Remember when it was revealed that Steve Kragthorpe had Parkinson's? That was a shot of bad news that makes you feel bad no matter who you pull for. Diseases suck and true tragedy should have no place in sports; I mean, like, real tragedy, not "OMG I hate my school's uniforms, hurr." However, you felt that the Tigers would be OK. Les Miles is a mystical, big-hatted, grass-eating shaman who conjures wins with just luck, magic, and a locker room of four and five star talent. So, even with the sous-chef out, the ingredients were still there and ten wins seemed a foregone conclusion.
But then last week happened; a week as nutty for Baton Rouge as Miles himself. There was a bar fight - no, surely not, not in a college town - that witnesses claimed involved key Tiger players, including Jordan Jefferson. And then: nothing happened. For two days, the lawyered-up* players in question waited while the police looked into the matter. It looked like Knoxville '09 all over again.
Then a bit of bad news. Unrelated to the brawl, but still costly: Russell Shepard was ruled ineligible. The play-making wideout was suspended for an NCAA violation. He spoke to a teammate about the NCAA's probe into LSU about Willie Lyles. It is unclear whether he'll miss just the opener or a chunk of time while the school waits around for his reinstatement. Just like that, Jefferson lost his biggest crutch heading into the showdown with Oregon (who has there own Lyles problems, as well as some extra-curricular issues).
The same day, the police announced Jefferson as a person of interest in the bar fight investigation. Eyewitnesses said the QB kicked a Marine in the head during the fight (They always said he tried to solve too many problems with his feet). Then there was a search warrant issues for his home. The police left the residence with a couple bags full of something and an arrest warrant was quickly issued for Jefferson and a team mate, LB Josh Johns. They were released on bail this morning and have been suspended indefinitely.
Now Les Miles has Jarret "Arm Punt**" Lee as his starter with a borderline rapist at backup. It is going to take some special-kind o' grass and some serious mojo to get this one back, coach. But if there's anyone who can take this cobbled together team and beat Oregon, it's Miles. He will follow that, though, with a loss to Northwestern State.
* Clay Travis made a good point about the level of legal help the players received being a huge improper benefit. Does the average college student have access to the best, most expensive, attorneys in their state?
**That fabulous nickname is thanks to WatsonTiger, a commenter on this EDSBS post. Here's his comment/artwork/hilariousness in all its glory: