A year ago, I didn’t agree with the basis of his argument and I still don’t in that situation.
The fans booed last season when the offense was muddling through another mundane performance. I felt like that day, the fans had every right to express their frustration because I felt like it was aimed at Miles and former offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.
On Saturday during LSU’s 35-7 romp past Kentucky, Miles was beating the same drum after a sizable contention of the Tiger Stadium crowd sprinkled boos down when Jordan Jefferson checked into the game in the first quarter for a fourth-and-goal play inches away from the goal line.
And you know what? This time I’m on Miles’ side.
Because this was a different scenario than last season.
Jefferson didn’t deserve what he got Saturday. All he did was suit up for the first time this season, enter a game in a key situation and score a touchdown.
I’m sure those who booed will have their responses ready.
They booed because Jefferson got arrested.
They booed because Jefferson is accused of kicking a fellow bar fight combatant in the head.
They booed because he was even at the bar in the first place.
Hell they may have booed just because Jefferson didn’t walk like they wanted him to.
In fairness, they probably booed in part because Jefferson wasn’t a great quarterback last season and has never quite completely turned the corner to being a player fans could trust to make things happen despite a 20-7 record as LSU’s starter.
Jefferson is a quiet and confident kid. Not the most bubbly, though, and not one who is going to wow anybody with his glib vernacular of sound-bite persona.
That confidence has been seriously misguided at times when Jefferson has inexplicably insisted on describing one ugly performance after another as good or great no matter what the reality might be. He hasn’t always been willing to own up to his shortcomings or made humility a staple of his personality.
Maybe it’s old age creeping up on me, but I can shrug all that off as immaturity and him being a product of the era he plays in. Remember, Jefferson just turned 21 the day before he was arrested. And there aren’t a lot of modern-age players who are willing to swap swagger for honest self-inspection.
Speaking of that arrest, did the fans who booed not hear that the charges were reduced to misdemeanor simple battery? Yeah, it’s still a serious charge and clearly an East Baton Rouge grand jury saw enough evidence to let the lesser charge stick.
Am I wrong, though, that – unless you were on that grand jury – none of us has heard any hard evidence supporting the accusations that Jefferson kicked anybody or exactly what his involvement was?
His attorney steadfastly insists Jefferson is innocent and will be absolved. I don’t know if that’s true or whether that will happen. I do know I’m naïve enough to wait and see how things shake out.
Beyond that, whatever Jefferson is guilty of – and make no mistake, he’s certainly not innocent because this was a guy identified as a team leader who was among a gaggle of players who broke curfew – he has paid a pretty steep price. His arrest cost him the first four games of his senior season and he ain’t getting those games back.
So, why boo a kid who made a mistake, and now, as offensive guard Will Blackwell said, has “done his time?” I wonder if Edwin Edwards gets serenaded with boos every time he shows up in public after his served his time. Seems like he did a little more wrong than a college kid getting into a scrape at a bar.
All the above said, written and read, maybe Saturday’s reaction was necessary. It certainly wasn’t unexpected. It also obviously wasn’t real popular with Miles and Jefferson’s teammates – current and former – many of whom flooded the Twitter cyber waves to scold the LSU fans who booed.
Perhaps the way the portion of LSU fans reacted was cathartic. It had to be done the first time Jefferson dared stick his head above the water.
Now that it’s out of the way, though, that needs to be it.
The process has followed a natural course: Kid screwed up, kid got caught, kid got arrested and suspended, kid served his punishment, kid came back and played.
Jefferson may be a lightning rod the rest of the season regardless of how much or how well he plays. At a lot of levels, though, it’s time to move on and leave the booing directed somewhere else.