There are times when I really hate college football. This shouldn’t be one of them.
It’s early June. The latest batch of signees are enrolling this week. It’s a time to start analyzing strengths and weaknesses, to look forward to the schedule… hell, it’s not to early to get a headcount on my group going to the Cocktail Party so I can start making reservations.
Instead, I have to wallow through the mess at Baylor and now this.
One game against South Alabama.
That’s the suspension Mississippi State announced for incoming freshman defensive end Jeffery Simmons, who was caught on tape punching a woman as she lay on the ground in March. Unless an evaluation reveals warning signs that inspire Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin to lengthen the suspension, the Bulldogs’ top-ranked incoming recruit basically will serve the same penalty as a player flagged for targeting in a game.
“That’s an interesting way to put it,” Stricklin said Wednesday, “and that’s not how we compared it.”
But that is the message Stricklin sent Mississippi State’s athletes when he settled on one game. A man punching a woman is the same as a targeting foul or a first positive marijuana test. No big deal.
Staples isn’t exaggerating in the slightest there. Stricklin referred to the person who did this…
… as “a pretty docile young man”. That action, by the way, is described in the school’s official press release as “… in an effort to break up a domestic fight between his sister and another adult woman, he used physical force against one of those involved in the altercation.”
Even worse, Stricklin’s made this decision despite having any real understanding of what Simmons is capable of.
“Which is why it’s really important we have a complete understanding of what his risk factors really are,” Stricklin said. “I have a surface understanding and on the surface, I don’t think Jeffery will have any issues. But I want someone who is a professional and is trained in this area to tell me that also.”
That, I’m sure, is of tremendous comfort to every woman on Mississippi State’s campus.
What’s truly remarkable about this decision is that Baylor’s situation is still fresh on our minds. In fact, “fresh” may not be an adequate description. They’re still issuing statements and people are still resigning in Waco.
And don’t think the folks in Starkville are deaf to that. Just check out Dan Mullen’s profile in courage.
That’s not the most nauseating part of this. That would be reserved for some of the calculations behind the decision to allow Simmons to enroll and play at MSU (after that one-game suspension, that is).
Yeesh. And that’s probably part of how you get Greg Sankey’s blessing.
Comfortable, eh? Thank goodness satellite camps weren’t involved.
Everyone involved in this deserves condemnation. And none of them should ever try to lecture anyone else again on morality.
At a certain point, school officials must decide and declare what kind of behavior they deem unacceptable. The one-game suspension Mississippi State announced Wednesday shows how much the Bulldogs actually care about this issue. “It sends a message that there is going to be a consequence,” Stricklin said.
It sends a message all right. Don’t punch women, because you might miss the South Alabama game.
I need a shower.
UPDATE: When you’ve lost Mr. Conventional Wisdom…
My belief is that we have reached a point in our culture where we must take a stand and say that protecting women from violent behavior has to trump everything else. We have to let women know that we care about them more than we care about a damned football game.