FEINSWOG: Putting a Tear in a Glass Eye
Actually, I can’t stand the singing verse “Are you ready for some football?”
by Lee Feinswog
Tiger Rag Featured Columnist
But after being bombarded the past couple of weeks by seemingly countless stories of college players being booted off their respective teams for various illegalities, unnamed indiscretions, and the proverbial violation of team rules, well, I’m ready for some football.
Why the message is lost at Georgia, Penn State, Alabama, even this past offseason at LSU, about not beating people up, going to class, not missing workouts and meetings, not doing drugs or getting overly drunk, not using guns, whatever, is beyond me.
I did a Google search for “players kicked off teams” and got 307,000 hits. I didn’t read them all, but the first page included Ryan Perrilloux, Marshall, Oklahoma, and a lot about Penn State. When I say Joe-Pa you say Terno …
But enough about them. Hopefully, as one who covers LSU, it’s the last time this season that the subject comes up.
Anyway, last Friday we had LSU media day. It’s always fun and relaxed and productive. No one’s lost a job or a game or a starting spot and all is right with the world.
The national-champion Les Miles is more relaxed and seemingly more confident and quicker with a joke and really comfortable with himself and his program. As well he should be. At 34-6 after his first three seasons and a really good team returning 20, and the aforementioned Perrilloux no longer making his phone ring in the middle of the night, Miles should be in a good mood.
It was a rare chance for extended speeches from offensive coordinator Gary Crowton and co-defensive coordinators Bradley Dale Peveto and Doug Mallory.
Peveto wins for best quote of the year. When talking about senior linebacker Darry Beckwith’s leadership and how he took over a meeting last week, “That meant a lot to me. It could’ve put a tear in a glass eye.”
Once the coaches are finished, we get access to all the players, and most of the interviews are lighthearted. In our case, it was a mad dash to get video interviews for “Sports Monday,” the weekly TV show that starts each season with LSU football.
We got to visit with sophomore Andrew Hatch last year, so we already knew how bright and composed he is. A chat with Jarrett Lee, the redshirt freshman who is battling Hatch for the quarterback job, showed that he, too, is an engaging young man who seems at ease in the spotlight into which he’s been thrust. His real first name, by the way, is Calen. He hates it and said he isn’t sure how his mother came up with it.
We had a really good talk with Ricky Jean-Francois, who came back from the dead last year to lead LSU to the national title. He really seems to appreciate how his hard work and perseverance have paid off after whatever he did got him basically booted off the team (see above). He said that every day everyone has many choices to make, and it’s incumbent upon him to make good choices and to reinforce that to his friends and teammates. That was good to hear.
There were other fun interviews, like Josh Dworaczyk, a redshirt freshman from New Iberia, talking about being the only player on the team of Polish decent and his bond, because of that, with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa; and Joseph Barksdale, a sophomore offensive lineman from Detroit, talking about being the only Northerner on the team.
And mentioning that junior Rahim Alem looks a lot like former NBA star Reggie Miller and then hearing all his defensive-line teammates cracking up and giving him a really hard time.
But our biggest accomplishment that evening?
Since it’s our 14th year on the air, we approached Hatch to be the official quarterback of the show this season since he wears No. 14.
He agreed, shaking his head at the inanity of the whole thing but showing the kind of good humor that brings a tear to the glass eye of a grizzled sports guy.
Baton Rouge sportswriter Lee Feinswog is the host of the weekly television show “Sports Monday.” He’s covered LSU athletics since 1984. He’ll gladly sell you an autographed copy of his book “Tales From the LSU Sidelines” if you contact him at email@example.com or (225) 926-3256.