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For LSU, Lee stands for ‘Leedership’

Louisiana Monroe v LSU Getty Images

Jordan Jefferson had his chances.

Locked in a two-quarterback system for the past year with Jarrett Lee, the senior finally solidified himself as the guy for LSU this past spring. It was exactly for what anyone bleeding gold and purple — or anyone frustrated by perennial underachievement — could have hoped.

All news was good news for Jefferson. It was like he was in a dark room searching for the light switch, and suddenly, he found it. And what Jefferson saw in that room were opportunities: an opportunity to lead the Tigers to another SEC, and potentially, BCS championship; an opportunity to be the hero, the big man on a SEC campus.

Practically the only thing missing were the cheerleaders swooning over Jefferson underneath one of the campus’ historic live oak trees.

“I think he wants to lead this team,” Les Miles said following the Tigers’ spring game. “He wants to take the team at a time when he can provide leadership and make them better. He’s more knowledgeable, certainly more capable.

“I think winning is the key piece and I think that’s what Jordan Jefferson is — a winner.”

And then Jefferson screwed up.

It doesn’t matter in what capacity he was involved in a bar brawl late last week. It doesn’t matter who threw the first punch. Unless it’s proven Jefferson was trying to break up the fight, what matters is that he failed to conduct himself in the way a senior leader should.

Now, Jefferson has been suspended indefinitely, and the leadership role must fall on Lee, a fellow senior.

His stats don’t induce excitement, but what Miles and the Tigers need right now a week before opening up their season against a top-five opponent in Oregon is a level head, not a high quarterback rating. LSU has endured too much too close to the beginning of this season not to have someone who knows a thing or two about difficult situations.

No matter what anybody says, off-the-field distractions can and do affect a team. The opportunity to provide leadership to a group that clearly so desperately needs it is there for Lee. He just has to seize it.

That’s why quarterbacks become quarterbacks, right?

LSU’s predicament brings to mind their season-opening opponent a year ago, North Carolina. The Tar Heels were entering 2010 on a wave of controversy over NCAA investigations of impermissible benefits received and academic misconduct that sidelined over a dozen players.

Leading that team was senior quarterback T.J. Yates, a man who faced plenty of hardships in his own time at Chapel HIll. But, even in a loss, Yates showed guts and determination, nearly executing a last-minute, game-winning drive.

LSU needs that kind of leadership from Lee. They don’t need him to win the game — there’s plenty of talent around him to do that — they just need consistency.

That hasn’t been Lee’s strength in the past, but he’s getting another opportunity in his final season. In fact, the Tigers might actually be better off with someone under center who wants to make the most of it.

After all, the guy before him certainly didn’t.

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7 Responses to “For LSU, Lee stands for ‘Leedership’”
  1. southernpatriots says: Aug 27, 2011 5:02 PM

    LSU consistently won last year with an abyssmal offense (100th – 120th in the nation). Anything better than that would be an improvement and could bring more wins. JJ will lose his senior season due to this curfew violation and great lack of wisdom and self-control.

    Consistency was something lacking last year on the offense unless you consider that the offense was consistent–consistently bad. With something better LSU could eliminate two loses. It will not only be up to Lee but also Mettenberger. He will receive playing time as well.

    Miles has handled this matter with strength and integrity, character which we already knew he had. He did not wait until the police investigation was complete to begin discipline and restrictions on the entire team. At times onlookers thought he was putting them through hell. At times the players thought the same.

    This will make them stronger and better. At least we hope so.

  2. Deb says: Aug 27, 2011 5:23 PM

    Beautifully written, Ben.

    This story is sad on so many levels, but from a football perspective, it does come down to a lack of leadership and maturity. Jefferson, the one individual who should have responded to his promotion by setting a positive example, instead chose to break the rules and lead other players into a situation that will derail all their college careers regardless of the outcome.

    But the season isn’t lost for LSU. Miles has handled this impressively. Lee and the rest of the team have an opportunity to step up and make a statement. When you consider where this team finished last season despite its offensive woes, it would be foolish to count them out. If they use these difficulties as a rallying point, they can fulfill their promise to compete for a championship.

    Good luck, LSU.

  3. florida727 says: Aug 27, 2011 6:05 PM

    Agree with both posts. Jefferson earned a position of leadership, then gave it away by first utilizing poor judgment regarding the curfew. The he compounds his problem by showing no restraint in what looks like an ultimately violent situation. Not one poor choice, TWO poor choice. The first one could have been overcome, though a suspension of some sort would have been a foregone conclusion. The second one cannot be excused away, justified, or handled in any way other than a complete derailment of his senior season. Unfortunately, Jefferson will never be remembered for the exciting player he was, or the spectacular plays he made. He’ll be remembered as a criminal, a thug that didn’t deserve to wear an LSU jersey in a lot of respects. Thank goodness Lee will lead them. And he will do just fine.

  4. squackduckhawk says: Aug 27, 2011 10:50 PM

    There was a feature on Lee on a Ducks site today and the guy looks pretty solid. His style kinda reminded me of Flutie with his instinct, running-sidearm throw, and clutch ability. I think that LSU has a chance to use this conundrum as a big rallying point because Ben was right about them having enough talent. Between the Ducks’ and Tigers’ respective off-field issues and of course the Willy Lyles common denominator, we have the “Battle of the Media Misfits” this coming Saturday.

  5. southernpatriots says: Aug 27, 2011 11:02 PM

    squackduckhawk: You are fair….AND….funny!
    LSU alums and fans don’t really know what to expect, but last year LSU lost 2 games with an abyssmal offense (100th -120th).

    With just a little improvement from that, LSU could go a long way this year. Family at the campus have said that the extra work, extra running, other discipline measures by Coach Miles would either result in the whole team being in better shape or in the hospital by Saturday!

    Lee has had a serious problem over the past years of rushing his throws and throwing quite a few interceptions. Mettenberger is not nearly versed in the LSU system but may see some plays to gain experience.

    We have been dealing with two tragedies involving young boys in south Lousiana. We are working to pioneer a Neighborhood Watch program for this small town hit by this horror and helping the families affected.

    We appreciate your candor and fairness. We hope you will continue posting at CFT after the Sept. 3rd game on other topics as well.

  6. squackduckhawk says: Aug 28, 2011 12:12 AM

    I hope so too. My biggest problem is that if the Ducks lose a game, they’re out. The addition of a championship game in the Pac may help us with our BCS (invitation) injustice, but not likely. As LSU fans well know ( and this one IS sour grapes) a 2 loss SEC team (like say LSU) gets into the big game over a 1 loss Pac team (like say Oregon) even though the Pac team was higher rated in both major human polls. It has taken almost a decade for me to become civil to SEC fans, but 5 straight is hard to argue with. One other thing, LSU fans that keep griping about the state of their offense need to settle down. I don’t remember LSU ever being known as an offensive team. To me it seems that TCU has stolen your identity. The only time I saw the Tigers play “in character” was the bowl game last year against the Aggies. If you play LSU football, you don’t need a good offense.

  7. squackduckhawk says: Aug 28, 2011 12:22 AM

    As a side note about grapes: I am really tired of only having sour ones, and being from the Northwest (where all of our teams make the Buffalo Bills their idol) I could put Boones out of business. Or that Carlo Rossi dude. Just once I want to have the succulent grapes that are bursting with winning-deliciousness, and served by those very nice ladies with the big…fans.

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