By Casey Gisclair
Quarterback is the most important position in team sports.
If a team has a proven QB, they always have a chance to be the best. It’s the ultimate deodorant that covers up whatever stink a team might have on its depth chart in a given year.
Of course, if your team does not have a quarterback, the rest of your roster doesn’t even matter. The team will always be exposed on the big stage and in the most important games. They will always turn over the ball at that most inopportune time and/or be unable to score points when they are needed the most.
With all of that said, it’s not a secret that the LSU football team has been quarterback-challenged for most of the Les Miles era. That very phenomenon is why Miles has just one national championship ring and not two or three.
Quarterback issues are why many critics like myself wonder just how good the 2015 LSU Tigers will be, despite a roster loaded with All-American-caliber talent at half a dozen positions.
Throughout last season, the Tigers juggled two guys, 2014 starter Anthony Jennings and true freshman Brandon Harris. Jennings got most of the reps, though most fans and media pundits would concede that Harris, though raw, was the better pure player.
In the spring, the reps were more equal with Jennings and Harris splitting first-team work roughly 50/50, which was expected to lead into a final stretch of competition between the Tiger quarterback duo coming in summer practices.
But with the arrest of Jennings this past week, I think that Miles has gotten his man, even if it’s by default.
There’s absolutely no way after all that’s transpired in the past week that anyone other than Harris can lead the Tigers onto the field for the first offensive snap next fall.
Above all else, quarterback is a position where the best exhibit prime decision-making and leadership skills.
If Jennings cannot be trusted to make sound, quality decisions off the field in his own life, how can he ever be trusted to do the same in Southeastern Conference road games?
According to police reports, this entire incident was sparked because someone allegedly broke into the young quarterback’s apartment and took a laptop, among other items.
Once a couple guys on the football team got wind of an alleged culprit for that initial incident, they did their best Colombo impersonation and allegedly stormed into his apartment complex, muscled the door down and took back the things that belonged to the quarterback.
Look, I’ve made plenty mistakes in my life, so I’m admittedly not the right person to be judging someone’s character and morality.
But if Jennings and his compadres really did not see the problem with this vigilante justice, then what can one say to defend the young man from here on in?
Likewise, if he’s capable of rash, idiotic decisions on Thursday afternoon while hanging with his buddies, why wouldn’t the same be the case on Saturday afternoons in the SEC?
Who are other quarterbacks with decision-making troubles?
Mike Vick? Awful completion percentage. Indecisive in his reads. Now a backup.
Jameis Winston? Talented, yes. But threw a ton of picks last year. Will be exposed in the pros.
Harris has to be the guy from here on-in. Jennings already wasn’t performing on the field. Now that he’s not performing off it, either, the plug has to be pulled and the controls have to be given to Harris to lead the program into the future.
How it’ll all pan out? Time will tell.
But with Jennings, the offense was never going to reach rarified air anyway.
LEADERSHIP NOW MISSING AT LSU
A lot of the talk about Jennings’ arrest will be centered on how it will impact the quarterback race at LSU. But I’d like to focus on this situation as part of a much bigger phenomenon that has swept through the team’s locker room in recent years – one that, in my opinion, has cost the Tigers many victories in the past few seasons.
The LSU football team lacks leadership – in a big, big way. Something that was once a huge coup to the team has now faded. The folks that the underclassmen look up to aren’t doing the right things.
In a conference where even the smallest negative thing can mean the difference between victory and defeat, that leadership void has cost the Tigers in a big way.
Since the 2007 BCS National Championship team, LSU football has had the following players in “leadership” positions:
-Jordan Jefferson; pleads no contest in a bar fight while playing, later arrested on drug charges
-Tyrann Mathieu; multiple failed drug tests, dismissed from team
-Jeremy Hill; pleads guilty to blindsiding a man with a punch at a Baton Rouge bar
-La’el Collins; we won’t even mention the NFL Draft stuff, but was just ousted on DeadSpin for hiring (and not paying) a hooker in Dallas.
-Jalen Mills; enters diversion program after arrest for battery.
-Brad Wing; arrested for battery
-T-Bob Hebert; drove drunk, given DWI.
-Terrance Toliver; arrested for disturbing the peace by public intoxication.
Does this sound like “leadership” to you?
I think not. When LSU’s best players cut the crap and act like productive citizens, maybe the team can win another national championship.