LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva released a statement Wednesday afternoon aimed at addressing rumors and media questions about the eligibility of quarterback Jarrett Lee for the rest of the Tigers’ games this season.
Alleva’s statement does not mention Lee in particular but is instead general in nature:
“Despite media and message board speculation, no LSU student-athletes have been declared ineligible for postseason competition,” Alleva says in the statement. “The current semester is not complete and finals are still ahead, so it is grossly unfair to our student-athletes and it is both premature and irresponsible to speculate on the final grades and postseason eligibility of our student-athletes.”
Speculation about Lee has centered on whether or not he would be ineligible for the Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Saturday against Georgia (3 p.m., CBS) and/or LSU’s bowl game.
LSU coach Les Miles was asked specifically about Lee’s academic status Monday during a news conference but skated around the issue. Miles later said he expects Lee to play a vital role in the Tigers’ final two games.
Asked again after Wednesday’s practice, Miles downplayed the academic issue.
“Ever since I’ve been here, guys are in differing positions academically as we go into the end of the season,” he said. “Very much like I was (as a player). You know what? Guys rebound, and they make it.
“Look back. How many guys have not been with us in a bowl game? Whoever reported it, in my opinion, didn’t do any real investigative work. What was said could have been said every year that I’ve been here.”
Asked if he has any greater academic concern about a key player or players, Miles said: “It’s pretty much normal.”
Lee started LSU’s first nine games but has seen markedly less playing time since the Nov. 5 Alabama game as Jordan Jefferson has gotten the last three starts. Lee has not spoken to the media since before the Alabama game.
Mathieu is Camp finalist
Chalk up a major national award coup for the Honey Badger.
LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was named Wednesday as one of five finalists for the Walter Camp National Player of the Year Award, one of the biggest postseason awards in college football.
Mathieu is the only defensive finalist on the list. The others are Alabama running back Trent Richardson and three quarterbacks - Andrew Luck of Stanford, Case Keenum of Houston and Robert Griffiin III of Baylor.
Mathieu, who has been named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week twice this year, leads the No. 1-ranked Tigers in tackles with 66. He leads the SEC and ranks second in the nation in both forced fumbles (six) and fumble recoveries (four). Mathieu has also intercepted two passes, recorded seven pass breakups and a pair of quarterback hurries. He has 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Mathieu, the only sophomore on the list, started at free safety Friday against Arkansas for an injured Eric Reid, further demonstrating his standing as one of the most flexible players in college football.
Mathieu has scored three touchdowns in 2011, most recently returning a punt 92 yards for a touchdown against Arkansas. Mathieu scored on a 3-yard fumble return against Oregon in the season-opener and he followed that with a 23-yard fumble return for a score against Kentucky.
In 24 career games, Mathieu has forced 11 fumbles, which ranks second among all active players in college football, and is just three shy of tying the NCAA career mark.
The Walter Camp Award winner will be announced Dec. 8 during the 6 p.m. edition of “SportsCenter” on ESPN. The trophy will be formally presented Jan. 14 in New Haven, Conn.
Miles said Reid - who missed the Arkansas game with a pulled quadriceps muscle from LSU’s previous game at Ole Miss - worked out the entire practice Wednesday but stopped short of saying he is 100 percent go against Georgia.
“He appeared to run pretty well,” Miles said. “I still think there’s some question, but he practiced.”
Miles drew some laughs Monday when asked about defensive tackle Michael Brockers’ knee swelling up after the Arkansas game.
No tweets necessary Wednesday - Miles said Brockers is “fine” and will play.
The same goes for tailback Alfred Blue, who pulled a hamstring at Ole Miss and also sat out the Arkansas game.
“He took every snap he could,” Miles said. “He’s ready to play special teams and at tailback.”
Miles did say freshman Terrence Magee, who also missed the Arkansas game, will likely miss the SEC Championship Game with an unspecified injury.
Advocate on the road
Advocate employees will be distributing free copies of the paper Saturday morning at a number of Atlanta area hotels.
• Hilton Atlanta Airport (LSU team hotel)
• Drury Inn & Suites Airport
• Downtown Atlanta:
• Hilton Atlanta
• Sheraton Atlanta Hotel
• Hyatt Regency Atlanta (SEC headquarters)
• Atlanta Marriott Marquis
• Westin Peachtree Plaza
The last word
“There may be less LSU fans, but I think they’ll make more noise.”
- Miles on likely facing a pro-Georgia crowd Saturday in the Georgia Dome.