LSU coach Les Miles addressed the media Saturday about a bar fight at a local bar that involved several Tigers players, including starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and veteran offensve lineman T-Bob Hebert.
A group of 22 players who make up the team’s Unity Council accompanied Miles for a terse 6½-minute session that included Miles making an opening statement, an apology from senior offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk and then Miles answering a handful of questions. Jefferson was with the group.
Miles didn’t mince words during his opening salvo.
“I can tell you that the last couple of days have been miserable for us, that we’ve been involved in behavior that’s unacceptable to me, certainly unacceptable to our team – guys that broke team rules and violated curfew,” Miles said. “I can tell you and assure you that this will not happen again. I can tell you that there’s a remorseful team here.
“I personally want to apologize for the actions of my team.”
Late Saturday, the story took a turn for the worse when Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Sgt. Don Stone confirmed that four Tigers players, including Jefferson, have been identified as suspects as part of the ongoing investigation.
The three other players the BRPD has honed in on sophomore linebacker Josh Johns, sophomore offensive lineman Chris Davenport and freshman receiver Jarvis Landry.
Stone flatly denied a report on www.SportsNOLA.com that the four LSU players will be arrested Monday and taken into custody, saying instead that they have been asked to come to police headquarters for an interview.
“I don’t know who the source is who’s putting this out, but it’s not me,” Stone said of the pending arrests. “I’m the only source is me and I haven’t released that information.
“We have contacted LSU and we have requested that Jefferson, Davenport, Johns and Landry report to the BRPD Monday morning at 9 o’clock so that they can be interviewed as part of this investigation. Right now we’re not going to arrest them at this time. We’re not ruling out that they won’t be arrested, but they need to come in and tell their part of the story like everybody else.”
Stone said the report of the charges levied against the four, ranging from simple battery (misdemeanor) to second degree battery (felony and possible jail time) are a stretch at this point – that nobody has been charged, nor will be charges be decided until the players have been interviewed.
“We’re not saying that right now,” Stone said. “We haven’t even talked to these four gentlemen to get their side of the story so that would be premature.
“They’ve been implicated and we need to talk to them and get their side of the story.”
Stone also said no warrants have been issued for the four. Instead, they have been asked to report to the police department office as a courtesy.
If they don’t show up?
“I’m not sure warrants would be issued,” Stone said. “We expect them to cooperate and not have to worry about that step.”
Efforts late Saturday to reach Miles, media relations director Michael Bonnette and Jefferson’s father, John Jefferson, were unsuccessful.
Earlier Saturday, Miles said all players were accounted for Thursday night during a 10:30 p.m. curfew check at West Campus Apartments, the Tigers’ home during pre-season camp.
Sometime between that curfew check and 1:30 a.m. Friday morning, a group of players left for Shady’s Bar, right off the LSU campus.
Although he was unable to give a specific number of how many players were involved, Miles said it was a “relatively large group”
Reports surfaced Friday that an incident involving those players turned ugly in the parking lot of Shady’s – with Jefferson as the only player identified until Miles said Saturday Hebert was involved.
Stone said Friday that four people were taken to local hospitals after the fight, none of them football players. Stone also said the four people taken for medical attention have indicated that they intend to press charges.
Stone did say there has been no confirmation of a report on WAFB that Jefferson kicked someone in the head during the scuffle.
During Saturday’s somber appearance with the media, the 22 players surrounded Miles. Dworaczyk was the only player who spoke.
“First off I want to start off by apologizing for the team and their actions,” Dworaczyk said. “Our apology is extended to Coach Miles and the coaching staff, to the community, to the fans, to our alumni. From this point forward we’re going to continue to change our direction and go out there and do what we do as a football team together as a group of guys.
“It is our job to lead and that is what we will do.”
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva attended the press conference, along with associate ADs Herb Vincent and Verge Ausberry. Afterward, Alleva issued a statement.
“We will not tolerate student-athletes whose irresponsible actions tarnish the good name of a great university,” Alleva said in the statement. “LSU student-athletes are expected to behave with the understanding that they represent their school, their fellow students and the long history of this program, regardless of the time of day. Coach Miles has already begun taking disciplinary action. It is critical that we are deliberate in determining the facts surrounding this incident and as Coach Miles said, when the facts are clear, additional and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken if necessary.”
That disciplinary action began Friday after a hastily called team meeting at what was supposed to be a day off for the players. Miles said the entire team has paid a price, not only the group of players involved.
"We’ve started disciplining our team because this was a team violation,” Miles said. “This was not just a guy. This was the team. We ran them and we’re running them.”
Jefferson’s involvement dominated media reports Friday, and his father spoke out Saturday.
John Jefferson said he woke his son up Friday when he heard the first report of the fight and he said Jordan Jefferson was stunned by the accusations his father told him about.
In an exclusive interview with TigerSportsDigest.com, John Jefferson said “He said he didn’t have anything to do with it. He said he was briefly there but left because he didn’t want have anything to do with it. He said ‘Dad, I didn’t throw a punch.’
“Jordan is a laid-back kid and when I heard the situation, I wondered what in the heck was going on. He very seldom even goes out and he doesn’t drink. He’s kind of aggravated. He told me ‘Man, I just want my name cleared. I worked hard and want my name cleared. That’s not how I am.’ He’s kind of down about all this. It’s already been all over ESPN and they’ve made it sound like he’s already been proven guilty.”
Miles said he won’t levy any punishments, including suspensions, against specific players until the details of the fight are collected and revealed.
“I want to find out more what went on,” Miles said.
Despite the controversy swirling around his team just two weeks before the Tigers take on No. 3-ranked Oregon on Sept. 3 at Cowboys Stadium, Miles said he sees this incident as an aberration and not a troubling trend.
“I can tell you this, that by and large I've really enjoyed this football team, how they've worked and who they are as people,” Miles said. “As miserable as I am about this, as disappointed and as mad, I recognize I’ve got a good group of men who understand the mistakes that were made and I suspect that they will make the appropriate changes. I will instruct them along those lines, I promise.”
Once the details are sorted out, whoever is involved could face charges of either simple battery, a misdemeanor, or second-degree battery, which is a felony and would include an arrest and could potentially involve jail time.