NASHVILLE, Tenn. — LSU is expected to begin construction on its new athletic nutrition center this spring. Soon, it’ll be time for other projects.
The school plans to renovate the football operations complex and the west club level of Tiger Stadium, Athletic Director Joe Alleva said Sunday.
“The next big project is renovation of the football ops building,” Alleva said.
The weight room will be expanded, and the player’s lounge, locker room and meeting rooms will get facelifts. The $15 million football operations building opened in 2006.
“That building (will be) 10 years old, and other facilities have eclipsed us a little bit,” Alleva said. “We need to start raising money for football ops.”
The school also will renovate and “modernize” the west-side club area of Tiger Stadium, Alleva said. LSU spent about $80 million expanding the south end zone of the stadium, increasing capacity by about 10,000 to 102,321.
The addition included a 2,000-person suite level and a 3,500-person club level.
“The south stadium addition worked out so well, (Tiger Athletic Foundation) is going to go in and renovate and modernize the west-side club area,” Alleva said. “When you compare it to the south side, it needs renovating, replacing carpeting and remodeling some of the restrooms and replacing all the TV sets with flat-screen TVs.”
Five coaches signed
The five LSU position coaches offered new contracts have signed the deals, multiple sources told The Advocate.
Recruiting coordinator/running backs coach Frank Wilson, defensive line coach Brick Haley, receivers coach Adam Henry, defensive backs coach Corey Raymond and tight ends coach Steve Ensminger have signed new contracts. Those five had deals that ended in March.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis has not signed his new contract and extension, sources said. Texas A&M reached out to Chavis about its open defensive coordinator spot earlier this month, The Advocate reported last week.
LSU had offered the coach an extension several weeks before that report.
LSU players have an annual traditional during bowl practice: They swap jerseys with one another.
That was hilariously on display Sunday during the Tigers’ final full-contact practice at Vanderbilt ahead of the Music City Bowl on Tuesday against Notre Dame (7-5).
Safety Jamal Adams exited the team bus and walked into Vanderbilt’s indoor practice facility in a No. 70 white jersey — normally belonging to left tackle La’el Collins. The jersey looked more like a dress, reaching well past his waist.
Moments later, Collins walked by a group of reporters. Pulled snug over his 320-pound frame was Adams’ No. 33 jersey. It stopped near his belly button.
Coach Les Miles called it a “real quality tradition” and something started at LSU even before he arrived in 2005.
LSU cornerback Dwayne Thomas has a “good feeling” that suspended cornerback Rashard Robinson will return to the team next season, he said.
Thomas said he speaks to Robinson often and that Robinson plans to remain in school next semester.
“It’s a learning experience for him. He’s got to humble himself,” said Thomas, who traveled with the team to the bowl site but continues recovery from a torn ACL. “He’s going to stay in school, get his books, work out hard and wait for Coach Miles can say that he can come back.”
Robinson, a sophomore starter, was suspended a week before LSU’s game against Alabama on Nov. 8. As expected, he did not travel with the team to the bowl game.
Valentine didn’t travel
LSU defensive tackle Travonte Valentine did not travel with the team to Nashville, team spokesman Michael Bonnette said.
Valentine, a highly rated true freshman from Florida, has not played this season; he has not been ruled eligible by the Southeastern Conference. Miles suggested earlier this week that Valentine remained ineligible.
“He has some things to get in place so we can get him on the field,” Miles said Friday on his radio show.
Hilliard 100 percent
LSU running back Kenny Hilliard said he’s 100 percent.
Hilliard fractured a small bone in his shoulder in the game against Alabama on Nov. 8 and missed the final two games of the regular season. He didn’t think he would return this year, but he joined the team for full-contact practice last week and is expected to play in the Music City Bowl.
“I feel good,” he said.
“Getting him ready for his piece of the game plan has been done,” Miles said.