It’s interesting to see that LSU has now banned Odell Beckham Jr., from the football facility for two years.

Well, that’s a start, I guess.

It probably hurts an attention hog like Beckham more than it helps LSU, but you have to begin somewhere.

Ever since Beckham’s little self-indulgent contribution to the postgame national championship festivities — whereas he was throwing $100 bills up amidst all the celebratory confetti and into a few waiting Tigers’ hands — absolutely nothing much has seemed to go right for the Tigers.

Maybe they’re related.

There’s an alternate theory running rampant that football fortune always seems to even out, and the Tigers might be getting the bill due now on last year’s most perfect season imaginable.

But desperate times call for desperate measures.

There’s probably more to it than Beckham’s escapades — nobody is blaming the former Tiger/current Cleveland Browns star for the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer of racial uneasiness, the dueling hurricanes or a “Lost in Space” LSU secondary, playing man-to-(socially distanced) man coverage against Mississippi State and a 1-2 start to the season.

The spring practice that never was, the uncertainty of what, if anything, schools were preparing for in August, was a major annoyance for most football programs. Maybe more so for the Tigers, perhaps, who had to replace all but a few spare scraps from last year’s dream team.

Beyond that, there was no beer in Tiger Stadium, let along any decent tailgating, for the home opener.

It’s been a shock to the system all right.

Still, nobody saw 1-2 coming. Nobody saw an LSU defense that can’t tackle on the rare occasions it can cover.

Taking stock three games into season, LSU has had one game (Florida) postponed due to the Gators’ coronavirus spike, which was probably fortunate because the Tigers didn’t seem to be up to that chore after Hurricane Delta forced them to play — in a manner of speaking — at Missouri.

If not for the Vanderbilt gift basket, the Tigers might have opted out en masse.

At least last week’s postponement allowed them to reset the button.

So now, in a season that still doesn’t seem like a real season, the desperate Tigers are facing a truly must-win game at home against South Carolina and …

Yes, right on schedule, quarterback Myles Brennan, who went from the preseason’s biggest question mark to a rare bright spot, won’t be available Saturday against one of the few SEC teams in this whacked-out world playing some semblance of defense.

You didn’t have to ask — it’s 2020 isn’t it? — but, yes, of course, that leaves LSU with freshman T.J. Finley, who on Thursday Orgeron named starting QB, to take his first college snaps in the most important game of the season.

But, OK, blame it all on Beckham.

Beckham’s stunt, sloppy as the execution was, was also among the most well-documented of all the postgame “$100 handshakes” which have long been part of the pomp and pageantry of college football. It no doubt caught the interest of the NCAA’s gumshoes.

But the ban was a good move by LSU from a public relations standpoint.

Beckham is a natural-born headline grabber and his name alone drew almost all of the attention Wednesday when it was learned LSU was proposing self-imposed penalties on the football program. Most notable was the loss of four scholarships over each of the next two years.

That was pretty well unrelated to Beckham.

Just a guess, but LSU likely could have smoothed over Beckham’s largesse by blaming it on the “heat of moment,” maybe rounding up as many of the missing goggle eyes as possible — an estimated $2,000 total — then perhaps make a more charitable donation with it. Then you make a big show of banning him from the premises.

But the real reason for the suggested docked scholarships, fairly harsh by selfimposed standards, is far more serious.

Fortunately for LSU it predates head coach Ed Orgeron’s tenure. But when the father of former Tigers offensive lineman Vadal Alexander got $180,000 from an “LSU booster” over a five-year span for a do-nothing job.

LSU’s only defense on that — it’s certainly no excuse — would be that it was part of a larger criminal operation that the school (presumably) knew nothing about until alerted by the authorities.

John Paul Funes is in prison for embezzling well over a half-million dollars in his job as the chief fundraiser for Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge. That’s where the elder Alexander’s windfall came from. Nobody is seriously suggesting LSU knew of his actions at the time, but it’s hard to argue that he wasn’t an LSU booster, which is usually the only element the NCAA needs to hear in such matters.

So if the Tigers are reduced to hoping that the NCAA will simply cut them eight scholarships over the next two years, along with some other recruiting restrictions, well, stay tuned.

It’s probably just 2020 being 2020 again.


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

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