How LSU fans should react to reported NCAA Will Wade investigation

LSU football is in the news every day, and  the Bayou Bengal Briefing is here to keep you updated with the latest headlines five mornings a week. Join us every Monday through Friday for the biggest news on Tigers football, recruiting, baseball and more. Enjoy!

Big-time news on basketball front

Yahoo Sports reporter Pete Thamel released a bombshell report on Sunday evening, detailing NCAA interest into LSU basketball coach Will Wade’s recruiting tactics. Naturally, this caused quite the stir in the LSU community. But let’s look at the details of the report and break down what it’s really saying.

First, let’s focus on the most important turn of phrase. Three paragraphs into the piece, Thamel writes “…  the inquiry has stalled because of a lack of on-the-record specifics about Wade’s recruiting, according to a source.” This is huge. In layman’s terms, the report seems to say the NCAA lacks concrete evidence. Without any evidence, the investigation is just that. An investigation.

But let’s not get caught up in that detail. There’s plenty of other information in the article to dissect. Such as the idea that the investigation is in its “exploratory and information gathering” phase. Which means if there was any evidence, the NCAA likely wouldn’t disclose it. It’s not smart to start punishing before you have all the information.

Furthermore, there’s athletic director Joe Alleva’s comment. Alleva claims neither he nor his staff has heard anything from the NCAA about the investigation. Assuming Alleva is correct, it seems the NCAA must be pretty early in its investigation and may not have found anything worth bringing up to LSU.

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Of course, a lot of this in conjecture. But so too, in a lot of ways, seems to be the NCAA’s inquiry. The most telling piece of information in the report is where Thamel wrote, “ Wade’s early recruiting activity at LSU prompted the NCAA enforcement interest.” Wade is drawing suspicion because he’s achieving success on the recruiting trail early in his tenure. LSU’s 2018 recruiting class ranks No. 3 in the nation according to 247Sports, behind Duke and Oregon, and attracted 5-star prospects Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams.

You can’t fault the NCAA for being suspicious of this success. 2018 will be LSU basketball’s first top 3 recruiting finish since 2003, and that includes the year the Tigers signed Ben Simmons. Recruiting success doesn’t usually come this quickly without absurd overachieving results. It’s the NCAA’s job to be curious, and this investigation matches that.

So, let’s not be too quick to write this off as an overreaction to the NCAA’s multitude of budding scandals. But let’s also not conflate investigation with evidence. Wade isn’t going to be fired Tuesday. The season isn’t going to be canceled. Without hard evidence, nothing will happen. But that doesn’t mean evidence won’t come.

The LSU basketball team is scheduled to hold a press availability conference Monday afternoon. Stay posted to SEC Country for more updates on the situation.

Checking in with the ‘croots

From recruiting news that isn’t verified to recruiting news that is verified, let’s check in with what SEC Country’s LSU recruiting guru Sam Spiegelman had to say from The Opening in Houston last weekend and beyond. In case you missed any of it, here are his best entries:

Mark your calendars

Over the next week, your timelines and newsfeeds will be inundated with content from the 2018 NFL Combine, an annual gathering of the best NFL draft prospects in the name of televised exercising. It’s a circus of coaches, scouts, agents and media all jockeying for attention, and, in a way, it’s beautiful.

LSU sends 10 players to the combine this year: Quarterback Danny Etling; running backs Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams; wide receiver DJ Chark; offensive linemen Will Clapp, Toby Weathersby and K.J. Malone; edge rusher Arden Key; and cornerbacks Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II. As such, there’ll be plenty of LSU news coming out of Indianapolis.

All eyes will be on Key, who’ll be making his first major public appearance since his leave of absence from LSU last spring and his lackluster season last fall. As SEC Country’s Alex Hickey wrote Sunday, Key has as much to prove as anyone at the combine. Perhaps more.

The first wave of players will arrive on Tuesday, with workouts beginning on Friday. Check back to SEC Country throughout the week for all the NFL combine updates you’ll ever need. And more.

In LSU baseball news

The LSU baseball team took two out of three games from the No. 14 Texas Longhorns last weekend, proving once again that this team can hit. In the Tigers’ two wins they scored 23 runs, including a 10-5 win Saturday where the Tigers scored 10 unanswered runs to come back from a 5-0 deficit.

Of course, the biggest headline from the weekend belonged to senior Beau Jordan, who was ejected in the fifth inning of the win Saturday for flipping the bird to Texas pitcher Chase Shugart. But let’s not get lost in the hitting supremacy or the gesturing theatrics. There’s also the minor detail of LSU’s starting pitchers posting an 11.47 ERA through the first seven games of the season.

There’s plenty to talk about with LSU baseball. For expanded details on all this and more, check out my weekly LSU baseball column, Out of The Box, published at noon ET every Monday on SEC Country.

Your weekly non-revenue LSU sports recap

What else happened in LSU athletics this weekend? Here’s a recap:

  • The LSU gymnastics team clinched at least a share of the regular season SEC championship on Friday with a road win over the Georgia Bulldogs. The win improved the Tigers to 6-0 in SEC play and 12-1 on the year.
  • Women’s basketball finished off its 2018 regular season with a 79-78 overtime victory over Alabama. LSU finished the regular season with a 19-8 record and an 11-5 mark in SEC play, placing the Tigers as the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament. The Tigers will face either Texas A&M, Vanderbilt or Arkansas in the third round of the tournament on Friday.
  • Softball couldn’t stay undefeated through the weekend, dropping two out of four games. The Tigers defeated Nevada on Friday and Fresno State on Saturday, but lost to UCLA on Saturday and Oregon on Sunday. LSU is 14-2 on the year.
  • Beach volleyball won two out of three matches in its season-opening tournament, defeating Grand Canyon and Nebraska but losing to Pepperdine.
  • Mikiah Brisco and Aleia Hobbs finished first and second in the 60-meter dash at the 2018 SEC Indoor Track Championships. As a team, LSU finished sixth.

Today in made-up holidays

According to the folks at NationalDayCalendar.com, Feb. 26 is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. So, whether you prefer your tall tales from the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen, be sure to hop up on a box and tell your tale Monday.

And if you don’t have a favorite fairy tale, you can do what I do: Borrow one from Scrubs.

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every one of SEC Country’s daily LSU football columns  right here.

The post How LSU fans should react to reported NCAA Will Wade investigation appeared first on SEC Country.

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