Since news broke of LSU having four ineligible incoming players and four others having to wait for the OK from the NCAA Clearinghouse, LSU fans and some media members, who are nothing but fans, have been decrying the methods of the NCAA.
Gone for the 2006 season due to grades are safety Shomari Clemons of West Monroe, defensive tackle Charles Deas of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., cornberback Jason Teague of Carthage, Texas, and offensive tackle Phil Loadholt of Garden City Junior College in Kansas. All are very good players. Loadholt could have started this season.
Don't believe what coach Les Miles is saying now about him providing depth. He was recruited to play right away, and Miles and his assistants said that when Loadholt signed in February.
Unable to practice until their late summer work is thoroughly checked by the NCAA Clearinghous are nationally recruited tailbacks Keiland Williams of Lafayette and Richard Murphy of Rayville. They are falling more and more behind each day, and LSU needs new tailbacks as veterans Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent are each coming off knee injuries.
Also still awaiting clearance are offensive guard Steven Singleton of Buford, Ga., and defensive tackle Al Woods of Elton. LSU needs every able offensive lineman possible.
Do not blame the NCAA. Blame these "student-athletes" and LSU for signing them.
Funny, when LSU did not have many eligibility problems and did not have to deal with the Clearinghouse in the past, fans did not criticize the NCAA. Fans and media are like this everywhere, and it just makes me laugh. A sports editor of mine in Mobile, Ala., did the same hypocritical thing. When Ole Miss was slapped with major NCAA probation in the early 1990s, he said nothing. But when his beloved Alabama got penalized in 1995, he cried bloody murder and considered an expose on the NCAA itself!
Considering the tradition of cheating that has been in college football since it started, I commend the NCAA for whatever policiing it can do.
If LSU wants to avoid the NCAA and its Clearinghouse, which checks the grades and courses of players because of the tradition of high schools fixing grades for its star players, then LSU coach Les Miles needs to recruit better students. Nick Saban did it. So can Miles. He just has to work harder.
The only players the Clearinghouse deals with this close to the beginning of the season are stragglers who just got their test scores, grades are course requirements up to snuff in late summer. Those who graduate in May with everything in line and get their work to the NCAA promptly, hear back promptly. Those are the players Miles needs to sign. Those are the players Saban signed.
You don't sign a bunch of players in February who you think might make it by August. You sign a bunch of players who you know will make it because they've already shown that they're in line to finish fine.
The best way to do this as LSU's coach is to sign at least 12 academically qualified, out-of-state players every February when you're signing a 25-man class. This is what Saban tried to do. The simple truth is, Louisiana's education system is not good enough to produce 25 good football players who will also be good enough in the classroom to qualify without sweating out August waiting for the Clearinghouse to weed through all the other crammers.
LSU is a good enough football program to attract nothing but academic qualifiers. Miles and his staff have to be good enough to find them.