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Friday, November 02, 2007

Perrilloux paranoia proves LSU's power

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - On Thursday night, ESPN's nationwide poll question concerned LSU backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux. You know, they put up the map of the United States and have red states for these votes and so on like in an election.

I don't remember what the question was. It doesn't matter. It was something about how much LSU will be affected by not having Perrilloux, who was suspended from practice this week and Saturday's Alabama game for his involvement in a fight involving more than 20 people at the Varsity bar near the LSU campus last week.

Perrilloux was not arrested and will return to the team Monday. Linebackers Derrick Odom and Jeremy Benton, neither of whom have played a down this season, were kicked off the team for their involvement. Odom was arrested for damage to property for the third time in three months. (Perhaps LSU coach Les Miles could entice a couple of recently out-of-work Varsity bouncers to walk on the team. Apparently, those guys like sacking quarterbacks.)

The total sports network was totally wrong on this one. Perrilloux is a spot player, a backup. Starting quarterback Matt Flynn can run very well, too. The loss of Perrilloux is not going to have such a newsworthy impact on Saturday's LSU-Alabama game unless Flynn is hurt. If that happens, then it's news. The continued suspension of five Alabama players, including two starters on an extremely thin offensive line and the second leading rusher, is more significant to the game. So is the health of LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, who will play, though not at 100 percent.

It is interesting just how much attention this latest Perrilloux episode has caused. Often when papers are beat on a story, they try to make up for it by blowing it up when they do finally run it. The two largest papers in Louisiana were a day late on the story, which was originally broken by WAFB TV Channel 9 on Saturday.

There was a huge headline on the front of the Baton Rouge paper on Thursday over a story that closed the issue. This was way too much, particularly for a story that was nearly a week old.

But the story also drew huge national attention. At times, it rivaled the Pokey Chatman fiasco last spring.

Maybe this was because of Perrilloux's past. He was the No. 1 quarterback in the nation out of East St. John High in 2005. He has also been in scrapes with law enforcement over the last year. He tried to pass a couple of $20 counterfeit bills last year, according to legal documents obtained by Gannett, and was questioned by federal officials. He was cited by Baton Rouge police for trying to use false identification. He may have been at the scene of an earlier arrest of Odom over the summer.

It was a bar fight last week and no one was arrested at the time nor seriously injured. There was just a lot of pushing and shoving and everyone running up and looking like in one of those baseball fights. It was legitimate news for only a day or two. All the rumors and accusations about Perrilloux turned out to be either not true or unproven.

What this overblown story really illustrates is just how big the LSU football program is now. It was never this big. LSU won the national championship in 2003, but it backed into that game. It wasn't viewed as the best or one of the best teams in the country until the end of that season. It's been on top throughout all of this season and even before this season. LSU was not this big in 2004 either coming off the national title, because it lost two games early.

LSU is the glamour team in the country right now with USC out of the BCS picture. With glamour comes tabloid journalism.

Miles made the right decision in not letting Perrilloux make the trip here and letting him return to the team Monday. For all we know, the only thing Perrilloux was guilty of was defending his girlfriend. If he did something criminal, Baton Rouge Police would have arrested him. That unit is not as concerned with protecting football players as the LSU Police have been at times.

Had Miles let Perrilloux make the trip, the media circus will not be prolonged with Perrilloux on the sidelines Saturday. Or was that a good idea? If Perrilloux is with the team, he can be kept on lock-down and Miles will know where he is.

With Perrilloux back in Baton Rouge or home or in New Orleans this weekend, there's no telling what he might get into. And could there be ESPN Paparazzi hounding him?
Here's some advice, Ryan - stay home, watch the game and rent a movie.


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