This is what Scott Woodward wanted.
This isn’t to say that Woodward was wrong from moving on from Will Wade, especially if the NCAA was basically making him choose between Wade or LSU football. But while Scott Woodward had to do this I’d also contend he wanted to do this and the recent NOA against Wade was the opening he’d been looking for since getting to Baton Rouge. Never mind the fact that Woodward doesn’t owe Wade a cent.
Woodward didn’t hire Will Wade, he inherited Wade after he was reinstated. And just as every GM for professional teams have the right to hire their coaches and pick their players, athletic directors are allowed that same sort of reign over the university the preside over. Woodward has been LSU’s AD for 35 months and in his tenure he’s had to hire a football, baseball, women’s basketball, and gymnastics coach and next up on his to do list is hire a men’s basketball coach. His thumbprints will be all over LSU athletics for the foreseeable future and that’s fine. It’s why he was brought back home to Baton Rouge.
And yes I know Will Wade messed up. Or, as Poseur elegantly put it, he messed up in the sense that he got caught messing up.
But please Scott, don’t tell me in your letter explaining why you fired Will Wade it was simply to protect the well-being of the student-athletes. Especially when you yourself said the decision is “not an acknowledgement of agreement with any of the allegations.” Firing the head coach of LSU basketball the day before Selection Sunday doesn’t protect Tari Eason or Darius Days or Brandon Murray or Xavier Pinson or any of the other members of the basketball team. It likely only deters them.
And it doesn’t just affect the 2021-2022 team, but future LSU basketball teams. Devin Ree, a four-star, top-100 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class just de-committed to LSU. LSU’s likely also going to lose five-star center Yohan Traore from its class as well and while five-star forward Julian Phillips signed his letter of intent, it’s only a matter of time until he gets released from it. You know Marvel Allen, the No. 18 overall prospect in the 2023 class who’s currently committed to LSU? Something tells me we won’t be seeing him in the PMAC, unless he’s playing for somebody else.
But hey, now Scott Woodward a supposed “gangster” himself gets to hire his basketball coach. Woodward likes to go big game hunting but the problem is there’s no game to be had. Look around the landscape and tell me who Woodward is actually going to pull. He’s going to talk Brad Stevens into leaving a front office job with the Boston Celtics and come back to coaching? Please. Mark Few? He’s the king of the West Coast Conference and cruises to a one-seed year after year. Or maybe Woodward will try to scratch the Texas A&M itch one more time and try to poach Buzz Williams who, by the way, has still yet to make an NCAA Tournament in three years at College Station.
What will likely happen is Woodward will have to settle for hiring a coach you’ve likely never heard of from a school you’ve probably never heard of (my favorite is San Francisco’s Todd Golden, followed closely by Murray State’s Matt McMahon, North Texas’s Grant McCasland, or South Dakota State’s Eric Henderson). And he’ll have to overpay because no coach in their right mind would willing come to a program that’s about to be slapped with who knows what kind of sanctions be it a postseason ban, scholarship reductions or some combination of both.
I hope y’all liked playing meaningful basketball in March and pulling in players like Cam Thomas and Tari Eason. Because unless Scott Woodward nails this coaching hire and the NCAA sanctions aren’t as severe as we fear LSU won’t be dancing anytime soon.