Monday was what we call in journalism a fast news day when it comes to LSU football.
No fewer than three storylines — the coronavirus threat to Saturday’s LSU-Alabama game, Myles Brennan’s health and Tiger wide receiver Koy Moore’s allegations of police harassment from Saturday night — could have stood on their own as blockbusters. But they all came together in a multi-car pileup of news that could only be described as quintessentially 2020.
There is so much to sift through, let us explore these issues based on what we’ve learned, starting with:
It appears LSU, already operating well below the 85-scholarship limit, is flirting with the 53-scholarship player minimum required by SEC rules to play Saturday. That’s because of players with COVID-19 or in quarantine because of their close contact with infected teammates.
From what we’re hearing, it is likely the game will be postponed or canceled. A decision could come as early as Tuesday, but the SEC has no firm deadline for deciding when a game is called off. Monday, it was clear Auburn and Mississippi State could not play this weekend, and that game was postponed. Whether LSU-Alabama follows suit is still the subject of speculation, but perhaps not for much longer.
Coronavirus may knock another LSU football game off track.
If they don’t play Saturday, when could LSU and Alabama play?
When it reconfigured the 10-game pandemic schedule, the SEC wisely inserted a Dec. 12 open date between the end of the regular season on Dec. 5 and the SEC championship game on Dec. 19. Problem for LSU is, its game against Florida already got moved to Dec. 12 because of a coronavirus outbreak at Florida.
For LSU and Bama to play, both teams would have to shift games around, with LSU possibly even playing a fellow team out of the SEC title hunt (say Arkansas or Ole Miss) on Dec. 19. Theoretically, it could be done like this: move the LSU-Alabama game to Nov. 21, move the LSU-Arkansas game from Nov. 21 to Dec. 19 and move the Alabama-Kentucky game from Nov. 21 to Dec. 12. Whether the SEC rearranges all those dominoes is anyone’s guess, but the integrity of the 10-game schedule is vitally important to the league.
“We’ve had schedule adjustments,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Monday on SEC Network. “We will likely have them again. We won’t change opponents, but we may change dates and sites. We have to react.”
How did this outbreak happen?
According to reports, some LSU players got exposed at an off-campus Halloween party. If true, and I hate to sound all of my 54 years old here, this is just the latest example of young people not understanding their actions in this pandemic can have far-ranging consequences. A lesser but also salient question that predates and will postdate the pandemic is why any football players who just got embarrassed 48-11 at Auburn would want to show their unmasked faces in public at a party anyway. Yet another good example that maturity isn’t a strong suit on this 2020 LSU team.
That isn’t for certain, but it is a growing possibility that Brennan’s abdominal injury suffered Oct. 10 at Missouri will prevent him from returning this season. LSU coach Ed Orgeron on Monday broached for the first time the possibility that Brennan may undergo season-ending surgery.
“We’re going to do what’s best for him,” Orgeron said. Not having Brennan return would likely doom the Tigers to a losing season, if one isn’t already assured anyway, but his welfare rightly should come first.
Brennan being ruled out against Alabama is part of LSU’s problem. We hear only TJ Finley is currently able to go, which means fellow freshman Max Johnson is also being quarantined. If LSU does play Saturday, we may finally get to see wide receiver Jontre Kirklin run some wildcat plays.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said starting quarterback Myles Brennan will not play Saturday against Alabama and that there has been discussions about …
Moore’s allegations are that Baton Rouge police on Saturday drew guns on him and demanded to know if he was carrying guns and drugs. Moore said only when he told officers that he was an LSU football player did they relent, but he implied he believed the situation could have ended tragically.
BRPD and LSU are both investigating the incident, and we will see what comes of that. Baton Rouge has largely been able to avoid the civil unrest stemming from charges of police brutality in other parts of the country, but this quickly became a national story that made headlines on ESPN.com, FoxNews.com and the New York Post’s website, just to name three. For the good of Moore, the community and LSU’s football program, this is a matter that must be handled with the utmost seriousness.
What a year
Monday marked the one-year anniversary of LSU’s watershed 46-41 win at Alabama. I could list all the things that have changed since that game, but that’s a whole other column.