LSU Short Story
Hatchet Man - 2
Bob Brodhead, Former LSU Athletic Director: Sacked! The Dark Side of Sports
at Louisiana State University
Read Part 1.
Florida State brought an 8-1 record and a powerful offense into Tiger Stadium on the night of November 20. The students brought oranges, every orange from every supermar­ket within a fifty-mile radius of campus.
When the final gun sounded, LSU had to its credit one of the most impressive victories in Tiger Stadium history, 55-21. In the victor's locker room following the game, the Tigers were officially invited to meet the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the January 1, 1983, Orange Bowl. Out on the field, oranges flew like snowballs.
As thrilled as I was with the team's performance, I was also very proud that I had been able to patch things up with the Orange Bowl people after Stovall's blunder. As a private re­minder of my efforts in negotiating the bowl deal, I truly wanted a game ball. Stovall refused, saying tradition dictated that the coaches determined who received game balls. And to prove his point, Stovall awarded one to Sports Information Director Paul Manas­seh "for everything he had done to help the team receive this great honor."
The confrontation over the bowl game was the only serious dispute that Stovall and I would have. Even that, I suspected, had resulted from the resentment he felt over the fact that for the first time in a long, long time, the Athletic Director, not the Football Coach, was in charge.
LSU had one last opponent to face on its 1982 regular-season schedule, its most bitter rival, Tulane. The seventh-ranked Tigers were a 24-point favorite against the 3-7 Green Wave, but Coach Vince Gibson's bunch of rag-tags obviously hadn't read the latest line. When the dust settled, Tulane owned the biggest upset of the year, 31-28.
For some time, I had been experiencing doubts about Stovall's ability to make adjustments to his game plan once play was under way. The Tulane game reinforced my suspicions. In fact, had I realized then that the Tulane game was to be a preview of many such nights to come during 1983, it would have been a long off-season.
New Year's night in Miami was a pleasant experience, for three-and-a-half quarters. The Tigers hung tough with a powerful Nebraska squad, leading 17-7 late in the third period, before a Cornhusker surge resulted in a 21-20 final score.
When the final AP poll of the season was issued, the Tigers had claimed the eleventh spot.

L: 1982 LSU-Florida State action; R: Mack Brown a few years after coaching at LSU
Along with the invitation to a major bowl, the first since 1973, the brightest spot to emerge out of the '82 season was Mack Brown. One of the best young minds in football, Brown called the offensive plays and helped Alan Risher pass his way into the LSU record books. Brown was liked by both the players and press, and his popularity seemed a source of irritation to Stovall.
Brown left LSU at the end of the 1982 season, despite my best efforts to dissuade him, to become Head Football Coach at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. In the last conversation he and I had while he was at LSU, Brown told me the reason he was leaving was that he knew a Brodhead-Stovall blow-up was inevitable, and he didn't want to get caught in the backlash.
I was sorry to see him go. Had he stayed and continued to produce the results he had in '82, I probably would have named him Head Coach of the Tigers when I fired Stovall following the 1983 season.
Prior to the 1983 season, recruiting and spring practice went fairly smoothly, although there seemed to be an unrest among the players which, I learned, stemmed from an incident at the Orange Bowl. It seemed that several players had been caught breaking a team rule and were severely reprimanded, although the guilty "scrubs" were censored to a greater degree than the "name players" caught in the same scheme. I also learned that the seniors had taken a secret vote before the Orange Bowl game and had decided not to play unless pun­ishment was administered equally.
As a result, the players - all of them - were forgiven their transgressions, but this would not be the last I would hear of the existence of a double standard on Stovall's football team.
Also during the off-season, Stovall requested an extension on the two years left on his contract. Being a firm believer that contracts were extended only as a reward for monu­mental achievement, I opted to give Stovall a substantial raise instead. Despite the successes of the Orange Bowl season, I had a few lingering doubts regarding Stovall's coaching abilities, and I wanted another year to watch him in action.
While all contract negotiations with Stovall were left to me, with no attempts at interfer­ence by the Administration, I was getting constant input from Charlie Roberts, the Chan­cellor's administrative assistant. Like a "Jiminy Cricket" perched on my shoulder, Roberts never missed an opportunity to call Stovall a hypocrite, and he'd laugh as he'd tell me that the Coach's "theme song" was "Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Goal Posts of Life." ...
The 1983 season began with a 40-35 to a revenge-minded Florida State squad, followed by a victory over lowly Rice, 24-10. The highlight of the season occurred in week three with a 40-14 shellacking of highly ranked PAC-10 power Washington in front of 82,390 scream­ing fans, the largest crowd to every witness a game in Tiger Stadium. ...
From that high point, the team began a precipitous nosedive from which it would never recover Chancellor Wharton, for one, wasn't enjoying the ride.
Immediately following the 21-13 loss to conference foe Kentucky, which had been prece­ded by losses to Florida and Tennessee, Wharton ordered me to meet him in my office. Short of issuing a mandate, he made it very clear that he wanted something done to rem­edy the situation. I told him I wouldn't make that kind of a decision in the heat of an emo­tional loss, and that the most prudent course of action would be to assume an evaluation mode, assessing the performance of the coaching staff on a week-by-week basis.
Two weeks later, following a 27-24 loss to Ole Miss in Jackson, I had seen enough. I began my search for a new head coach.
To be continued ...