Back on New Year’s Eve 1995, Texas played Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl and found itself at the unwitting center of a bizarre story.
A backup defensive back named Ron McKelvey turned out to be a 30-year-old guy named Ron Weaver, who unbeknownst to Texas was playing under an assumed identity after having long since exhausted his eligibility at another school.
Weaver/McKelvey was found out and fled New Orleans just before the game, as if the FBI were after him (it was). The point of this story should have been clear to anyone for years to come: Don’t try to deny what you've done, because someone is almost certain to find out.
Apparently that lesson was lost on LSU linebacker Tyler Taylor.
Taylor reported for the Tigers’ preseason camp last week like the solid member of the team he was, having playing in all 13 games last season. What he had failed to do was report was his arrest in Cumming, Georgia, on May 31. Police said he served as the getaway driver at a pawn shop burglary.
After spending five hours in jail and posting $33,550 in bail (a lot of dough for a young college student, isn’t it?), he was allowed to leave Georgia and return to Baton Rouge for camp under strict conditions that he behave himself. I am sure engaging in a “Baby Driver” act once back in Louisiana was on his no-no list.
So Taylor practiced Saturday. And Sunday. And Monday and Tuesday. Then came The Advocate’s report Wednesday of Taylor’s arrest, which LSU said he told no one at the school about. That earned him an immediate suspension from all football activities while LSU tried to figure out what the heck to do with this guy.
One can be skeptical that LSU was indeed caught off-guard by Taylor’s transgressions. Knowing how tight-fisted LSU’s compliance office is, however, at this point I have to believe the school would have sidelined him had it indeed known of the arrest.
Now everybody knows. Everybody knows Taylor showed up for camp and hoped no one would ever notice this little arrest thing back home in Georgia. What was he going to tell Ed Orgeron if this thing came to trial in, say, October — like the week of the Florida game?
Taylor’s attorney told The Advocate on Thursday morning his client plans to plead not guilty.
Given what he did after the fact, it is possible Taylor did not know his four “associates” were going to break into the pawn shop that night. According to the police report, the four associates came back to the car with guns. If so, perhaps Taylor panicked — just as he apparently panicked and didn’t report what happened to LSU, as is required by the school’s student-athlete handbook.
Now Taylor’s college career is in limbo; his football career is in limbo; he is in legal limbo; and LSU and Orgeron have an embarrassing and bizarre incident on their hands. On a pure football level, the collateral damage is that LSU’s depth at linebacker took a serious ding less than a month before opener, and this season was already riddled with question marks to begin with.
Hopefully this is a cautionary tale for LSU’s other players and other young people/student-athletes: If you do something bad, deal with it. The cover-up always makes things worse.
That said, I’m sure the next Ron Weaver/Tyler Taylor is out there somewhere, only waiting to be found out.