Opinion: Bad News Gives College Football Black Eye

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Copyright 2016 The Washington Times
All Rights Reserved

The Washington Times


We're well familiar with "Bowl Week" - closer to a month - when college football concludes its season with more than three dozen nondescript matchups like the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl, plus old favorites like the Orange, Sugar and Rose.

This year the sport added a putrid precursor, Bowel Week, as schools in three Power 5 conferences smeared us with excrement.

Marvin Gaye had a song entitled "Makes Me Wanna Holler." A remix version based on news about Oklahoma, Minnesota and Wake Forest would be called "Makes Me Wanna Shower."

The worst case has to be Oklahoma, which features a star tailback who broke a woman's jaw. The incident is two years old and Joe Mixon paid his penalty (a one-year suspension, deferred sentence and 100 hours of community service).

But video of the vicious punch is new, released Friday for the world to see and reflexively gag.

"It was made clear to Mr. Mixon at the time of his suspension that violence against women will not go unpunished at the university," Oklahoma said in a statement following the release. "Coach (Bob) Stoops has been proactive in presenting training for his team aimed at preventing such behavior in the future. Sensitivity training in the area of violence has been intensified and best practices will continue to be implemented."

Well, Mixon's punishment from the school was the equivalent of being redshirted as a freshman. He returned to help the Sooners reach the College Football Playoff last season and the Orange Bowl this season. After that, he's off to the NFL.

Granted, there was a level of outrage when the incident came to light in 2014. But there's something about seeing the brutal assault. It leaves nothing to the imagination ... except imagining what Stoops and OU administrators were thinking when they welcoming the incoming player.

I'm a firm believer in second chances and don't think Mixon's act was worthy of a lifetime ban. However, I wouldn't have a problem telling him he was unwelcome. He could take his five-star talents elsewhere. When Charlie Strong coached Texas, he told players that hitting a woman would lead to automatic expulsion from the team. Another school would have to provide batterers an opportunity and one always does (most recently Florida Atlantic, which just welcomed a recruit that Florida State dismissed for punching a woman).

The case in Minnesota involves assault of a different variety. There is no footage - other than a couple of cell phone videos that police deemed non-incriminating. But reading the accuser's account of having sexual relationships with several football players is disturbing.

It's unfortunate that the Gophers decided to wield college athletes' considerable power for THIS cause, threatening to boycott the Holiday Bowl in support of 10 suspended teammates who may or may not be guilty of rape (regardless of the state's conclusion). Equally regrettable is the tone-deaf response by Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys, who inexplicably tweeted: "Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their efforts to make a better world!"

How is the world a better place if 10 to 20 of his players lined up for sex with an inebriated woman, consensual or not? Where does that fall within the university's standards and code of conduct, particularly the part about treating fellow students with respect? Why doesn't Claeys know the difference between violations according to the law and violations according to the school?

"We fully support our Gopher football players and all of our student athletes," Minnesota president Eric Kaler and athletic director Mark Coyle said in a joint statement before the team ended its boycott Saturday. "Situations like this are always difficult. . . . The decision (to suspend players) was based on facts and is reflective of the University's values."

Speaking of values, a bigger-than-average shortage was uncovered in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

A since-fired Wake Forest radio announcer - former player and assistant coach Tommy Elrod - apparently leaked his alma mater's game plans and of the recipients felt compelled to alert the Demon Deacons. Big-time college sports is as cutthroat as any industry, but you'd think a coach would warn Wake's Dave Clawson that his program housed a mole.

The ACC fined Louisville and Virginia Tech $25,000 each for accepting the secrets. "Sportsmanship and ethical values are at the core of competitive integrity and in these instances, those were missing," league commissioner John Swofford said in a statement Saturday. "The expectation, regardless of the sport, is that any athletics department staff members would immediately communicate with their supervisor if they are approached by someone from another institution with proprietary information."

That would be great, if we could trust all the supervisors at Oklahoma, Minnesota and Wake Forest opponents like, say, Louisville (coach Bobby Petrino, anyone?).

To a large extent, students can fall back on "kids will be kids" to explain their antics. But there's no excuse for the mess that adults dumped on college football last week.

These stains won't come out easily and this smell is going to linger.

⦁ Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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December 20, 2016


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