While Wednesday at SEC Media Days meant the conference's and college football's biggest star, Johnny Manziel, meeting with and getting grilled by (what up, Joe Tessitore?), it was yesterday's session that contained top to bottom the most star-studded agenda of the week.
Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Vanderbilt.
Not a weak sister among them, not since Vanderbilt has become relevant in the still burgeoning James Franklin Era. Hell, the Commodores even have a controversy on their hands, what with four players recently expelled from school over an alleged sexual misconduct. Vandy has arrived!
SEC! SEC! SEC!
So we had Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron deflecting questions about his role (or lack thereof) in the Manziel Dead Phone Caper. We had Bama head coach Nick Saban reminding the media, who picked the Crimson Tide in a landslide to win the conference, just how shitty their record is at picking the winner (4 of the last 17 seasons correct). We had Georgia's Mark Richt going through the now annual ritual of talking about job security.
And then there's Les.
Watching LSU head coach Les Miles at the conference's Media Days is a two-pronged must-see delight every year, part comedy with his uncanny ability to deliver a meandering response to a question on anything and part magic show, as we wonder just how in the blue hell this doofus managed to upwardly bumble his way to the top of his vocation.
Few coaches are more successful than Les Miles, and even fewer are as big a comedic enigma. The end result is a pretty likable, sometimes lucky character of a head coach, like Forrest Gump meets Bo Schembechler, a grass-eating simpleton who feels like he falls ass backwards into at least ten wins every year.
So when his press conference begins Thursday morning, and within 15 words he's already uttered the phrase "hyperbaric oxygen therapy research," we laugh. When he lists out everything he did during his summer vacation, mostly following his kids playing various sports, we nod with approval over Les the Family Man.
Les has us all eating out of his hands.
Then he lists all of the statistics relating to the success of the program. The wins (85 in eight years, best in the conference), the graduation rate (70 percentile again) and the NFL draftees (nine players drafted this past April). And for a few moments, the laughter is replaced with respect.
Then he gets to this year's players, and it doesn't take long before he gets to the running back position.
Alfred Blue is back and healthy again. Kenny Hilliard ran for 800 yards last season. Terrence Magee can be a very, very talented running back. That's all good.
And then Miles gets to running back Jeremy Hill.
If you're not familiar with Jeremy Hill, here's what you need to know -- he's the asshole in the long-sleeved purple shirt in this video:
Yes, the fuckhead who walked up behind that guy (whose name is Connor Baldridge) and blasted him in the face with a roundhouse right fist and then celebrates with his buddies (one of whom hit Baldridge and knocked him unconscious with a follow-up forearm to the back of his head) like he just beat the guy in Madden....that's Jeremy Hill.
That footage was taken on April 27, and for his, um, trouble, Hill pleaded guilty to misdemeanor simple battery. Hill was sentenced to two years probation and must perform 50 hours of community service, pay $375 to the victim and write a letter of apology.
Here's what else you need to know about Jeremy Hill: In January 2012, a then-18-year-old Hill pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile after he and another Redemptorist High student pressured a 14-year-old female to perform a sexual act at school. This landed Hill on probation, a probation that was presumably violated with the latest parking-lot sucker punch. We will find out in an August 16 review of the probation, but a probation violation could land Hill in jail for up to six months.
Jeremy Hill is a beauty, isn't he?
Given the disturbing and repetitive nature of these crimes and the infuriating cowardice in the video above, it would seem that Miles's decision on Hill's status with the school should be an easy one -- Hill should be gone, a violent footnote in a pretty successful era of LSU football.
And yet here was Les Miles's spoken paragraph on Hill's status with the LSU football program today in Hoover, Alabama:
I'll probably take a minute right now to talk about Jeremy Hill. Jeremy Hill has a legal entanglement. At this point in time, he remains indefinitely suspended. I have a track record with really disciplining my team. We go through the same process that all of my guys will go through. Frankly, you know, we're gathering information as we go. So he's been separated from his team and teammates for the summer.
When asked if there's been any communication with Hill this summer, Miles added:
Yes, we've visited with Jeremy Hill on a routine basis. He's not been in any team meetings, not been in any workouts. We've not allowed him in our facility. It's been very hard on him, I know. Again, we recognize there's an ongoing process that's going to be fulfilled. We're going to sit on the perimeter and watch. We certainly are respectful of all that have responsibility there. We'll let you know when we know.
It's all well, good and correct that LSU has suspended Hill from any team and school activities. In turn, it makes sense that he be separated from the team and his teammates for the summer, considering he's one probation review away from being separated from society.
But does Les Miles's playing the waiting game on the "fulfillment" of the "ongoing process," not to mention the communication with Hill on a "routine basis," mean that Jeremy Hill could actually return to LSU? Is Les Miles really "sitting on the perimeter and watching" this Hill saga play out for a reason other than morbid curiosity? Please, Les, tell me that just because a sociopath averages over five yards a carry, you can't just plug in some other five-star athlete from somewhere on the bayou to take up the slack.
Tell me you've seen that video of Jeremy Hill handling his business the exact opposite way you would want your players, your young men, hell, your son to handle theirs, and that that along with forcing a 14-year-old girl to perform unspeakable things on him and a friend is enough to bid him good riddance.
It took at least ten failed drug tests for you to eventually give Tyrann Mathieu the boot. Are you telling me that there's a conversion chart out there that says ten failed episodes with weed is worse than the dastardly, violent, backwards bullshit that Jeremy Hill has unleashed on these two individuals?
Because that's the sense I'm getting with your "wait and see" stance on the Hill situation, Les. I'm thinking that, if he doesn't go to jail, he might be back on campus, even though the bar for keeping a division 1-A football scholarship should be higher than the bar for merely being allowed to remain unincarcerated.
And this would be terrible news. Terrible for that 14-year-old girl, terrible for Connor Baldridge, terrible for people trying to avoid becoming the next Connor Baldridge, and terrible for everyone that loves them some Les Miles at SEC Media Days.
Because it would mean that all the dopey rhetoric, and all the run-on sentences, and the persona of "dopey ol' Les" is actually just a front for a guy who deep down may be a lot more cold and calculating than we all thought.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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