TigerDetails - One last look at the 2021-22 LSU sports year
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One last look at the 2021-22 LSU sports year

LSU women's golf team was the only Tigers' squad men or women to win an SEC championship in the 2021-22 academic year.
LSU women's golf team was the only Tigers' squad men or women to win an SEC championship in the 2021-22 academic year.

It’s just more than two months until LSU’s 2022 football opener vs. Florida State and a few weeks since the athletic season ended with the Tigers’ men’s and women’s track teams competing in the NCAA championships.

So, let’s catch our breath and review the 2021-22 academic year of LSU sports in which the Tigers finished 21st nationally in the Learfield Directors Cup All-Sports standings.

First, consider where the Tigers’ four major sports were a year ago.

There was hope that LSU’s 2020 COVID-19 football season of 5-5 following its 15-0 2019 national championship season was simply an anomaly and head coach Ed Orgeron could flip the script.

Men’s head basketball coach Will Wade brought in some key transfers – most of which showed interest in playing defense – while he continued to ignore the fact he would likely be fired whenever the NCAA finally announced the official rules violation charges in its three-year investigation of the program.

Hope sprung anew in women’s basketball and baseball with new head coaches Kim Mulkey and Jay Johnson ready to revitalize waning programs.

Also, enough cannot be said about the job Baton Rouge native Scott Woodward has done in his first three years as LSU’s athletic director.

It’s safe to say none of Woodward’s nine Tigers A.D. predecessors has faced a continuous string of mostly unforeseen challenges from virtually the moment he was announced as Joe “The Search” Alleva’s replacement in April 2019 such as:

•Inheriting a popular, winning head men’s basketball coach (Wade) who was heard on an FBI wiretap with a street agent discussing buying players

•Surviving the 2020-21 COVID-19 season of empty arenas and financial losses while keeping athletes and coaches healthy.

•Navigating a ton of bad national publicity from a USA Today investigation detailing years of domestic abuse and sexual violence allegations committed by LSU football players.

•Acknowledging those failures (even if they didn’t happen under Woodward’s watch) in the 144-page report from Texas-based Husch Blackwell law firm, which also revealed former head football coach Les Miles trying to hit on student workers.

•Dealing with an NCAA investigation into the football and men’s basketball programs for which the school has yet to receive sanctions.

•Watching the greatest year in LSU football history as the 2019 national champions freefall into mediocrity for the next two seasons for a variety of reasons including Orgeron, who mentally checked out a few weeks after winning the title and getting an enormous salary increase.

•Doing the impossible by hiring a proven, veteran winning head football coach (Brian Kelly) away from a traditional major power (Notre Dame).

•Meshing the new college landscape of NIL deals for athletes and a revolving transfer portal.

During all the never-ending chaos since Woodward took over as ringmaster of the LSU sports circus, he has hired 12 head coaches (including football, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball) in the last 15 months.

LSU’s NCAA sanctions for rules violations in its men’s basketball and football program have yet to be announced. But it feels like the worst is over and the Tigers are still standing.

So, after a tip of the cap to Woodward, the undisputed King of Crisis Management, let’s hand out some 2021-22 awards.

Coach of the Year

Kim Mulkey, women’s basketball

Woodward’s first stunning head coaching hire a year ago in April was convincing three-time women’s basketball national championship coach Mulkey, a Louisiana native, to leave Baylor after 21 seasons.

Mulkey tried her best to dampen national champion expectations at her introductory press conference saying Tigers’ fans needed patience. Because of her reputation of winning championships her entire high school (Hammond) and college playing career (Louisiana Tech) and as a Tech assistant coach and then her track record at Baylor, Mulkey’s words fell on deaf ears.

The Tigers, with many of the same players from its 9-13 2020-21 team, went 26-6 in Mulkey’s first year, advanced to the second round of the NCAA tourney and finished No. 9 nationally. She was named the AP’s National Coach of the Year.

Mulkey’s 2022 recruiting class is ranked 17th nationally and her 2023 class is headed by Mikaylah Williams who’s the No. 1 ranked recruit in the nation.

Male Athlete of the Year (tie)

Dylan Crews, baseball and Brooks Curry, swimming

From the moment he stepped on campus in September 2020, LSU outfielder Crews has surpassed the hype he received prior to his arrival as he withdrew from the 2020 major league draft.

He was the 2021 Perfect Game Freshman of the Year and this season as a sophomore was named co-SEC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American.

In his two seasons as a Tiger, he’s batting .355 (176 of 495) with 40 home runs, 27 doubles, 6 triples and 114 RBI.

Curry, a junior who won an Olympic gold medal as part of the U.S. 400-meter relay team last summer, was named the 2022 SEC Swimmer of the Year. He became the first LSU swimmer to win an individual NCAA title since 1988 when placed first in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle.

Female Athlete of the Year

Ingrid Lindblad, golf

LSU women’s golfer Lindblad is so good she could have turned pro after her 2021 sophomore season.

But she didn’t because she simply enjoys going to college and loves LSU and being a part of a team. Tigers’ head women’s golf coach Garrett Runion is extremely thankful that Swedish native Lindblad values relationships more than pro paychecks.

This past season as a junior, Lindblad won five tournaments including becoming LSU’s first women’s golfer in 31 years to win the SEC individual championship as the Tigers also won the team title. Lindblad finished third in the NCAA championships and was named first-team All-American for the third straight year.

“The Swingin’ Swede” has won a school-record nine tourneys in her LSU career and plans to win more because she’s already declared she’s returning for her senior year.

Freshman of the Year

Cohen Trolio, men’s golf

Named to the PING Southeast All-Region team and to the All-SEC freshman team, Trolio finished in a tie for third in the SEC tournament. He finished his freshman season with a stroke average of 71.30, the fifth lowest average in LSU program history for a single season.

Transfer of the Year (Tie)

Tari Eason, men’s basketball, Jacob Berry, baseball

Eason went from being a freshman forward at Cincinnati who wasn’t considered as a scoring option in 2020-21 to the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year and a first-round NBA draft pick of the Houston Rockets in 2021-22. He finished sixth in the SEC in scoring (16.9) and ninth in rebounding (6.6) and was an All-SEC first-team honoree.

Berry transferred from Arizona to rejoin his coach Jay Johnson at LSU. He led the Tigers and was fourth in the SEC in hitting (.370) with 15 homers and 48 RBI and was a second-team All American.

Team of the Year

Women’s golf

A season after LSU women’s golf team shot an incredible school record -46 under par in the SEC championship stroke play before being eliminated in league semifinals match play, the Tigers returned this season with vengeance. Led by all-American Lindblad and All-SEC second teamer Carla Tejedo, the Tigers won the league title for the first time in 31 years beating Florida 4-1 in the league finals.

LSU 2021-22 SEC standings finishes and postseason performances

Men’s sports

Football – Two-way tie for 6th place in West Division, four-way tie for 9th overall. Lost in the Texas Bowl to Kansas State.

Baseball – 3rd place in the West Division and 4th overall in regular season, 1-2 in SEC tourney eliminated in fourth round, 2-2 in NCAA Hattiesburg Regionals eliminated in the finals.

Basketball – Five-way tie for 5th place in regular season, 1-1 in SEC tourney eliminated in quarterfinals, 0-1 in NCAA tourney eliminated in first round.

Cross-country – 12th in SEC championships, 16th in NCAA South Regional.

Golf – 1-1 in SEC tourney losing in semi finals, 6th in NCAA Regionals.

Swimming and diving – 9th in SEC championships, tied for 15th in NCAA championships.

Tennis – Three-way tie for 8th in regular season, 1-1 in SEC tourney eliminated in quarterfinals, 1-1 in NCAA Austin Regionals.

Track (Outdoor) – 7th in SEC championships, 6th in NCAA championships.

Track (Indoor) – 8th in SEC championships, three-way tie for 24th in NCAA championships.

Women’s sports

Basketball – 2nd place in regular season, 0-1 in SEC tourney eliminated in quarterfinals, 1-1 in NCAA tournament eliminated in Baton Rouge Regionals second round.

Beach volleyball – 3-2 in CCSA championships, eliminated in semifinals, 2-2 in NCAA championships with final No. 6 national ranking.

Cross-country – 10th in SEC championships, 4th in NCAA South Regional.

Golf – 3-0 in winning the SEC tourney, 11th in NCAA championships.

Gymnastics – Tie for 3rd place regular season, 5th in league tournament, 3rd in NCAA regionals.

Soccer – 9th place, 1-1 in SEC tourney losing in quarterfinals, 0-1 in NCAA Memphis Regional.

Softball – Three-way tie for 4th place, 0-1 in SEC tournament eliminated in first round, 0-2 in the NCAA Tempe Regional.

Swimming and diving – 8th in SEC championships, 32nd in NCAA championships.

Tennis – 11th in regular season, 0-1 in SEC tourney eliminated in first round.

Track (Outdoor) – 3rd in SEC championships, tie for 4th in NCAA championships.

Track (Indoor) – 4th in SEC championships, 5th in NCAA championships.

Volleyball – 7th place in regular season.

SEC championships

Women’s golf

NCAA individual championships

Brooks Curry, men’s swimming (2) 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle

Sean “Squirrel” Burrell, men’s track, 400-meter hurdles

Alia Armstrong, women’s track, 100-meter hurdles