So does Mark Carleton, an LSU associate professor of history, who said last week, "I have a very prominent athlete in my history class who is at a second-grade reading level.... He's being kept by the athletic department, with their tutors, their study halls—he's their baby. I have other student-athletes who can't read or write. At least they call them student-athletes. But they're not. They're athletes. They tell me their goal is to play professional basketball or football. I wish them well."
And what of Brodhead's dealings with Brown and the suggestions being heard in Baton Rouge that Brown might want the A.D.'s scalp? On the surface, the Brodhead-Brown relationship seems cordial, but there appears to be some mutual mistrust between them. After the basketball team, which struggled last season before winning the SEC title, was routed 78-55 by Navy in its first-round NCAA tournament game in March—LSU's 10th consecutive postseason defeat—Brodhead was said to be furious. Acquaintances say that Brodhead told them that if Brown had not won the conference title he would have fired him. Instead, Brown signed a new five-year, $130,000-a-year contract. Small World Dept.: Last month Brodhead told a reporter, "Dale...with all his taping phone calls.... He's Columbo Brown. He should have been a detective." Taping one's own phone conversations is legal in Louisiana.
"Bob jokes a lot," says Brown.
There is also that other burning question: Whither Tito in Tigergate? Brown hints that money—Tito, he says, arrived at LSU with 12 pesos—may have been a factor in Horford's departure. "I told Tito last month," says Brown, " 'You don't know how much I hurt for you.... I'm not a cheap person. I just presented $1,000 scholarships to a blind person and a dwarf. But I can't give you money.' " Horford comes from an impoverished family but was eligible—once he arrived at LSU—only for a $300 foreign student loan. "He had to eliminate all these people he was supporting," Brown says.
Brown adds, "I look at Tito the way I look at the 15-year-old whore in Juarez. People say, 'How in hell could she do that?' But you've got to look what's behind it. There's 10 kids at home and her mom and dad unemployed so they sent her on the streets. That's how they lived and ate. The kid [Horford] is trying to support his family."
A scholarship supposedly requested for Horford's girlfriend, Arelis Reynoso, also becomes part of the Horford equation, with sources close to the LSU basketball program saying that the school would not give her one. The request denied, the source said, she became angry and bitter and then left Bizarre Rouge.
The NCAA's Berst, asked about the Horford situation, told SI, "Be careful. He [Brown] will cast her [Reynoso] and now Tito in the worst possible light. Watch that. Tito is maybe the only person who is truly insulated enough to know...." Berst would not confirm or deny reports that Horford had spoken independently with one of the NCAA's investigators.
On Saturday, Nov. 2—after, according to Brown, telling the coach "I got sick stomach. I fall out of bed and hit my chest on chair"; after missing the team bus to a practice game in De Ridder—Horford was gone. He may have left for Washington—reportedly he was seen at the Baton Rouge airport. On a visit to D.C. the weekend preceding the opening of basketball practice on Oct. 15, Horford, sources said, met with Manuel Nadal, his hometown best friend who is a redshirt freshman guard at American University, and with Julio Castillo, a lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission. Supposedly, Tito and Reynoso were hiding out at an address that turned out to be Castillo's apartment. Another report had them staying in suburban Washington. And still another had him considering a professional contract to play for one of the Italian teams. In any case, as of Monday, Tito could not be found to discuss the situation.
What is definitely known about Castillo is that he is a close friend of Ed Tapscott, the basketball coach at American, who last week told SI's Bob Sullivan: "I hate to be answering some disembodied voices whispering these things [tampering], but I've neither seen nor heard from the kid."
Last Friday, Brodhead met with journalists and declined to answer questions about his grand jury appearance of the day before. But Brown did his part to occupy the scribes with his own version of cynical Bayou humor. "I've heard Tito's been seen in seven different cities on three continents," he said. "I'm disappointed. I thought by this time he'd be on the moon."