Michael Luke / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS – With few storylines besides Alabama’s domination of LSU in the BCS title game, national attention has shifted to Bobby Hebert’s grilling of Les Miles at the post-game press conference.
Hebert, whose son, T-Bob Hebert, is a senior offensive lineman for the Tigers, led off the questions to Miles, venting and voicing the frustrations that many LSU fans felt after the game to the Tigers head coach as to why Jarrett Lee wasn’t given an opportunity to play quarterback, especially as Jordan Jefferson continued to flounder throughout the game.
In addition to having his son on the Tigers squad, Hebert, a former New Orleans Saint, works for WWL Radio as a sports commentator and on-air personality.
The video quickly went viral after the game and landed on the N.Y. Times, USA Today, Yahoo!, CBS NEWS and dozens of sports blogs. A transcript of the interaction:
HEBERT: Coach, did you ever consider bringing in Jarrett Lee, considering that you weren't taking any chances on the field? Now, I know Alabama's defense is dominant. But, come on, that's ridiculous, five first downs. I mean, so it's almost an approach, I'll tell from you the fans' standpoint, that how can you not maybe push the ball down the field and bring in Jarrett Lee? So what if you get a pick six. It seems like the game plan that‑‑ not pushing the ball down the field, considering it's like a Rueben Randle or Odell Beckham, Jr. I know the pass rush of Alabama, but there's no reason why in five first downs‑‑ you have a great defense, LSU is a great defense, but that's ridiculous.
THE MODERATOR: Do you have a question?
HEBERT: That's the question. Do you think you should have pushed the football more down field?
COACH MILES: I think if you watch our calls that we did throw the football down the field. We didn't necessarily get the football down the field.
And I can tell you that the pass rush‑‑ we did consider Jarrett Lee. But we felt like with the pass rush that we were getting that we needed a guy that could move the seat and not sustain that pass rush.
Reactions to Hebert's question to Miles varied.
Greg Bishop from the N.Y. Times wrote: "In the often mundane world of post-event news conferences, where coaches spew clichés and reporters worry about deadlines, this rant, in all its fan-like anger – from a broadcaster to the man who coached his son – registered somewhere near the level of “bombshell,” as the room fell silent and faces filled with shock."
With post-game press conferences intended to objective, Bishop wondered if Hebert crossed, or at least, blurred the line between fan and journalist, especially with his son as a participant in the championship and then cited previous incidents, including one where Hebert was seen cheering in the press box for the Saints.
"In the press room after the game, talk of Hebert’s lack of decorum dominated conversation more than Alabama’s transcendent championship performance," said Bishop.
Ben Maller from Yahoo! Sports, however, saw Hebert doing the frustrated LSU fan justice.
"Admit it -- if you are a Louisiana State football fan, you were pulling your hair out as quarterback Jordan Jefferson failed time and time again to move the chains in Monday's BCS Championship game. You would have loved to quiz head coach Les Miles about his gameplan and how he didn't at least give backup QB Jarrett Lee a chance," he wrote.
"Well someone in the media had the courage to do just that, and it just happened to be the father of an LSU player."
Where Bishop saw a blurring of a line, Maller saw something totally different during the press conference, Hebert shaking up the traditional press conference that have "become so soft in tone."
For Matt Hinton of Dr. Saturday, a college football blog for Yahoo!, the post-game presser was "just Hebert bein' Hebert, baby." Hinton just like Maller thought Hebert was right on asking the rambling rant to Miles, and just like Hebert, Hinton saw Miles' insistence to stick with Jefferson "ridiculous."
"Hebert is frequently accused of sounding like a random fan off the street after he's had a few too many, which (except for the "random" part) is basically what he is. It's also why he's No. 1: While the rest of the press observes decorum and gropes for words and saves its savagery for the page/screen, Hebert stood up and said exactly what every LSU fan was thinking to the head coach's face, exactly the way they'd say it, even if it meant making himself look a little ridiculous in the process. In this case, I guess you could say ridiculous recognize ridiculous.
A perfect season in shambles at the hands of the archrival, Hebert's rant struck a chord with the frustrated LSU fans that are licking their wounds this morning because, as WWLTV.com sports writer Bradley Handwerger wrote, "Lee might not have changed the game. But by putting him in, you leave no doubt that you tried everything."