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Character Issues Are Part of the Game

By on August 27th, 2012 in Uncategorized 18 Comments »

​By Jay Coulter (jccoulter@gmail.com) on August 27, 2012

Birmingham News
columnist Kevin Scarbinsky’s scathing article on Auburn football yesterday is
getting a lot of attention as Gene Chizik prepares for his fourth season on the
Plains.

Scarbinsky brings into question the rash of off-field
incidents that have plagued Auburn over the last year or so. With the weekend
suspension of Auburn starting center Reese Dismukes, Scarbinsky points to a
pattern of trouble dating back to the armed robbery involving four former
Auburn players in March 2011.

Is the story fair or just another hatchet job by an
Alabama-leaning state media?

Unlike his Birmingham counterpart Paul Finebaum, who’s more
circus promoter than journalist, I’ve always found Scarbinsky to be fair. Sure
he’s controversial, that’s what sells newspaper; but he doesn’t seem to have a vendetta
against Auburn like Finebaum.

Is Auburn’s off-field problems typical of a program that now
annually bring in Top 10 recruiting classes? The answer is yes. Like it or not,
football is a violent game played by kids who were not chauffeured around to
tennis camp in there mama’s Mercedes.

“It’s
one thing to lose five games on either side of a national championship season,
with another handful of defeats a distinct possibility this season,” writes
Scarbinsky. “It’s far more suspect in a head coach’s fourth year on the job to
lose player after player to suspension or dismissal.

Is that really true?

Former Florida coach Urban Meyer saw close to 30 players
arrested on the way to two national championships in three years while in
Gainesville.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier famously mocked Georgia last
month by saying he was disappointed the Gamecocks would not be playing Mark
Richt’s team in early September anymore, because they were always good for a couple
of player suspensions.

Just yesterday, Notre Dame announced the suspension of
starting running back Cierre Wood and defensive end Justin Utupo for its opener
against Navy. And what about the Honey Badger at LSU? Are the same questions being asked about Les Miles?

Show me a successful program and I’ll show you off-field
issues – even at Alabama where the state media does everything it can to
protect the Alabama brand.

When you look at the rap sheets of some of these former
players, it’s understandably disturbing. Armed robbery, drugs, public
intoxication – that’s not exactly the kind of people you’d want your daughter
or son hanging around.

You can’t defend their actions.

At the same time, you can’t blame Gene Chizik. In a business
where a national title two seasons ago guarantees you nothing today, coaches
must recruit the best athletes. Like it or not, that’s reality.

Almost every school in the conference offered scholarships
to the Auburn players involved in these high profile incidents. Suggesting
Auburn coaches do a better job of weeding these recruits out is pie-in-the-sky
wishful thinking. Find me a coach that’s figured that dilemma out.

College football will always have a dark side. Big business
always has a dark side. We may not like it, but there’s a cost to winning.

If it makes you uneasy, then I suggest taking up tennis.

18 Comments

  1. Tigertracker . says:

    Scarb is a pot stirrer. He’s seen how successful finebaum has been at playing both sides so maybe he is tired of playing second fiddle to him. The tone of this article could easily have been how swiftly and stiffly chizik has dealt with the issues that have arisen, but scarb decided to take the other path. We are going to get our fair share of bad apples and all Chiz can do is define the rules and enforce them. If he isn’t recruiting the best athletes he can get we won’t be competitive because alot of these guys do mature out of their stupidity just like "normal" college kids. Sure some just don’t cut it and Chiz has to chop that off at the knees before it becomes a cancer in the locker room which I think he has done. Hopefully Dismukes and the rest will learn from this and walk the straight and narrow (or at least be smart enough not to get caught) the rest of their days on the plains. I was in college once too and fell into the "smart/lucky" category of not getting caught. However I was not a campus celebrity athlete whose every move was being watched. Decision time boys.

  2. Kevin Patterson says:

    Wait for it…

  3. misticwarrior13 says:

    Chizik is taking the proper actions. The goal is to make player suspensions hurt the entire team by risking a loss on the field due to player absences.

    Coaches can’t be with the players 24/7. But other players will be. The goal is to make players take ownership of policing each other during late night forays into the social gatherings they attend. "Step away from the bong," they must say to each other. This is the only way to protect the entire team and keep the players on the field.

  4. D S says:

    I would love to see scarb or anyone write an article with the same title but swap Saban for Chizik and see how long they keep their job.

  5. Bill Sewell says:

    Move along folks, nothing to see here. This is not just Auburn. Today, in the CNNSI.com headlines there are 4 different mentions including 5 players suspended for various reasons. Notre Dame, Ark St. AU, and Kansas all announced player suspensions. That is just todays headlines. Go back a week or so and you can see more.
    Personally, I applaud Chizik for running a tight ship. I just wish there was a practical way to police players when they are not in the facilities. Alas, I can think of none short of locking them up.

  6. sparkey chris says:

    Eh…say what you want to, it’s out of hand. We’ve got too many players getting in trouble these days. It is not a good feeling. Our guys are not getting whatever message it is Chizik is trying to give them about doing the right thing.

  7. WarEagleEngr says:

    Mike McNeil
    Shaun Kitchens
    Antonio Goodwin
    Dakota Mosely
    Michael Dyer
    Eric Mack
    DeAngelo Benton
    Zeke Pike
    Jonathon Rose
    Reese Dismukes

    Excluding McNeil (who would have graduated by now) this is a pretty solid layer off the depth chart, which was not exactly replete to begin with. All of them, excluding possibly Mack, are off the roster due their own actions or decisions. Most of them would have contributed this season. And all of them, again excluding McNeil, are Chizik’s recruits.

    I don’t recall a run of character issues like this ever under Tuberville. I do recall similar problems under Bowden, which ultimately factored into his demise. Color me worried.

    • Acid Reign says:

      …..Unfortunately, it’s looking like a trend. We had basically an 8-4 coach that we ran off, and his players largely did not get in trouble.

      …..We’re awfully thin in some spots, this year. If something happens to Khiel Frazier or Jake Holland, we’re in a world of hurt.

    • Tiger on the Mountain says:

      There were other issues with Bowden. I still like and admire Tubbs, and there was attrition, but it was mainly due academic ineligibility, not felonies….

  8. Tiger on the Mountain says:

    I rationally understand that the dismissals are not unique to Auburn, but irrationally, I expect better! Frankly, it’s not even a college football issue-it’s a general problem with talented players at multiple levels of the game.

    I’m so irritated that our starting center will not be playing on Saturday because he couldn’t handle not partying a week before the start of the season! Stupid!!

    I hope they print the Scarb article and put it in the locker room.Pot-stirring or not, it was hard to read. It’s not reasonable for Chiz to be babysitting all of these guys at one time. Maybe some adjustment in how discipline issues are handled needs to be looked at-I don’t know. But something’s gotta give, because I don’t think any of us like seeing our players in the news for all the wrong reasons….

  9. Revan1977 Revan says:

    This does seem to be a issue at Auburn now, but these type issues seem cyclical though. Bama had a bad run a few years ago with bad characters, and we all know about Florida under Meyer, and Georgia under Richt. Chizik doesnt seem to put up with crap and that is a good thing. The one thing I see from a outside viewpoint is maybe he needs to stop all this family crap and be a little sterner with them. He takes action quick but maybe it is the teaching them how to act that he needs to work on.

    Also the state media goes with the dominant team. A few years ago when Bama was down the media coverage of Auburn was obnoxious. There have not been that many players get in severe trouble the last few years at Bama and that is a fact. If you dont think Scarbinsky or any other reporters wouldnt jump on Saban about Issues like some of these Auburn kids have gotten in the last couple years you are misleading yourself. To try and ignore what is happening with this trend and blow it off as Media types picking on Auburn is unrealistic. The tables could turn at any time and it could be any SEC school having these troubles next. Most of the kids on these teams are good kids. A small percentage can mess up the perception of any school.

    Also why would a reporter lose his job if this was about Saban? This is homerism big time. If it’s true it’s just true. Hopefully Chizik takes whatever steps he needs to correct this trend.

    • Acid Reign says:

      …..I stopped my subscription to the News thanks to Scarbinsky, Solomon and company. Not paying to read that mean-spirited stuff! That, and they shrunk the Sunday comics one time too many! Oh, and the delivery guy who had radar for mud puddles.

      …..Should the News get rid of the caustic venom writers, and restore the old glory of the Sunday comics, I’ll subscribe again. Looks like they are pruning more, though. Sad.

  10. LSU Jonno says:

    " And what about the Honey Badger at LSU? Are the same questions being asked about Les Miles?"

    Yes…Yes they are.

    • Acid Reign says:

      …..Mathieu’s checked himself into rehab, and is trying to get help. That’s a positive sign on his part, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Miles didn’t help that process along. If the writers are tearing Les Miles up over that, they should be ashamed.

  11. Alex Parsons says:

    What is the status on DeAngelo Benton? I believe Reese will be back after a week or two, hopefully with no more problems

    • Acid Reign says:

      …..I’m not sure Benton is in good shape to survive a suspension, as he’s playing a fairly deep position. Insider stuff I’ve heard was that it was a fairly trivial situation, numerous curfew infractions. You’d think that a senior could do better. To get back, Benton’s going to have to fulfill punishment requirements, AND win his spot back from the bottom of the depth chart. With the talent we’ve got at wide receiver, I’d be surprised to see that happen.

      …..Hopefully he’ll stick it out, get recognized at homecoming, and get a meaningful degree. And who knows? He could be a late bloomer that shines in NFL tryouts, and makes millions. I don’t think it’s gonna happen with Auburn football, for him, at this point.

  12. Michael Val Hietter says:

    I think that two points should be noted/raised:
    1. When one of these incidents occur, Coach Chizik lays down the law swiftly and severely, even if to the detriment of team depth (unlike a certain other West Alabama institution’s "handling internally");
    2. Is it possible to find the best athletes with the best character, or even weed out character issues during recruiting?

    Michael Val
    (who is glad everything HE did at college wasn’t on the front page of the sports section!)