Been there, done that.

Considering which coaches were on the podium yesterday, yeah, there was a fair amount of smoke blowing.

The most controversial issue entering Tuesday centered on Mississippi State’s decision to allow freshman defensive end Jeffery Simmons to enroll on campus following the disturbing video of him punching a woman several times during a fight in March. Simmons was given a lenient one-game suspension and will be evaluated by professionals at student counseling services as well as be required to complete any program prescribed by that office.

Naturally, the school met harsh criticism, which followed head coach Dan Mullen to Hoover, as he defended Simmons’ enrollment.

“It was very uncharacteristic of the personality of who he is, of the person I’ve known before and after,” Mullen said of Simmons. “He’s a young guy that was involved in a family street fight that made a very, very poor decision. But part of our process is, within our program, to help them learn how to make good decisions in their life. That’s what we need to do.”

… New Georgia coach Kirby Smart addressed the eight player arrests that have occurred since he was hired in December.

“It’s obviously concerning,” Smart said, “but I also know what it’s like to be a student-athlete and to be a student-athlete at the University of Georgia and to deal with these issues at other places. … It’s not something that’s new. Now, it’s not something I’m proud of, nor that we condone.

“We have got to do a better job educating our players and making sure we get the right players to make the right decisions. Ultimately, a couple of these are just dumb, bonehead decisions. They’re not disease or issue, they’re just dumb decisions, and we can’t have kids make those because they reflect [on] the entire program.”

Tennessee coach Butch Jones also said that the recent settlement in the university’s Title IX lawsuit wasn’t a “relief” because of the serious nature of sexual assault and how it affects many college campuses. Jones added that the program has had approximately 70 speakers meet with the team over the past couple of years about issues such as sexual assault and sexual violence.

“It’s something that we’ll continue to educate our players on and develop our players on,” Jones said.

Maybe it’s because of the nature of the transgressions involved, or maybe I’m being something of a home boy with this, but there was something about Smart’s “but I also know what it’s like to be a student-athlete and to be a student-athlete at the University of Georgia”  that had a ring of authenticity about it.  I’m sure he’s anything but thrilled about all the player arrests so far this year, but he’s not blind to their context, either.

Let’s face it:  college kids, student-athletes included, do stupid shit.  I was a college kid once; so were you.  The trick for Smart, at least, is to know where the line is between stupid and reckless — and be willing to accept the consequences for judging misbehavior accordingly.

7 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football

7 responses to “Been there, done that.

  1. Athens Dog

    Outside of having a gun on campus, I was guilty of lots of shit when I was a student. Had several fraternity brothers who passed out at red lights, etc. but it’s a different era. Kirby does sound like he gets it. Hope that translates on the field.

  2. Ben

    Kirby may get it, and Mullen may get results from a young man that’s removed from his home environment into what’s hopefully a more stable place.

    What’s happened at Tennessee, Baylor, and Vanderbilt in the past, though? That’s something that’s allowed to fester under the on-campus leadership, and there’s no excuse for letting that slide.

  3. 81Dog

    I knew a judge once who expressed what I considered a pretty succinct, cogent thought: We have to realize which defendants we’re mad at, and which ones we’re scared of.

    Some guys do dumb stuff that’s just annoying and evidence of bad judgment and little self discipline. That’s your basic minor in possession of alcohol stuff. Some guys do things that are more serious, like selling drugs or aggravated assault, or armed robbery. Those are the people we need to be more concerned about.

    Young people (and old people) make mistakes, and when that happens, you get punished. Let the punishment fit the crime, and the person. To do that, you have to deal with it case by case. Mandatory minimums are meant, it seems to me, more to insulate the decision makers from any consequences than to be fair. Treating everyone the same is only fair when everyone IS the same, but academic people looooooove “zero tolerance” policies and automatic penalties, because it makes them look like they’re doing something.

  4. aladawg

    While I recognize that “Media Days” is a “glorifying the coming season” ritual, I really wish they would either stick to football OR ask truly probing hardball questions rather than the softies designed to give a back door to coaches intent on skirting on the borders. I thought Kirby’s opening statements were awesome and he did well. The questions asked Mullen, Kirby and Booch yesterday, though, were softies totally. Why not (If they have to go to these places) ask things like “Coach Mullen, do you think a one game punishment for any player obviously beating the hell out of a woman on the ground is commensurate with the act?”, “Coach Smart, Though evidence was collected illegally this is the second time Jonathan Ledbetter has been found to be outside the alchohol laws regarding youth. Considering this don’t you think, if you are truly intent on helping this youngster who obviously has a problem, a better punishment would be to ask for a medical redshirt so he can be rehabbed and address that problem?” or “Coach Booch, how do you justify treating a player who has protected women like an outcast, while allowing multiple sexual violations occur under your watch while getting prior communications from the Knoxville police department?”
    I am tired of the privileged few, whether they be athletes or politicians or business folks getting around the law while us lowly towns-folks face the full brunt of consequences.
    I guess I’m ready for football, but I am also ready for people to be TRULY accountable.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Didn’t someone ask Mullen something like ‘what if it was your daughter?’. I wouldn’t call that a softball question. Regardless of the questions or his answers, he’s been getting reamed in the media since his Q&A ended.

      Imagine if McG hired Mullen instead of Kirby. That would be the dynamic duo of P.R. nightmares!

  5. Ole Dawg

    Tennessee has “had approximately 70 speakers meet with the team over the past couple of years about issues such as sexual assault and sexual violence.”

    When do these guys study ? Does anybody really think that they are still listening after the 40th or so speaker ?

  6. The Dawg abides

    Damn! Saban just bullied the hell out of Finebaum over the Cam Robinson issue.