By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush
This time of year is when college coaches cringe. Three months is a long time to hold your breath, but many coaches try.
Forget the stress associated with a tie game in the fourth quarter with an undefeated season on the line. This is worse, because this is the time of year when coaches have no control.
Student-athletes are at home, or in summer school, or working out, or doing whatever else they choose to do. This is exactly the reason for all of the sleepless nights coaches will endure. One slip by one player in one weak moment, and the whole world will see the cracks in an athletic program’s foundation.
College kids make stupid decisions—I did, you did, we all did. It’s the nature of the beast. Many of us paid some sort of consequence in the end, which taught us valuable lessons about what we could or could not do and why making the right choice was so important.
Many collegiate athletes make fine choices on a regular basis, and they should be commended more than they are. Instead, media outlets report with earnest all of the negative stories—arrests, booster activity, etc.—the public has the stomach to consume.
This is not an attempt to bash media members or the media in general. I tend to believe good journalism provides a checks-and-balances system that is important in our society, perhaps today more than ever in our nation’s history. It is simply a recognition of the frequency with which negative stories are reported. It goes to the idea that making broad generalizations based on quantities of news reports vastly overvalues the bad against the good.
Still, the flood of negative press could be avoided if mature decision-making were involved. In the past couple of weeks—and even as I’m typing this masterpiece—reports have surfaced linking student-athletes who will be competing against Clemson during the 2013-14 academic year to such decisions.
Stories like this one linking Maryland tailback Wes Brown to a non-deadly shooting in Baltimore in June are all too familiar. Why was Brown arrested? For allegedly assaulting a police officer and concealing a recording device in his pocket during their conversation.
Stories like this one involving North Carolina forward P.J. Hairston should be particularly concerning to Roy Williams. Speeding, marijuana possession, relationships with convicted felons, potential for improper benefits—this story embodies absolutely everything wrong with college sports.
Stories like this one—which just came across the wire this afternoon—detailing how LSU running back Jeremy Hill was charged with battery for his alleged role in a bar fight can’t be good for Les Miles, who was already bracing for life without umpteen defenders in a division where mediocrity is a death sentence (figuratively, of course).
Over and over and over again, these stories pop up, and we are no longer dismayed. This behavior no longer appalls us, and in many cases, we rationalize and justify these actions based on fundamentally flawed logic and bogus concepts of morality.
Maybe accepting it is a coping mechanism. Maybe this is how it will be forever. But it certainly won’t help Dabo Swinney or Brad Brownell or Jack Leggett or any of the scores of coaches on Clemson’s campus get a good night’s sleep, at least until classes start again.