LSU must get house in order before even thinking of title

The LSU Tigers football team always manages to keep the race for the SEC interesting but the program needs to realize that before it can even consider contending for a national championship, head coach Les Miles needs to get his team in order, especially in how some of his players behave away from the field.

Though Miles preaches accountability, this summer has been everything but that for LSU, who went 8-5 (4-4 SEC) last season and lost a heartbreaker to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl, the team’s worst finish since posting the same overall record in 2008. Five different players have gotten in trouble with the law, with one even being dismissed from the team. When hearing about what each player did, it seems astounding how out of control Miles has apparently let his team get.

In July, defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao was dismissed from the team following a June arrest for simple robbery and simple battery. Allegedly, Lealaimatafao knocked a man out in the parking lot of a local nighttime hotspot, rifled through his pockets and then punched the man’s girlfriend in the face. Last summer, he was also arrested for stealing a bike on campus and got in trouble for punching through a window in the team weight room. He has since enrolled in junior college.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of LSU players having issues away from the field this summer. Quarterback Anthony Jennings and defensive players Dwayne Thomas and Maquedius Bain were arrested for “unauthorized entry of a dwelling,” with Thomas also being charged with simple burglary, and all three were indefinitely suspended. They have since been reinstated.

But the worst of LSU’s off-field issues came further to light today, when offensive lineman Jevonte Domond was reinstated to the team in time for fall camp even though he still has pending felony charges of battery and domestic abuse. Domond is accused of choking his fiancé while standing over the crib of their newborn baby, and he has claimed self defense in alleging that his fiancé came at him with a knife.

I’m going to be 100 percent honest with you, devoted readers. With the exception of Lealaimatafao, it seems as though Miles is putting the good of the team and its ability to win games over having upstanding student-athletes on the roster. Granted, many coaches employ that type of philosophy on the collegiate level, but consider this.

Miles has always had a reputation as a coach that ran a tight ship, never being shy to call out his players. A couple of years ago, he infamously posted this message to NFL scouts via a sign in his office window, calling out players who had lazy attitudes and refusing to make excuses or answer for their shortcomings.

That said, particularly in letting someone with a pending felony charge in Domond back on the team, isn’t Miles somewhat contradicting his own philosophy? It should also be noted that Domond is accused of battery and domestic abuse against a woman, and the sports world has taken a strong stance on violence against women in the past year. Florida State quarterback De’Andre Johnson was dismissed from the team after video surfaced of him punching a woman in the face at a local Tallahassee bar and though Domond was not caught on video committing his alleged crime and his case is still pending, it seems odd that Miles would let him play if he is so intent on maintaining order both on and off the field.

But it appears that Miles will let these young men play despite their off-field issues. The charges against Jennings, Thomas and Bain were dropped, but Miles implied that further “in-house” discipline would be faced, but nothing has been said about Domond in that regard.

The worst of it is that on paper, LSU is a talented enough team that if all pieces fall into place accordingly, the Tigers could very well win the SEC with a few upset wins at the right time. But unless Miles sorts out his priorities and does a better job of holding players accountable, namely Domond, there aren’t going to be any national titles in the university’s future.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports