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.”