LSU running back Stevan Ridley may be forced to miss the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M because of an academic violation.
Coach Les Miles, who discussed Ridley's status after the Tigers completed pre-Christmas workouts on Wednesday, said LSU is appealing to the NCAA in hopes that Ridley, who is currently ineligible, can be reinstated before LSU (10-2) meets the Aggies (9-3) in Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 7.
"This was a one-time incident," said Miles, who declined to get into specifics. "The school has been compliant. Ridley has been compliant. We are appealing it. We are making our case."
Ridley led LSU with 1,042 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns during the regular season. He is still practicing with the team. Players were not available to speak with reporters on Wednesday, but Ridley released a written statement through LSU.
"While I question (the NCAA's) findings and think that the punishment is harsh, I did put myself in a compromising position that I deeply regret," read Ridley's statement. "I have the full support of the LSU administration and coaching staff, and trust them in assisting me with the appeals process.
"I hold myself to a very high standard for my performance both on and off the field. I know that my family, teammates, coaches, friends and fans share that standard, and I regret that we find ourselves facing this dilemma at this time."
Miles said there was not yet a clear time frame for when the NCAA will hear the school's appeal or rule on Ridley.
Ridley's 1,000-yard season was the 13th in school history. Ridley has one more season of eligibility remaining, although he has talked about possibly entering the 2011 NFL draft.
If Ridley is unable to play in the Cotton Bowl, redshirt freshman Michael Ford and senior Richard Murphy would move to the top of the running back rotation. During the regular season, Ford rushed for 235 yards on 41 carries and Murphy picked up 82 yards on 23 attempts.
Alfred Blue and Spencer Ware, two true freshmen, could also get some carries in the Cotton Bowl. Blue ran for 101 yards on 20 carries, while Ware gained 73 yards on 14 attempts in the regular season.
Meanwhile, junior college quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who signed with LSU last week, has not yet joined the Tigers for practice as hoped because he is still going through the admissions process as a midyear transfer student.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Mettenberger attended Butler (Kan.) Community College after being dismissed from Georgia last spring for violating team rules. He is expected to enroll at LSU in January and take part in offseason workouts and spring practice, when he'll get a chance to compete with Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee for the starting job.
LSU ranked last in the Southeastern Conference in passing this season with 155.4 yards per game.
The Tigers will now get a four-day holiday break before resuming practice on Monday. LSU will practice four times on campus before leaving for Dallas on New Year's Day.
"We had a long practice (Tuesday) and another good one" on Wednesday, Miles said. "We have a lot of work to do when we get back. I think we're in position to play well in this game."