Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Listen to the Radio Sometimes

I got in my car to drive home last night right as Paul Finebaum was starting to talk to Bruce Feldman, author of Meat Market, about the slew of arrests and suspensions in the SEC lately. To recap for those not paying attention, Bama's freshman defensive lineman Jeremy Elder was arrested for armed robbery, Tennessee punter Britton Colquitt was suspended and forfeited his scholarship for an alcohol-related traffic incident, and LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux was suspended for violation of team rules.

Feldman went a long way to convincing me that it would be best if Miles were to cut ties with Perrilloux. I will attempt to paraphrase the substance of Feldman's interview:
While Perrilloux's situation is the least serious legally, it is probably the most significant in terms of impact on football. Miles is in a tight spot because he does not have another experienced quarterback on the roster, and while the LSU coaches like Jarrett Lee he is only a redshirt freshman and was not expected to have a big role in the offense yet. But Miles has to be careful because this is the sort of situation that could lead to rot from within. Last year's success was built in part on high character players like Hester, Dorsey, and Steltz, but now those people are gone. If low character guys like Perrilloux are allowed to get their way, it could lead to discord and conflict on the team, as other players will want to get treated like Ryan Perrilloux. Meaning, Perrilloux is allowed chance after chance to come back despite not following rules, when other players might be dismissed from the team for the same things.

The man makes a point.

Bruce Feldman has proven in the past to be an intelligent and insightful observer of college football. His book Meat Market is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of a BCS-level college football program. His interviews on the radio are among the best and most interesting segments Paul Finebaum ever has. In short, he's one of those guys who, even if I disagree with him on some point, I'm going to listen to his perspective with an open mind.

In counterpoint, let's all realize two things:
  1. Ryan's legal troubles are small-potatoes compared to some other people's; and
  2. Miles has disciplined Ryan quite harshly in the past, to the point where I don't think you can say he lets Ryan "get away" with stuff.
He was suspended for about 6 months and made to do his workouts and drills outside of official team settings. He was not allowed to travel with the team to Bama last year. He's been embarrassed on multiple occasions both in private within the team and in public. No matter what happens from this point forward, the suspensions have probably cost Perrilloux any realistic chance of being a high draft pick, unless the unlikely happens and he suddenly turns it around and becomes a role model for the next two years.

It is my impression that Miles intends to allow Ryan Perrilloux back on the team if he can abide by certain rules between now and the time he is to be allowed back on. Those conditions and Miles' time table for reinstatement probably will never be discussed publicly. In the meantime, I expect Perrilloux to miss part or all of Spring Practice and possibly much more.

A time table like that would cut to the bone, both for LSU and for Perrilloux. If Ryan showed one on-field weakness last year, it was in game management, by which I mean he often struggled to get the team out of the huddle and properly lined up in time to get the play started. It's a correctable problem, but in order to correct it he will need repetitions under center. He won't be getting those repetitions if he's suspended.

Another long suspension I think takes away the problem of "rot from within" that Bruce Feldman discussed. A long suspension means that Perrilloux isn't getting away with anything. He's being excluded from the team and set back in his development.

And if, ultimately, we move on without Ryan Perrilloux, we are fairly well set up to do it. We have a very good offensive line in place to protect a young quarterback. We have several very good running backs to take the pressure off of a suspect passing game. We will probably have a strong defense that will allow our offense to play somewhat more conservatively than it otherwise would. We can move on without him if we need to, and I think if Perrilloux sees that, he may decide to fall in line.


Anonymous said...

Great post Richard!
I agree with everything you said. Here's what I think may happen the remainder of the year. Lee gets all the snaps in the spring. Perrilloux comes back in the fall and is allowed back on the team....again! Lee gets most of the snaps again in the fall and starts with Ryan coming off the bench. If Lee does well Perrilloux rides the pine longer. If Lee falters Perrilloux comes in sooner. Do you see this as a possibility? Just thiking out loud.

Totally spoiled

gerry dorsey said...

i think some people feel that perrilloux is getting away with a certain amount of things b/c those people (lsu fans and otherwise), feel that if perrilloux was a punter (i.e. ut's colquitt), miles would have made an example of him by now. i'm not even saying i disagree with miles, this guy could mean a big difference in win totals in '08...i'm just sayin'.

Jeffrey Macloud said...

Perrilloux's name recognition and status as heir-apparent to the QB position poses two problems.

1. He gets far more attention for everything he does, right or wrong.

2. Everything he does, on and off the field, has a huge impact on the team.

It also doesn't help that all of RP's troubles have, in some way, been borderline situations. He's a line-walker. Accused, never convicted. Minor infractions (lots of them) but nothing huge, like drug possession, DUI, etc.

So Miles is left with a tough call. But he's getting paid big bucks to make that call. Hope he gets it right.

If it were me, RP would be gone. But I don't know what Miles knows and I'm not in his shoes.