LSU running back Jeremy Hill was reinstated to the team after serving a suspension from a bar fight back in April, as Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune reports. Hill recently had his probation extended instead of facing jail time, and head coach Les Miles informed the media Monday that Hill was allowed back on the team following a vote by his teammates, as the NOLA.com video shows.
Of course, the collegiate landscape responded in a big way, with many echoing Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel's opinion on a team vote determining whether a player returns.
The major point here is that in the long run, the coach is who gets scored for the program's discipline situation. After spending so much time seeing Urban Meyer and his discipline policies scrutinized, it stands to reason that Miles is squarely in the spotlight following a move many people find egregious.
Which brings us to the crux of the issue: a coach battling between throwing a kid away and reinstating a player who committed a very serious offense. For bystanders, what seems like a no-brainer decision becomes something more complex. While all the national talk revolves around winning being the central reason, ignoring the locker room only serves to ignore why a coach lets his players have a say.
Simply put, those guys doing the voting have to live with, work with and rely on Jeremy Hill. They have to be comfortable with him not only doing his job on the field but respecting them in the locker room everyday.
That means believing in Jeremy Hill—not just as a running back, but as a person. It means believing he has learned a lesson during his time away from the team. It means believing he will do everything he needs to do to earn back his good standing and stay out of trouble.
Per The Times-Picayune report, Miles explained how it went down:
He stood in front of his teammates and discussed this in depth, and talked to them in a way that would say "this is what you don't do and why you don't do it," and "I'm sorry." His teammates sat there very quietly and listened. They voted to have him back.
He owes this school, this team this community his best behavior. He'll have further punishment. It will be internal and comprehensive, but we're going to see the whole person.
As Miles suggested, reinstatement is not the same as Hill getting off scot-free. The running back will face team discipline, which will likely include community service and possible game suspensions.
There will be those who disagree with what Les Miles decided to do. The video that showed Hill's sucker punch, available at Sporting News, made the decision an easy one for plenty of outsiders.
While many do not agree with the reinstatement, the need to ask teammates about playing with Hill again does make some sense—especially given the chemistry a locker room must have in order to work both on and off the field.