Sport is supposed to build character, but college sport often puts winning above sportsmanship or ethics. So it’s encouraging to see a big-time coach put character first. It’s especially encouraging when the stakes are huge.
LSU’s Tigers are undefeated at 7-0, and ranked #1 in the nation. Tomorrow they play improving and dangerous Auburn. LSU needs a win to preserve their path to the national championship.
LSU’s chances dropped a notch Wednesday when Coach Les Miles suspended three key players, reportedly for drug violations. The three included two considered the Tigers’ most valuable: cornerback and Heisman Trophy contender Tyrann Mathieu (six forced turnovers, including two returned for touchdowns), and star running back Spencer Ware (512 yards and six touchdowns). Defensive back Tharoid Simon (one interception and 29 tackles) was also suspended. The suspensions are for at least one game; if Miles extends them it could be devastating to the Tigers since their next game is at Alabama, ranked #2 in the nation.
Miles has been criticized for failing to control his players, but he deserves a lot of credit for putting character above winning. I don’t know whether to root for LSU to win to show that ethics pays off; or to root for them to lose to demonstrate just how much coach Miles put at risk to enforce LSU’s rules of behavior.
In any case, Coach Miles gets a Chip Kelly Award for putting character above winning.
*Chip Kelly, Oregon Ducks football coach, suspended his star running back for poor sportsmanship right after Kelly’s first game as Ducks coach