Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Book on Perrilloux

I've talked before about how I think people overstate the case against Ryan Perrilloux.  Yes, he gets in a lot of trouble here, but it's always penny-ante stuff.  He's never been arrested, never been charged with a crime of violence, never been implicated in drugs, never been implicated in theft, and never actually let his grades slip so much as to be academically ineligible.  

I know at least one of my commenters says that's because a lot of other stuff he's done has been covered up, but that falls under the rubric of "unverifiable" and I don't know if we should put any credence in it.  The young man certainly draws a lot of attention, whatever he does.  You sometimes read threads on a message board that says things like, "I saw Ryan in class today.  He looked normal."

I recently read a fairly balanced article about the LSU program and in particular Ryan Perrilloux, by CNNSI writer Stewart Mandel.  He quotes Miles saying something I've said before here.  He said that critics in the media, and on the message boards I suppose, "don't know what goes on in our program."  He defended his handling of the Perrilloux situation, "The suspension itself was a tremendous punishment."

I often think to myself, why does this young man, who still has never done any truly unforgivable thing, draw so much ire from people?  I mean, the kid has never killed kittens or stuck a gun in someone's face (though some commenters may wonder if he has and we just don't know about it).  Yet, of all the discipline issues in the college football world, including another troubled young QB like Stephen Garcia at South Carolina, Perrilloux gets the most attention, and it's for things like skipping classes or trying to use a fake idea to get into a casino at 20 years old.  Why is he hounded?  Why is his every move watched by the college football media and fans to wait for his next failure?  

Why do people expect that failure to come?  Yes, in the last year, he has had a hard time staying out of trouble, but his previous two years at LSU was uneventful as far as we know.  Granted, in those years he was a 3rd string quarterback and not expected to play, but we never heard anything about any legal problems or suspensions for skipping class.  If he can stay out of trouble for his first two years, why not his last two?

And why is Ryan "LSU's Britney Spears", and analogy I like, by the way, because Britney (like Ryan) is expected to fail and constantly watched for signs of failure.

I think the answer is two-fold.  Ryan Perrilloux is disrespected as much as he is for two reasons, both of them being his own fault.  The first reason is his statement upon committing that he was hoping to win the start his first year and maybe win 4 Heismans.  That really set him off on the wrong foot with LSU fans and with the team, and set the tone for his whole career thus far at LSU.

The second reason is his implication in the counterfeiting operation.  He was never charged, mind you, and was never accused of being any kind of a ring leader.  We don't really know much of anything about it, but I think the most reasonable sounding explanation that I have heard is that some of his friends/family/associates were heavily involved and Ryan may have received some benefits from it and/or known about it.  Counterfeiting is a serious crime, but being on the periphery of it is not particularly serious in and of itself.  What made this so important for Ryan was just how strange it is.  You just don't hear about football players being implicated in this sort of thing, at least not until after their careers have been over for decades.

Without those two things, we have a high-level athlete who tried to gain entry into a casino illegally, got into an altercation with a bar bouncer, and skipped some classes and meetings.  Hardly stuff to write home about or even worry about if you ask me.  

This is not to suggest that those things didn't happen or that they aren't legitimately things that should be added to the Perrilloux equation.  I just think that those are the things that set Ryan Perrilloux apart from other young athletes who have gotten into a few scrapes of minor trouble, nothing to justify the scrutiny he has received.  I doubt anyone will ever actually forget those things, but if he can manage to get the other things turned around and stay turned around, he will be a special quarterback we can hopefully remember very fondly when his playing career here at LSU is over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hear people say that the counterfeiting thing got swept under the rug because he is the heir apparent at LSU. If I'm not mistaken, counterfeiting is investigated by the federal government who doesn't care who RP is. So, why would they sweep it under the rug.