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Hello, Trouble, I'm Dale Brown
Gary Smith
November 18, 1985
LSU's basketball coach, the center of many a storm, is trapped by his hardscrabble past and an athletic system that he says he cannot abide
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November 18, 1985

Hello, Trouble, I'm Dale Brown

LSU's basketball coach, the center of many a storm, is trapped by his hardscrabble past and an athletic system that he says he cannot abide

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The muck got deeper, of course, when Horford departed from the team two weeks ago, just as it had when the NCAA snooping around, just as it had when FBI agents those bugging devices in athletic director Bob Brodhead's office. And through it all, Brown kept talking about the need to clean up the swamp.

"we've got to change the system," he said. "Pay the athletes a few hundred dollars a month for their basic needs, going to hear the reverse—'My kid goes to LSU and work at McDonald's [to earn money].' But your kid doesn't mal million [the rough yearly gross income from basketball] for LSU. Who's making the money from sports? The athletic director, coaches, doctors, trainers, airlines, hove don't mention the whorehouses and massage par-he athletes are treated like migrant workers.

"The NCAA doesn't solve the problem; they keep putting powder on a cancer. They legislate against human dignity. I'll tell you what you're going to have left in this [coaching] profession. A bunch of narcissistic, money-hungry sonofabitches that love to see themselves on TV in their three piece suits and alligator because good people are fed up with the crap you've got to go through. I just want to be left alone. I have to be up en with a bottle of wine...."

And on he went, pounding podiums, lecturing the media, crying out at coaches conventions, three times sending out 1,200 letters to university chancellors, athletic directors, coaches, faculty representatives and NCAA officials with is ideas to change the system. All the rage of all his life had something he could put a name and a finger on—a four-letter in-"n and a 366-page rule book, the padlocked door against which I'll show you and I'll help you kept hurling him.

"I feel my final fight is coming on," he says of the NCAA's current preliminary investigation of LSU. "I know they would love to nail me. Do I hang around for the fight? Why should I fight?—I'm getting out soon. Because it's not right. It's not right what they did to my mother. It hurts human beings and it's hypocritical. You are your brother's keeper. And if it comes to a fight, you can make book in Las Vegas who will win. Me."

Suddenly he seems to be talking not about the NCAA but about anyone that might ever make him feel threatened. He looks his visitor in the eye.

"If you come after me, you'd better have a cleeeean house. Because if you're wrong, I'm coming after you. You're talking to a guy that's been in a state longer than anybody. I know bellhops, waitresses, desk clerks, taxicab drivers, porters, O.K.? Had you and a hooker checked into the Hilton together, I would've found out in 15 minutes if I wanted to. I don't mean that to say it's a Mafioso tactic. Do you understand? I'm close to three governors, I'm close to...what I'm trying to say, I'm not a detective, but a lot of stuff comes back to me. Don't screw with me unless you really feel you're without venial sin, because I will do everything to find out, to stop what I think is an unfair act.

"But I've got to change. I don't want to be combative. I'm too fragmented. I've got to find the middle ground between being a pin cushion and a stone wall. I cannot think of everything as the welfare worker, as the scuffed linoleum, as the Jews being taken to Dachau. I will whip it totally. I will. I will. I will. I just want to have peace."

He said this on an airplane, coming home from a motivational speech during which, in his zeal, he knocked the microphone off his shirt three times. Now a baby wandered in the aisle of the plane, fearless and free. He scooped her up and looked into her happy blue eyes. "What happens to us?" he asked. "My God, what happens to us?"

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