LSU not giving Tate back

Scooter Hobbs

You know what they say about that rascally old Southeastern Conference.

It Just Means More.

Sometimes more than others.

So the league is at it again, although it didn’t get many headlines because nobody’s defensive line was directly involved or affected.

But South Carolina and LSU have had a bit of a tussle it seems.

And get this — it mostly involves … academics. Reading and writing and getting funding passed through the state legislature.

That stuff.

But it turns out that LSU was recently in the market for a new school president and went snooping around the South Carolina campus, specifically the halls of academia, up there on the hill where the ivy lives.

After the traditional due diligence, LSU’s Board of Supervisors hired William F. Tate IV, whose use of an initial and the “IV” at the end is a pretty good tip you weren’t talking about a football coach.

Billy-Frank Tate, maybe.

But this Tate was — or is, I guess, until he takes over at LSU in July — a “provost” at South Carolina (defined as a “senior administrative officer in certain colleges and universities.”)

Not sure if LSU has any of those by that name or not.

But it’s an obvious promotion for Tate.

So you’re probably wondering what the fuss is all about.

After all, it wasn’t like LSU went and stole the Gamecocks’ offensive coordinator or anything.

We’re talking school president here, not even the athletic director, where LSU recently raided Texas A&M to bring home Scott Woodward.

President.

You know, the guy who — if his name isn’t Mark Emmert — is always standing in the background for coach-hiring news conferences, nodding approvingly but otherwise minding his own business and trying to act like it’s just another stop on his busy daily schedule.

At first South Carolina even wished Tate well in his new endeavor on the bayou.

But suddenly South Carolina had a real reason for trying to keep Tate.

The school was looking for a new academic leader itself after a bit of an incident with its now-former president Bob Caslen.

And this thing had SEC written all over it.

It all started at South Carolina’s recent graduation commencement, when Caslen congratulated “the newest alumni from the University of California.”

Maybe in Colorado or Illinois or someplace you could get away with that. But for just about anywhere in the SEC footprint, them is fighting words.

It wasn’t like he said “that school over to the northwest,” which would be Clemson.

And at least he didn’t say “Southern California,” with which South Carolina has long feuded with over bragging rights to the initials “USC.”

Presumably he was referring to Cal Berkley, and if the Gamecock grads had had that imprinted on their new diplomas, perhaps it would have been a fair trade-off.

But it caused quite a stir, heightened even more when it was revealed Caslen had plagiarized part of his commencement address.

How that could hurt South Carolina’s football recruiting is anybody’s guess, but it was described as a “firestorm” and Caslen resigned anyway.

And suddenly the Gamecocks weren’t so warm and fuzzy about Tate’s future job.

It went through proper channels, which is to say word was leaked — “Not so fast, LSU” — with claims that Tate had been President in Waiting, so to speak, all along and now seemed like as a good a time as any to take the plunge.

Tate is probably worth haggling over. Check out his résumé and it’s only a slight bonus that LSU is getting credit not only for hiring its first Black president, but the first in the history of SEC schools.

For now, LSU is still the big winner, the kind of news it could use in the wake of the Title IX sexual-misconduct fiasco.

Tate has assured LSU he plans to be in Baton Rouge, according to a quote from Board of Supervisors Chairman Robert Dampf in the The Advocate of Baton Rouge.

“He’s flattered by the attention from South Carolina,” Dampf said. “But he absolutely is going to wear Purple and Gold in the fall. He’s going to be an LSU Tiger. He’s excited about it. He’s coming to Baton Rouge.”

Good for LSU, if he stays out of the NCAA transfer portal.

But, academic or not, this is still the SEC.

So I suspect it’s not quite over yet.

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Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com””Scooter Hobbs updated