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No Surprise: All 3 Suspended LSU Players Back At Practice

Tailback Spencer Ware and defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon were all back at practice for LSU yesterday, reinstated after a one-game suspension for a failed drug test.  And the world gasps with surprise and shock.

“Those guys were at practice,” Les Miles said yesterday.  “If they continue to do the things they were doing (at practice), we would anticipate that they would play.  We’re practicing and preparing them to play and operating along that way.  We’re going to practice them.  We’re going to plan on using them.  They enjoyed being with their team.  They worked hard.  They were missed.”

And now they’re back in time for top-ranked LSU’s showdown game with second-ranked Alabama.  In making his announcement, Miles still refused to classify what befell Mathieu, Ware and Simon as a suspension.

“I don’t recall that I ever suspended them to you guys.  Am I right?  So I guess what I’m saying to you is we’ve operated as this discipline would be internal and we would handle it in that way, and our guys have returned to practice.” 

The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that when Miles was asked what term besides “suspension” he would use to describe the players’ situation, the coach said: “We withheld them from play.”

Oh.

Here’s the problem for LSU (and by association the SEC): The national media that will bury the Tigers-Tide matchup in hype and coverage will be all over the angle of whether or not “the synthetic marijuana three” should be playing at all.  Splitting hairs between “suspension” and “we withheld them from play” won’t help matters.

The Tigers are only a couple of months removed from a major bar brawl that made national news and left starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson — and his 49 pairs of shoes — facing serious charges (later downgraded) and off the team for several weeks.

Oh, and receiver Russell Shepard was suspended for the first three games of the season for an NCAA rules violation.

In addition, LSU has one of the softer drug policies in the SEC.  In fact, officially there is no final strike that would result in a player’s dismissal.  And in the case of these players there was wiggle room in the system allowing for a one-game ban rather than a two-game ban.

The reinstatement of the players above may be 100% fair.  But outside Louisiana, it’s doubtful it will be viewed as such by skeptical rival fans and a cynical media.  Allowing Mathieu, Ware and Simon to return only adds to the perception that Miles is running a pretty loose ship down on The Bayou.

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