This post might be a little late in the relevancy department, but it's a subject that I've been thinking about for a while now and something that comes up every year. I'm talking about player misconduct, but more specifically, the reactions of fans to that same misconduct. In the past year we've seen a wide, wide variety of on the field incidents, off the field incidents, NCAA investigations coming to a head, and players just plain not showing up for class.
None of these things, while all bad, are particularly surprising for college football; the reality of the situation is that given the sheer size of NCAA football, in both scope and finances, these kinds of things are going to happen from time to time whether we like it or not. But what I'm interested in finding out from you all today is where exactly you draw the line. That is to say, what kind of actions push you over the edge to the point where you can no longer support a player being on the football team that you root for.
For me, I've found that I can be forgiving of a number of youthful indiscretions, maybe in part because I'm pretty young myself. On the other hand, I'm possibly the most boring person on earth, never having taken drugs, driven while intoxicated, or watched a donkey show in Tijuana while tripping out on mescaline-laced gorilla jerky. Basically I've got those same two or three friends that everyone does and my strategy for maintaining a clean rap sheet is to do the exact opposite of what they would do in any given situation. But maybe because of that, when, say, an otherwise upstanding member of the football team does something unbelievably stupid, I might be more inclined to forgive them and move on if they are contrite and it doesn't happen again.
Because we've all been at that crossroads at least once or twice in life before. Down one path there are naked ladies and all the vodka you can fit in your truck, and police lights in the distance. Down the other path is grad school, a mortgage, semi frequent showers. It's not surprising that some people have a hard time deciding which path to take.
Where I do draw the line is arrogance. Arrogance can take a lot of different forms. My personal favorite is huge crazy stacks of cash, but as far as it pertains to the 2010 Ohio State Buckeyes, it more has to do with Duron Carter pretty much just not doing any of the work necessary to actually be the student part of a student-athlete. The Dispatch had a nice writeup about the services offered to student-athletes at Ohio State, and though I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to almost any freshman given how hard it can be to adjust to college, not many freshmen who have those services available to them take the time to sit down for an interview with Scout.com after their first academic suspension from football to say this last January 22nd:
Greene: What changes have you made to improve your time management decisions, and how you conduct your business? Carter: "I have a set schedule now for everything in my life, both study time and working out. For me, it's all about focusing on what I need to do, and getting it done. I'm not missing any classes, and I'm turning my assignments in on time. I plan on getting through this, and being ready for spring football. My study habits will stay with me the rest of my time at Ohio State, and this will never happen again."
Greene: In closing, is there anything you want to say to Ohio State fans, or your teammates and coaches? Carter: "I just want to say how sorry I am that I let everyone down, and I promise it will NEVER happen again. I'm back.
I can't speak to how sorry Duron actually felt, although he doesn't seem like a bad guy and I'm sure he felt terrible about having to miss the Rose Bowl. But his subsequent actions do seem really arrogant in the face of what turned out to be another academic suspension, and for me at least, that's when I have to wish him happy trails and hope that this time he really does figure out what his priorities are.
But that's just me. I'm way more interested in what you think, so here's the $64,000 question (checks will not be honored): Where do you draw the line on player misconduct and say "That kid probably shouldn't be on the team I support"?