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Louisiana State University supervisors, rejecting pleas from a former...

By JOAN I. DUFFY

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana State University supervisors, rejecting pleas from a former governor and ignoring fan protests, has approved the hiring of Miami Dolphins Assistant Head Coach Bill Arnsparger to replace the embattled Jerry Stovall.

Stovall, last year's Coach of the Year who took his team to the Orange Bowl, was ousted Friday with a 13-5 vote in favor of a recommendation from Athletic Director Bob Brodhead.

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Brodhead, former financial director for the Dolphins, said LSU's dismal 4-7 season this year was caused by poor coaching on the field.

Former Gov. John McKeithen, a member of the supervisors board, gave up his fight to block the ouster, but warned Brodhead, Arnsparger and Chancellor James Wharton that LSU alumni and fans would demand results.

'If he don't win the national championship next year it's going to be tough for all concerned,' McKeithen said.

He also warned of repercussions from the firing, saying LSU would lose support among its alumni and fans, and might be unable to recruit top-notch high school players.

'I don't question Mr. Brodhead's sincerity,' McKeithen said. 'But sir, you do not know LSU and you will not live long enough to know LSU as I know LSU.'

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Brodhead promised to keep veteran LSU recruiter Sam Nader on the job to head recruiting activities, especially while Arnsparger finishes out the playoff season with the Dolphins.

'We're going to miss him,' Dolphins coach Don Shula said.

Arnsparger was an assistant coach at Tulane from 1962-1963.

Just 12 months ago, supervisors gave Stovall a pay bonus for leading the Tigers to an 8-3-1 season, including a respectable 21-20 loss to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

Early season polls picked LSU in the Top 10, and its rushing offense was expected to be among the best in the nation.

But Stovall's team finished the demoralizing season 4-7 and -- for the first time in its history -- LSU failed to win a Southeast Conference game.

Although Brodhead based his recommendations to fire Stovall on the coach's win-loss record and seeming inability to change strategy in mid-game, members of the board indicated a personality conflict between the two also was to blame.

Two supervisors said they had been contacted by Stovall or friends acting in his behalf last year saying the coach was ready to quit unless he received an extention on his contract or a substantial pay raise.

'The head coach does not run the university,' said supervisor Tommy Neck. Neck, a former LSU football star who played with Stovall, was visably upset by the controversy and the position he was in.

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'God, I wish I didn't have to vote that way,' Neck said, in tears after joining the call to oust Stovall.

Stovall, a runner up for the 1962 Heisman Trophy at LSU, was named head coach in 1980, days after a private airplane carrying newly hired Coach Bo Rein on a recruiting mission mysteriously flew on autopilot from Shreveport across the country until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

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