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Timing Strange on Skip Bertman's Departure


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Timing seems to be strange on Bertman's departure

Friday, April 04, 2008

Peter Finney

I see where LSU is preparing to turn the page and hire a new athletic director.

All of which prompts me to pose a one-word question: Why? More specifically, I'll pose it in two words: Why now?

When LSU announced a while back it was launching a search to find a replacement for Skip Bertman, I remember asking myself a question: Have I missed something?

The Tigers had won another national football championship, the school's second in four years.

Football, the golden goose of a 20-sport athletic program, a program with a $70 million budget, was on an unprecedented run of success following what turned out to be a seamless transition, from Nick Saban to Les Miles.

It wasn't long after Bertman came aboard that he found himself involved in making the most important decision any athletic director at LSU faces: Recommending a head football coach.

Let me say this: Bertman's recommendation of the head coach at Oklahoma State did not exactly leave the vast majority of Tiger fans dancing in the streets.

It came as no surprise the new man on the job would be measured against someone who had waved a magic wand, winning an SEC championship in his second season, LSU's first in 13 years, and a national championship in his fourth season, LSU's first in 45 years.

When you consider Miles' first opponent was no football juggernaut and Hurricane Katrina, when you consider he had to deal with some once-in-a-lifetime chaos, it boggles the mind to think, in the minds of some, how Miles is still being measured. Especially considering he then went on to string together back-to-back 11-2 seasons, then go 12-2 to win conference and national championships.

Through the three most pressurized football seasons any LSU coach has ever faced, it was no secret the football coach enjoyed an excellent relationship with a fellow coach, someone who had won five national championships in another sport, creating a mutual bond with a longtime member of the LSU family.

For Miles and Bertman, it was an invaluable mesh of personalities, one the football coach came to cherish.

So what's my point?

Here's my point.

To me, it makes no sense that Bertman has been asked to soldier on as a former athletic director, filling a new role in fund raising and special projects.

To me, it would make more sense, for the next two years, to have Bertman remain as a full-time AD, a sounding board, a valued ally, for the man in charge of the department's golden goose.

Common sense tells you, going into his fourth season, Miles would feel more comfortable with an old face at his side than a new one.

And I don't use "old" to suggest Bertman will soon be 70.

For Miles, a new season comes with a new list of challenges.

He goes into '08 with a talented time bomb at quarterback, a guy, who at the moment leads the team in indefinite suspensions.

Although all the '07 gambles paid off, think for a moment what a thin line it was for the Tigers. If Ryan Perrilloux was not there to take over for an injured Matt Flynn against Tennessee, running and passing for a touchdown, there would have been no championships.

After what happened last year, no one has to remind Miles it goes with the territory he'll be dealing with wall-to-wall chatter about another No. 1.

Will LSU be Perrilloux's team, or someone else's?

Doesn't matter, they'll say.

With the end of spring practice, feverish expectations have taken root.

Will Ricky Jean-Francois, the defensive MVP in the BCS championship game, make fans forget Glenn Dorsey? Will incoming blue-chip freshmen Patrick Johnson and Brandon Taylor solve problems at cornerback? Will new face DeAngelo Benton catch more touchdown passes than Brandon LaFell? Will Keiland Williams, Charles Scott and Richard Murphy each rush for 1,000 yards?

By how many points will the Tigers whip Auburn and Florida on the road? By how many will they beat Georgia in Tiger Stadium?

It's a long way from autumn, but you can already hear them beating those purple-and-gold drums.

Meanwhile, it's spring, and Bertman, LSU's future athletic director emeritus, is waiting to see if Van Chancellor will steer the Lady Tigers to an NCAA championship.

Before the season, Chancellor was Bertman's recommendation to take over as head coach.

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I got to admit

I am surprised

I was told Bertman was going to NOT retire even though he has planned this for awhile

Bertman talked about retiring right after he took the AD job due to not finding it as satisfying as he thought but he got into the groove of the job

I guess he is going to go through with it

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