April 14th, 2014 10:10 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: Georgia, NCAA, Richt Bulldogs, SEC
Last week, Gary Pinkel surprised a lot of people — including many Missouri fans — when he jettisoned talented receiver Dorial Green-Beckham following his third run-in with police. While the victims of the latest investigation into the player refused to file charges, the evidence suggests Green-Beckham busted into a girl’s apartment, shoved a friend of his girlfriend and then grabbed and dragged his girlfriend by her neck.
He earned his dismissal and Pinkel deserves credit for protecting the integrity of his football program. Pinkel does not deserve to face Green-Beckham if/when the player purifies himself with a year of junior college ball.
We’ve stated this view on previous occasions. Just last season, for example, Georgia had to face two starting quarterbacks with the SEC who had previously been drummed out of Athens. In the spring of 2009, freshman Zach Mettenberger was arrested. Reportedly, he then failed to come clean to Mark Richt about the circumstances of that arrest and he was dismissed. After a year at Butler Community College he transferred to LSU and almost knocked off Richt’s Bulldogs in a 44-41 thriller last year.
Later in the season, Georgia did fall 43-38 to an Auburn team quarterbacked by Nick Marshall. Marshall began his career as a defensive back at Georgia, but he was dismissed from the team as a freshman in 2011 due to an unspecified violation of team rules. After a year at Garden City Community College, Marshall landed on the Plains and came within one drive of leading the Tigers to a BCS championship.
Richt being Richt, he said he was happy that both young men had turned things around and found success. We don’t doubt that. But was it right for Richt to have to play two players that he had chosen to discipline? The fact that a booted player could come back to haunt a coach down the road might lead some to hang onto players a bit longer even if they’ve proven to be bad news.
That wasn’t the case with Richt, nor was it the case with Pinkel. They — among others over the years — made tough decisions to sever football ties with athletes who’d let down them and their programs. One lost a game to a player he’d dismissed and might lose another to him this fall. The other could wind up seeing Green-Beckham lined up against him somewhere down the road. That’s not right.
The SEC should discuss at its spring meetings the possibility of taking a unified stance against players disciplined by member institutions. There are 125 FBS programs in the nation. Anyone thinking, “What about second chances?,” needs to remember that. If a player errs so seriously or so repeatedly as to cost himself an opportunity to play for 14 of those schools — those in the Southeastern Conference — he would still have 111 other top-flight schools as possible landing spots.
(Interestingly, such a rule could have applied to an SEC coach in recent weeks. If such a rule were put in place with regards to players — it won’t be — there would likely need to be a similar rule regarding coaches who lose their SEC job due to NCAA violations. Now, would any school respect its leaguemates enough to back away from a proven coach who just happened to run afoul of the NCAA law at a conference rival? No way. Much to Bruce Pearl’s happiness.)
If maintaining discipline and protecting the reputations of schools is important in the SEC, the league’s schools should work in concert to make discipline a priority. If a player is banished from one school for disciplinary reasons he should be barred from landing at one of that school’s conference rivals. No coach doing the right thing should himself be punished for doing that very thing.
Pinkel has said that he wants what’s best for Green-Beckham. ”I love that kid. I want him to get some help. He can go to another place and get a fresh start and he can still achieve his goals.” Those are admirable comments from Mizzou’s coach. But the Tigers shouldn’t be punished because they chose to punish a player who had brought negative attention to the University of Missouri and Tiger football.
We at MrSEC.com hope Green-Beckham does turn his life around and does earn himself a second-chance at another school. But that school should be one of 111 schools across America. That school should not be in the Southeastern Conference.
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