Chat with Dale Brown
Brown, former LSU men's hoops coach, performed his historic chat March 12, 1997, while providing analysis for ESPN during college basketball's postseason. ESPN's own Howie Schwab moderated the chat and Brown informed him at the start that they would break the chat record. When the chat finished, Brown stood on the table and announced his record-setting performance.
Brown spent 25 seasons on the sidelines for LSU, finishing his time in Baton Rouge, La. with a record of 448-301. He led the Tigers to two Final Fours in 1981 and 1986. He won four SEC regular season titles and won the 1980 SEC tournament. He also posted 10 20-win seasons.
So, join Brown on Thursday as we reminisce and catch up with a SportsNation history maker. The fun starts at 11 a.m. ET.
Buzzmaster (11:01 AM)
We're getting Coach right now!
Coach, what are you up to these days?
Dale Brown (11:05 AM)
Well, kind of a combination of things. I run a foundation which helps needy people in a variety of areas. The Dale Brown Foundation, which started 21 years ago. With Katrina and all, we've been very active lately. I've written several books. I do motivational speaking for companies. ABC is doing six, one-hour special on child obesity. And I'm doing a lot of reading.
Dale Brown (11:05 AM)
I also work with Fox Sports Radio during the basketball season and the Final Four.
Do you still have any affiliation with LSU these days?
Dale Brown (11:06 AM)
Not really, no. Occasionally, I'll make some games. Last year two of their players, Thomas and Templeton, had come to my basketball camps when they were five, so I went to a couple of games. Glen Davis, I initiated as a freshman and put him and Shaq together. But not a great deal. I'm not on campus a great deal.
So Coach, do you remember your 4.5 hour chat 10 years ago?
Dale Brown (11:07 AM)
Yeah, I do. To show you how incapcitated I was in that area, I couldn't believe that how it works. I remember it distinctly like it was yesterday. It's kind of like the buggy and horse, compared to what we're doing now.
Pete (Indiana, PA)
Is Chris Jackson the most dynamic player you ever coached? He was one of the best scorers I've seen in college ball in my lifetime.
Dale Brown (11:09 AM)
Chris Jackson was a miracle in himself. Having Tourette's Syndrome was a major major issue. His poverty background. His petit size. The most electrifying player at LSU was Pete Maravich. But No. 2 was Chris Jackson. We stay in touch regularly. He's in real estate. He lost a lot of property in Katrina and moved to Atlanta. He's a miracle in himself. He was a phenom.
Dale Brown (11:09 AM)
He kind of reminded me of the old Superman thing. Faster than a speeding bullet.
David Steinle (Russell, Kan.)
Coach Brown, I was at Alex Box Stadium watching an LSU baseball game the day you broke the chat record...I remember it well. My question is what do you think about Nick Saban's guaranteed $32 million contract at Alabama? Have salaries for college coaches spiarled out of control?
Dale Brown (11:14 AM)
I think it's absolutely ludicrous how we've lost our value system in sports. $32,500 was the most that John Wooden ever made at UCLA coaching. The best coach ever. I was just with him at a speaking engagement. I think coaches are gypsies. You can't believe anybody anymore. There aren't enough Shulas and Woodens and Landrys any more. Too many are drifters. They follow the dollar. When you leave a team and your other team is in a bowl game, but you don't go with them because you're offered money to start early. It was in 1988 when I was in Paris with my wife. I was waiting for my wife in the lobby of the hotel while she was getting ready. I picked up an English paper in the lobby and Pope John Paul II said "Like all human things, the values of sport need to be very much purified. Sometimes today the temptations stear the sport away from its true goals, its honest ends. Those that truly love sport should stand up for the values." My wife was a professor in dance. I told her I'm embarrassed with the check I get compared to the puny check she got. Even Shaq, I was out to dinner with him. He said, Coach, I'm not going to turn my checks back in, but I'm really embarrassed with the money I make. I make more in one ball game that my father made in the army in all his years. It's all out of whack.
Peter (Sunnyvale California)
Coach, glad to see you fully recovered from your stroke. So what do you think of the SEC's resurgence? We haven't seen this quality of competition since the days of you, Wimp Sanderson, C.M. Newton, Norm Sloan, and Durham. Of the current programs, LSU, FLorida, and Alabama, which of these programs do you think will be able to continue their success for the long term.
Dale Brown (11:16 AM)
It's been rather a surprise with the early draft. I thought college basketball would take a step down, but it hasn't. I thought the SEC these last few years was really a dynamite league. Kentucky has struggled, but that means winning 20 years, for most of us that's a successful season.
Coach, what are your thoughts on the age limit rule implemented in basketball now? Do you think it is a fair rule?
Dale Brown (11:18 AM)
Here's the answer to that. We're in the free enterprise system. Does it make sense for a player to sign at LSU and the coach leaves to go to Alabama. He can coach and gets a pay raise. But if you leave as a player, you have to sit out a year. I don't think until you hold coaches to the same regard. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. In the same token, it's a major mistake for parasitic agents to come into their lives and push them, then they don't make it and they're lost in the desert. Unless their 100% sure, kids should stay in school.
With all the money being thrown to coaches in t he college game, do you think paying college athletes in football and basketball would tarnish the game any?
Dale Brown (11:22 AM)
Before payment had anything to do with it, I have said for years, that the NCAA legislates against human dignity. I've believed for years that you could really clean up a lot of the gamblers, the agents, the super fan that wants to win games, if you really gave the players an honorable, monthly salary, you'd keep the parasites away from the program. Let's take Jamarcus Russell. He was really gallant with the hurricane. He was trying to help like 15 people. Say he had a chance to take a loan, maybe that would make him stay for another year. College basketball is making billions of dollars right now. John Feinstein said it starts in the presidents office and then to the fans. College basketball is chasing billions and it's a win at all costs mentality. I go back and think what it gave me. No. 1, it gave a poor kid with a mother on welfare to get an education, it taught me about teamwork. In 2003, CBS signed an 11-year contract for $6 billion dollars. It's totally out of whack. I think they should be paid.
Dale Brown (11:23 AM)
If you don't give them what they need, someone else will get in there to them. We come from a very frugal background. Take my daughter. When she went to LSU, we had to give her $300 a month for pizzas, movies, food. It's an injustice what the NCAA is doing. I've said it for years. There is a move in the right direction.
What do you think of your record being broken today?
Dale Brown (11:24 AM)
Well, first of all, I didn't know it was a record.
Richie (Canton, OH)
What is your favorite memory with Shaq?
Dale Brown (11:28 AM)
I have two real fond memories of Shaq. No. 1, when I was in Germany speaking to the troops. I had finished my lecture and was packing my bags. I got a tap on my shoulder and there was this 6-8, 260 pound man. He said Coach Brown, I'm trying out for the team next year and can you show me some exercises. I spent 10 minutes with him. I went to go get a pad of paper to write down his address and told him I'd send him our weight program. I said soldier how long have you been in service? He said Coach Brown, I'm 13. I got a letter from him a few weeks later that said he did everything I had told him to do and that he was cut by the coach. He asked me what he should do. I wrote him back and said I'm sorry what happened, but that every time I failed in life I tried the following - always try to do your best and never give up and God will take care of everything else. I don't insinuate that was a catalyst for his career.
Dale Brown (11:29 AM)
The other is when Playboy picked a preseason all-america team and I was the coach and Shaq was on the team. They invited us to a banquet and I was called into the room of the guy who put the team together for the magazine. He told me that in all his years he hadn't had the experience he just had. He told me that he had a knock on his door and it was Shaq. He said he opened the door to this huge man standing there. Shaq said there were some peanuts in his room and was wondering if it was OK for him to eat the peanuts before the banquet. It was the most excited and grateful he had every seen anyone for the trip and being included on the team.
Do you think Tyrus Thomas will be a force in the NBA? He looks good to me in whatever minutes Scott Skiles gives him.
Dale Brown (11:31 AM)
I think he will be an NBA all-star, beyond his late blooming talents. He's a fabulous young man. Great attitude. He's still pure. He's just a good person. I don't think he'll get caught up in the glit and glamour of the NBA. He played for one of my former players at McKinley High School. You talk about all the recruiting books and services, there are a lot of guys that get bye you.
Ian (Knoxville, TN)
Who is the hardest-working player you have ever coached?
Dale Brown (11:33 AM)
Wow. That's nearly impossible to answer. I remember in 1972, my first year at LSU. LSU had 14 of the prior 16 years with losing seasons. It was predicted that we would only win 2 games. I inherited literally nothing. Our philosophy was to turn the group of guys into guys who just played their hearts out. We won 14 games and finished 9-9 in the SEC. That team, with a bunch of no name guys, Temple is probably the only one, because he was the first black player at the school. '72, '86, '87 those teams were the hardest workers.
PAUL E (HARTFORD,CT)
COACH, DO YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER RETURN TO COACHING, WE MISS U OUT THERE?
Dale Brown (11:34 AM)
That's very kind of you to say that and I'm humbled by it. But I was in it for 44 years. When I made my mind up, I said that's it. I've had opportunities to go back in, but no I wouldn't.
Dale Brown (11:37 AM)
When you coach, or anything at all, you really try to do your best job, but you're in a vacuum in a way. As hard as I worked, when I retired after 44 years, I then clearly recognized my mistakes and limitations. I think that should be a stimulant for everyone. You can always do better even when you think you're doing your best. Sports gave me the first good image of myself. To get a good self image of myself with no father in the house and a mother on welfare, I'm so grateful for sports. John Wooden told me this years ago. We were talking about being thankful and grateful. He said "Dale, it's a very simple one sylabal word that is often used without feeling, but when used with sincerity, no collection of words can be more meaningful - Thanks." That's what I say to sports, I'm so thankful.
Buzzmaster (11:38 AM)
Our thanks to Coach Brown for chatting!