Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SEC [Print without images]

Thursday, August 25, 2011
Distractions mounting for LSU

By Chris Low

It's now officially become one big mess on the Bayou.

News flash, right?

Les Miles
LSU head coach Les Miles will have his hands full preparing the Tigers for the season opener against Oregon.
The latest off-the-field trouble for LSU came Thursday when the university confirmed that starting receiver Russell Shepard was ineligible for at least the opener against Oregon and maybe more games while the NCAA considers his reinstatement case. Shepard conferred with a teammate concerning an NCAA investigation into Shepard's housing situation. Shepard will continue to practice with the team.

Shepard's troubles are only a small part of the Tigers' concerns.

The police investigation continues into the Baton Rouge bar brawl last week, where an eyewitness has told police that she saw senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson kick a man in the face, according to a police report that was released Thursday. Police searched Jefferson's apartment on Wednesday and seized 49 pairs of tennis shoes, including the ones he wore the night of the bar fight, police said.

Three other LSU players have been implicated -- linebacker Josh Johns, receiver Jarvis Landry and offensive tackle Chris Davenport.

If one fight's not enough, another story broke Thursday detailing an incident involving defensive end Sam Montgomery and quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney said he is pursuing charges against two men involved in a June 5 fight with Montgomery and Mettenberger in which a loaded gun was pointed at the players.

According to an LSU police report, Montgomery and Robert Davis, 31, got into a fight following an argument in the parking lot of the West Campus Apartments, and Davis’ friend, Marcus Adams, pulled out a gun. Mettenberger tried to intervene and Adams pointed the gun at him, the report says.

LSU coach Les Miles has conceded that preparations for the Sept. 3 Oregon game have been difficult. Difficult? How about bordering on impossible?

Even the most veteran football team would have a hard time maintaining its focus during such a firestorm of controversy. The Tigers are still a relatively young team, and Miles told me this summer that one of the things he still wanted to see from this team was for more leaders to develop.

Well, we're going to find out a lot more about that leadership over these next few weeks, not to mention how resilient the Tigers are.

They don't have to look far to find an example of how it's supposed to be done when the walls are supposedly crashing in around you.

The season opener a year ago saw a depleted North Carolina team come into Atlanta after most of the Tar Heels' best players had been suspended because of NCAA issues. The Tar Heels never blinked and played the Tigers down to the last play of the game, losing a 30-24 heartbreaker.

LSU could find itself in a similar position next week in Arlington, Texas.