LSU’s new athletic director knows the ins and outs of football — political football that is

BATON ROUGE — New LSU athletic director Scott Woodward knows football inside and out — political football that is.

“He has been around Louisiana politics since he was a boy,” said Roy Fletcher, a political consultant and campaigner in Louisiana for 30 years whom Woodward worked for shortly after graduating from LSU with a political science degree in 1985.

“He knows his way around Louisiana politics and has for a long time,” Fletcher said Thursday. “That will serve him well as LSU’s athletic director. He is Louisiana, and I’m glad he’s here.”

Woodward, 55, was officially named to his new post on Thursday by LSU after serving as Texas A&M’s athletic director beginning in January 2016 and as Washington’s athletic director from 2008-16.

He was LSU’s director of external affairs from 1999-2004, working with governmental relations and public relations under LSU chancellor Mark Emmert. Woodward held a similar job at Washington after Emmert left LSU to become president at his Washington alma mater in 2004 before Woodward became athletic director in 2008.

LSU has never had an athletic director with experience on both the athletic and administration side of a university, along with such extensive political experience in government and public relations.

Woodward’s first job was for Baton Rouge Mayor Pat Screen, whom he previously worked for while in school and got to know another political operative of Screen destined for legendary status — James Carville, who would later lead Bill Clinton’s campaign to president of the United States in 1991.

After working for Fletcher, Woodward, then 24, joined the administration of Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, who was elected in 1987. Woodward went on to operate his own governmental relations consulting firm through the 1990s.

“Easily, Scott is the most accomplished athletic director in the country,” Carville, who now teaches a political communications class at LSU, said Thursday. “Because I’ve got news for you. Big time athletics and administration is politics. Scott’s only problem is he starts at 100 percent qualified. He can only go down, but he won’t.”

LSU’s previous nine athletic directors had either coaching or athletic administration backgrounds or both with the exception of Bob Brodhead, who came from the business world in 1982. Joe Alleva, whom Woodward will replace, was previously the athletic director at Duke and an assistant athletic director there.

“He understands Louisiana politics,” Fletcher…

Boeing 737 Max: Don’t rush into criminal case and don’t make safety a political football

Safety regulators should make careful decisions on when to ground planes, when to put them back in the air, and when to start criminal investigations. .

Nobody wants an airplane to crash. Importantly, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the commercial aviation industry have worked diligently to prevent this from happening. Since February 2009, about 8 billion passengers have been carried in U.S. commercial aviation without a single passenger fatality — an exemplary safety record.

As a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and a former secretary of Transportation, respectively, we believe that aviation safety regulators must be cautious to avoid unintended consequences. We are concerned about the potential impact of activities since the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 in two respects — the process for grounding the 737 Max in some other countries and commencing a criminal investigation in the United States.

We commend the leadership of the FAA, supported by the secretary of Transportation, for making the difficult decision to ground the 737 Max based on the initial data from the second crash, as well as data from the October crash. Given the great impact of this decision, it should always be made based on data, not external pressure.

Read more commentary:

Airline pilot: Is it still safe to fly in a Boeing 737 Max? Don’t worry about it just yet.

The FAA has grounded airliners only three times in 40 years. The first two were the result of mechanical malfunctions that disabled the airplane so seriously, the risk of a catastrophe was too high. Those groundings resulted from the engine separating from the wing on a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 shortly after takeoff in 1979, and the lithium-ion battery fires in the Boeing 787 in 2013.

This most recent grounding, on the other hand, appears to have resulted from complex automation that pilots should be trained to respond to. Yet in two crashes several months apart, the pilots apparently did not know