Notes on a banquet napkin while deciding how best to go Tom Brady on an old cell phone …
There’s no bigger star in the Baton Rouge Rotary Club heaven than Les Miles, who makes an annual appearance at a late July meeting.
But he was outshined by one member of the audience Wednesday and he knew it: district attorney Hillar Moore.
Miles is waiting for Moore to decide whether to formally charge LSU football players Anthony Jennings, Maquedius Bain and Dwayne Thomas for breaking into an apartment in June, reportedly to retrieve some things that were stolen from Jennings. The wait could be over soon, Moore suggested, but Miles decided to press the issue.
“As we have always operated, I’m on your schedule,” Miles said to Moore, singling him out in a crowd of hundreds at Tiger Stadium’s south Stadium Club. “You tell me what you need to tell me, and I will operate accordingly, I promise you.”
There was laughter then Miles added, “Please don’t write that in the paper.”
Sorry coach. Phones were tweeting, TV cameras were running, and every Rotarian in the room was going back to their office after lunch to talk about what Miles said.
What’s written in the paper is the least of your concerns. Getting your starting signal-caller back in the good graces is more important.
Was Miles trying to apply a little public pressure to Moore to make a decision? Sure. Preseason camp starts next week. The season opener is five weeks from Saturday. He wants this resolved in time for the preparations for an important season to begin.
Jennings. Brandon Harris. Harris. Jennings. The debate over who should be LSU’s quarterback is for another day. OK, it’s for every day around here. But Wednesday, Jennings’ status took precedence.
“If this was a regular case, take football out of it, if it just involved a regular LSU student, you wouldn’t have known it happened,” Moore said after the luncheon. “It would routinely be dismissed. I’m taking my time to get it right.”
Translation: This is a minor case, a nuisance in fact, compared to the murders and robberies that unfortunately plague our city.
(The murder of La’el Collins’ former girlfriend Britteny Mills back in April? Still no leads, Moore said).
If it didn’t involve a guy who wears shoulder pads and a helmet for LSU, this would be an anonymous case, and it probably wouldn’t even be a case anymore.
You may think Miles is in a no-win situation this season. OK, every season. But so is Moore.
As he said Wednesday, 50 percent of the people out there will think he made the wrong decision no matter what, and 50 percent will think he made the right (or pro LSU) decision.
Moore said there was no violence committed during the unlawful apartment entry (reportedly because they went to retrieve things that had been presumed stolen from Jennings’ apartment earlier in the month), and none of the parties apparently have any prior records.
And Moore indicated the person whose apartment they unlawfully entered apparently doesn’t want to press charges.
All in all, it adds up to some soon-to-be dropped charges once Moore gets the transcripts of the case, possibly as early as this week.
There will be cries of preferential treatment for LSU athletes, but it is true in the bigger sense this is a case that would have gone completely unnoticed except for the parties involved.
This isn’t the crime of the century. This also isn’t Jeremy Hill sucker punching a guy outside a bar. It thankfully isn’t a case of domestic violence. And it’s not even Deflategate. This is, as Moore said, an act of young people doing something stupid.
It would be right that Jennings, Bain and Thomas serve some sort of in-season discipline, such as sitting out part or all of the McNeese State game.
To those who much is given, like LSU football players, much should be expected. Right at the top of that list of expectations is using good judgment, especially for someone like Jennings, who is supposed to be your team’s on-field leader.
Moore indicated he’s tired of being put in this position summer after summer by LSU football players, and that’s understandable.
The onus is on Miles to instill better discipline among his players, though finding a college football team free of disciplinary problems would be harder than piecing Tom Brady’s shattered cell phone back together.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.