LSU running back Jeremy Hill cleared one hurdle on Monday. He will be a free man during the 2013 season.
Hill pleaded guilty to misdemeanor simple battery last month for his role in an April bar fight in Baton Rouge. That incident violated his probation from a previous arrest where he pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile in January 2012.
The probation hearing from the latter was held on Monday, and Hill received good news.
According to WAFB in Baton Rouge, Hill will remain on probation, and 40 hours of community service will be added, but he will not go to jail. He had faced up to six months in jail for violating his initial probation, according to NOLA.com.
Now the ball is in head coach Les Miles' court.
Miles described Hill's situation as a "legal entanglement" when he made his appearance at SEC Media Days in July, and that he remained suspended indefinitely. That entanglement is untied a bit now, which puts Miles in a tough spot.
The team voted Monday night, and Hill is now part of the team again according to Shea Dixon of Geaux247.com. But does that mean he'll play versus TCU? Not necessarily.
"He'll have further punishment," Miles told Geaux247.com. "I'm not going into specifics of punishment in any way. I promise you that further punishment will take place."
Hill's crimes are misdemeanors, but they're rather serious misdemeanors. If you don't believe me, just ask Connor Baldridge—the man Hill sucker-punched in April.
Back in July, I wrote that a dismissal is warranted. That obviously won't happen now. A multi-game suspension has to be in the cards still.
That will put a ton of pressure on Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue when the Tigers travel to JerryWorld to play TCU in the Cowboys Classic in Week 1. But at this point, Miles can't suspend Hill—a 755-yard rusher last season—indefinitely in the spring and then reinstate without missing a single game.
That would set a terrible precedent for the program.
Whether it's a misdemeanor or a felony, running up and sucker-punching a man isn't acceptable behavior for any person in any organization whether it involves football or not.
How many games will Jeremy Hill play for LSU in 2013?
"I have a track record with really disciplining my team," Miles said at SEC Media Days in July. "We go through the same process that all of my guys will go through."
That process has made its way back to Miles' desk, and should conclude with Hill sitting out a good portion of the first month of the season.
Would that change LSU's outlook?
A little bit.
It'd make that TCU game even more treacherous. If LSU loses to TCU, the margin of error to make the BCS National Championship would be razor-thin for the rest of the season. If Hill is out, Blue and Hilliard are certainly capable of filling the void. The question wouldn't be if they're capable, it'd be if they're consistent.
It's on Miles now, and if he makes the wrong decision, it could set a terrible precedent for the future of his program.