They say New York is the city that never sleeps. That may be true, but when it comes to a place where sports news rarely takes a siesta, Baton Rouge is tough to beat. Need proof? Let's reflect on a recent 48-hour period, of wacky, wild, WAFB-style sports coverage. It has many elements of a radical and chaotic Hollywood picture, although Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte won't be making an appearance.
Saturday, 6:35 pm - It's already been a busy day of athletic action in the Capital City. LSU head football coach Les Miles has put his Tigers through a major 120-play scrimmage, praising the play of senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson in a meeting with the media afterwards. Miles tells reporters that Jefferson fired four touchdowns and is also excited about a salty goal-line stand by the defense. On top of that, there is LSU's golf tournament at the University Club, LSU softball's pig roast of Arkansas, and Southern's baseball sweep of Texas Southern, all of which have just been recapped on the WAFB 6 pm sportscast. In the meantime, the second game of LSU's three-game series with the Ole Miss Rebels is underway.
Saturday, 9:00 pm – The WAFB Sports team recaps another loaded week in local high school sports action with the latest edition of "Sportsline OT." During the half hour show, Steve Schneider and Jacques Doucet voice highlights of prep baseball, softball, track & field, golf and yes, bowling. The two actually spend an entire block on the sport. Hopefully Kent Lowe was watching.
Saturday, 9:33 pm – There's a Saturday night massacre well underway at Alex Box Stadium. The Rebels are pounding LSU like Tommy Lee pounds his drums. The Tiger pitching staff is like many of the contestants on the opening round of American Idol - everyone is giving their best shot but no one is lasting very long. Head Coach Paul Mainieri is a very solemn man in the Tiger dugout looking like someone shot his dog. LSU surrenders nine runs in the 7th inning alone and is eventually crushed 16-3. Doucet begins editing the lowlights while Sharief Ishaq is on the scene grabbing interviews from the morgue. After working yet another weekend, Sports Director Schneider calls it a night and heads home to spend the remainder of the evening with his family. Doucet and Ishaq can handle things from here for the 10 pm show.
Saturday, 9:41 pm – Doucet calls Schneider on his cell phone. "Steve, hate to bother you, but you may need to come back. LSU just sent out an e-mail. They've hired Nikki Caldwell as the new women's basketball coach."
Saturday, 11:07 pm – The WAFB 10 pm news has just been completed late because of The Final Four on CBS pushing it back. Steve has already scrambled to locate the video of Caldwell he saved in the event she was hired. Caldwell is obviously the lead story, followed by all the other local sports items from earlier in the day. The Final Four might be the huge story nationally, but outside of local official Mark Whitehead calling the UCONN/Kentucky contest, the event means very little to the WAFB Sports Team and their coverage.
Sunday, 2:56 pm – Everyone at Alex Box Stadium is in a much better mood than they were the night before. Drenched in the spring sun and warmth, LSU fans seem to love the selection of this Caldwell gal; and their Tigers have risen from the dead on the diamond. Senior pitcher Ben Alsup is mowing down Rebels in dominating fashion, and Mikey Mahtook is auditioning for "SEC Player of the Year." An 8-2 LSU victory is on the way, and the Tigers' first SEC series win of the year is soon secure. Mainieri says he's tremendously proud of his team for overcoming the adversity of Saturday night's living nightmare.
Monday, 2:17 pm – An absolute overflow crowd, rivaling something one might expect for the hiring of a new LSU football coach, is gathered on the 5th floor of the athletic building for Caldwell's introductory press conference. The room is captured immediately by the star attraction's million dollar smile and infectious personality. It's not a boring affair. Caldwell pays tribute to the late Sue Gunter while talking up former Lady Tiger stars like Seimone Augustus, Temeka Johnson and Sylvia Fowles. She even boasts about "standing toe-to-toe" with her powerhouse alma matter Tennessee and her iconic mentor Pat Summitt. Caldwell is confident, but not cocky, about the Lady Tigers and what they can accomplish. There's a new, exciting energy in the air, and athletic director Joe Alleva is praised for what many consider to be a "home run hire."
Monday, 3:49 pm – The positive rush of the Caldwell introduction comes to a screeching halt. The WAFB Sports team receives a phone call from Houston. Southern athletic director Greg Lafleur has been arrested in the city for suspicion of soliciting prostitution. It's a lightning bolt of staggering, shocking and devastating proportions. How in the world could this happen? Unfortunately, outside of Roger Cador and Sandy Pugh, no one seems to be delivering much good news from "The Bluff" these days. The news hits the Southern University campus quickly and with powerful force, sending officials scrambling for answers. Oh by the way, who's going to hire the new men's basketball coach? And WHEN will that ever happen?
Monday, 6:35 pm – The WAFB 6 pm news has just been completed. Caldwell's debut and LaFleur's embarrassment dominate the show. The sports team feels a bit off-balance, but still ready, awaiting the next curve ball to be fired. The smoke is slowly clearing, the dust from a crazy whirlwind is beginning to settle. And some people actually tell us, "This is the slow time for sports."
So now, Southern calls a press conference for 10 am Wednesday morning to address their situation. Lafleur tells us he'll be there to represent himself. Needless to say, this should be interesting.
Wait a minute; hold that thought. Southern cancels the press conference at 7:23 am Wednesday morning. In an age of endless cell phones and unlimited electronic media, Lafleur says he hasn't spoken to any of the Southern powers-that-be about his plight or his future. He tells WAFB Sports he wants to "slow this whole thing down." Really? Slow this thing down? We can all probably agree it's a little too late for that.
Well, here we go again. Stay tuned to another 48 hours in Baton Rouge ...