At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each of our national writers for their opinion about a specific topic from the past week.
TODAY'S QUESTION: Ryan Perrilloux will be playing football this fall, for Division I-AA Jacksonville State. Does this surprise you in any way?
No, I'm not surprised. For all of Perrilloux's character issues, there is no doubt he has talent - and talent almost always will get you another chance.
Even though Perrilloux was suspended three times, his transgressions were rather light compared to others we've seen in just the recent past. For example, he missed classes, team meetings and workouts and tried to get into a casino with a fake ID. Former Oklahoma quarterback Rhett Bomar illegally accepted cash for work he did not do. When OU coach Bob Stoops dismissed Bomar from the team, Division I-AA Sam Houston State was there to take him in. Chris Collins started at linebacker for 1½ seasons at Oklahoma State even though he was facing sexual assault charges, to which he ultimately pleaded guilty.
Perrilloux's former high school coach recently was quoted saying his phone was "ringing off the hook" from Division I-AA programs interested in the troubled quarterback. He could cause his new coach more headaches, but it's worth the risk.
It is no shock Perrilloux is continuing his career at I-AA Jacksonville State. He's a talented player with next-level skills who flashed moments of brilliance at LSU. There's no doubt he can develop into an NFL talent at the I-AA level. Joe Flacco is the most recent example of a great pro quarterback prospect from the I-AA ranks.
Also working in Perrilloux's favor: He'll be groomed by an offensive-minded coach in Jack Crowe.
But – and there's always a "but" – here's the problem: There is what they call a "geographic" solution to Perrilloux's problem, which is Perrilloux. Unless he has changed his personality – basically, how he lives his life and makes decisions – it doesn't matter where he goes. LSU bent over backward to try to make the marriage work, and Perrilloux still didn't care enough to make it work by cleaning up his act. What are the chances of his career at Jacksonville State ending positively? I say slim.
I'm somewhat surprised Perrilloux will not play for LSU. Kudos to Les Miles for making the tough call to dismiss his starting quarterback.
It's no surprise, though, that Perrilloux found a home, especially Jacksonville State. Perrilloux landed at a Division I-AA program with a history of signing former SEC players. Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe is plenty familiar with troubled quarterbacks after he dismissed last year's starter for a violation of team rules.
Meanwhile, Perrilloux gets a chance to revive his career out of the spotlight, which appeared to cause him trouble during his short LSU career.
I'm not surprised at all. Heck, if Perrilloux hadn't already redshirted, I bet he would've ended up at a Division I-A school.
He seems to be the type of player with a $1 million arm and a 10-cent head, but all that talent overrides everything. It didn't take long for I-AA coaches to contact him, and as it turned out, Perrilloux had four or five schools from which to choose.
Still, while I'm not surprised, it does give pause. Every coach thinks he's the right guy to help a "troubled" athlete, but it seems as if most of these troubled guys eventually just get into more trouble.
Maybe that won't be the case with Perrilloux, who should be a star at that level. If he is, he'll go to the NFL after one season at Jacksonville State. That means next year at this time, we'll be talking about what kind of shot Perrilloux has of succeeding in the NFL – and also talking about the superstar athlete from some other I-A program who is transferring to a I-AA program because of "issues" at his old school.
It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the next chapter of Perrilloux's career will unfold in the Division I-AA ranks with Jacksonville State. Perrilloux certainly has the talent to play for just about any big-time program. He proved it last year while leading LSU to a victory over Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. The problem is that he creates just as much noise off the field.
That he threw away a chance to quarterback the defending national champions probably turned off plenty of other big-time programs that otherwise would have loved to bring in someone so talented. And this also is probably the best situation for Perrilloux, assuming his main interest is getting to the NFL as quickly as possible. If he had transferred to a Division I-A program, Perrilloux would have been forced to sit out a year. Moving to a Division I-AA school allows him to play immediately and enter the NFL Draft at the end of the season if he performs well.
And it's not such a long shot that Perrilloux could make the transition from I-AA to the NFL. Dallas' Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois), Minnesota's Tarvaris Jackson (Alabama State) and Miami's Josh McCown (Sam Houston State) already have proved you don't have to play big-time college football to make it as an NFL starting quarterback. The trend continued this year when the Baltimore Ravens drafted Delaware's Joe Flacco in the first round.
Perrilloux has squandered a huge opportunity thus far in his college career, but if learns from his mistakes and has a huge season at Jacksonville State, he still has a chance to live up to his promise.