Dig Baton Rouge

Fargas finished? LSU women’s basketball needs to move past coaching regime

When I was a journalist at The Daily Reveille, LSU’s student newspaper, way back in 2008, I had the women’s basketball beat.

I chose it, in part, because I love hoops, but honestly, the biggest reason was because it was easy.

The average game would start at about 7 p.m., and would be a blowout (in LSU’s favor) no more than 10-15 minutes after the tip.

That meant that the second half of each game would be spent writing the game story – which often was near-done, pending quotes, before the game even went final.

It was monotonous.

It was dominance.

It was a dream for any reporter with chemistry homework to complete that night.

It was a 180-degree mark of where the Lady Tigers are now in the future.

Flash forward almost a decade to 2016, and the LSU women’s basketball program is a mess – a team that’s fallen off its perch and has hit rock bottom.

And it’s time that head coach Nikki Fargas gets shown the door so that the program can rebuild.

LSU hired Fargas (then Caldwell) in 2011 after the great Van Chancellor was forced out after a mediocre run.

Fargas was a shot in the arm to LSU initially, and the Lady Tigers won 20-plus games in her first three seasons, including two-straight trips to the NCAA Sweet 16.

Then mediocrity set in. Last year, LSU didn’t deserve to get into the NCAA Tournament, but used its reputation to punch a ticket into the field.

The Lady Tigers were a woeful 17-14 on the 2014-15 season, and were head and shoulders below the top-tier programs in the country.

This year, it got worse. The Lady Tigers won just 10 games in the 2015-16 season, including a dismal 3-13 mark in SEC play.

The list of teams who beat LSU is perhaps the most embarrassing part – a list that includes Tulane, Purdue, Maine and Samford. The Lady Tigers needed overtime just to beat UL-Monroe.

In my day, those were the types of games that LSU would win by 60 points – literally.

Of course, the Lady Tigers’ poor season had a lot of contributing factors, including injuries, youth and a down couple of years in Louisiana prep basketball, which hurt LSU’s recruiting talent pool.

But my blame falls on Caldwell, because her salary dictates that the Lady Tigers should rise above the excuses and find ways to stay competent in the SEC.

Unlike in men’s basketball where Johnny Jones isn’t paid favorably compared to other SEC coaches (his $1.1 million price tag is near the bottom of the league), Caldwell is among the highest-paid women’s basketball coaches in both the SEC and the country.

Basic Business 101 says that you get what you pay for.

With Jones’ struggles, LSU fans can’t complain much, because he’s paid to be a below-average coach, so that’s what fans should reasonably expect to happen on the PMAC’s floor.

Caldwell is paid like a big dog, so it should be OK for fans to expect big dog status.

And for LSU, finishing 10-20 just simply isn’t that.

It’s time for Joe Alleva to take a good, long look at that program and make some tough decisions about where they’ll go in the future.

Giving up $700,000 of a tight athletic budget to lose 20 times in a season at a non-major sport is unacceptable.

And it’s time the Lady Tigers move on with a new leader by their side.

Photo courtesy of LSU Sports Information.


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