HOOVER, Ala. – The college football world is talking about a 20-year-old football star at Texas A&M.
There should be more talk about a 20-year-old football star at LSU.
Forget about what we've seen from Johnny Manziel on the Internet. Look at the video of Jeremy Hill on the Internet.
Here is Hill, LSU's star running back, sucker-punching another 20-year-old earlier this year. It's a disgrace to his school and his sport.
The incident is made much worse by the fact that Hill's assault was not his first run-in with the law. He was already on probation for a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl last year at his high school. Police said Hill and a friend pressured the girl to perform oral sex in a locker room.
Later that same year, Hill was playing in front of nearly 100,000 fans at LSU. Then he clocked a guy. And gloated about it.
He was given a six-month suspended jail sentence and two years' probation for the assault.
On Thursday, head coach Les Miles called Hill's situation a "legal entanglement," which makes it sound as if he were audited by the IRS. He said Hill has been suspended indefinitely and separated from the team while his legal "entanglement" is resolved.
"At this point in time he remains indefinitely suspended," Miles said. "I have a track record with really disciplining my team. We go through the same process that all of my guys will go through. Frankly, you know, we're gathering information as we go. So he's been separated from his team and teammates for the summer."
This punishment, Miles said, has been "very hard on him."
Please. There are two people who this has been hard on: the child in the locker room and the man in the parking lot. Yes, there's always context for situations like these. It's possible Hill was retaliating for something sinister. But context can't explain away that video. If Hill was baited in any way, as some have claimed, he should have walked away.
A judge will determine next month if Hill's act in the parking lot violated his probation. If so, Hill may go to jail. "We'll let you know when we know," Miles said Thursday.
We know enough. This isn't innocent-until-proven-guilty. Hill pleaded guilty to two crimes in 15 months. Are we waiting around for a third? Hill could have been charged with a felony in 2012. He got a second chance, which depended on making good decisions. Instead, he made another poor decision.
It's a disservice to the school that quarterback Zach Mettenberger had to sit on a dais Thursday and answer questions about Hill. "What happened to Jeremy is terrible," he said, "and we wish all the best for him." What happened to Jeremy? This was Hill's doing. He was the one who acted (or reacted) poorly. This is not on Mettenberger, though. Miles put his quarterback in a position to answer that question; any poor word choice falls on the coach.
We've spent all summer going through Urban Meyer's record at Florida, and wondering why he didn't remove Gators who had their own "legal entanglements." This is not to suggest LSU is harboring another Aaron Hernandez – the murder suspect who, if convicted, descends to his own category of athlete offenders – but one reason violent athletes sometimes stay violent is because of a failure of leadership from millionaires such as Miles. No talent is worth this kind of trouble.
After addressing the Hill situation on Thursday, Miles discussed how he's brought in a social media expert to discuss the perils of Twitter. He wanted to make sure players don't embarrass the school on the Internet.
Good thing he's taking steps to prevent that from happening.
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