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Let’s Stop Praising Coaches For Simply Following School Drug Policies

When Tyrann Mathieu was given the boot from LSU a couple of weeks ago, many Tiger-backers praised Les Miles for putting team discipline ahead of all else.  Yesterday, Da’Rick Rogers was suspended at Tennessee and the pattern repeated.  I personally received 12 emails from Vol fans all delivering some variation of the same message: “Let’s see you question Derek Dooley’s discipline now.”

OK.

In both cases — Mathieu’s and Rogers’ — athletic department policy dictated the action that was taken.  Miles and Dooley didn’t punish their stars, their school drug policies did.

In Mathieu’s case we know this.  Last season he was suspended for one game due to a positive drug test tied to synthetic marijuana.  This year he was given a one-year suspension.  LSU’s drug policy is as follows:

 

1st strike — No punishment

2nd strike — 15% of games missed

3rd strike — One-year suspension

 

Last year’s suspension of Mathieu for a single game was either a tough stance by Miles in handing out a suspension when one wasn’t required (after a first failed test) or a softening of the policy to allow Mathieu back for the Alabama game… after just one game off and not 15% of the season (which a second strike should have required).  Either way, his third strike dictated a year away from the Tiger football team.  And that’s what Mathieu got.

At Tennessee, same deal.  Here’s the Vol drug policy as of 2011:

 

1st strike — No punishment

2nd strike — 10% of games

3rd strike — Dismissal from team

 

Multiple sources have reported that Rogers’ latest suspension was tied to multiple failed drug tests.  That’s what this writer was told yesterday, too (among many other wild tails from athletic department personnel trying to sound in the know).  A solid source at Tennessee told me this was not a university issue — meaning: academics — and that this was “Dooley and Dave Hart.”  Hart being UT’s athletic director.

Jimmy Hyams of Knoxville radio station WNML-AM/FM has reported that Rogers was going to be suspended for the Vols’ opener anyway and that something additional happened this week to precipitate a longer suspension.  It is believed that when informed of the longer suspension, Rogers — who hinted at a transfer this spring — simply bolted.

Whether Rogers was already suspended of not, it has been made clear to me that the drug policy was violated.  First strikes bring no punishment.  Third strikes call for a dismissal and Rogers was not dismissed.  Do the math and it’s easy to see that this was Rogers’ second strike, regardless of any previous warnings or wrist slaps or suspensions for previous bonehead mistakes.

Also interesting is the fact that the Rogers’ news was delivered the day after Tennessee hosted a “Welcome Back” barbecue for fans to kick off the season.  Go back one year and star safety Janzen Jackson was dismissed from the team — again it was UT’s drug policy, not Dooley that forced that move — one day after the 2011 kickoff dinner.  Either UT likes to feed its fans before breaking bad news or the school schedules drug tests about the same time each year.

Sidenote — Considering Bruce Pearl’s basketball tenure began to unravel at a barbecue it might be time for folks in East Tennessee to stop barbecuing altogether.

This post isn’t written as a knock on Miles or Dooley.  It’s just a reminder that praise shouldn’t be given where it isn’t warranted.  According to sources/reports out of both schools, it was athletic department policy that dictated star players be penalized, not “tough guy” coaches who suddenly turned into Buford Pusser.

That said, at least the coaches didn’t cover-up or ignore internal drug policies as Syracuse reportedly did.  As far as we know.

Look, it’s time for a uniform drug policy throughout the SEC, if not the NCAA.  Perhaps given his new special powers, Mark Emmert can strong arm everyone into using one testing company, administering the same number and types of tests, and then sending him and his team the results.  They would then handle the discipline.

Short of that, the SEC’s presidents need to create their own uniform policy, something Mike Slive has admitted to bringing up on multiple occasions.  (We’ve been calling for such action for years on this website.)  According to Slive, the presidents of the SEC’s schools have given the uniform policy idea a thumbs-down to date.

Time to flip those thumbs, fellas.

Doing so would create a level playing field for all member institutions, would prevent the possibility of a Syracuse-type embarrassment, and would kill off some of the cynicism from mean ol’ media guys like myself.

LSU and Tennessee handed down discipline because that’s what their drug policies demanded.  Kudos to the schools for following through on their policies.  If you want to praise the coaches for anything… you can praise them for not covering up, I suppose.  Because all they did was follow protocol.

And in most cases, that’s the most any coach will do when a star athlete is involved.  Follow protocol.  Do the bare minimum.  It’s still possible Mathieu can return to LSU next season as he was not given a permanent boot.  Rogers wasn’t given a dismissal, either.  But even Dooley admitted that he didn’t expect Rogers to return.  That’s Rogers’ call.

The coaches in question did the bare minimum in both of these cases.  So let’s hold off on the backslapping, shall we?  And let’s create a uniform drug policy instead.

 


16 comments
sjt18
sjt18

The details about Rogers aren't a problem.  No one knows for sure.  "Insiders" are reporting all sorts of things.

 

The problem I have if I do is that you call Dooley out.  That seems like unnecessary piling on.  He's on a notable hotseat according to you folks in the media.  He needs credibility especially with recruits and their parents.  This same story could have been written about Spurrier, MeyerX1000, Muschamp, Saban, RichtX100,000.... but you you wrote it about Dooley.  That has the stench of an agenda to it.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @sjt18 

 

From a quick count, here's what I wrote: 

 

* Miles, LSU or Tigers... 9 times

 

* Dooley, Tennessee or Vols... 14 times (understandable since the UT issue was more recent and needed more explanation than the LSU issue which happened two weeks ago.)

 

* Direct quote: "This post isn't written as a knock on Miles or Dooley.  It's just a reminder that praise shouldn't be given where it isn't warranted."

 

* Direct quote: "Because all they did was follow protocol.  And in most cases, that's the most any coach will do when a star athlete is involved."

 

 

But here's what you took away from all that:

 

"This same story could have been written about Spurrier, MeyerX1000, Muschamp, Saban, RichtX100,000.... but you you wrote it about Dooley.  That has the stench of an agenda to it."

 

 

The Tennessee issue cropped up the day before this story was written.  But I couldn't have been any more clear that this same thing happened in LSU's case... and that the bare minimum would be done by coaches "in most cases."  So you can suggest that there's "the stench of an agenda" against all coaches everywhere, I suppose, but it's kinda tough to say this piece was some sort of knock on Dooley when it wasn't.  

 

The point was that coaches don't deserve praise for following their schools' drug policies.  If it turns out Rogers was suspended for something non-drug policy-related, you'll see me throw praise toward Dooley.  (At which point I will be accused by others of having a pro-Dooley agenda.)

 

Thanks for visiting the site,

John

jgb_lnb
jgb_lnb

You, nor anyone else outside of the Ath Dept know exactly why he was suspended.  The 'failed multiple drug tests' is simply a rumor.  There is also the rumor that he failed a drug test and Dooley had suspended him for either 1 or 2 games (different rumors have alluded to both, and w/ a suspension would likelyt be his 2nd failed test), and Rogers threw a fit over it and went to Hart.  When Hart backed school policy, Rogers went off on him as well, and Hart suspended him indefinitely. Is this the truth?  I have no idea, but my point is, you don't know if he failed 3 drug test either but are nevertheless blogging based on that assumption.  But failing 3 drug tests is an automatic dismissal, and I have yet to see anyone connected with the university state that Rogers has been dismissed, only that he has been suspended 'indefinitely' and Dooely does not expect him to return.  Which gives more creedence to the rumor I mentioned being true than the rumor you based your blog on. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @jgb_lnb 

 

I was told the same thing by two people inside Tennessee's athletic department.  That Rogers failed multiple tests.  With a suspension and not a dismissal being the result, that means a second failed test, unless the school was ignoring other failed tests.  When told of this, Rogers reportedly blew up and split.  Some believe he was going to be suspended for a game due to bad behavior anyway and the drug suspension would have meant more games and time in UT's substance-abuse program which he did not want to take part in.  Either way, I got the same story from two people inside Tennessee's athletic department.  I also spoke to someone in the school administration as well.  

 

That's a source and a verification in my book.  Could they be lying or wrong?  Possibly.  But these sources haven't been wrong and haven't misled me in the past.  So I trust these sources and reported what they said.  That's how writers work 100% of the time.

 

At any rate, I don't write things that I:

 

a) do not believe to be true

b) have been asked by a source NOT to write

c) have not had confirmed by at LEAST 2 sources (otherwise, I will say that I spoke to just ONE person in the piece)

d) believe could compromise a source's identity

 

I began this site in an attempt to provide news and opinion in "the right way" because there are so many out there on the web (and elsewhere) who simply throw things up against the wall to see what sticks.  That hurts the reputation of good, honest journalists.  It's bad business and it's wrong.

 

Does that mean I will always be right?  No.  No one is.

But it does mean I believe strongly in what I put on this site.

 

Sorry you didn't like the above piece, but after speaking with multiple people at Tennessee, two people I know and trust in the athletic department gave me the same story.  I went with that story.  And I believe it to be either true or very, very, very close to the truth.  

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

 

 

 

 

jgb_lnb
jgb_lnb

 @John at MrSEC Yes I did, and it confirmed what both of us stated.  The difference I had was with you stating the suspension was essentially out of Dooley's hands.  But from what had been reported in the first Knxville News-Sentinel online (Go Vols Extra) article, Dooley had stated the decision for the suspension was his, and from what people I knew close to the program had said was that the original suspension was either for one or two games (they weren't exactly certain which) due to failing a 2nd drug test.  That was obviously mandatory because of school policy.  But the word was the DR had "lost it" over the suspension and took it to a higer level, presumably the AD, and apparently "lost it" again.  At that point it can be assumed that Dooley and Hart conferred and the decision was made that Rogers was more of a detriemnt than he was worth. So the final decision to get rid of him was not based on school policy (which would have only come with a 3rd failed drug test), but was either a decision made by Dooley and/or Hart.  Since Dooley had been quoted in the GVX article as saying the final decision to "indefinitely" suspend DR had been his, I gave him the benefit of the dougt.  And then the following day he was quoted as saying he did not expect DR to return to the team.  So it seemed safe to assume DR was not dismissed due to a school policy as I took from your blog...

 

       When Tyrann Mathieu was given the boot from LSU a couple of weeks ago, many Tiger-backers 

   praised Les Miles for putting team discipline ahead of all else.  Yesterday, Da’Rick Rogers was

   suspended at Tennessee and the pattern repeated.  I personally received 12 emails from Vol fans all

   delivering some variation of the same message: “Let’s see you question Derek Dooley’s discipline

   now.”

   OK.

   In both cases — Mathieu’s and Rogers’ — athletic department policy dictated the action that was 

   taken.  Miles and Dooley didn’t punish their stars, their school drug policies did.

 

The school policy would have dictated the original 1-2 game suspension, but not the dismissal.  That decision would seemingly have been made by Dooley as I see it.

     

 

jgb_lnb
jgb_lnb

 

"Thanks for reading the site,"

 

You're welcome.  I like the site for the most part even though I don't always agree with you.  But I do agree with you that maybe UT needs to stop with the BBQs.

 

 

SEC fan
SEC fan

Yes, John.  You are right, let's not give any credit to coaches only criticize them whenever given an opportunity.  That's what good journalists like yourself do and all of us dumb fans should be grateful to you for keeping us all well informed and only giving credit where credit is due.  (sarcasm alert).

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @SEC fan 

 

Thanks for making all that gibberish up.

 

I praise coaches when THEY do the right thing.  I don't praise them when a school's policy FORCES them to do the right thing.

 

I appreciate your nonsense, though.

 

Have a nice day.  (Sarcasm alert.)

 

John

king johnny
king johnny

 @John at MrSEC  @SEC fan Hey Johnny, its ok if people dont agree with you

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @king johnny  @SEC fan 

 

You're mistaken.  I just think people like YOU who write things like THAT are idiots.  And after I gave you a friendly explanation of who I respond to and why.  Ah, well.  

 

Most people who disagree with my take on this site do so in a calm, rational way.  They dissect my points and present their views.  So long as they don't twist my words and meaning, put ridiculous words in my mouth -- as you just did -- or insult me, they can feel free to say whatever they like.

 

I've had many a friendly disagreement in these comment boxes and via email.  But life's too short and I spend too many hours on this site to put up with ugly people.

 

So do us both a favor and go find another objective SEC site that presents as much news in a day as we do, that isn't written by fans or anonymous posters, and that doesn't focus on insulting certain fanbases just to get pageviews.  I wish you luck in finding such a site.

 

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @king johnny  @SEC fan 

 

You're right.  They do it everyday and I say nothing.

 

But if someone gets ugly or twists what I wrote, that's totally different.  

 

Disagree?  Fine.  Be a jerk?  Expect a response.

 

Thanks for reading,

John

badbadhoggie
badbadhoggie

This only proves that the ncaa, presidents and ad's aren't nearly as concerned about the drug issue as they would like everyone to believe...I thinks there should be an ncaa standard that all schools would have tol follow....make it fair to all....right now the coaches etc recruit kids with suspicions and take their chances



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