What was Miles thinking with Hill?Published 12:01am Sunday, August 11, 2013
You could see this coming a mile away, but it doesn’t make it any less disgusting.
LSU running back Jeremy Hill pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery after sucker punching someone from behind outside a bar in April. He did this while already being on probation after he pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile while in high school.
I said to myself then, if this guy doesn’t see jail time, he’ll be back on the team in no time.
And this past Monday, my prophecy came true, as LSU head coach Les Miles announced that Hill would rejoin the team, effective immediately.
But as if it wasn’t egregious enough that he was letting a guy who pleaded guilty to both forcing a minor to perform oral sex and clocking a guy from behind, Miles decided to insult our collective intelligence. Instead of saying it was his decision to reinstate Hill, he said he put it up to a vote amongst his players.
OK, that part I honestly didn’t see coming, even taking into account the many bizarre things Miles has said and done in the past.
And in the aftermath, I can only be left to wonder, what in the world was he thinking?
Miles essentially said in an interview Monday that, if it were up to him, he would not have allowed Hill to be reinstated. Instead, he left it up to his players.
Hold on a second — if it were up to him? That statement brings me back to another statement Miles made to a referee in the 2007 LSU-Arkansas game: “I’m the head coach!”
Yes, Miles, you are indeed the head coach. Which means this is ultimately your decision, whether you allow the players to vote or not.
If you were to say, “He’s not coming back,” then that’s that. No matter if every single one of the players voted to have him back — as they supposedly did — it would all be a moot point. You’re the head coach; your word is final.
I’ve defended Miles in the past. I’ve said that he’s often unfairly compared to his predecessor, Nick Saban, and that if you don’t stand him next to Saban, Miles is actually a very good coach, one of the best in the league.
But this is inexcusable. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. TCU head coach Gary Patterson had something to say about it as his team gears up to play the Tigers in both teams’ season opener Aug. 31. The Horned Frogs will be without star defensive end Devonte Fields in that game because of violating team rules.
“My whole team would vote Devonte to be back on the team because they all want to win,” Patterson said. “That doesn’t teach life lessons.”
What it does do is lower the deterrence factor in being a member of the team and behaving badly. What happens next time someone gets in trouble at LSU? Is that player’s fate decided by a vote?
Hill should be off the team, period. He should also be in jail, but Judge Bonnie Jackson’s ponderous decision to merely extend his probation is another subject altogether. Miles adding insult to injury only makes an embarrassing decision even more preposterous.