One thing we can already say about new LSU softball coach Beth Torina: She doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Asked at the LSU Softball Coach Introductory News Conference Version 2.0 if anyone asked her if she was sure about her decision to take the LSU job, Torina smiled and said: “Everybody.”
Everybody can be forgiven for wondering if Torina might be a runaway bride in the wake of the Patrick Murphy fiasco. You remember Murphy. He’s the trophy coach LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva bagged on a safari hunt in Alabama.
Somehow, Murphy wriggled off the hook and went slinking/squirming/slithering - take your pick of unflattering verbs - back to Bama, thrusting LSU and Alleva back into search mode. This time he dipped into the fertile waters off Miami and hauled in Torina, an up-and-coming 32-year-old from Florida International.
Torina appears to be as locked up for LSU as a coach can be. Unlike, Murphy, she really doesn’t have a fallback position. LSU is certainly a huge step up in weight class from FIU, and while her $110,000 salary is probably about half what LSU was going to pay Murphy, it has to be more than she was making at FIU.
In addition, your dollar goes a lot farther in south Louisiana than South Florida, so as was the case with former UCLA women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell, it’s a double-edged raise.
The other pressing question for Torina was how she felt about so obviously being the second choice. The first alternate. The understudy who gets to take the stage because the established star literally succumbed to a case of cold feet.
Not being picked first is quite a common occurrence in coaching searches. It actually may be the norm. It’s well documented that Nick Saban was hardly LSU’s first choice when he came to Baton Rouge, primarily because no one at LSU realistically thought he would bite.
Rarely is the role of being second banana so obvious, so public. For Torina it has to be like meeting a room full of strangers and being forced to hand each one a copy of your tax return.
Again, she seemed to take the whole process in stride.
“I don’t care how I got here. I’m just excited to be here,” she said.
Her excitement seems genuine. So did Murphy’s. But recent history aside, there’s no logical reason Torina will pull a similar bait and switch.
Alleva’s hire will be highly scrutinized - again. He went from landing a coach with a stellar track record (seven Women’s College World Series appearances in 15 years) to one who led her program to one NCAA tournament win in four years.
With Murphy, Alleva bet on the allure of a big raise and a chance to start fresh. With Torina, he’s clearly betting on the come.
“I think things will work out for the best,” Alleva said of the whole Murphy/Torina double play.
It’s up to her to prove him right.