And Now, Politicizing LSU Football

This morning we had a perfect example of the lack of ethics and propriety inherent in the current occupant of Louisiana’s governor’s mansion. Namely, that John Bel Edwards threw a fundraiser at the Andonie Museum on LSU’s campus at which he had football coach Ed Orgeron deliver a full-throated endorsement of his re-election.

Video here

Attendees paid $1000 a plate for that this morning.

Look, Orgeron can endorse who he wants. This isn’t about what he’s doing. It’s about Edwards, and whether it’s appropriate for him to be dragging Orgeron into his re-election campaign.

It isn’t. It wasn’t appropriate when Bobby Jindal dragged Les Miles into his political orbit, either.

If you’re the football coach at LSU, you are not a political figure, or at least you’re not appropriately a political figure. Especially when you’re in the middle of the university’s $1.5 billion capital campaign, $600 million of which is supposed to be raised by the Tiger Athletic Foundation which mostly supports your program.

For you to be picking sides in a gubernatorial race while that campaign is kicking off is for you to be alienating half of your fans and half of your donors. You should not be doing it. It’s bad marketing, and it smacks of suspect ethics.

Which is not a criticism of Orgeron. It’s a criticism of Edwards. Edwards is the governor. If he really wanted to protect and promote Ed Orgeron he wouldn’t put him in a position to politicize the coach by taking his endorsement in public and on video.

What this speaks to is John Bel Edwards putting himself before the state’s institutions. It puts Edwards’ re-election above the continuance of LSU’s good name among Louisiana’s citizenry, and that’s wrong.

Not to mention it’s an unnecessary political risk, because should Orgeron’s team stumble out of the gate in early-season games against, for example, Texas, Florida and Auburn having the coach tied to the governor won’t be a good look politically – at all. The fact that Orgeron was given the permanent head coaching job in 2016, Edwards’ first year as governor, amid what was an intensely political campaign waged among the university’s Board of Supervisors and a search process most LSU fans thought was deficient regardless of their opinion of Orgeron’s subsequent job performance (better than expected would be the judgement of a majority), would compound the political risk should the team not do well this fall.

It wasn’t necessary, it wasn’t proper and it wasn’t classy.

Badly done, John Bel. Shameful.

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