But the PMAC is the first domino. Do you renovate? Do you move it to a new location? Or to a location where there is an existing facility, necessitating a rebuild there first (I’m partial to moving PMAC to the current location of Bernie Moore, and moving Bernie Moore near the Nat, but I’m not entirely sure the space works out. The point here is that dealing with these facilities while not blowing the budget will define his tenure because, as Billy points out, coaching is pretty stable right now.
This was a terrific hire, executed flawlessly. They didn’t just fire Alleva without a plan, they already had the replacement largely locked up. That suggests a level of competence that has eluded LSU athletics for quite some time. Even LSU’s good hires had a wheel’s off element (Orgeron was a PR disaster after not being prepared to move after a near full season with an interim, and Torina came after Murphy backed out after being announced as the coach). LSU has lurched from crisis to crisis with scant leadership for Alleva’s office, and his standard excuse for any criticism was “King made me do it.” Which may be true, but begs the question of why we needed Alleva if he was just a rubber stamp.
Woodward gives LSU a respected leader with a good relationship with Sankey and the SEC, a welcome change. He’s also familiar on how to navigate complicated political waters with tons of enthusiastic and coddled boosters at Texas A&M. LSU won the press conference, it is up to Woodward to now win the hire.
I like the hire, but I doubt he’ll do anything radical. Given the machinations of the Board of Supervisors these last couple years, Woodward is here to fund raise and be a face to their facility and HR decisions. I get the feeling that, like when F. King replaced Lombardi, the Board was tired of dealing with someone who wasn’t cooperating and wanted a lackey, for lack of a better term. And it’ll probably work out fine. There’s a reason why you can’t really name the ADs at most institutions, but EVERYBODY in the college sports world knew about Alleva. If Woodward can slide into the background and just bring money in (hopefully to the university as well as the athletic dept) then he’ll be doing a great job.
As far as Poseur’s suggestions, I’m also unsure of what to do about the PMAC/Nat/Fieldhouse/Track area. While you wouldn’t know it unless you read press releases, all of those facilities have had big money upgrades or remodels in the past year or two. I’m sure if they wanted to that large TV in the PMAC could be moved, but the basketball practice facility that was bolted onto the north side was a huge cost. The only thing I can see in the PMAC’s future is a down-to-the-studs remodel on the interior. Either that or abandon it to Gym and build something new at the cow palace location.
There was some work in process on the PMAC, but I’m not sure if they had a firm plan for what they would do yet. Renovate, move (and where if so), or maybe a new facility nearby off campus that could be a partnership with the city/parish.
And I imagine they also want to make sure basketball demand continues to grow enough to make it all viable financially.
I’m sorry, I can’t bring myself to carry about the athletic director.
No shame in that. Woodward looks a bit stocky, I’m guessing north of 250. You’d blow your back out after a couple feet.