Hill fiasco latest in tired controversies

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 12, 2013

How many times are we going to have to go through this before these star athletes get it through their heads?

As if the Tyrann Matthieu episode from last year’s offseason or the Jordan Jefferson fiasco from the year before wasn’t enough for LSU fans, this offseason has blessed the Tiger faithful with part three, courtesy of running back Jeremy Hill.

Unlike the Mathieu and Jefferson incidents, which both happened in the fall, Hill chose instead to get in trouble before the start of summer. Hill was involved in an off-campus bar fight early on the morning of April 27, and he recently was issued probation that includes a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. It wasn’t Hill’s first run-in with the law, as Hill pleaded guilty in 2012 to a misdemeanor charge of carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

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Here’s what we know after witnessing Hill run for the Tigers last season — he’s good. In fact, he’s very good. If you were to list top returning SEC running backs for this fall, Hill would be at or near the top of that list.

Only now, he’s indefinitely suspended because he couldn’t do the simplest of things: stay out of trouble.

Hill’s athleticism and natural ability at running back would make him a likely shoe-in to make a pretty penny in the NFL, even when you factor in the recently lessening of a running back’s value in the league. And that simple fact highlights one of the most frustrating things about keeping up with star athletes.

When it comes to off-the-field conduct, these top-tier players have one job. One. Job. If they do this one job, they stand to hit a big payday. The formula really is quite simple: 1. Don’t get in trouble, and 2. Make millions.

Is it just me, or is this not that difficult a concept. If you simply behave yourself, give 100 percent on the field and, Lord-willing, don’t get hurt, then you’re more than likely going to fulfill your dream of playing professional ball — and have plenty of money to show for it.

Yet, what should be quite easy seems to elude far too many of these athletes. I’m not so ignorant to think that every single member of a team comes from a good background, and there’s obviously more for those athletes to overcome. I’m also not oblivious to the fact that there are always going to be members of a team that are, shall we say, less than model citizens. As the adage goes, you can’t win with a team full of choirboys.

But it’s the responsibility of the coaches to sit down with these athletes and make it very clear to them that their future is contingent upon staying out of trouble. You want to start for us, be good. You want to win SEC and national titles, be good. You want to make it to the NFL and make millions, be good. If you misbehave, your chances of doing any of those things take a serious hit.

Make it loud and clear to them that it’s the right way or the highway. If it’s laid out to them, black and white, they’ll either get with the program, or there was never much hope to begin with.