ATLANTA, Ga—There is no possible way anybody could have predicted the events that unfolded in Baton Rouge in August 2011. First came the blow by the newly hired quarterback coach Steve Kragthorpe as he revealed that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and would have to take on a more limited role with the LSU offense.
Les Miles seemed to handle the news thoughtfully. There was an adjustment of some job responsibilities and a reaching out to Kragthorpe to work around his illness. It seemed like things were worked out.
Then in late hours of August 18, everything changed. According to victim Andrew Lowery's testimony in police reports, approximately 10-15 LSU football players were involved in a brawl in the parking lot of Shady’s bar. A man was pulled from his pick up truck and beaten severely and witnesses saw starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson kick another fight participant in the head while the man was lying on the ground.
Miles waited a few days before making a decision, but he had no choice when second degree assault charges were levied against his starting quarterback.
So here’s how this plays out: If LSU beats Oregon on Saturday night, most of the events of August 18 go away. The victim's hospital bills will be paid anonymously, and they will be encouraged to not press charges. They likely won't. Jordan Jefferson and Josh Johns will be allowed to join the team at a later date, with little pomp and circumstance.
If LSU wins, Les Miles will have once again proved that when the pressure is the greatest, he has a way of pulling his team together. In 2007, in the final days before the national championship, ESPN tried to break the news that Miles was headed to Michigan to coach his alma mater back to glory.
Somehow Miles turned the event upside down, rallied his players and beat a good Ohio State team 38-24. Not many coaches could pull that off with so much pressure from the media. Miles did.
Can Miles do it again? This Oregon team is real good and they took a great Auburn team down to the wire for the national championship. If LSU wins Saturday, all past sins of Les Miles are forgiven. If he wins with all the distractions of August, he is truly a great coach, no question about it.
What happens if LSU loses?
If LSU loses Saturday night, immediately the story lines will be that there were too many distractions to win. Quarterback Jarrett Lee’s performance will be dissected and there will be a fan/media push to get Zach Mettenberger in the starting lineup.
The attorney for the four victims will continue to leak out information about the other LSU football players and will try to create a witch hunt to identify the mob that attacked his clients. There will be lineups and additional charges will be brought.
The world we live in is very predictable. Nothing good ever really happens at bars after midnight. A coach is always judged by his wins and losses. The media loves winners but they will turn on you in a second when you lose. Justice will be served.
See you on the ball field.
Jay Holgate is a SEC football analyst for the SEC Football News APP available on Iphone and Android phones.