4/18/19 5:35 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It’s official. Joe Alleva is no longer LSU’s Athletic Director. The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, which is owned by former LSU Board of Supervisor member Rolfe McCollister, first reported that Alleva was on his way out, and then a few hours later LSU made it official with this news release stating that Joe Alleva was “stepping down from his current position” and “transitioning to a new role as special assistant to the president for donor relations.” But don’t let the words “stepping down” mislead you. This is not a matter of Alleva simply choosing to transition to a new role; He was voted out by the Board of Supervisions in a closed-door meeting held earlier this week. Alleva’s popularity with board members, boosters, and fans has been low since the botched firing of Les Miles at the end of the 2015 season. It sank even lower with his handling of the Will Wade suspension and reinstatement, which made the timing of this latest news not the least bit shocking.
While the news of Alleva’s ousting as AD wasn’t shocking, the news of who appears to be coming in certainly is, and in a good way! Multiple reports indicate that Texas A&M Athletic Director Scott Woodward agreed to take the same job at LSU just minutes after LSU’s official announcement of Alleva’s new role. Woodward is a Baton Rouge native and LSU alumnus who served as LSU’s Vice Chancellor from 2000-04, and it’s no secret that he loves Louisiana. In fact, NOLA.com reports that Woodward “has a camp in Grand Isle, an apartment in the French Quarter and his family lives in Baton Rouge.” What I find shocking is not that Woodward would feel a strong desire to return home, but that LSU was evidently able to pull off this home run hire so expediently. LSU identified its ideal man and went out and got him. And make no mistake about it, this is a major hire. In his two years at Texas A&M, Woodward was responsible for the hiring of two outstanding coaches. First he landed Jimbo Fisher as the Aggies’ football coach, and then landed Buzz Williams as A&M’s men’s basketball coach. Williams had just led Virginia Tech to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time.
Stay tuned for more on this developing story, and be sure to see the linked article in today’s closing tidbits on Woodward’s time at A&M and why he’s coming to LSU.
Now, how about some more good news, this time on the baseball front? With No. 10 LSU set to begin a big three-game series against No. 25 Florida tonight, Coach Mainieri has confirmed to me that Zach Watson, Chris Reid, and Zack Hess are all healing at a remarkable pace and that he’s hopeful the three will play in the series. That’s certainly the best injury news we’ve received in quite a while, and it comes at a great time as LSU embarks on the second half of SEC play only one game out of first place.
PITCHING, START TIMES, AND COVERAGE:
Thursday, 6 p.m. 8 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
LSU – TBA
UF – So. RH Tommy Mace (6-3, 4.13 ERA, 56.2 IP, 18 BB, 48 SO)
Friday, 7 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
LSU – Fr. RH Cole Henry (3-2, 3.45 ERA, 44.1 IP, 12 BB, 48 SO)
UF – So. RH Jack Leftwich (4-2, 4.50 ERA, 32.0 IP, 6 BB, 30 SO
Saturday, 2 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
LSU – So. RH Eric Walker (2-3, 5.79 ERA, 37.1 IP, 14 BB, 28 SO)
UF – Fr. RH Christian Scott (3-2, 4.60 ERA, 31.1 IP, 9 BB, 32 SO)
QUOTING PAUL MAINIERI:
“We’ve played a lot of very big games against Florida over the years, and this series falls into that category. It’s the start of the second half of SEC play, and we traditionally have played our best baseball at this time of the year. We’re only a game out of first place in the overall league race, so each of these remaining 15 conference games take on a great deal of significance. Florida is an extremely talented team that has won four of its last five games and is playing with a lot of confidence, so we know we’re facing a tremendous challenge starting on Thursday.”
LSU leads the overall series with Florida, 62-50-1, but the Gators have won seven of the last ten meetings between the teams, dating back to 2016. Last season, Florida defeated LSU, 4-3, on Day 2 of the SEC Tournament before LSU rebounded to eliminate the Gators from the tournament two days later, 11-0 in seven innings. This weekend’s series marks the first LSU-Florida SEC regular-season matchup since March 24-26, 2017, when the Gators won two of three over the Tigers in Gainesville, Fla. LSU and Florida met in the 2017 College World Series Finals in which UF posted two straight wins over LSU to claim the national championship.
ABOUT THE GATORS:
Florida is always dangerous, but this Gators team (25-14, 6-9 SEC) is not as strong as you’re accustomed to seeing from that storied program. Their pitching is a big reason why. The Gators are No. 14 in the SEC in team ERA (4.64) and have the fewest strikeouts per game in the league (7.56). That last stat bodes particularly well for a Tiger team that has been striking out an awful lot lately.
Offensively, The Gators are fifth in the SEC in team batting average (.289) and have launched 42 homers, which is fourth in the league.
• The No. 9/6 LSU softball team (36-9, 13-5 SEC) hits the road this weekend to take on No. 19/25 Arkansas (32-14, 6-9 SEC) Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tonight’s game and tomorrow’s game begin at 6 p.m. CT and will stream live on SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app. Saturday’s game will air live on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app at 1 p.m. CT.
• Congratulations to LSU’s Sarah Finnegan for winning the AAI Award, given annually to the top senior gymnast in the nation. Finnegan is the third gymnast in school history to win the award, which is considered the Heisman Trophy of the sport. Hats off!
• Here’s a good read by Amie Just of NOLA.com on “The good, bad, ugly moments from Joe Alleva’s LSU tenure.”
• And here’s the article mentioned above from SportsDay titled, “Despite success at Texas A&M, returning to LSU makes too much sense for Scott Woodward.”
• As promised, I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.
It’s a great time to be a Tiger!