Character Issues Are Part of the Game
By Jay Coulter (firstname.lastname@example.org) on August 27, 2012
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
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.
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
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.