FORT WORTH, Texas — IT IS NOT much of a stretch to suggest that one of TCU coach Gary Patterson’s most devoted objectives — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — is to refrain from saying or doing anything publicly that would rile the hackles of an opposing team.
Patterson, at times, can be as old-school as they come. Which is why I was taken aback when I saw a Fox Sports headline on the Internet that read, “Patterson jabs Miles on team vote.”
Another headline, this one in USA Today, read, “Gary Patterson: Jeremy Hill’s return to LSU ‘doesn’t teach life lessons,’ even though writer Glenn Guilbeau’s story said no such thing.
A Sports Illustrated Web article, meanwhile, said that the LSU running back “was reinstated to the team by his teammates.” Again, a factual error.
But it was too late. The alleged feud — Patterson vs. Les Miles, LSU coach — had inflamed the Internet. By Thursday afternoon, what Patterson supposedly said about LSU and Miles was all over the ESPN fan-boy shows.
And Patterson was on the phone with his agent, George Bass — who happens to be Miles’ agent as well — asking him to please send the LSU coach a transcript of Wednesday’s remarks, so that Miles could see “what really was said.”
“Here’s the thing,” Patterson said later. “I know what I said. I saw the transcript.
“I didn’t mention Jeremy Hill. I didn’t mention Les Miles.”
Patterson explained that he was asked whether he would consider letting his players vote to reinstate his own suspended player, Devonte Fields.
No, he wouldn’t, Patterson said, because, “That doesn’t teach life lessons.”
Did Patterson even know what the team vote at LSU was about, he was asked Thursday?
“I don’t really care,” he interrupted. “It’s none of my business.
“I was responding to a question about my own player.”
Hill, now a sophomore, was LSU’s leading ball carrier a year ago with 755 yards and 12 touchdowns. A Baton Rouge judge extended Hill’s probation this week and sentenced him to 40 hours of community service on a charge of misdemeanor battery.
That was enough for Miles to reinstate Hill. But first he had Hill apologize to the team and asked them to vote on whether they thought the sophomore should be allowed to return.
“His teammates sat there very quietly and listened,” Miles told reporters in Baton Rouge. “There was some interplay in conversation, but they voted to have him back. And he was not going to be invited back to practice had they not invited him or voted to have him back.
“He owes this school and this team — this community — his best behavior. I think he’ll have further punishment. It will be internal. It will be comprehensive. We’ll bring him back to practice. We’re not certain about the further punishment, but there will be some.”
Before the alleged response from Patterson, observers in Louisiana expected Hill to be suspended for at least the season opener against TCU.
Now, they’re not so sure. Miles has a history of disciplining key players, from quarterbacks Ryan Perrilloux and Jordan Jefferson to Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu. Suspending Hill now could be viewed as capitulating to media reports.
“As you guys know, I’m not Babe Ruth,” Patterson said. “I don’t point at fences. Most of the time, I play below the water.
“Anybody that knows me knows that’s way outside of character, so why would I do it now? Why would I call out the Tigers? They don’t need any more help.”