When LSU kicks off against UAB for the Tiger’s home opener Saturday, they will get a significant boost in the return of leading rusher Jeremy Hill who is back after serving a one-game suspension, but he’s coming back too soon.
Head coach Les Miles did not specify say how long Hill would be out of game action as a result of his offseason arrest, but according to The Advocate, the suspension will only cost him four quarters of game action. Hill has been convicted of two separate crimes in the last two years, including the carnal knowledge of a juvenile and for punching a man in the back of the head outside a bar in April. Somehow, this did not violate his probation.
I’m not a lawyer, nor am I a judge, and never pretend to be, but how is it possible to be arrested and convicted of simple battery and receive 40 hours of community service yet not violate your probation for a sex crime? Even more disturbing is it only cost him four quarters of action on the field for LSU.
To put this in perspective, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was suspended for a half for not accepting money for his autograph. Hill is convicted of a sex crime, sucker-punched a guy outside a bar and gets two more quarters. How is this justice?
Miles is enabling a player who clearly has not learned from his conviction for carnal knowledge in 2011 and failure to appropriately discipline him will only lead to more problems in the future. He had an opportunity to right the wrong by the judicial system and have it hurt him where it counts and he failed.
I believe Miles missed an opportunity to send a message to Hill and the rest of the team that your actions will have consequences and they will be severe. If the punishment is not hurting him where it counts then he will never learn his lesson
LSU doesn’t need him this week when they are favored by 34.5 points or even next vs. Kent State. A three-game suspension would have cost him a quarter of the season, and this move to bring him back is only done to get Hill game reps so he is prepared for SEC play when LSU takes on Auburn Sept. 21.
The message is received loud and clear with his decision to activate Hill — even if it’s in a reserve role — it’s that wins trump character and moral obligations to develop these impressionable youths to young men. If Hill was not as talented as he is — and he’s one of the top five backs in the conference — there is little chance he is even allowed to wear an LSU uniform.
Hill dressed and participated in pregame warm-ups in the Tiger’s opening-week win over TCU. But when the game started, he was kept from the action as he watched Alfred Blue and Terrence Magee rush for a combined 184 yards. Hill led the team with 755 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns and four 100-yard games in 2012.
Not only is he wearing the uniform, but his presence on the field will have LSU in the BCS national title conversation all season leading up to the Nov. 9 game vs. Alabama with the winner likely representing the western division in the SEC Championship Game.
A one-game suspension is synonymous with a violation of team rules or missing summer school classes. Hill’s abbreviated suspension is a missed teaching moment and the punishment does not fit the crime.