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Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Hobbs Column: Miles makes right call in Hill’s case

Last Modified: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 10:43 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

This one’s tough.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know what to make of LSU and its Jeremy Hill dilemma.

I do know it’s why coaches at places like LSU get the big bucks.

I get it. Head coach Les Miles does not think Hill, his star running back, is an inherent thug.

This is one worth taking another chance on without putting the rest of decent society at risk.

This is a third chance that could pay off, and not just in LSU’s rushing totals.

Miles knows him better than any of us.

Most of what we know is that Hill is a pretty good option on third-and-3.

Miles apparently thinks he’s also, at heart, a decent enough kid (and really good student) who’s worth salvaging.

Yes, in a way, letting Hill come back from indefinite suspension was the tough thing to do.

Just kicking Hill off the team, or even suspending him into the Stone Age, would have been the easy way out for Miles. No one, not even fans who worry more about the school’s won-loss record than its reputation, would have squawked.

He’d have been seen as no-nonsense tough. Fans eat that stuff up.

It doesn’t necessarily mean it would have been the right thing to do, however.

Miles will take some heat for bringing Hill back, maybe even from some of the school’s higher-ups.

“He owes this school, this team and this community his best behavior,” Miles said.

He also owes his head coach. Big time.

If, in knowing the whole story and circumstances, Miles thinks Hill deserves another chance, then fine.

But it does seem odd that, with Hill’s fate teetering on whether a judge prescribed jail time or a probation extension, he apparently gets off without even being suspended for a couple of games.

I don’t think Miles would be afraid to play TCU without him.

But wouldn’t you feel better about it if Hill was a third- or fourth-string back instead of the stud ballcarrier?

Miles still has that option. He didn’t say definitely that Hill would play in the opener, just that as of now the further punishment would be “internal.”

Take the case of Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison, the famous dog intimidator. He is still suspended for the Gators’ first two games this season.

Florida coach Will Muschamp left the penalty intact even after the charges against Morrison — technically, “barking at a police dog” — were being dropped with all due giggles. Muschamp suspension wasn’t for his barking prowess, per se, but for being in a time and place (lounge parking lot after closing time) that encourages barking at police dogs whether it’s a crime or not.

That’s roughly the time, place and previous extenuating circumstances that Hill found himself.

Still, too much is being made of Miles mentioning the “team vote” that allowed Hill to come back. If the team had voted not to let him back (yeah, right), then perhaps Miles wouldn’t have thought twice about booting him forever and a day.

But I took it to mean the team vote, such that it was, only meant that Hill COULD come back. It was still Miles’ call — and his alone — whether Hill WOULD be allowed back.

You can’t let the inmates run the asylum.

That said, in justifying this decision, don’t be giving Miles too much credit by reminding us that last year he kicked a Heisman finalist Honey Badger off the team.

Tyrann Mathieu’s exile wasn’t really Miles’ choice to make. The consequences for the reported multiple failed drug tests are clearly spelled out in the athletic department regulations. There was no decision, really, to be made there — Miles had no choice but to just follow the clearly defined school policy.

In this case, there’s obviously more to the parking lot fight than we’ll ever know just by watching the handy cellphone video.

There have been whispers that taunting of Hill was involved, reportedly of a racial nature. And it is perhaps telling that the victim, in not seeking jail time for his attacker, also asked the judge to stipulate that Hill not comment either publicly or on social media about the incident. It doesn’t sound like he wanted the off-camera details to become public any more than Hill wanted his on-camera cameo all over creation. The night in question probably was not the victim’s finest hour either.

But that doesn’t excuse what Hill did, particularly when factoring in that he was already on probation.

I did like what Miles said about players need to remember that the jersey they wear in the stadium doesn’t disappear when they’re out gallivanting.

Maybe they should wear the real things while on those team-bonding (bar-hopping) excursions.

Might even be a good ice-breaker with the girls.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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