The Search For The Next LSU Basketball Coach

Johnny Jones

Louisiana politics is rearing its ugly head again and this time, instead of affecting the constituents of the state, its affecting the basketball program at LSU.

Per Chad Sabadie of WBRZ in Baton Rouge, LSU has interviewed North Texas head coach Johnny Jones (as many expected they would) and are planning to interview Tommy Amaker, head coach at Harvard, and Reggie Theus later in the week.

That means that the top three targets to be the next men’s basketball coach at the largest university in the state come from a Sun Belt school, an Ivy league school, and the unemployment line. The three combined equal four – FOUR! – trips to the NCAA tournament with zero wins.

Color me unimpressed. It’s no secret that LSU basketball has fallen off in years and that ever since Dale Brown stepped down no coach has been able to rekindle the magic he brought to Baton Rouge. But now they’re just not even trying (at least according to reports).

Jones is a former LSU player who became an assistant coach under Brown. He has been at North Texas for the past eleven years and has cultivated several ties to the state of Louisiana to bring in recruits to be members of the Mean Green. He’s done about as good of job as anyone could expect being at a small conference school surrounded by preeminent universities.

But if he didn’t have his ties to LSU and the state would he even be considered? After maybe a few seconds of deliberation the answer is likely “no”.

Amaker and Theus? That’s just grasping at straws. Amaker carries a good pedigree, having been a former player and coach under the legendary Coach K, but all of Amaker’s coaching stints have been in the North and Northeast – Seton Hall, Michigan, and now Harvard. He has zero connections to LSU and, outside of the hard core college hoops fan, most haven’t heard of him.

Reggie Theus last coached in the college ranks in 2007 at New Mexico State. Even then he was only there for 3 years before departing to the NBA. He last served as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011.

There has been mention amongst the local talking heads about how they would love for LSU to target Pitt’s Jamie Dixon. There’s no reason in hell that Dixon would leave Pitt for LSU but according to the reports out there AD Joe Alleva hasn’t even reached out to him. Hasn’t even offered him dinner to talk. Same goes for John Pastner at Memphis.

Both coaches, Dixon and Pastner, would be sexy, splashy hires. They’re the type that could rejuvenate the fan base and get people talking about LSU taking basketball seriously.

Even coaches like Steve Alford (New Mexico), Gregg Marshall (Whichita State), Tim Floyd (UTEP), Larry Eustachy (Southern Miss), and Steve Prohm (Murray State) would bring a pedigree of establishing programs and building them into contenders. One of the above would at least bring a level of excitement from knowing what they have accomplished at their respective schools.

It seems, though, from what the local media is reporting is that Johnny Jones has been LSU’s top target all along, which isn’t surprising. I only hope that this doesn’t backfire in the LSU fan’s face like it usually does with Louisiana voters after they have elected a politician.