What Will LSU Do Without Perrilloux?
LSU QB Ryan Perrilloux
LSU QB Ryan Perrilloux
Posted May 2, 2008

LSU lost its star quarterback, Ryan Perrilloux, after he was booted off the team. It was the last straw in the bizarre and rough era for the beleaguered star, but will LSU be better off without him?

Ryan Perrilloux Kicked Off LSU

What will the Tigers do now?

By Pete Fiutak

Back in the mid-1990s one of the hottest heavyweight boxers on the scene, back when there was a scene, was Andrew Golata. Big, tough, and with just enough talent to be on the cusp of stardom, he became known mostly for his bizarre self-destruction.

First he was disqualified in a 1996 fight with Riddick Bowe for delivering too many hits below the belt, even though he was well ahead on points and just had to get through the rest of the fight without screwing up. It was the same thing in the rematch as Golota was dominating Bowe only to get disqualified again for too many tags to the cheese and biscuits. It was almost as if Golata was purposefully trying to sabotage his own success.

Speaking of throwing it all away when it's all there for the taking, witness the sad and bizarre end to the Ryan Perrilloux era at LSU.

The ridiculously talented former LSU quarterback kept hitting Tiger fans, and the entire program, with a series of proverbial shots to the store. Some might call the Perrilloux situation a cry for help, and others might call Perrilloux a flat-out knucklehead. It might be a little bit of both, and LSU, its fans, and the coaches didn't have time to deal with him anymore.

After a series of warnings, suspensions, and other issues, Perrilloux was finally dismissed from the team after allegedly failing a drug test. That was the straw that finally broke the camel's back, and no one seems the least bit surprised.

From missing meetings to having academic issues to using a false ID to get into a casino to being linked with a strange counterfeiting investigation, among other issues, Perrilloux was more trouble than he was worth but was still given chance after chance after chance because of his first-round NFL talent.

At 6-3 and around 225 pounds with 4.5 speed and a big arm, he was the perfect mix of skills and abilities to become a special player to build a team around. A huge recruit for Texas, Perrilloux once said he was going to push Vince Young out of a job and was going to win four Heismans. As ridiculous and as brash as that might have sounded, he was just talented enough to make it seem remotely possible.

And then came the jilting of the Longhorns to stay near home at LSU, and he was allowed time to develop behind JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn. While always the No. 3 man in the mix, he was still considered to by some as the most talented all-around quarterback of the three, even though Russell possessed an all-timer of a right arm that would make him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft.

Perrilloux was given a shot to win the starting job last season, but the steady Flynn was a better choice for the ridiculously talented team with national title aspirations; a leader the team could go to war with was chosen over the uber-talent. Basically, the team couldn't count on Perrilloux for a full season with so much at stake.

Even so, just when the season was at its craziest, with rumors swirling around head coach Les Miles's seemingly certain departure for Michigan, Perrilloux turned into the team's steadiest player when he was needed the most. With Flynn injured, Perrilloux stepped in and  completed 20 of 30 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown with an interception to beat Tennessee in the SEC Championship which would eventually propel the Tigers into the national title game.

That was the Perrilloux everyone was waiting for. That was the cool, calm player who didn't make mistakes, did what he needed to do, and led the way to one of its biggest wins in school history. Instead of that being the turning point for a career and the springboard into 2008, it turned out to be yet another teaser in what will forever be known as a wasted opportunity.

LSU isn't going to go into the tank this season, but it's not going to be as good as last year and it could've used a superstar under center to be the difference maker against the better teams. Now the Tigers will continue on the path started this spring with redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee and junior Andrew Hatch, a transfer from Harvard, battling it out. Despite the addition-by-subtraction claim that'll be made by everyone around the team, it's still a downgrade.

When Perrilloux's suspension was just for spring ball, the Lee/Hatch derby was for the No. 2 job; Perrilloux was supposed to swoop in and be the main man once he came off his double secret probation. Now that fight is to lead a national title contender, and neither one is Perrilloux when it comes to skills.

Each player is limited. Hatch, a walk-on, has good size and mobility, but he'll have to work on his deeper throws and he'll have to prove he can be more than just a caretaker for the attack. Lee isn't all that big at 6-2 and 190 pounds, but he's a pro-style pocket passer who didn't always show good presence or comfort under pressure this spring. A fantastic athlete with a great arm, he has good upside, but LSU isn't going to win a national title this year because of him.

In other words, LSU isn't better off without Perrilloux. Oh sure, the common theme will be that Perrilloux was a distraction and that the offense will be better with a game manager rather than a star, but that's a pile of bull muffins. Idiocy and all, Perrilloux was a special player, and he still might be one for an FCS (that's D-IAA to you and me) team.

However, even though Perrilloux made the football team better, the program, as a whole, might be better off. It's never a positive to have a kid with so many problems as the face of the franchise. It's never a plus to have to worry about when the next embarrassment is going to come. It's also never a plus to lose an elite talent. At least Perrilloux won't have the LSU program to use as a punching bag anymore.