Verge Ausberry believes LSU will have football season in some fashion
Who, what, when, where, how and even why?
The questions persist about what sports will look like on every level in the very near future.
Who will play. What will it look like? When will they play? Where will it take place? How will games be staged? Why will take place or not take place?
LSU executive deputy athletic director and executive director of external relations Verge Ausberry appeared on All Access with me on 106.1 FM NASH ICON Friday night to talk about that and several other topics.
Ausberry starred at linebacker for the Tigers from 1986-89, playing on a pair of SEC championship teams.
Now in his 19th year at his alma mater, Ausberry served as interim athletic director after Joe Alleva left the post and prior to the hiring of Scott Woodward.
It was Woodward to has been a mentor to Ausberry throughout his administrative career and the relationship could not be better.
“Scott and I have been best friends for over 20 years,” Ausberry said. “It’s like working with your brother. We do things the same way. I learned a lot of the business from Scott. In fact, when working for the (LSU) president’s office with (current NCAA president) Mark Emmert, Scott took me under his wing. He hired me in every job that I’ve had until he left and he offered me to go with him many times. We’re both LSU guys. Whatever we do, we will do in the best interest of LSU.”
Ausberry reflected upon the magical 2019 national championship season for LSU football as a memory he and all Tiger fans will never forget.
“I felt it the whole year,” Ausberry said. “We knew there was something special about this team. The whole team would show up to work out all offseason, led by Joe Burrow, Ed Orgeron and their leadership. Coach O put these young men together. The biggest game we had was that Texas game. When Joe Burrow made that play to go down and score, it set our team apart, showing we’re not going to sit on a lead but we will attack and attack you.”
Ausberry feels LSU football is in a perfect place with Orgeron.
“Hiring head coaches is the hardest job, very difficult, and hiring a head coach that fits what you do, your program, is very difficult,” Ausberry said. “We got the guy, Ed Orgeron, that fits what we want to do at LSU. He loves Louisiana. He loves LSU. He gets it. He loves football. He loves recruiting. It’s a blessing to work for a guy like that. He takes care of the little things in-house. He worries about the people in the building. That’s why he is so well liked.”
With the coronavirus dominating the landscape of the world, the big questions surround if LSU and college football will go on, as scheduled, in 2020.
“I tell people you can take spaghetti and throw it on the wall right now,” Ausberry said. “We’re just trying to do something that sticks. We’re just trying to get through all of this with dialogue and team conversations about how this is going to look. We taking it one day at a time. We just don’t know. The doctors don’t know. The most important think is making sure our student-athletes and coaches are healthy.”
Ausberry is confident that athletics will resume competition in the fall semester, in some capacity, including football.
“I think there will be football,” Ausberry said. “We’re trying to make sure, hopefully, make sure that we have 12 games. It’s day-to-day, week-to-week. It’s still early. It’s not even June yet. Let’s get through the month of June and get football back on campus and then, after that, we’ll take a look and see where it’s at. I think, right now, it’s too early to make a decision one way or the other. Anyone that says otherwise is not telling the truth. We just don’t know.”
The likelihood is that Power Five conferences will set the standard for what will occur in the fall, in conjunction with government recommendations.
“The start of football is up to the commissioners and presidents,” Ausberry said. “The thing that is real tricky is that all 50 states are not in the same boat, on the same phases. That’s where it is a little tricky, especially playing out-of-conference teams. Will Alabama vs. USC take place? I just don’t know. All of our out-of-conference games are with Texas (UTSA, Texas, Rice) and Louisiana schools (Nicholls). We feel kind of comfortable with that at this time.”
For so many universities, football paves and pays the way for other sports budgets.
“That’s why football is so important,” Ausberry said. “If we don’t have football, then all of us, no matter how much of a budget you have, you will have a major problem, especially with television contracts and things like that.”
Ausberry knows that when players and coaches return, there will still be significant concerns.
“There’s so many things to think about here,” Ausberry said. “What is one of your players comes down with COVID-19? What if coaches come down with COVID-19? There are so many ‘what-ifs” here. That’s why testing is so important. How many times do you test? Who are they around? We’ve had two players on our team who have lost relatives. It’s all around us. It isn’t just a football picture. It’s the whole picture.”
Ausberry has been handling scheduling for LSU football for many years and he is excited about what is on the way in the coming years.
“We’ve got Clemson home-and-home, starting in 2025,” Ausberry said. “In 2021, we’re going to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl against UCLA. There is no better venue to play in. We will play Florida State in the Superdome and in Orlando in neutral site games. We have Oklahoma, Arizona State and Utah. We might still throw in two Power Five teams in certain years. We will always try to play a Louisiana school at Tiger Stadium each year.”
Having enjoyed national championship success, LSU is a popular team on the radar for other Power Five conference schools to schedule and for other teams to want to come to Baton Rouge to collect a pay day.
“We have a lot of people calling to schedule games to it’s pretty easy to schedule right now,” Ausberry said.
“Ausberry is not sure what is to come but he is sure that there will be change in college athletics moving forward.
“I think our world is going to change,” Ausberry said. “I don’t think it is going to look the same in two to three years. I think in the future, the playoffs are going to expand. Everyone is going to be looking at how you can generate revenue. The world we live in isn’t going to exist anymore.”
Whether we like it or not, the answer to the question is the universal answer, for now, one we must accept and understand.
“We want to start football on time in September but I just cannot tell you that’s going to happen yet,” Ausberry said. “We’ve got to live by trying to fight through it.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…