TCU and LSU face off in Dallas’ AT&T Stadium on Aug. 31. It is far and away one of the most highly anticipated opening weekend games of the year.
The Horned Frogs will be without Devonte Fields, who earned star status at defensive end as a freshman in 2012. On the other hand, running back Jeremy Hill will be full-go for the Tigers after leading the team in rushing yardage (755) and touchdowns (12) as a freshman a year ago.
What is the difference? TCU coach Gary Patterson suspended his best defensive player, Fields, for the first two games of the year for a “violation of university and team policy.” That means the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and All-Big 12 First-Teamer’s 10.0 sacks from 2012 will be watching the long-awaited opener from the sidelines.
On the other hand, Hill, who spent the offseason on an indefinite suspension after sucker punching a guy outside of a bar late-night (and violating his prior parole in the process) was fully reinstated following a team vote. That’s right: Coach Les Miles learned of his best running back’s sentence, which was community service, and instead of levying a punishment, allowed his players to decide the fate of their teammate.
The Tigers voted him back onto the squad in overwhelming fashion. No surprise there.
Patterson, for his part, was not at all impressed with the dispensation of justice in Baton Rouge, and he pulled no punches when asked about it.
“My whole team would vote Devonte to be back on the team because they all want to win,” Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “That doesn’t teach life lessons.”
Without a doubt, Patterson is correct in the fact that Fields would be playing against LSU if it were up to the players. Whether or not life lessons are being taught is up for debate either way.
The point is that Patterson does not believe Miles had any other motivation for the player vote than to beat TCU. No matter what Miles may say, Patterson believes the higher level of competition compelled his SEC counterpart to pull a bit of a fast one to get his best guy on the field.
“I’m sure if it was some opponent they’d beat by 100 points [the players] wouldn’t have a vote.”
Unfortunately, Patterson will not have the machine that is Devonte Fields on the gridiron to back his words up. At least he has walked the walk in this case. Miles may have kicked Tyrann Mathieu off his team two years ago, but in a what have you done for me lately world, he has not impressed as a coach or disciplinarian.
[H/T: Lost Lettermen]