Gary Patterson is not pleased with Les Miles’ decision to leave the fate of running back Jeremy Hill to an LSU Tigers team vote. And why would he be?
Patterson’s TCU Horned Frogs meet the Tigers in a little over three weeks, at this year’s installment of the Cowboys Classic. It’s a head-to-head match-up on a level playing field. Or at least, a level playing field in some facets.
Patterson caused a commotion on Wednesday when he joined the many critics decrying Miles‘ choice to allow repeat offender Hill to return to the team:
Jeremy Hill caught on tape clocking a guy in the head, violated probation, but hey, his teammates voted him back, so what I could do?
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 5, 2013
Scratch that — Miles didn’t so much allow Hill to return as he didn’t not allow his reinstatement. In other words, he left it to a team vote.
The dynamics of Hill’s reinstatement and his teammates’ vote to retain him might seem dubious to outsiders, but friend of the site Michael Felder adequately sheds some light on the situation.
Not surprisingly, Hill’s Tiger comrades elected to retain the team’s leading rusher a season ago. The running back’s discipline is left to similar “internal” action. Whether that means extra gassers at practice, or a suspension that keeps Hill out of the season opener against TCU, remains to be seen.
That either is an option is surprising, given Hill was already serving probation for a serious sex crime when he punched someone outside a Baton Rouge bar in April. The Baton Rouge District Attorney sought mandatory jail time, which was dismissed. To top that, the proposed revocation of probation was dismissed only after the presiding judge moved up the date of Hill’s hearing. The deck was stacked heavily in Hill’s favor.
Young men make mistakes. That’s an undeniable fact of life. Most learn from their mistakes and are better people for it. It’s happened in football, notably with one of Miles’ former players. Ryan Perrilloux ran afoul of the law in 2008, but a few years later was a member of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and newly conferred college graduate.
Of course, Perrilloux refocused only after his dismissal from LSU. He parlayed the lessons from his consequences suffered at LSU into two great seasons and a degree at Jacksonville State.
Yes, young people make mistakes and can learn from them. However, serious consequences are the usual teaching tools. Hill might miss game time, and he has a mandatory curfew (barring “football activities”), but these aren’t particularly serious consequences when dismissal and jail time were the alternatives.
Perrilloux’s story is what makes the reinstatement of Hill somewhat surprising. Miles has cut ties with big-time players who could have helped this teams in in the past. Tyrann Mathieu is the other notable example. Think LSU could have used the play-making defensive back on Alabama’s final drive last November? A trying 2008 might also have been different with Perrilloux captaining the offense, instead of a very raw Jarrett Lee.
Les Miles said of Perrilloux upon his dismissal: “[he] didn’t fulfill his obligation as an LSU student-athlete. Ryan was given every opportunity to be a part of this football team.”
That’s a very decisive statement, much different from his approach to Hill. Something about the two players’ situations is apparently different, and Miles must have some faith in the sophomore running back.
Still, one particular comment from Patterson’s interview resonates:
“[Eschewing dismissal for a team vote] doesn’t teach life lessons.”
Before 2012, the TCU locker room was largely free from Johnny Law. But last year, a drug bust netted four football players: D.J. Yendrey, Tanner Brock, Ty Horn and Devin Johnson. All were promptly dismissed, including Brock, a 2010 All-American. Brock is now at Sam Houston State; Yendrey is with Texas State.
Casey Pachall left the team early last season to enter drug rehabilitation after a DUI. He was allowed to return to the team this off-season after meeting certain guidelines Patterson set forth. Pachall shared candid thoughts on the situation with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last week:
“After about a week or two, I had that little moment of clarity,” Pachall said, “and realized that I was screwing everything up, and it was completely my fault that I was in the situation I’m in and who all I let down.”
Players deserve chances at redemption. Pachall has his this season, returning to the quarterback role he mastered in 2011. Michael Dyer has his at Louisville, where Charlie Strong welcomed him aboard, on the condition Dyer follows a strict code of conduct.
The argument against Jeremy Hill is that his second chance already came; it was before he threw that punch in April.