The shoegazer’s guide to discipline in the SEC



Alabama’s Cameron Robinson and Hootie Jones will not miss any game time after they were arrested for marijuana possession and, in Robinson’s case, possession of a stolen gun. Four Auburn players who were arrested on marijuana charges in April won’t sit, either.

And Dan Mullen would rather talk about his shoes than try to justify why Jeffery Simmons was admitted to Mississippi State and will be suspended only one game after being caught on video repeatedly punching a woman.

“They’re pretty swagged up right now,” Mullen reportedly said, when asked about his Yeezy Boosts at SEC Media Days this week. “I didn’t get Kanye to sign them, unfortunately.”

Now, raise your hand if you’re surprised by any of this.

Mullen argued, and perhaps rightfully so, that the 10 seconds of video that show Simmons hitting the woman were out of character for him and should not define his life. OK, most of us have needed a second chance at one time or another, but that second chance could have been given in the seventh game of the season instead of the second. Or in Simmons’ second year at MSU instead of the first.

Making Simmons sit for six games or a full season would not have defined him unless he allowed it to. But it would have sent a much stronger message that hitting a woman is unacceptable at Mississippi State.

Instead, he’ll miss one game, the season opener against South Alabama. Ray Rice got suspended for two in the NFL even before any video surfaced.

Had Mullen suspended Simmons for two games, however, he would have missed the SEC opener against South Carolina. If he sat half the season, he’d also miss LSU and Auburn. Whether he can make an impact in those early games as a freshman remains to be seen, but he is a five-star prospect on a defensive line that just lost its highest-rated player, Chris Jones, to the NFL.

Mullen was asked what he’d think if the woman being hit was his wife or daughter, and he told SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker that he didn’t think they’d ever  be in that situation.

Really? Why is that? Does he really think certain people are immune to domestic violence, or is he just unwilling to consider it?

The answer that’s probably closest to the truth is that he simply doesn’t want to answer the question.

Meanwhile, Simmons is listed on Mississippi State’s roster with jersey number 36 —  the jersey number of former Bulldog Nick Bell, who passed away of cancer during his sophomore year in 2010. After several other Bulldogs wore the number in tribute to Bell to finish out the 2010 season, it hasn’t been issued since — until now, for some unknown reason, to Simmons. All Mullen would say is that it’s not finalized.

The situations at Alabama and Auburn are different in that no one got hurt, but similar in the lenient approach when it comes to playing time.

In Alabama’s case, the charges against Robinson and Jones were dropped, and Nick Saban got testy when pressed by Paul Finebaum about the lack of a suspension, noting that “if the players really did anything that wrong, they would have gotten charged with something.” Finebaum later claimed that Saban said off-camera that the arresting officers were LSU fans, resulting in the absurdity of a police department PIO having to vouch for the football allegiance of an officer.

Of course, you’ll recall the Monroe, La., district attorney’s stated reason for dropping the charges was that it couldn’t be proven who owned the gun and drugs and he didn’t want to ruin the lives of young men who work and sweat in the heat while the rest of us sit in the air conditioning.

Let’s see if the next carload of construction workers who get caught with a stolen gun and a bag of weed get the same consideration.

All the ever-loquacious Gus Malzahn would say about the drug arrests of Carlton Davis, Byron Cowart, Ryan Davis and Jeremiah Dinson was that they’d been punished internally and and he didn’t expect them to get in trouble again.We’ll have to take his word for that.

It’s true that we may not know all the facts about these cases. It is possible that the internal punishment these players received and will receive may seem nearly as bad to them as sitting out a season-opener against USC or Clemson, or missing the conference opener. But forcing players to miss time not only hits a player where he lives — depriving him of the payoff for all his hard work — it also forces him to understand that he’s let his team and his teammates down in a way that all the wind sprints in the world can’t match.

Unfortunately, it also forces multi-million-dollar coaches to do without players they consider important to their success. And for many of them, there appears to be a limit to how much of that they’re willing to do.






Categories: College football

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