How Kim Mulkey, LSU women's basketball are pacing a multi-sport surge for Tigers
Kim Mulkey has experienced Year of the Bear. She hopes Year of the Tiger is coming at LSU
Back in 2012, Kim Mulkey was an integral part of the Year of the Bear.
That year, Baylor experienced an athletic year for the ages as Mulkey and her team were at the forefront, going 40-0 and winning a national championship along with Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman Trophy, the men's basketball team going 30-8 en route to the Elite Eight and baseball reaching the Super Regionals.
As she gears up to lead No. 3 seed LSU women's basketball (28-2) into its second straight NCAA Tournament, tipping things off against No. 14 Hawaii (18-14) inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Friday (4:30 p.m., ESPN2), Mulkey believes a Year of the Tiger is coming soon at LSU.
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"This could get special here in the next three, four, five years," Mulkey said Thursday. "I keep up with the other sports. You want everybody to do good. You're selfish and territorial about certain things in your program, let's make that clear, but if you can help somebody else out with their program, I'm all for it."
No other athletic program at LSU has been as successful as women's basketball since Mulkey was hired before the 2021-22 season. The Tigers have won 54 games, so far, have finished top two in the Southeastern Conference in back-to-back seasons, and enjoyed more spotlight and prominence within the sport.
Brian Kelly led the LSU football team on quite the resurgence in 2022 after a tumultuous stretch before his arrival. His team beat highly-ranked teams in Tennessee and Alabama en route to winning the SEC West.
LSU baseball is ranked No. 1 in the country as Jay Johnson, who took over his program the same year Mulkey took over hers, recruited the top signing class before this season. The Tigers are 16-1. LSU softball is ranked No. 10 in the nation behind coach Beth Torina.
And LSU gymnastics was a preseason top-6 program and stars like Haleigh Bryant and Aleah Finnegan are listed among the top-6 in the country in different events.
Things already seem to be trending in the right direction at LSU.
Mulkey knows that the football and men's basketball teams, the latter of which is currently in total rebuild mode under first-year coach Matt McMahon, benefit the whole group: "We reap the money," she said.
But she hopes her program and its success are setting the tone for a potential Year of the Tiger.
"I don't know that I am responsible for other programs demanding greatness from themselves. But I've been blessed to have people think that. I got to thinking, look at the softball team, look at what the volleyball team did this year, looking at what Brian Kelly did in his first year," Mulkey said.
"I hope that someone can say, 'I'm trying to keep up with her. When I see that woman and her practices, I want to do what she does.' I think that's a sign of hard work, respect, and when you can have an entire athletic department win, man it's fun. I want to see that for everybody."
Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at email@example.com.