Dr. Sam Nader, who worked as LSU Football’s recruiting director and supervisor of operations during a brilliant 46-year career, is a member of the 2023 LSU Athletics Hall of Fame class and will be honored at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, September 22, at the Manship Theater in downtown Baton Rouge.
The other members of the 2023 class are legendary women’s golf coach Karen Bahnsen; 18-time track and field All-American and football wide receiver Al Coffee; women’s tennis All-American and SEC Player of the Year Megan Falcon; volleyball All-American Nyla Shepherd Moore, who led LSU to two Final Fours; NCAA discus and shot put champion Danyel Mitchell; and Jim Hawthorne, the radio “Voice of the Tigers” for over 30 years.
Success in the football world transcends the playing field. Dr. Sam Nader embodies that reality through his tenure as one LSU Football’s most esteemed and respected staff members, serving 46 years.
A native of Lake Charles, La., Nader was quarterback at Auburn University from 1963-1967. Once his playing days were over, he became an assistant coach at Jordan High School in Columbus, Ga., before being promoted to head coach and athletics director in 1970, a position he held until 1974.
He moved to Baton Rouge in 1975 to join the LSU staff as a graduate assistant and held that role until head coach Charles McClendon hired him as a full-time assistant coach in 1977.
“I came to LSU to get a varied experience and to finish my graduate degree in Kinesiology and Education,” Nader explained. “I also wanted to be a graduate assistant coach to improve professionally. I was brought on because my high school coach, Doug Hamley, was on the staff with Coach McClendon.”
Nader also worked as the Tigers’ junior varsity assistant coach. Colleges at that time still had freshmen and junior varsity teams that had been established before 1972, when the NCAA finally granted athletics eligibility to first-year students. Nader assisted with the JV team, working with Barry Wilson, who was LSU’s JV head coach from 1977-1979.
Following his coaching tenure, Nader served as LSU’s football recruiting director from 1980-1993. He spearheaded the recruiting efforts of 32 players who developed into All-SEC First-Team players, plus seven who became All-Americans.
He was elevated in 1994 to Administrative Assistant for Football Operations, where he supervised the day-to-day activities of the program. In 2000, he was promoted again, this time to Assistant Athletics Director for Football Operations, a position in which he excelled until his retirement in 2021.
Nader’s career was highlighted by substantial achievements like administering the football players’ summer job program and assisting in the tremendous growth of LSU’s Academic Center for Student-Athletes.
He also spent significant time with LSU student-athletes away from the football field. He played a vital role in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, serving as the LSU campus faculty representative, and he was inducted into the FCA Hall of Fame in 2019.
Nader was committed to building relationships with student-athletes to make them better performers, students, and, ultimately, better people. Every Thanksgiving, he would have a standing invitation for any athlete without a place to eat to join him at Piccadilly Cafeteria.
Always displaying tremendous pride in the university, Nader would instill that same trait in the LSU players.
On one occasion, in order to motivate the football team during a frigid 30-degree outdoor practice, Nader showed up shirtless with a purple “T” – for Tigers – painted across his chest.
“We had a challenging upcoming game against Arkansas, and the weather conditions weren’t going to be ideal there,” Nader explained. “I wanted to show the players if I could do it, so could they.”
Nader enjoyed giving speeches to the players and addressed the football team as “Gentlemen of the Gridiron.” A notable Nader speech occurred in 2019 the night before the Tigers faced Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He showed film from past games against the Crimson Tide – some of the film was black-and-white – as a tool to motivate the squad into breaking an eight-game losing streak against its fierce rival.
The next day, the Tigers posted an epic 46-41 win over the Crimson Tide and went on to claim the National Championship with a perfect 15-0 season.
Nader saw the university and the football program progress tremendously during his 46-year tenure that featured three national championships, seven Southeastern Conference titles and 32 bowl games.
“LSU changed, just like the world, by becoming increasingly sophisticated,” Nader said. “LSU has always been competitive in sports, but now, LSU is more competitive than ever before. I believe that’s a credit to coaches, players, and athletics directors that have been here.”
The Dr. Sam Nader Award has been established at LSU, and it exemplifies Dr. Nader’s impact and legacy at the university. The award is presented to the coach or staff member who demonstrates similar characteristics to Nader, which include unselfishness, a gift of service and a great sense of integrity.
“When I learned about the Hall of Fame honor, (LSU Executive Deputy AD) Verge Ausberry called me, and I was shocked,” Nader said. “I had never given thought that this was a possibility. It is a blessing to share this honor with my family.
“LSU means family. It is something special and represents many fantastic people. It’s unique, passionate, and a cut above in terms of emotional attachment that can develop for an institution, a place, or a group of people.”