By Robert Mann
Surely, LSU head football coach Les Miles is worried that if his school does not survive the current legislative session, his football team goes down with it. If Miles does know this and is alarmed, you’d never know it. Reportedly close to Gov. Bobby Jindal, the coach has not yet spoken publicly about the danger the proposed budget cuts pose to LSU, in general, and his fall football program, in particular.
Student organizers of Thursday’s march on the state Capitol tried, but failed, to get Miles to join them in their march. Perhaps Jindal has advised Miles to stay home or has assured him there’s nothing to worry about. Whatever the case — misplaced loyalty to Jindal or complacency– that apathy has not affected LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva.
After a Tiger Athletic Foundation event on Tuesday in Lafayette, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported primarily on remarks about the LSU football team made by new defensive line coach Ed Ogeron. Buried at the bottom of the story, however, was this interesting passage:
But it wasn’t just athletic funding. Alleva took a moment at the end of his speaking time to align himself with LSU president F. King Alexander on the university’s need for funding to stay relevant academically.
The biggest opponent LSU faces is funding for higher education, Alleva said.
Alleva said the state’s current shortfalls in higher education funding hurts athletics just as it does the general student population. Players, just like the rest of the student body, could look elsewhere if the course work available to them isn’t up to par.
Alleva encouraged those in attendance to contact their legislators with their disapproval.
“Our concern is not Alabama or Texas A&M, it’s funding,” Alleva said. “Anyone concerned about higher education should feel the same way.”
After I tweeted something about Alleva’s remarks on Wednesday night, Tiger Rag editor Cody Worsham informed me of additional, stronger remarks by Alleva on Wednesday.
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) April 30, 2015
Clearly, Alleva is concerned enough about LSU’s budget to speak out. Les Miles is not.
Despite Alleva’s warnings, no official with LSU has yet stated the obvious: If LSU declares financial exigency and cannot open for classes in the fall, the NCAA and the SEC may not permit the school to field its football team. After all, despite the views of many fans, LSU is a school with a football team, not the other way around.
LSU President F. King Alexander and others might sound the alarms about the dangers these proposed cuts pose to LSU and the state. Sadly, however, it may take Alleva, Miles and coaches from other Louisiana universities to truly capture the attention of state leaders and persuade them to muster the courage to do their jobs.
Isn’t it time we finally heard from Miles? We all know he’s not much on offense, but it’s way past time for him to get into the game.