The questioner was trying to be kind.

“Coach,” a reporter started to ask Les Miles on Thursday, “the season has kind of gotten off to a rocky start ?”

Miles cut him off like he hopes Morris Claiborne will do on a bushel basket full of passes this fall.

“You think?” Miles replied.

At least the coach hasn’t lost his sarcasm. Whether the 2011 season is a lost cause remains to be seen.

What a summer it’s been.

Willie Lyles. NCAA probation. Steve Kragthorpe diagnosed with Parkinson’s. A huge bar fight involving starting quarterback and team leader Jordan Jefferson, whose domicile Wednesday was the subject of a police search warrant.

Things got so bad the Baton Rouge Police had to release a statement refuting rumors that Jefferson would be arrested Thursday - his 21st birthday.

This was followed hours later by the news that Russell Shepard had been declared ineligible, likely to miss several games.

Shepard faced compliance issues over his off-campus lodging that appeared to put his eligibility in jeopardy. In the end he was cleared of that but benched for talking to a teammate before that teammate was interviewed as part of an NCAA investigation, essentially a charge of obstructing justice.

And Thursday was supposed to be a slow day on the LSU beat. One almost hates to roll out of bed Friday morning, lest we find out that the guy inside the Mike the Tiger costume is really a Nazi war criminal in hiding.

Of course, that’s absurd. But no more absurd than the sight of police carting bags of Jefferson’s shoes out as evidence to try to establish his guilt or innocence in the Shady’s bar brawl.

Who imagined this offseason - when visions of another BCS crystal ball danced in virtually every Tiger head - that it would come to this?

It’s like a nightmare isn’t it? The Nightmare on Nicholson Drive.

Slap ? slap ? slap ? WAKE UP!

Afraid it isn’t that easy.

At least for now, this is the new reality for LSU football. It is also the new cruelty, as the glittering hopes of such a promising season appear to be driven to the brink. It’s as if the price of all of LSU’s football success over the last decade has come due in one mangled mess.

It certainly looks like the Tigers, some Tigers, will pay the price of tragically poor judgment and regrettable actions.

No one is disputing that someone did wrong last Friday in Shady’s parking lot. It’s the who and the what that still needs to be sorted out.

No one wants to see LSU players suspended or arrested. Not LSU fans and coaches, not the media reporting on the story, perhaps not even the people who were allegedly assaulted.

But the truth must come out, whoever it benefits. That way, someone can one day say, “Remember that summer LSU had back in 2011? That was pretty crazy.”

You think?