Monday, July 15, 2013

Time For Miles To Cut Bait?

CBS Sports national columnist Gregg Doyel came off the top rope and dropped the hammer on Les Miles and LSU for the kid-glove handling of Jeremy Hill.  

still shots from cell phone video of Jeremy Hill punchout.  Courtesy WBRZ

 Hill, the talented soon-to-be sophomore running back from Redemptorist High School, pleaded guilty last Friday to misdemeanor simple battery for his sucker punch to Connor Baldridge's face outside Reggie's bar on April 27th of this year. Another young man, Robert Bayardo, finished what Hill started with his own sucker punch to the back of Baldridge's head. 

In 2012, Hill also pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile during Hill's senior year at Redemptorist.  He and a teammate forced a 14-year old female student to perform oral sex on them in the school's locker room.

Doyel labels Hill a "predator" and a "coward" for his 2-on-1 attacks
Jeremy Hill Leaving Courthouse Friday July  12th
just over a year apart.  It's hard to find anything wrong with that label.  Using your size and strength to sexually assault a child? That's very predator-like and certainly cowardly.  Joining forces to sucker punch a defenseless man? Predatory and cowardice on display yet again. 

While Doyel spends the bulk of his column spitting venom at Hill, he saves some for Les Miles and the good ol' boy network of LSU.  Doyel cites Miles reluctance to kick Tyrann Mathieu off the team despite a Mathieu-admitted ten failed drug tests.  Miles is lumped in with Urban Meyer as a coach who "wants to win and will play who he has to play to do it."  The CBS scribe chides Miles and his administrative backers for trotting out the company line, "we will wait for the legal process to run it's course," before taking definite/permanent action against the student-athlete.

What is Miles waiting on? The video of the incident outside Reggie's is certainly conclusive that Hill hit a man who never saw the punch coming.  To this day, we don't know for certain what precipitated the attack.  Does it matter though?  Without the video, I completely agree with Miles "wait and see" approach.  WITH the video, the "legal process" should be superseded by "common sense".  

Miles, by all accounts from people I know and trust, is a good man. Fun-loving. Honest. Trustworthy. He's a hardass when needed. He also plays the role of surrogate father for many of his players.  Would I trust a son to play for Les Miles? In a heartbeat.  Would I want Coach Miles to explain to me personally why he allowed Hill to remain a part of the team? Absolutely.

Les Miles has won over thousands of fans and enemies with his Ph.D. of syntax.  The harmless banter that Miles spews for the public eye is often-times replaced by real-world emotion from the top Tiger.  THAT Les Miles would be a welcome sound for sore ears rather than a typed statement from LSU Media Relations.   

I haven't shared a dinner table with Les Miles. 

I haven't spent vacation time with Les Miles.  

I have been a part of over one hundred press conference/interview sessions with the man and find myself hoping for the best with entities involving his effort. He's a likable guy.  Local players from Jacob Hester to Mo Claiborne have nothing but good things to say about their head coach.  Those two examples alone should serve as proof that Miles does indeed know how to coach and lead young men with principle. 

If Les Miles needs an example, look no further than Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt Head Coach, James Franklin isn't waiting for the legal process---he kicked four players off the team for their alleged involvement in a sexual assault on campus last month.  None of the four: Brandon Banks, Corey Batey, Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie and Brandon Vandenburg were listed as starters on the May 2013 Depth Chart. 

Doyel's perception that the "good ol' boy (and girl) network" of LSU is whizzing along is based on two judges involved in Hill's legal troubles holding LSU law degrees. This conclusion doesn't hold water in my bucket. For one thing, there are only four law schools in the state (Tulane, Loyola of New Orleans, Southern and LSU). The odds that an East Baton Rouge judge would hold a law degree from across town are probably pretty good. And to imply Hill received favorable judgments based on his status as an LSU recruit in 2012 and budding star in 2013 are hazardous at best.

Gregg Doyel hands out labels like he's working the front door of a High School reunion.  And like those adhesive personal badges, some of Doyel's labels stick... and some don't.