LSU's Lee watches as Jefferson struggles vs 'Bama

LSU's Lee watches as Jefferson struggles vs 'Bama

Published Jan. 10, 2012 9:44 a.m. ET

Jarrett Lee will go down in LSU annals as going 9-0 as a starter in his senior year and, perhaps more remarkably, never complaining publicly about the way he was marginalized after the starting job was returned to Jordan Jefferson.

''It's just been a crazy ride but I don't regret it at all,'' Lee said after not playing a snap in LSU's 21-0 loss to Alabama in Monday night's BCS title game. ''It's made me a better player, a better person. So I really enjoyed it. ... It's been special. I met some special people here.''

Through his first eight games, Lee led the SEC in quarterback efficiency, completing 63 percent of his passes for 1,250 yards and 13 TDs against one interception.

After he threw two interceptions at Alabama on Nov. 5, he was pulled for Jefferson, who did just well enough to help LSU take a 9-6 overtime win in that first meeting.


After that, Lee hardly played again beyond handing off or taking knees when games were out of reach. His final numbers were 1,306 yards passing and 14 TDs against three interceptions. His final completion percentage was slightly above 62 percent.

Lee stood near coach Les Miles in the BCS title game while Jefferson struggled. LSU threw for only 53 yards and Jefferson was sacked four times and intercepted once.

Even Alabama safety Mark Barron was surprised the Tigers never made a change.

''I feel like Jefferson couldn't get too much going, so they might try Jarrett,'' Barron said. ''It was kind of shocking. But we knew coming in that Jefferson was the starter.''

Lee said he never had an indication of how close he was to getting a chance to play.

''Not sure. I didn't really hear what was going on on the headphones or anything like that, but I was trying to stay prepared, so whenever my name was called, I was ready to go,'' Lee said.

''We had a special season so it's tough to see it go down like this - a special group of guys, special seniors,'' Lee continued. ''Give credit to Alabama. They came in and did a great job.''

Miles said he did consider playing Lee, ''but we felt like with the pass rush that we were getting, that we needed a guy that could move his feet.''

When the game was over, Lee had nothing to lose if he wanted to finally admit that he was bitter about how his career wound down, but he declined yet another opportunity to do so.

''I love this team, so that's part of it,'' he said before repeating. ''No regrets.''


HEBERT'S RANT: Former Saints quarterback turned New Orleans radio show host Bobby Hebert wasn't happy with LSU's offensive game plan against Alabama and he let coach Les Miles know about it.

During the postgame news conference, Hebert, whose son T-Bob is an offensive lineman for the Tigers who lost his starting job during the season, asked a long-winded question - of sorts - to Miles.

''Coach Miles, did you ever consider bringing in Jarrett Lee considering that you weren't taking any chances down the field,'' Hebert started, but was far from done. ''Now, I know Alabama's defense is dominant. But come on. That's ridiculous - five first downs. It's almost the approach - I'll tell you from the fans' standpoint that how could you not maybe push the ball down the field and bring in Jarrett Lee. So what if you gave up a pick-six. It seems like the game plan, y'all were not pushing the ball down field but ... passes like to a Reuben Randle or Odell Beckham Jr. I know the pass rushing of Alabama. There's no reason why five first downs. They're a great defense. But that's ridiculous.''

At that point the moderator asked: `Do you have a question?

Hebert responded, ''No. that's the question. DO you think you should have pushed the football more down the field?

Miles said he and his coaches thought Lee's lack of mobility was a bad matchup for Alabama's pass rush.

Hebert played for the Saints 1985-92 and played in college at Northwestern State in Louisiana.


MILES' MISSED MONEY: Les Miles wound up one victory short of a hefty pay raise.

The LSU coach already has a lucrative contract that pays him about $3.75 million a year and that runs through the 2017 season, thanks to a three-year extension he received last January.

Clearly, he won't be hurting for cash.

But he did miss out on a salary increase of nearly $1 million.

If he wins the BCS title game Miles' contract calls for him to be paid $1,000 more than the highest-paid coach at a public institution in the Southeastern Conference. Heading into the BCS title game, that was Alabama's Nick Saban, who earns around $4.7 million annually.

After Miles' salary rose to its currently level following LSU's last national title in the 2007-08 season, Miles spoke of being embarrassed by the multimillion dollar annual salary he receives for being a college football coach.

So one might say that Saban's team spared Miles additional embarrassment.


HEALING TIDE: Nick Saban believes the Crimson Tide's victory over LSU on Monday night will give hope to those still rebuilding their lives after a tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa in April.

The storm was part of a larger outbreak of turbulent weather over a span three days that spawned more than 350 tornados, killed more than 300 people and caused an estimated $11 billion in damage.

''I'm so happy and proud of our players, our folks, the people in our community who have been through so much with the tornado,'' Saban said. ''I hope this lifts their spirits.''

Among those who died was Ashley Harrison, the girlfriend of long snapper Carson Tinker. The two had taken shelter in a closet when the storm hit. The entire house was wiped off the foundation.

Harrison's family attended the game, and Tinker called the victory ''a dream come true.''


A-MAZE-ING RETURN: Marquis Maze made the first big play of the BCS championship, a 49-yard punt return that set up Alabama's first points in a 21-0 victory against LSU on Monday.

It was also the last play for the Crimson Tide's leading receiver.

Maze limped off with a left hamstring injury in the first quarter. He returned to the sideline later in the game, but never set foot back on the field - at least, until the Crimson Tide was celebrating a 21-0 victory and another national championship.

Until Maze broke loose, LSU punter Brad Wing had allowed just 17 punts to be returned all year - for a whopping 6 yards.


BOWL RECORDS: The all-SEC matchup ensured a conference team lost a BCS title game for the first time after eight perfect appearances. And with nine BCS championships, the SEC has more titles in the 14-year history of the title game than all the other conferences combined.

The SEC's overall record in BCS games is 16-7, giving it the most overall victories and second-best percentage at .696. The Mountain West has the best winning percentage at .750. The Big Ten has the second-most total BCS victories at 12, to go with 13 losses.

This bowl season will end with Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference having the best winning percentage at .800. Both finished 4-1. The Big 12 was next at 6-2 (.750) and the SEC at 6-3.

The Western Athletic Conference was shutout in the bowls this season going 0-3. The Atlantic Coast Conference also had a bad bowl year, going 2-6 (.333), including 0-2 in the BCS games.

The ACC, which had two BCS teams for the first time, dropped to 2-13 all-time in BCS games.


AP Sports Writers Ralph D. Russo and Brett Martel contributed to this report.