In case you've been living under a rock, Jordan Jefferson chose to be the latest to come out and criticize the MNC game plan. DeAngelo Peterson agrees. It seems, Will Blackwell expressed some frustration as well, nevermind this is just days after he spoke glowingly of him. Three offensive players, three different, varying levels of criticism. Initially, I wanted to pass Peterson and Blackwell's comments as post-BCS letdown malaise. But it's been over a month, and the first opportunity Jefferson gets to speak on the matter since the post-game interviews, he digs up the dead bodies.
My question is, why? What's the point?
To clear a couple things up: First of all, I have, and will continue to, defend Les Miles. Not for his performance in this game, but for his overarching achievements (which are still grossly under appreciated, even by many in our own fanbase). Secondly, all three players are in an interview setting. They were no doubt asked about these things. It's not as if Jordan called into Baton Rouge sports radio and started bagging on Les Miles and the game plan of his own accord. It's an important point.
Criticizing the game plan from [game redacted] is entirely fair. We were ill-prepared and showed up flat. It's impossible to know what happened, but I'm convinced there was something going on. Two players have now said we "ran plays we didn't practice" which is confusing. Did Stud prepare a pass-oriented game plan and Miles suddenly get cold feet and try to return to the option game? Did the early mistakes of the offense (remember, for like 3 or 4 drives we had multiple penalties that put us at 2nd and 3rd and longs), corrupt the entire timing, gameplan and playcalling? Was the game plan solid enough, but just flat out poorly executed by the players? Was the Alabama defense just that damn good? Did Jarrett Lee have academic issues which kept Les from playing him? Does Jordan have nudies of Les Miles? WHY? WHY!?!?!
We'll never know.
All that being said, players are people as well and certainly entitled to their opinions. However, publicly speaking against your own team is a major no-no in sports (obviously I'm talking in game matters here, not in instances of grave injustice, though we have a shining example of that principle being carried too far going on right now). Ask any manager/coach and they'll all say they prefer you "keep it in house."
We can discuss the merit of such an approach at another time, but largely this is the approach. And this isn't a Les Miles thing, either. It's a football thing. I can't imagine that any successful scout/coach/executive, when reviewing a player files, puts a giant plus sign next to a player who comes out and essentially blames the coaches. Because, in their minds, "if you did it to them, you'll do it to me."
What I'm really struggling to understand is what these players have to gain from doing this? Even understanding that they are merely responding to questions, why respond this way? Do you think it really endears you to coaches at the next level? Look, let's be honest about these players.
Jordan Jefferson was an average, at best, collegiate QB, whose level of play was wildly inconsistent and often maddeningly frustrating. He does have NFL size and some NFL tools, but enough to outweigh the negatives?
Will Blackwell was a puzzling All-American pick. He's a solid, SEC regular but an All-American? He wasn't even the best OL on the team.
DeAngelo Peterson is a fantastic athlete and looks like a Greek god in gym shorts. Unfortunately, he fits the definition of "workout warrior" to a T. He's a great athlete and not a great football player.
So all three seniors are entering the NFL draft with tremendous question marks, and there's a chance all three could go completely undrafted (in all likelihood, Peterson may be taken based on athletic upside alone). And now is the time they need to be doing everything they can to prove their worth to their future employers.. and yet, they choose to bash their coaches?
What's puzzling is that I genuinely believed each of them was attempting sell themselves to their future employers. "What's that? January 9th? Oh that game? Well yeah, it was bad.. but it wasn't me. It wasn't my fault." No, it will damage, not benefit their draft stock.
What's most discouraging is that we spent the entire year discussing and applauding this team for their unity, from supporting JJ to supporting the suspended guys, to the noticeably genuine bond they all shared on the field and fed off one another. And now, it was all a farce? It's the coaches' fault we failed? Why are we suddenly pointing fingers and blaming? I thought the anthem was "you win as a team and you lose as a team" (this, unlike most cheesy sports aphorisms, is one of the few ones that is actually true). It just doesn't jive in my mind.
Much like many events since kickoff on January 9th, I file this into the "I just don't understand" category. Frustration and anger are entirely understandable. Expressing that outside the confines of your closest friends and family, however, is a no no. And frankly, it doesn't help you or LSU. So for any LSU athletes going forward: pipe down, stay on point. You'll be better for it.