Erickson mostly likely to lead LSU

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 18, 1999

So what’s more fun than naming a new coach? How about trying to figure out who that new coach will be.

It hasn’t been done since, let’s see when did Tommy what’s-his-name leave Ole Miss.

There wasn’t a whole lot of suspense when David Cutcliffe was named head coach at Ole Miss.

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It seems pretty wide open as far as the LSU coach is concerned, even though there are certainly some top assistant coaches who would fit LSU like Cutcliffe fits Ole Miss.

I thought it was kind of amusing that during the year some folks were saying, &uot;Why would a coach want to come to LSU?,&uot; referring to the number of coaches LSU has recently fired.

Excuse me, if a coach is scared to take a position, he’s not going to be much of a coach.

When you have the facilities and recruiting base LSU has, I would think any coach with confidence in his abilities would jump at the chance.

Gerry DiNardo was the toast of LSU, just look at the number of folks who were still behind him even after two consecutive disasterous seasons.

One thing you will probably notice is most of those folks are alumni who got to meet DiNardo at different functions.

I know when he came to Natchez once and then Ferriday, he charmed the crowd like no one I have ever seen at LSU.

He told jokes and went back for seconds (that makes him a hit here already).

He also had this aura about him that told folks, I’m going to lead you to the top.

Unfortunately, DiNardo made some bad decisions and lost the handle on the football program.

He’s still a good coach and with the right personnel around him could lead another college to the top of the ranks in their division.

But now thoughts turn back to LSU.

The most common name thrown out that I hear is Dennis Erickson.

Most folks will remember him from Miami, where he won two national titles, but Erickson currently has the folks in Corvallis, Ore., excited about football.

Some may remember the not-so-good years with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

But this is college football (where football is still a business, but nobody is supposed to say so).

The Beavers needed a coach when Mike Riley, in the heart of the recruiting season, bolted for the San Diego Chargers last January.

At about the same time, the 52-year-old Erickson needed a team to coach after having been fired by the Seahawks.

He went back to college, where he is the sixth-winningest active coach in the country and has Oregon State (7-3) seekings its first winning season for the Beavers since 1970 and what looks to be its first bowl appearance since 1965.

There is also a record single-season home attendance total of nearly 200,000. LSU fans may number 20,000 against Arkansas.

The question here is will Erickson want to leave Oregon, where he signed a five-year contract worth up to$300,000 a year?

I believe to be a good coach you have to have something of an ego. And coaching a team besides UCLA or Southern California in the West is not going to have you on television too many times or your name up their in lights as much as if you were in the Southeastern Conference.

I don’t think LSU is willing to gamble on an assistant coach such as Rich Rodriguez. Whereas, Joe Dean got away with not picking a big name last time in DiNardo, fans will expect a sure-fire winner this time. And Erickson heads that list.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 446-5172 ext. 232, or by e-mail at