LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri did not take the high road on Monday when he talked about the end of the home-and-home series with Tulane.
In the first full statement by a representative of either LSU or Tulane, Mainieri offered a nearly 700-word answer when asked why the schools were not playing in 2019 and what his thoughts were on the future of the series during a news conference announcing the Tigers’ 2019 signing class.
Essentially, he explained LSU would treat Tulane the same as any other Louisiana school, playing at Turchin Stadium about once every five years if the Wave played at Alex Box Stadium every season, and that Tulane had rejected the new terms.
When it came to the annual home-and-home series with Tulane, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri was finding it hard from his perspective to thin…
Tulane and LSU have played at least once every season since 1937 and at least twice in every year since 1971. The first meeting was in 1893. The Tigers lead 181-131-3, but the Green Wave has won five of the last six after dropping 13 of the previous 16.
Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen confirmed last week the teams likely would meet next in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Classic in 2020 at the Shrine on Airline. LSU already has booked Louisiana-Lafayette for the 2019 game.
Tulane sources indicated LSU athletic director Joe Alleva was angered when Tulane rejected what it considered a low-ball offer from Cox Sports Television to broadcast the teams’ March 21 game at Turchin Stadium. Tulane opted to stream the game on-line instead, charging about $5 to watch it.
It was the first LSU baseball game not available on television or Watch ESPN in four years.
Whether or not that played a factor in the end of the home-and home series, Mainieri cited other issues. His entire statement:
"I know any time there's change, it's going to create a lot of attention. I know when Skip (Bertman) pulled out of the Winn Dixie (Showdown, an annual event pitting Tulane, LSU and UNO against three teams from another state in the Superdome; the Tigers participated in it from 1987 to 1999), that probably created a lot of trepidation with people. I'm sure when the Tulane-LSU football series stopped. it did as well.
"When I got here 12 years ago, one of the biggest challenges that I had was developing a scheduling philosophy. And one of the things that Skip told me, at that time he was the athletic director who hired me, was that he thought it was important we take our team around the state as quote, unquote the flagship university, a baseball program that had accomplished an awful lot in its history. It was good to go to different cities and take our team, and I've tried to do that. In fact this year we're going back to Natchitoches again. We've gone to Lake Charles and Thibodaux and Hammond and everywhere else in the state, so what I did was I came up with an agreement with all of the schools that if they come and play us every year, see we only have 14 midweek days. It's not like the where you could just play anybody as often as you want to do and wherever you want to, so you only have 14 midweek dates. And so trying to make it work, I presented to all the schools, all the coaches, that if they came and play us Baton Rouge every year, that every fifth or so year I would bring the LSU Tigers to their place, and in the meantime we would pay them a guarantee so it would be a non-budget item for them, and they didn't have to pay us, and then every fifth year they could charge whatever they wanted, they could make as much money, promote it any way they could and give them a little bit of an opportunity to generate revenue.
"So when it came down to UNO and Tulane, it was a little bit more complicated for me. First of all, UNO was the school that I had played at my junior and senior years, and I decided to do a home-and-away with them (in 2008 and 2009) as a way to thank them for what they did for me in my life. And it was also right after Katrina, so I decided to have the home and away continue with Tulane to try to help them and rebuild their program and in the city of New Orleans and so forth.
"After the years have gone by, I've ended the home and away with UNO and after 12 years I just feel like it's time for me to treat Tulane the way I treat everybody else in this state, that if they want to play us here every year that we'll come and play them there every fifth year, so as you might imagine, I hear from the other schools all the time like how come you treat Tulane different than you treat us. I just kind of felt that maybe it had run its course, that home-and-away rivalry. I still want to play them, and in fact if they wanted to play us here next year they'd still be on the schedule. But they chose not to join the rotation, quote-unquote, like everybody else in the state. So that's their prerogative, and I understand that, so I did offer them the opportunity to take over as our opponent in the Wally Pontiff, Jr. Memorial Game, not for 2019 because we already had UL locked in for that year, but beginning in 2020 and it's my hope that every year thereafter, we'll play Tulane in New Orleans at the Shrine on Airline in the Wally Pontiff, Jr. Memorial Game.
"And so we'll continue to play them. We'll have a one-year hiatus and then we'll continue to play them, but it won't be here and it won't be at their place. It will be at a neutral site, and hopefully we'll have an enormous crowd to generate revenue for a really good cause."