LSU athletic director Joe Alleva joined The Culotta & The Prince radio show on 104.5 FM ESPN on Wednesday morning. Here are some highlights from the interview:
Q: What are some of your thoughts on the way the LSU season ended; both the men and women teams getting into the tournament?
A: I was disappointed that we lost to NC State on the men's side. I thought that we had every opportunity to win that game and it was a shame to end it that way, but overall I think the season was good, and it was a season we can improve on. I'm a little disappointed that both of those big kids left but I think we've got some really good kids coming in, I think the future is bright, I think we have a chance to win even more games next year.
Q: One of the guys coming in is Ben Simmons, national player of the year; did you get a chance to watch him play on the nationally televised games last week?
A: I did, I watched the championship game, but I've watched him play before. He's a 6'9", 6'10" kid that could actually play point guard. I mean the guy has tremendous skill and he's going to be really fun for our fans to watch, he can do everything: he can handle the ball, he can go to the basket, he can shoot outside, he's a really talented young man. If he was allowed to be drafted right now, he'd probably be the first guy picked, so that's how good he is.
Q: Simmons brings a certain type of expectation to the fanbase, does he bring that feeling to your office for LSU basketball and the staff, getting a player like Simmons on campus?
A: When you get a player like that on campus you need to make sure you take advantage of it. You utilize all of his skills and use him as a help in recruiting for other players. When the number one player in the country comes to your school, that gets the attention of other recruits. So we need to make sure that not only do we take advantage of it for next year, because I don't know how long he'll be with us, but to take advantage of it for years to come to help our program grow in the furture.
Q; Well speaking of programs that are growing, it seems that all of the spring sports are performing at a very high level. What's it like over there on Nicholson when you look in the paper and see all of your programs are ranked?
A: Well, it's really what we are striving for. If we're going to play a sport, we might as well be good at it, right? So I'm really pleased. Baseball is doing great, Beth Torina has really done a great job recruiting and building that softball program up. D-D's shooting for the national championships here real soon, both of our tennis' are doing well, and both of our golfs are doing well and track is steady. So its fun, it's really a fun time in the spring when all of your teams are doing well.
Q: It seems like this group coming back for Les Miles' 11 season is loaded everywhere. Do you get the feeling if they can get some production from that quarterback spot that LSU's going to have a chance to be inside that final four?
A: Absolutely. No question about it. I think if our quarterbacks can give us good play and not make mistakes. I think our offensive line, our receivers, our runningbacks, our defense is going to be top-notch. I think we've got a chance to compete at the highest level. Quarterback play is obviously very important in that regard so hopefully those two kids are getting better and we'll see which one of them emerges as our quarterback.
Q: On Alabama's Jonathan Taylor discipline: Taylor was a guy LSU had interest in, but you guys went through a vetting process and decided it wasn't worth it to take him in to LSU. What are some of the things that you guys do to kind of go through that vetting process to make sure you're not eliminating a guy from a second chance but also to get to the point in time where you make the decision you tell the guys in the football office 'this is not a guy we think we should take on to the campus.'
A: Well, you know you have to evaluate what the young man did, and I'm a big believer in giving people second chances. But you have to be careful where you pick, and really research what the young man did and what his violations where. You're right, we looked into him and I decided that he wasn't a kid we wanted to pursue. We have pursued other kids in the past that had some problems but I thought in this case it wasn't one we wanted to pursue. It's something that we look at on an individual bases and make a decision. And you know I guess in this case we made the right decision by not pursuing him.
Q: In the times you've spent with Greg Sankey, are you optimistic that some of the things that you've specifically pushed for, namely football scheduling, will get a thorough review or do you think a lot of these things are going to be business as usual?
A: Well I've met with Greg a couple of times since he's been named new commissioner, in fact I met with him out in Indianapolis again and talked with him for a long time. I think he's going to be terrific first of all. He's extremely bright, very motivated, he's got experience in the league and understands the league very well. He's a very ethical man with tremendous integrity. He's not going to sit back on his laurels and just say 'oh well this a great league.' We're going to constantly look to get better at everything we do. I've talked to him about my priorities, one of my top priorities is that we continue to be able to play night games in Tiger Stadium. I'm not real high on permanent partners but having lost that argument numerous times I told him the most important thing when it comes to football scheduling is that we play night games at home and he understands that. I'm sure he'll work with our TV partners to try and get as many night games in Tiger Stadium as possible.
Q: Jim Hawthorne has been on the mic for 35 years as voice of the Tigers. You guys are looking to replace that spot after next year's basketball season. I know you're on the board along with out vice president and market manager Gordy Rush along with some others. What's going into the next search for the voice of the Tigers?
A: Well, we're looking for someone that can represent LSU not just with their voice, but out in the community. Someone that has energy and will be passionate about their job, they'll be the true voice. They'll do football, basketball and baseball just like Jim has done so marvelously well for 35 years. There won't be any shortage of applicants I'll tell you that much, there is tremendous interest in the job. We'll do the best we can to get a great voice and a great person that will represent LSU for us at the highest level.
Q: What's the timeline on ultimatley making a decision?
A: I'd like to get somebody picked by the start of football season. Jim's going to do football but I'd like to haev someone picked by then so we'll know who it is and they can even come and watch how the process works and kinda be behind the scenes during football season.