LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward is a ruthless leader. He’s built this reputation as a relentless individual because he doesn’t just talk, he does. The promises of many athletic directors around the country fall on deaf ears—not Woodward. When the 1985 LSU alumnus talks, people tend to listen because he’s all business, all the time. During Woodward’s three years as AD of his alma mater, the Baton Rouge native has made eight major head coaching changes with the Tigers. Beth Torina (softball) is the only major head coach remaining at the school who was hired by Woodward’s predecessor, Joe Alleva. Meanwhile, LSU Football’s lovable legend, Ed Orgeron, is the most notable coaching change made during the past few years.
All of this just goes to show that while Woodward is a stand-up individual, he demands nothing short of excellence from his coaches and he possesses that element of ruthlessness in him. To that point, he’s not ignorant. While Orgeron took the Tigers to never before seen heights in 2019, he also led the program down a dark path during the following two seasons. LSU is not in a great place right now, and Woodward—like the fans—understands that unfortunate reality.
AD Scott Woodward outlines short-term expectations for LSU Football
The Tigers are coming off their two worst seasons since the turn of the century (4-7 in 1998; 3-8 in 1999) after going 5-5 and 6-7 in Orgeron’s last two seasons. It goes without saying that this is a highly unusual situation for new LSU fans as all they’ve known is winning. Luckily for new Head Coach Brian Kelly, Woodward has been around the block once or twice during the last 40 years since he stepped foot on campus for the first time as a student.
Woodward joined T-Bob Hebert and Jacob Hester on Off The Bench recently, where he spoke about his short-term expectations for the Tigers under Kelly:
Woodward demands excellence from those who work for LSU, but he’s not unreasonable. Even though the Tigers are not in a position to be compared to the 0-12 Washington team that Woodward first inherited, that doesn’t mean that they are in a good place right now either. The on-field product put out there by Orgeron over the last two seasons was abysmal with the exception of a few talented individuals.
The SEC is trending upward for the most part, which means this is a horrible time to fall behind. The fact that LSU is slipping is a reality that many have to accept. Regardless of this, the Tigers have all of the right pieces in place—starting with Kelly—and that’s credit to Woodward. He hired the Notre Dame coaching legend to build a successful, long-term program and that’s what he intends to do. Woodward’s comments show fans that he does not expect this team to win big right away. Kelly won’t come to LSU and immediately have the Tigers challenging for a College Football Playoff spot like his Fighting Irish were last season.
The SEC is much tougher than in years past, this is especially true when it comes to the SEC West, as well. Alabama doesn’t need an introduction, Texas A&M put together one of the best recruiting classes of all-time last season and teams like Arkansas and Ole Miss seem to have finally steadied the ship. If Kelly manages to get this program under control and get the team to finish a few games over .500, a foundation will have been set.
The upcoming year is all about assessing the situation and setting a standard for the future under Kelly. If these goals are met during the upcoming season, Woodward’s home run hire will already be touted as a successful one in the eyes of many. The Tigers have everything they need to be a perennial powerhouse in college football; this includes an athletic director who is not only committed to excellence, but who also understands the value of time in certain situations.
What are your expectations for the Tigers next season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!