The SEC can lead or it can follow. Personally I think the view is far better leading the pack than from behind. It's not like there will be no second chances with a 3 strike rule and standardized, random testing by independent labs. Time to root out the junk as well as put some kids on better paths as you pointed out. You are spot on with the competitive advantage issue. Because money rules with all - from coaches to Presidents - they have greater potential to make more money with less PR hits. Who wants a recruit that checks out how many times he can screw up before getting booted anyway? Let that guy play for Meyer and THE (Corrupt) Ohio State University. LOL.
Kevin Scarbinsky of Al.com writes today that former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez — who’s looking more and more like a troubled youth who never had anyone yank him in line — is the poster boy for league-wide drug testing in the SEC.
The same could be said for ex-LSU star Tyrann Mathieu and many others, but Hernandez is certainly a person in the national spotlight at the moment. Scarbinsky uses his many drug-related issues at Florida to hammer home the point that without a league-wide drug testing policy off the field, some teams are able to improve their chances of winning games on the field:
“Two more words for any SEC coach, administrator or fan who thinks the SEC doesn’t need a league-wide drug policy: competitive advantage.
If one school in the league has a three-strikes-and-you’re-out drug policy, and another requires four failed tests before dismissal, that can give the second school an edge in keeping its best players on the field.”
Of course it can. But that hasn’t led the SEC’s presidents to OK a league-wide drug policy, despite the fact that the topic keeps coming up at the SEC meetings in Destin each year. Perhaps if commissioner Mike Slive really wants to push such a plan through he should go the “welfare of the student-athlete” route.
The league’s presidents took a small step toward protecting student-athletes when they went against the league’s football coaches and voted to place a soft cap on the number of signees an SEC program can bring in in a given year. The league has also pushed for student-athletes to receive full-cost-of-tuition scholarships.
Slive and ADs like Georgia’s Greg McGarity might want to tap into the presidents’ altruism by pointing out that a young man like Hernandez might have been better off if his school or his coach or — with a league-wide plan — the conference office had actually held him more accountable for his actions and delivered a bit more discipline. If he’d actually learned that his bad actions would carry serious consequences, maybe he would be in a better spot today.
Ask yourself this: Did Urban Meyer’s decision to look the other way time and again with Hernandez help the coach or the player?
Well, Meyer’s making millions and will be spending his fall with yet another potential national championship team. Hernandez may lose millions in civil suits and he could very well spend some of his fall behind bars. You do the math.
Yes, the SEC needs a league-wide drug policy as Scarbinsky states today and as we have written once or twice per year since launching this site in 2008. But if the presidents won’t agree to such a plan for their own sakes, just maybe they would do it for the good of the athletes. As pollyannaish as that approach sounds, it has actually worked on them once or twice already.
Plus, the league’s presidents would have yet another opportunity to point out just how much they care for their student-athletes… enough to hurt their own sports teams if it means teaching players the difference between right and wrong. (Please re-read that last line while softly humming the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”)