Spring 2021 Magazine

FCA Hall of Famer Sam Nader is the secret behind LSU's football success

When LSU takes the field against Clemson for the national championship on Monday, Sam Nader will be there, far away from the spotlight, just like he has been for 45 years. What very few people know is Nader deserves as much credit as anyone for LSU’s tradition of success, including this year’s.

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“I told [Sam] the other day, ‘Whenever you retire, they’re going to dip you in bronze and stand you outside the building,’” former LSU running back and current LSU employee Justin Vincent said in a recent Sports Illustrated profile. “I look at Coach Nader like I look at Mike The Tiger — he is LSU.”

Nader’s job description is as anonymous as the man himself: He is responsible for overseeing all day-to-day administrative duties for the LSU football team. But this description doesn’t explain how, in a world where turnover happens rapidly, Nader has been on staff for nine different head coaches. LSU coaches keep Nader around for a simple reason: He is committed to serving them and the program, and he’s good at his job.

Former LSU coach Les Miles recounts Nader giving him turn-by-turn directions, as Miles attempted to navigate the byzantine Louisiana backroads of a recruiting trip.

“I’m not watching where I’m going,” Miles remembered. “He’s saying make a right and a left, and I have to ask again. Make a right and a left. That was for two weeks. He’s a serving man. He has no peer. He’s special.”

Over the years, Nader has been a recruiter during transitional periods between coaches, landed star running back Kevin Faulk in 1999, and occasionally gives motivational speeches to the players — most recently prior to the November game against Alabama, when LSU finally snapped its seven-game losing streak against the Crimson Tide.

Current LSU head coach Ed Orgeron privately meets with Nader regularly for advice, and Nader sits in on every staff meeting. “Whenever I’ve got to make a big decision,” Orgeron said, “I go to Sam and ask him what he thinks because he’s been around some great coaches.”

Said Will Muschamp, now the head coach at South Carolina and a former LSU assistant, “There’s a place in Heaven for Sam Nader.”

In March, Nader was elected into the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Hall of Fame. Nader, a quiet but proud follower of Jesus, is the campus sponsor of LSU’s FCA huddle. At his induction ceremony, a nominator said of Nader:

“Coach Nader is the embodiment of what we as staff are trying to accomplish each and every single day of our lives in ministry. He has just been doing it as a coach for 42 years! In many ways, coach Nader is the standard of what a godly man should look like. He is humble, gracious, honest, a man of great personal integrity, a man who listens more than he speaks, a man who is deeply committed to his wife and family, a man who is faithful to reading God’s Word and his devotion to his relationship with Christ.

“I have never heard him speak a negative thing about anyone or any situation. He is the epitome of the man behind the scenes who truly wants no credit for his life of service.”

While the 74-year-old Nader, who was a quarterback for Auburn from 1963 to 1967, says he has no plans to retire, he also has suggested Orgeron will be the last coach he’ll work for. For however long he stays though, Nader will keep doing what he’s done for decades: humbly serving others well.

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