The LSU football program is entering a season of huge expectations under an equally huge cloud of bad karma.
Put aside for a moment the suspensions — and possibly arrests — that could stem from the fight at a Tigerland bar early Friday morning. On its own, that one event could be the biggest tsunami to hit LSU football this offseason, or it could be just a ripple.
What I’m talking about is the big picture, which this offseason has been one jolt after another.
Start in January when Michigan tried to lure Les Miles back to Ann Arbor (Note to Michigan: No way Brady Hoke was your first choice).
Fast forward to this summer of discontent. LSU was finally placed on one-year NCAA probation for the Akiem Hicks/impermissible recruiting calls sagas. It simmered under the menacing specter of the Willie Lyles implications. Starting wide receiver Russell Shepard faces NCAA compliance issues over his off-campus housing (a still unresolved matter).
And now this: the Brawl on East Boyd.
Seasoned LSU followers are perhaps reminded of the Crazy Days at LSU years of the mid-1980s. You remember: Bob Brodhead bugging his office, Bill Arnsparger going to “talk” to Florida, Tito Horford, chicken pox and Dale Brown, a face of grim defiance on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
It’s hard to say things are that crazy — yet. But all this bad news has to make you wonder what’s coming next for LSU and from where.
It’s not surprising that players would try to sneak out after curfew after a couple of long weeks of practice. It is surprising that no one was there to make sure that players didn’t bolt into the night en masse.
One can imagine two or four players slipping away. But, as Miles said, a relatively large group? There are those who say it’s as many as 15 or 20. You can cut that number in half and it’s still as many as 10.
That’s a lot of guys flaunting the rules. That’s an enormous breakdown in discipline.
As of Saturday, the police investigation had yet to include interviews of LSU players suspected of being involved, so to speculate whether there will be suspensions or arrests or when they will come is premature.
It isn’t too early to say this, however: This could be the biggest storm to hit the LSU football program since hurricanes Katrina and Rita laid waste to much of South Louisiana in 2005 at the start of Miles’ first season.
In those cases, man was at the mercy of powerful storms.
In this case, the storm is man-made.
Miles did an exemplary job of navigating the Tigers through those troubles then. The distractions did contribute to LSU’s early loss to Tennessee that year, but the Tigers bounced back with nine straight wins and finished 11-2.
Based on that, one can expect Miles will manage this crisis this time.
But it’s also easy to imagine this messy episode could cost LSU dearly.