I talked briefly to my brother on the phone yesterday about the state of the basketball program following the firing of John Brady. Not surprisingly, coaches around the SEC don't like the mid-season firing because, well, it means their own jobs are less secure. Granted, Billy Donovan and Bruce Pearl right now are about the most secure coaches in the country, but that just means they can probably survive two bad seasons in a row and still be given a shot to turn it around in a 3rd year.
Anyway, back to the conversation with my brother. He was pretty pessimistic about the future of the program because it does not get the fan support it used to get, and he cannot imagine the program taking a significant step forward without more fan support.
I think the fans will come out to support a good team. This is common throughout sports. Fans don't come out in droves to support teams mired in mediocrity. Nor should they. One of the reasons the Chicago Cubs have been bad for so long is because the fans keep showing up. If fans keep paying top dollar for tickets even though the team is bad, what incentive is there for management to spend more money to make the team good?
But I digress. The late 1970s to the early 1990s proved that the LSU community will support a winning basketball program. In that time, LSU was a consistent conference challenger and a consistent tournament team. We weren't exactly a national power, and I don't think we ever can be that, though I think we can occasionally be a national power for a year.
I think the basketball program can return to that level. We were at that level for about 15 years, and we've been below that level for another 15. I think with the right coach, and with improved facilities, we can do a better job of locking up Louisiana high school talent, and do a better job of making it into a cohesive team.
I look forward to the day the LSU basketball program is consistently in the top half of the conference and consistently in the tournament. I think the search committee should look for someone who can infuse the program with excitement a la a Bruce Pearl. I don't know who that is, but I think Pearl's success at Tennessee (a program certainly no more equipped than LSU is to have sustained success) has provided the blue print of how to resurrect a basketball program at a football school.