Brett Favre and LSU’s deep football depression

The Pro Football Hall of FAme induction ceremonies will be starting in Canton in a couple of hours.

The biggest name of this year’s inductees is Brett Favre, who set many NFL passing records during his career, mostly with the Packers (1992-2007). 

Favre’s biggest game as a pro came in New Orleans, when the Packers defeated the Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI. He also defeated Tulane twice in the Superdome as the starting quarterback for the University of Southern Mississippi. 

I have never cared for Southern Miss. What use does it have? With all of the junior colleges across the state, with THREE historically black colleges, plus Ole Miss and Mississippi State, why is Southern Miss even there? I understand it’s close to the Gulf Coast, but it wouldn’t be that hard to drive to Mobile and South Alabama, or to New Orleans. 

Another reason I can’t stand Southern Miss is because it foisted a man who dragged LSU into its deepest football abyss. 

Hudson Hallman. Better known as Curley Hallman, who was Favre’s coach in Hattiesburg. 

If not for Brett Favre, Curley Hallman doesn’t go 23-11 in three seasons at USM, the Golden Eagles don’t beat Florida State in 1989, or Alabama and Auburn in 1990, and he never, ever sniffs the LSU coaching job. 

Brett Favre was the reason why LSU football collapsed. 

What I don’t understand is how Ole Miss and Mississippi State whiffed on Favre. 

The Rebels and Bulldogs were constantly near the bottom of the SEC in the 1980s. Certainly Favre could have done wonders for either team. 

The biggest problem for Ole MIss was it was on probation when Favre was being recruited by then-coach Billy Brewer, who himself would become ethically challenged later in his tenure. In 1987, the Rebels were banned from television and bowls, so maybe the idea didn’t appeal to Favre.

Brewer and his assistants committed egregious recruiting violations in the early 1990s. In November 1994, the NCAA came awfully close to giving Ole Miss the death penalty. The Rebels were very lucky to get away with a one-year TV ban, two years without postseason play, and the loss of 25 scholarships for 1995 and 1996. 

As for Mississippi State, its coach at the time, former Bulldog quarterback Rockey Felker, wanted to keep running the option, which had been the bread-and-butter of his predecessor, Emory Bellard, the father of the Wishbone formation. Favre running the option? No way. Felker had a sentimental attachment to the option, having run the Veer at MSU under Bob Tyler, who was as ethically challenged as Brewer. 

Mississippi State has historically been a terrible passing team. Their recently departed quarterback, Dak Prescott, throws the ball well, but he made much more happen with his legs with the Bulldogs. 

LSU was set at quarterback with Tommy Hodson. No way Favre was beating out a Louisiana native who led the Bayou Bengals to the 1986 SEC championship, their first since Bert Jones played in Baton Rouge in 1970. Then again, Jones was NOT the full-time starter in either of his first two years. Maybe a Hodson/Favre rotation would have worked wonders. Or maybe not. 

For some reason, Bill Curry, the new coach at Alabama in early 1987, didn’t see fit to drive down Interstate 59 a couple of hours.  If Curry had taken the time to look at Favre, maybe he doesn’t get a brick thrown through his window at home, and maybe he doesn’t bolt for Kentucky after three seasons. 

Actually, Hallman lucked into Favre. Jim Carmody, his predecessor at USM, recruited the kid from Kiln to Hattiesburg. Hallman was an assistant at his alma mater, Texas A&M, in 1987 before succeeding Carmody in 1988. 

Curley Hallman had no business as the head coach of an SEC football team. He made it worse on himself by hiring bad assistant coaches. His running backs coach, Steve Buckley, played as many downs of college football as me. ZERO. He was a cheerleader in college. 

Of all of Hallman’s assistants, only one, Phil Bennett, found work in a major conference after leaving LSU. Bennett went on to be the defensive coordinator at Kansas State, head coach at SMU, and then defensive coordinator at Baylor, where he is still employed. 

It wasn’t until Nick Saban came from East Lansing to Baton Rouge in 2000 that LSU finally pulled itself out of the swamp and into the elite echelon of college football.

I contend it would have been much better had Favre gone to Ole Miss or Mississippi State. Sure, he may have beaten LSU four times the way John Bond did for State from 1980-83. But at least Curley Hallman would never have led a team out of the tunnel at the north end of Tiger Stadium. 

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on August 6, 2016, in College Football, LSU Fighting TIgers, National Football League and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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