LSU embraces winning culture with Mulkey hire

LSU is a place for winners.

LSU shouldn’t have to chase talented players or beg for attention to fill coaching vacancies.

The school’s winning culture and championship pedigree should always speak for itself.

Some die-hard LSU fans will read the three above sentences and feel as though I took those words from their very soul. Some LSU haters will attempt to hold their last meal down as they rush to close the page.

Those three opening sentences might have rang true in the past or may have never had a shred of validity. It doesn’t matter.

When Tiger athletic director Scott Woodward hired Baylor Women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey to take the reins of the LSU women’s basketball program, his statement to the rest of the NCAA was clear.

It doesn’t matter what LSU athletics was or what you thought LSU athletics was because, moving forward, LSU will consider itself a destination for winners and champions.

Mulkey has been a winner her whole life. A native of Tickfaw, Louisiana, Mulkey led her Hammond High basketball team to four consecutive state championships while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She became the first person in NCAA women’s basketball history to win a national championship as a player (LA Tech 1982), assistant coach (LA Tech 1988), and head coach (Baylor 2005, 2012, 2019).

She is arguably the most qualified head coach that LSU has ever hired, and she will be tasked with building back a program that was last a perennial contender in the early 2000’s.

Currently, the team is a far-cry away from the days of legendary Tiger coach Sue Gunter and Van Chancellor. The LSU women’s basketball program is still the only school to sit atop the record books with UConn as the two teams to reach the final four round five consecutive times.

The Tigers last made the NCAA tournament in 2016 when they were bounced out of the first round, and LSU hasn’t won a game in the tournament since the 2013 season.

Fortunately, the confidence and energy that Mulkey brought to the program and fan base during her first day on campus was a sight to behold, and I’m confident that the LSU women’s basketball program will be well on its way back to national relevance with its new hall-of-fame coach at the helm.

For Woodward, this is another name added to an impressive list of head coaching hires that he has enjoyed while serving as an athletic director.

As athletic director for the University of Washington, Woodward hired Boise State football coach Chris Petersen. While serving as athletic director for Texas A&M, Woodward hired football coach Jimbo Fisher from Florida State and men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams from Virginia Tech.

Woodward doesn’t waste his time with unproven coaches or flashes in the pan. He only deals with winners. 

It’s also refreshing to have an athletic director that doesn’t allow a coaching search to turn into a national circus, but that’s a topic for a different column.

Today, we’ll focus on celebrating the present, not dwelling on the past.

The LSU women’s basketball program and athletic department are both under the care of proven winners, and I believe I share the sentiment of many Tiger fans when I say that I am excited about the direction of both.

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