Imagine this Jim Hawthorne call on a sultry Saturday night in Tiger Stadium …
“First-and-goal at the 3 … Tigers come to the line … Brandon Harris lines up in the shotgun … He has Fournette offset to his right, with two wide outs to each side with Ben Simmons on the far left … Here’s the snap, Harris drops back a step, looks right, lobs it left, way up in the air for Simmons – who has it for the touchdown! … Touchdown, LSU, and Ben Simmons, the big 6-9 Australian, went up to get it, and where Harris put it no one else could touch it!”
OK, first of all, it’s a crazy idea. Ben Simmons, the LSU freshman basketball player some are already saying could be the best player in the country this year, risking life and limb and NBA mega millions for the chance to post up and score a couple of touchdowns on some tricky plays before returning to the hard court.
Of course, this is Les Miles’ LSU football team we’re talking about here. Crazy is not only welcome, it has its own reserved parking space at the LSU football complex and a pair of season tickets on the 40.
Miles, at a recent presser, said with at least a dollop of seriousness he would throw the ball high and handsome to Simmons if the young phenom decided to play for his team.
“I just want you to know, so you know, if he’s interested in taking some snaps for us, he can come over,” Miles said. “I’m very honest. And I can give him a goal-line position where I would throw it to him. All he’s got to prove to me is one thing: is that he can catch.
“If he can catch, and certainly we would all predict in this room that he could, he will set the NCAA record for touchdowns. We’ll just send him over there, and when three guys are on him, well OK, and when two guys are on him, we’ll throw him the ball.”
Simmons, for his part, posted a video from LSU’s basketball tour of his native Australia this week, endorsing the idea.
“I’ve heard some things from Baton Rouge, from coach Miles,” Simmons said from Melbourne. “I can play wide out. I’ve been waiting for my opportunity to play football a little bit so we’ll see what I can do.”
“I’m not sure about the helmet, you know. I’m not trying to cover all this,” he said, waving his hand in front of his young face. “We’ll se what happens when I get back. I’m looking forward to it.”
Um, Ben, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is American football, not Australian rules. Your version of football — sans pads or helmets, but possessing that guy in the suit marking scores between the goal posts with the little hand motions — is quite manly. But we’re fairly certain you would be required to wear a helmet here in the States.
So if that’s a deal breaker …
Wait. What are we talking about here? Does anyone think in the name of James Naismith that basketball coach Johnny Jones would allow Simmons, maybe the biggest thing to happen to LSU basketball since Shaquille O’Neal, to risk being lost for the season to try to score a touchdown against Eastern Michigan or some such? Even Miles predicted Jones would throw a fit over such a notion. Picture Jones with his hands wrapped around Simmons’ ankles as he tries to walk across North Stadium Drive from the PMAC to Tiger Stadium.
OK, good. Back to reality. That was some pipe dream, but now it’s over.
And yet …
What if Simmons started way over by the sideline, trotted over to the corner pylon by the goal line or even back to the end line, and just waited? With the right amount of air under the ball, thrown over his head at nearly nine feet high, there’s not a defensive back in America (or Australia) who could stop it.
Not as crazy as it sounds, is it?
But, no. No. That mule kicking field goals in the old Disney movie “Gus” from the 1970s (Don Knotts played the coach, if you can believe that) was a more realistic idea than this.
To date, the best trick play I’ve ever seen LSU pull was passing to defensive tackle Booger McFarland back in the mid 1990s, the Tigers’ answer to William “The Refrigerator” Perry.
Simmons catching TD alley oops would trump that. It would be the Donald Trump getting the Republican nomination of outlandish moves.
Then again, that might actually happen.
Its Australian tour over, the LSU basketball team was scheduled to make the long, long flight home Sunday.
We’ll be on the lookout for a helmetless Ben Simmons going into the football practice facility on Monday.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.