Les Miles wants you to know: He didn't do this. If it were up to him, running back Jeremy Hill -- who has pleaded guilty to a pair of despicable crimes -- would not be back with the LSU football team.
But Les put it up to a vote. He put the future of Jeremy Hill into the hands of Jeremy Hill's teammates. You're not going to believe this, but those big-hearted LSU teammates decided to give Hill a third chance to stop being a vicious predator.
"He was not going to be invited back to practice, had they not voted to have him back," Miles said Monday afternoon. "I wanted them to have the right to express themselves in a vote, and they did."
See Les shrug.
But really, what can Les do? He's only the head coach. Just a dandelion, blowing in the breeze. It's the 19- and 20-year-olds who make the decisions at LSU, and the kids have decided: Jeremy Hill, the best running back on the team, can stay on the team.
This is new territory for Miles, who honored his scholarship offer to Hill out of high school even after Hill pleaded guilty to having "carnal knowledge" of an underage girl. What does having "carnal knowledge" mean? According to the Baton Rouge police department, it means Hill -- when he was a 6-foot-1, 220-pound high school senior -- pressured a 14-year-old girl to perform oral sex on him and a buddy in a school locker room. Jeremy Hill was 18, and huge, and he had a friend with him. She was 14 ... and alone.
Les to Jeremy Hill: Here's your scholarship, but don't do that again!
In July, Hill pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery. What does that mean? According to the video that we all saw, it means Hill snuck up behind a guy outside a bar, came at him from the side and threw a running haymaker into the defenseless guy's face. Then laughed about it. And high-fived a friend.
Les to Jeremy Hill: Unless your buddies vote you off the team, you can keep your scholarship. But don't do that again!
Embarrassing -- and expected. You could see this coming in July, when Hill pleaded guilty and LSU announced it would decide Hill's long-term playing status after the courts decided whether Hill's second guilty plea violated the probation from his first one. In other words: If he's not behind bars, he can represent LSU.
And Jeremy Hill wasn't going to prison. Not standing before another judge, just like the time he was in trouble in high school, who graduated from LSU.
But District Court Judge Bonnie Jackson did more on Monday than keep Hill out of prison. She made sure his evening curfew had an allowance for the handful of times that LSU plays at night.
The courts, Les Miles said, "have spoken very strongly to Jeremy Hill."
Yes they have.
Go win us some football games!
If the judge wants Jeremy Hill to play tailback for LSU, and if his teammates want Jeremy Hill to play tailback for LSU, who is Les Miles to stand in the way?
He's nobody to stand in the way. So when the judge announced Monday that Jeremy Hill would avoid prison, Miles did more than reveal his plan to allow Hill, some day in the future, to rejoin the team.
Miles reinstated him immediately.
It's so awful, it's kind of funny. And while we knew this day was coming, we didn't know it would be quite like this. With Les Miles unable to muster the guts to say, "I did this."
Miles ducked behind his players, using them as a human shield, and left it up to them. Gamble? That was no gamble. They had a vote, but Miles knew what the result would be before he even looked at the ballot box. Still, he counted the votes. And guess what?
"It was a unanimous (vote)," he said.
Miles alluded to more punishment coming for Jeremy Hill. He said it would be "internal" but that it's none of our business.
"The guy's a good college student, good person really -- not a guy that has had constant bad behavior," Miles said. "Obviously (he) has had a lack of judgment and bad behavior in two instances but the reality is we all see him around here as a pretty good person."
Jeremy Hill issued a brief statement Monday apologizing to his teammates, and then to the community. He never apologized to the kid he blindsided with a punch before walking away with a laugh. He referred to that whole thing as "a poor choice in judgment," and let it go at that.
That's LSU's star tailback. A good person, really. And Les Miles is going to see the good in Jeremy Hill.
Said Miles: "We're going to see the whole person."
No you're not.