LSU Basketball: 10 Years Later
Lester Earl (pictured), Roy Williams and the NCAA could not kill the LSU basketball program no matter how hard they tried.
Here's a recap for those of you who don't remember: Former Baton Rouge high school phenom Lester Earl committed to LSU and played there his freshman year. For some reason, he immediately regretted his decision and looked for a way out. "Mr. Integrity," Roy Williams, then the head coach at Kansas had a solution: come to KU. So he transfers to Kansas, but LSU doesn't grant him a release (thus losing a year of eligibility). Roy and Lester get pissed off about that, so they get their revenge. Lester tells the NCAA that he was paid by LSU. To add insult to injury, Earl gets immunity from the NCAA if he agrees to bring LSU down, and that's exactly what happens. LSU gets probation, Earl gets off scot free, and he later even regains the year of eligibility he lost.
So during the upcoming years, Dale Brown leaves in disgrace, and LSU's program is crippled and wallows in mediocrity (except for the Stromile Swift's sophomore season). Roy Williams' Kansas Jayhawks rack up the recruits, have great success, and is considered a "model program" for integrity. Fortunately, however, they come short of winning the ultimate prize: the national championship. Meanwhile, Lester Earl is driving a Yukon in Lawrence, Kansas. Later, he is arrested for drunk driving, but is eventually reinstated by Roy Williams.
Of course, the story does not end well for Kansas either. "Mr. Integrity," Roy Williams would leave them too and go to North Carolina. Later, it is discovered that Williams violated NCAA rules during his tenure, forcing his former school to face potential probation--while he gets off scot free.
So, here we are, almost 10 years later. To borrow a phrase from television, "Where Are They Now?"
LESTER EARL: He never lived up to his potential. And less than a year ago, he was arrested again. What a classless piece of trash.
KANSAS BASKETBALL: The Jayhawks remain a "respected" program. However, Roy Williams deserted them too, just like Lester Earl sold out LSU. In the last two years under Bill Self, the Jayhawks have lost in the first round in the NCAA Tournament. Those losses came as a 3 seed and a 4 seed.
LSU BASKETBALL: The Tigers are back in the Final Four for the first time in 20 years.
ROY WILLIAMS: Wins the National Championship with the team he inherited at North Carolina. The media are generally overjoyed by this development, and this "man of integrity" continues to be praised today.
Roy, hopefully you're the next one who will fail the test of time.
30 MARCH 2006 UPDATE: Lester Earl--Poscript.