Gary Patterson has a lot to worry about in the weeks leading up to TCU's Week 1 showdown with LSU. He needs to decide on a starting quarterback, figure out a way to pressure Zach Mettenberger and devise a scheme that will move the ball on LSU's vaunted defense.
One thing he doesn't need to worry about, however, is Les Miles' disciplinary policies.
Patterson took a shot at the LSU coach on Tuesday, denouncing his decision to reinstate running back Jeremy Hill simply because the team voted for him to do so.
TCU's own superstar player, defensive end Devonte Fields, has been suspended by Patterson for the first two games of the season. According to the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, that prompted the coach to say:
My whole team would vote Devonte to be back on the team because they all want to win. That doesn’t teach life lessons.
Hill was arrested for punching a man at a bar in April, violating the terms of the probation he incurred for carnal knowledge of a juvenile in 2011. When news broke of his arrest, the question seemed not to be if Hill would miss any games but rather how many.
That question got its surprising answer on Tuesday, though, when Miles announced that the players took a vote, agreed to reinstate Hill and that he, as coach, would honor their decision. Here's what Miles had to say, according to NOLA.com:
He stood in front of his teammates and discussed this in depth, and talked to them in a way that would say 'this is what you don't do and why you don't do it', and 'I'm sorry.' His teammates sat there very quietly and listened. They voted to have him back.
Patterson doesn't think the punishment fits the crime, and he probably won't be alone. Leaving Hill's fate up to the players is a craven move from Miles, one that signals a preference to win over a desire to edify.
But that doesn't make it any of Patterson's business. His job is to take care of his team, and Miles' is to take care of his own. Whether he agrees with his opponent's decision is moot—it's still his opponent's decision (and right) to make.
According to College Football Talk, Fields violated an unspecified team rule this spring, which led his two-game suspension. Patterson should be applauded for taking such a firm stance on his team's best player. But the reason he did that, hopefully, wasn't because he felt obligated to do so. The reason he suspended Fields—in Patterson's own words—is because he wanted to teach a lesson.
That lesson will be lost on LSU, and as far as Patterson is concerned, that should be punishment enough. He took care of his player's off-field issue in a way he thinks will help this program. Miles took a different approach. Still, there's no need for Patterson to take jabs at Miles from the podium. If Patterson is right, LSU's wound has been self-inflicted.
Per the NOLA.com report, though Hill has been reinstated to full team activities, the door has been left open for him to be suspended in the future. But it doesn't appear he will have to miss the Tigers' huge game with TCU.
That gives further credence to another thing Patterson said on Tuesday, according to the Fort-Worth Star Telegram:
I’m sure if it was some opponent they’d beat by 100 points [the players] wouldn’t have a vote. It’s not my worry. I’ve got to play whoever they put on the field.
That's exactly right, Coach Patterson. You've got to play whomever they put on the field. None of what Miles does with his team is your concern.
So please stop talking about it.