Harris: Optimism for Jeremy Hill's status is off the mark

LSU running back Jeremy Hill rushes past Ole Miss defensive back Trae Elston on a 27-yard touchdown carry during the first half of their game in Baton Rouge on Nov. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Show caption
LSU running back Jeremy Hill rushes past Ole Miss defensive back Trae Elston on a 27-yard touchdown carry during the first half of their game in Baton Rouge on Nov. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Forgive a segment of LSU’s fan base for its reaction Monday afternoon upon hearing running back Jeremy Hill was handcuffed with a curfew as an extra condition of probation by a state district judge after his involvement in an off-campus bar fight in Tigerland.

You would have assumed it vaguely resembled a teenager learning he could still fire up the ignition on the hand-me-down Toyota Corolla.

Frankly, that sliver of Tigers fans missed the bigger picture: The odds of Hill toting carries and gashing defenses in Death Valley absorbed a big blow.

Assistant District Attorney Sue Bernie’s couched intent to file a motion revoking the sophomore’s two-year probation, stemming from a guilty plea as a Redemptorist High senior to misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile, ultimately could spell an end to Hill’s time in the LSU backfield.

And the curfew, which is between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and runs until January, already was a steep impediment.

Let’s outline two scenarios for how this ends poorly:

  • Bernie doesn’t file a motion, or District Judge Bonnie Jackson denies it but Hill’s curfew stipulations remain.

Marci Blaize, Hill’s attorney, could file a waiver for exceptions to allow Hill to play. But Jackson might not be keen on granting the request. Why? She tacked on two additional conditions to Hill’s probation, including evaluation for substance abuse — a hint she isn’t pleased with Hill egregiously botching his second chance.

So if Hill can’t take part in the full array of team activities and his availability is limited, it’s hard to see coach Les Miles threading a logistical and public relations needle to keep him.

  • A motion is granted to revoke Hill’s probation.

Hill heads to jail, with a maximum term of six months. Even if he gets a shorter term — for example, three months — he still misses team activities.

After his release, the misdemeanor charge for simple battery still needs to be adjudicated. District Attorney Hillar Moore III hasn’t filed formal charges, but a grand jury could indict Hill, or Moore’s office could take the step. Right now, Hill is suspended indefinitely, and it’s hard to see that status changing until the legal issues are resolved.

Sure, there are other permutations favorable for LSU fans. Yet the officials who ultimately decide Hill’s fate don’t appear partial to fulfilling those hopes.

Barely 16 months ago, Hill got a fantastic deal when he avoided a felony charge and got a relatively easy set of probation conditions. In reality, Bernie and Jackson had one stipulation as a bright line: Don’t run afoul of the police.

Hill failed, and the details — so far, at least — make it appear brazen: out at 2 a.m. in a bar fight caught on camera, one where Hill high-fived fellow suspect Robert Bayardo afterward.

My bet: Ultimately, Bernie tries to revoke probation, and Jackson is inclined to agree.

At that point, Miles’ hand might be forced. And optimism is dealt a cruel slap across the jaw.