I knew I should have avoided message boards this week, but out of habit I check them when I sit at the computer at home. I have not liked what I've seen, and I want to make some points:
1. Get off of Jarrett Lee's back. Yes, I am the first one to say he hasn't played well, but there is absolutely no reason to think he's washed up already, a has-been, or a never-will-be. He's a young quarterback going through consistency problems and trying to round out his game. He's had a bad stretch, but abusing him on the message boards only contributes to his crisis of confidence. It is, in short, counterproductive to become so vehement in your disappointment and your dire predictions for the future. I will quote Bayou Bengal Blog:
So booing Lee, which has happened the last two games, is (pardon the language) chickenshit. Posting hateful bilge on his Facebook page shows poor character. And circulating e-mails trashing and making fun of him makes you a lot bigger loser than you accuse Lee of being.
Jarrett Lee might develop into a perfectly good quarterback before he's done, in which case you will look like a complete fool. Or Lee might get beaten out by somebody else in the future, in which case you'll end up as one of the fans who piled onto a kid who did his best as a Tiger even if it wasn't good enough. Either way, you don't make out well in this at all. You might consider that before you contribute to the problem some more.
I agree with everything except these people looking like fools in the future. If and when emerges as a very good quarterback, they will deny ever doubting him, and no one will remember their harshness.
Look, I know Jarrett Lee has a long way to go, but running him down is not the answer. Acknowledge that he's struggled lately, and then let's move on. If Jordan Jefferson outplays him, or if Russell Shepard gets here in the Spring and beats him out, so be it. That's football. Until then, we have to anticipate that Lee will be playing a lot, and that he will improve.
2. This season is not that bad. We are on track to go 9-3 and to get into the Cotton Bowl. Ten years ago, if you had said, "We'll be a 9-win team in 2008 and we'll go to the Cotton Bowl," people would have been thrilled. In pre-season, if you had said that, people would respond, "Eh, that sounds about right."
Let's get one principle of college football right. The vast majority of college football teams are disappointed by their season. It's just a fact of life that about half the teams in the country hope to win their conference. About 15 or 20 teams hope to make it to the BCS National Championship Game. About 50 teams hope to make it to New Year's Day (or better) bowl games. Almost every team hopes to make it to a bowl game.
In an environment like that, most teams and their fans are disappointed most years. Heck, some fans were and remain disappointed in how we did last year, and we won the national championship. We just didn't do it emphatically enough.
This year, if we do what we expect and hope to do from here out, we can get yet another 10-win season. That would be an outstanding stretch. And yes, we can regret that we played so poorly against Florida, and that we let Alabama slip out of our grasp, but I don't think the season as a whole is that poor. Of course, if we trip up from here out, we may have to re-evaluate that, and there's certainly no guarantee we're winning these last 3 games, but the season remains alive and we still have the chance to have a nice season for our outgoing players. I know everyone wants championships, but that just isn't in the cards every year.
3. Lay off the Morris Claiborne recruitment. By all accounts, LSU sits well for all sorts of big-time national recruits to close out the season. However, we really didn't have a national-level cornerback on the radar after Janzen Jackson, who could conceivably end up at safety anyway. There is no crime in taking a flyer on a guy, and let's all please acknowledge that just because Scout and Rivals doesn't know anything about him does not mean that he's no-good. I couldn't even guess how many high schools there are in the country and I can guarantee that Scout's and Rivals' talent scouts don't go and see every one of them. Morris Claiborne has had no film submitted, and when you have no film and a scout hasn't seen you play, you get a 2-star ranking.
While I know that LSU has a lot of young corners right now, only Derrick Bryant is currently being redshirted, and he may also end up as a safety. If Claiborne comes in and redshirts, he will be two years behind Patrick Peterson, Ron Brooks, Phelon Jones, and Brandon Taylor, and possibly ready to contribute when he's a junior.
4. In conclusion. So let's all just settle down and let the coaches coach. I know questioning coaches is a time-honored tradition of fandom, and I do believe that Les Miles and Company have done some questionable things this year, but I've had my say on that and it's time to move on. I think Miles has done far more right in his 3 3/4 years here in Baton Rouge than he has done wrong, so what's the problem?