Guilbeau: LSU Finds Better Basketball Coach Under Impending NCAA Sanctions Than It Did The Last 2 Times While Clean

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LSU athletic director Scott Woodward continues to feed his reputation as the Coach Hirer Whisperer.

Woodward, who got Brian Kelly from Notre Dame to LSU in football and Kim Mulkey from Baylor to LSU in women’s basketball 2021, announced the hiring of Murray State men’s basketball coach Matt McMahon as the Tigers’ new coach late Monday after that was reported throughout the day..

McMahon is not as established as Kelly, nor does he have national championships like Mulkey and Jimbo Fisher, whom Woodward hired at Texas A&M from Florida State when he was the Aggies athletic director.

But considering LSU very likely will soon get the most serious NCAA sanctions in its history for six Level I violations by just-fired basketball coach Will Wade alleged by the NCAA, McMahon is a home run.

McMahon, 43, has taken Murray State to three NCAA Tournaments since 2018 and advanced to the second round in 2019 and this past week, finishing 31-3. He has also shared or won four Ohio Valley Conference titles and won more than 25 games three times. He was identified as a candidate for the LSU opening last week by OutKick.

“It was essential for us to hire a coach with a winning standard of performance as well as the consistency and character to elevate our men’s basketball program to new heights,” Woodward said.

McMahon is actually more qualified at the time of his hiring at LSU amid the darkest of NCAA clouds at LSU than LSU’s two previous men’s basketball coaching hires were under zero NCAA investigations by then-athletic director Joe Alleva.

Wade, who did not come close to the quality of character Woodward was looking for considering the NCAA allegations, had only gone to two NCAA Tournaments while Virginia Commonwealth’s coach and came to LSU in 2017 after the NCAA had been poking around at VCU. In fact, Alleva later regretted ignoring that red flag when he hired Wade as he left LSU.

“Matt is exactly what we were looking for,” Woodward said. “His vision for our program and his vailues as a leader align perfectly with ours as an institution.”

Hopefully, McMahon’s values are much better than what the LSU athletic department and the football program and basketball programs under its umbrella have shown in recent years, considering the various sexual harassment related lawsuits.

“He has a proven track record of identifying talent, developing student-athletes and buidling championship teams,” Woodward said.

Before Wade, Alleva hired Johnny Jones, who came to LSU from North Texas in 2012 after reaching only two NCAA Tournament first rounds in his previous six seasons with no seasons of 25 wins or more.

McMahon has been one of the hottest names out there since the SEC opened up its own job fair shortly after the regular season ended with Georgia, Missouri, LSU, Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina all looking for new coaches. Only, South Carolina remains on the hunt, should LSU complete its hiring of McMahon, which is expected.

LSU Fire Sale Incoming

An Oak Ridge, Tennessee, native, McMahon does not have much SEC experience, having served as a graduate assistant at Tennessee from 2000-02 under Jerry Green and Buzz Peterson. He was also an assistant at Appalachian State, where he played, and at North Carolina-Wilmington. He was an assistant at Murray State from 2011-15 under Steve Prohm before getting promoted to the head coach coaching job when Prohm got the Iowa State job.

Murray State has long been a mid-major launching pad of coaches to higher profile jobs with various levels of success. Mark Gottfried was good briefly at Alabama and at North Carolina State. Prohm was not at Iowa State and was fired. Billy Kennedy left Murray State for Texas A&M and had some success before being fired by Woodward and replaced by Buzz Williams. He is now an assistant at Wichita State. Mick Cronin left Murray State for Cincinnati and is now the coach at UCLA, which he has taken to the Sweet 16 of the current NCAA Tournament.

McMahon could face a post-season ban at LSU and/or significant lost scholarships, but Woodward could make up for that with a large and long contract.

McMahon only makes $500,000 a year now. That is about to rise dramatically.

“I look forward to building relationships with our current players and recruiting student-athletes to LSU,” McMahon said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I cannot wait to get to work.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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