In Louisiana, rules are suggestions to be ignored!by J.W. Miller on 03/11/19
I remember when my older daughter received her driver’s license and she quickly proceeded to display some of her dad’s lesser qualities behind the wheel. Specifically, she had a lead foot! But after a handful of contacts with the local constabulary, I sat her down and asked her what about the speed limit was confusing. I’ll never forget her answer: “Daddy, the speed limit is only a suggestion, not an absolute!” Ah, the wisdom of a 16-year-old in Louisiana!
The same type of logic was on display Saturday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center where LSU clinched their first regular season SEC basketball championship since 2009. But before the Tigers pummeled Vanderbilt to assure the title, the LSU student section decided that AD Joe Alleva’s suspension of Coach Will Wade was an affront to Tiger pride and dignity. No matter that the head coach was caught on an FBI wiretap allegedly discussing payments to recruit Javonte Smart’s family.
Alleva, understanding that such an activity violates major NCAA rules, moved quickly to insulate his program from major sanctions if the charges are proven. He suspended Wade “indefinitely” and ordered Smart to sit this one out and maybe all tournament games the Tigers play this year. But the less-than-understanding student body would have none of it presumably because rules are merely suggestions. Or was it because Wade got caught? No matter, their message to Alleva: What are you doing? You are ruining our best basketball season in a decade. The repercussions of your actions will derail any hopes of contending for an NCAA championship! Joe, you’ve got to go.
Thirty minutes before the game, chants and signs clearly stated “Joe Must Go,” and others popped up, urging Alleva to “Free Will Wade.” The message then disintegrated into chants of the more to-the-point “(Bleep) Joe!” Of course, all this is Alleva’s fault. None of the blame can be laid at the feet of a fast-talking, free-wheeling coach who rose up the coaching ladder at a young age. But we’ve been through this before, haven’t we?
Remember “Bountygate,” when Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams rewarded Saints players for big hits and other antics intended to put the so-called bad guys out of the game. Was that against the rules? Of course it was, and the Saints paid dearly for it, literally and figuratively. Cash fines, suspensions and an eternal stain on an organization that was perceived to be a rock of stability and doing things the right way. Head Coach Sean Payton was suspended for a year and draft choices were taken, all of which put the team back at least two years.
But who did the fans blame? Certainly not Payton, whose job it was to know everything about his team and coaches. Certainly not the players who participated in the scheme. Gregg Williams deservedly took his share of blame, but in the fans’ eyes the league was the bad guy. How dare they do this to a recent Super Bowl champion? So I guess in Louisiana the rules against such behavior are just suggestions that bend the interpretation from “thou shalt not” to “thou should not, but if you don’t get caught it’s okay!”
Will Wade will likely never coach another game at LSU, nor should he if he is guilty. I’m with Dick Vitale on his assessment of the LSU situation, which he tweeted Saturday. Vitale said Wade’s actions “humiliated and disgraced” the university and said the true fans are “sick and saddened” at the revelations. Dickie V also had a message for the fans who are protesting the suspension: “Get Real!” Rules are not suggestions to be ignored when it’s convenient.