8/1/12 5:45 am CDT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
As I’m sure many of you have heard by now, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore has announced that no charges will be filed against Anthony Jennings, Dwayne Thomas or Maquedius Bain. In a statement, Moore said, “This decision is based upon the request of the victim that no charges be filed and inconsistent and contradictory statements provided. Although the conduct of these students in this situation is unacceptable, it is not one, based on the facts, that warrants prosecution, although their actions could have subjected them to such.”
Shortly after Hillar released his statement, Coach Les Miles announced that the three players have been reinstated to football the team. The three players, as well as the rest of the team, will report to camp on Wednesday and begin fall practice on Thursday. In the statement provided by LSU, Miles indicated that the players will “undergo further in-house discipline.” Whether that means any of them will miss playing time because of this ordeal is yet to be seen. Last year, on the very first day of fall practice, District Attorney Moore announced that charges against Jalen Mills would be reduced to a misdemeanor (which was considerably less severe than the charge of second degree battery originally considered), and Coach Miles immediately reinstated Mills to the team. A few weeks later, Mills started in the season opener against Wisconsin. The year before that, running back Jeremy Hill was reinstated to the team just hours before fall camp began after Judge Bonnie Jackson extended Hill's probation rather than revoking it and sending him to jail. Hill participated fully with the team in fall practice but was held out of the season opener and the first quarter of the second game. I don’t expect Jennings, Thomas, or Bain to miss any playing time this year because of this latest incident, but at this point it’s obviously too early to say for sure.
Where this story gets even more interesting is that late last night the Advocate broke this report about former LSU cornerback Rashard Robinson being arrested for unauthorized entry into the apartment of Anthony Jennings on the same day that Jennings, Thomas and Bain were arrested in the aforementioned incident. Robinson, you’ll recall, was suspended from the team last fall and then dismissed from the team after the season. (Is your head spinning yet? Mine sure is.)
Moving on and switching gears… Coach Johnny Jones and his LSU basketball team will begin practice today in advance of their trip to Australia. The team departs for Australia on August 11th. This will be the fourth LSU trip outside the United States, as the Tigers travelled to Italy twice and to Canada once during John Brady’s tenure as head coach. This trip is unique in that it brings the nation’s number one recruit, freshman Ben Simmons, and junior center Darcy Malone, back to their home countries. Also, Assistant Head Coach David Patrick played with Ben Simmons’ father, Dave, on the Melbourne team of the country’s National Basketball League. LSU will open the tour against a group of All-Stars in Newcastle on Saturday, August 15, at 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. CT). The next day, August 16, at 7 p.m. (4 a.m. CT), LSU will take on the Sydney Kings of the NBL at Brydens Stadium at University of Sydney. The Tigers will then move to the Gold Coast of Australia for two days, facing another All-Star team on August 18 at 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. CT) before heading to Melbourne, the home of the Simmons family, for the final leg of the trip. The Tigers will play the first of two games against Melbourne United at the home stadium of the Dandenong Basketball Association. That game on August. 20 will tip at 7 p.m. (4 a.m. CT). The final game may be the most interesting of the tour, as LSU and Melbourne United will meet under the retractable roof of Hisense Arena (one of the facilities used for the Australian Open tennis championships) for a night game on August 22.
In baseball news, congratulations are in order for LSU outstanding right-handed pitcher, Alex Lange, who was selected as the male winner of the 2014-15 James J. Corbett Award presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Corbett Awards are presented annually to the top male and female amateur athletes in the state of Louisiana. Lange, a native of Lee's Summit, Missouri, is coming off what could be described as the best season ever by an LSU freshman pitcher, and that’s saying a lot. In a press release issued by LSU, Coach Mainieri is quoted as saying, “Kevin Gausman, Aaron Nola, Anthony Renaudo. None came close to him as a freshman. What Alex did was nothing short of amazing.” I tend to agree.
While on the topic of LSU pitchers, highly heralded southpaw Jake Latz will put his elbow to the test today. Latz, who missed all of his highly anticipated freshman season at LSU due to an elbow injury, will return to the mound today for the Du Page County Hounds of the Midwest Collegiate League. His outing is scheduled to be only two innings, but those two innings could be very telling in terms of indicating how close Latz is to a full recovery. If Latz is 100% by the time LSU’s 2016 season starts, and if he’s as good as expected, he could be the missing piece in LSU’s search for a consistent third starter.
With 35 days until the football season opener, let’s jump back to football and take a look at a special former Tiger who wore No. 35 as a safety for LSU from 1985 to 1988 – Greg Jackson. Jackson was a hell of a defensive back with a knack for making big plays, and as a senior he earned first team All-SEC and first team All-American honors. Many of you will recall Jackson’s record-setting 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against Mississippi State in 1988, and then his 71-yard pick return for a touchdown in LSU's regular season finale over Tulane. (I wish I could have found a video of the big returns online, but surprisingly I wasn't able to. If any of you locate them, please let me know.) Jackson ended his senior season with a record-setting 219 return yards on seven interceptions, which was the most picks by an LSU player at that time since Chris Williams picked off eight in 1978. After his playing days at LSU, Jackson was selected by the New York Giants in the third round of the 1989 NFL draft. Five other Tigers were drafted in the NFL that year including Eric Hill, Ralph Norwood, Mike Mayes, Ron Sancho and Rudy Harmon. Jackson went on to play five seasons for the Giants before finishing his last seven seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers. Since retiring from the NFL, Jackson has spent several years as an assistant coach at the collegiate level including three years at Tulane. He currently serves as the defensive backs coach at the University of Michigan.
Now for Part 11 of 12 in our ongoing series previewing LSU’s 2015 football opponents: Today we look at the Rebels of Ole Miss. For Parts 1 through 10 of the series, click here.
Saturday, November 21 — Ole Miss (Oxford, Miss)
Individual talent across the board makes the Ole Miss Rebels a legitimate contender in the SEC West. Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche and Tony Conner are all projected first-round picks in the 2016 NFL draft. These are just four of several great athletes Ole Miss brings to the table. Can the Rebels put it all together, though? Long gone are the days of Bo Wallace leading the offense, and some Rebel fans will say that’s a good thing. They can reference last year’s LSU/Ole Miss game for starters, where Wallace forced an interception to solidify the victory for LSU. But much like LSU, if Ole Miss finds solid quarterback play (most think it will come from Chad Kelly), the Rebels will be a force to be reckoned with. The Rebels are immensely talented at every position, and while Ole Miss struggled to provide a strong running game last season, head coach Hugh Freeze has made it his priority to improve in that area this year, which would of course take pressure off of Ole Miss’ new starting quarterback, whomever that ends up being. Defensively, with multiple returners at every position, Ole Miss should be even better than a year ago (despite losing defensive backs Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt). Ole Miss was fourth in the SEC in total defense last season. In several regards, Ole Miss and LSU are in similar situations. If both teams find solid quarterback play, it’s not a stretch to say that this November 21st showdown could have serious implications for the SEC West.
A little lagniappe in closing:
Today is the birthday of my dearly departed mother, Joy Ardoin Long, and in her honor I’ve posted a recipe for a dish she cooked better than anyone: Round Steak with Rice and Gravy. Bon appétit!