As LSU continues its inexorable march to a Jan. 9 date in New Orleans, the Tigers have reportedly found themselves in a similar position to where they began the 2011 season: dealing with off-field issues.
Speculation has surfaced that quarterback Jarrett Lee and unnamed other football players may be declared academically ineligible for the postseason. In his own unique way, Les Miles addressed the rumors without actually addressing them.
“This time of year everybody responds and comes back,” the head coach said. “It’s time to pick it up. There’s no difference with our football team. Academic issues are private in my mind.”
(Writer’s note: wait… what?)
Of course, there are several key questions for which there are no answers, at least at the moment. Chief among those is, if the speculation is based in reality, what other players besides Lee are in jeopardy of missing the postseason and how many of them are there? Additionally, does “the postseason” in this case include both the SEC championship game this Saturday and the BcS title game in early January, or would it merely be the latter?
It’s unclear how soon any or all of those questions will be answered.
Lee started the first nine games at quarterback this season thanks to Jordan Jefferson’s August legal issues. Jefferson has started the past three games and Lee has seen his role greatly reduced; he’s had just five pass attempts in the games Jefferson’s started.
UPDATED 2:52 p.m. ET: LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has issued a statement regarding the speculation that surfaced earlier today.
“Despite media and message board speculation, no LSU student-athletes have been declared ineligible for post-season competition. The current semester is not complete and finals are still ahead, so it is grossly unfair to our student-athletes and it is both premature and irresponsible to speculate on the final grades and postseason eligibility of our student-athletes.”
As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.
From the university:
The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits. During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle. In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles. He later corrected his account and since apologized.
As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.
Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”
The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.
Hope he’s been practicing.
Say it ain’t so, Steve.
According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.
Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.
He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.
But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.
Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:
Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.