ATLANTA — LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee said Saturday he’s “confident” he will be eligible when the No. 1-ranked Tigers play in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.
Lee’s playing time has dwindled to almost nothing in the past month. Media reports have suggested the reduced playing time is the result of academic shortcomings that could leave him ineligible for the Tigers’ bowl game, though it also has coincided with solid play by Jordan Jefferson, who replaced an ineffective Lee and helped rally the Tigers to a crucial 9-6 overtime victory at No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 5.
“That’s all rumors and stuff like that,” Lee said after LSU’s 42-10 victory against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday in the Georgia Dome. “I’m just trying to get in there and get right academically and also out on the field, but that’s all rumor and stuff. I’ll be just fine.”
Lee, speaking publicly for the first time since the game against Alabama, said he wasn’t frustrated by his reduced role. On Saturday, he didn’t play except to kneel down on the final play of the game.
“Whenever my number’s called and whenever they need me, I just want to be able to come in and contribute,” he said, “but we’re winning ball games right now, and it’s been a special year.”
Lee, a fifth-year senior, took over as the starter eight days before the season opener when Jefferson was suspended after being arrested in connection with a bar fight. Lee led the SEC in passing efficiency as the undefeated Tigers ascended to the No. 1 spot in the country. When Jefferson returned after a four-game suspension, Lee remained the starter for five more games as Jefferson’s snaps increased.
After Lee threw his second interception against Alabama, Jefferson replaced him in the third quarter and has been the primary quarterback since.
“I think (Jefferson) is doing a good job of managing the game and we’re winning football games,” Lee said, “so that’s all that matters.”
Jefferson had his worst stretch of the season during the first half Saturday as the Tigers failed to get a first down in the first half and trailed, 10-7, at halftime. Jefferson completed just 5 of 13 passes for 30 yards and a touchdown, but LSU (13-0) pulled away to a lopsided win.
“It’s a special team, a special group of guys,” Lee said. “We’re looking forward to this next game. It’s a goal we set earlier in the year and we’re finally here. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Lee and his teammates will take final exams this week.
“We’ve got finals here in the next week and grades will be posted then,” Lee said. “I’ll be just fine.”