LSU looked into several options to avoid Maason Smith serving his suspension against the Seminoles.
LSU will be without one of its top defensive players in the season opener against Florida State in Maason Smith, who is making his return from injury but will serve a suspension for receiving improper benefits relating to an autograph signing in July 2021.
It’s not ideal for the Tigers, and according to a report from Yahoo! Sports’ Ross Dellenger, it’s an outcome the team tried ardently to avoid.
Coach Brian Kelly told Dellenger that LSU looked into scheduling an opponent for Week 0 so Smith could serve his suspension for that game rather than the top-10 contest against the Seminoles.
“We looked at all the options out there, certainly, and wanted to make sure that we examined everything that was possible,” Kelly said. “We looked at everything. We looked at a Week 0 game to bring in another opponent prior to Florida State. We looked at every imaginable option, but time ran out.
“We have enough people that looked at it from an NCAA and legal perspective, and there’s nothing in the bylaws about a grandfather rule. Once it came down, we were looking if we could pick the game [in which to use the suspension]. Is there an option to do that? A lot of those appeals were exhausted, and we were left with the eventual one-game suspension.”
Smith’s misconduct came just weeks before the advent of name, image and likeness rights, but it seems he was not able to be grandfathered in, as Kelly implies the school hoped he would.
A former five-star, Smith showed impressive flashes as a true freshman in 2021 and entered last fall with high expectations. Unfortunately, his season ended almost as soon as it started as he suffered a torn ACL against Florida State on the first drive of the season while celebating.
Without Smith, the Tigers will likely rely on a veteran in Jacobian Guillory, as well as West Virginia transfer Jordan Jefferson.
“The appeals didn’t turn out in our favor, and we are going to abide by the ruling,” Kelly said. “We accept the ruling. We’re going to move on and get ready for Florida State.
“Maason is a guy who impacts the game. You’ve got to have other guys step up. We feel like Guillory is a guy ready to step up for us. Jefferson is going to be counted on to play a bigger role for us.”
Smith will make his long-awaited return to the field in Week 2 when LSU opens up its home slate against Grambling.