I can't really say how disappointed I was to see the news on Ryan's blog this morning that we have three more players involved in criminal activity.
I have always said that I would prefer the team lose than I would to see us involved in this kind of activity. And, I don't mean minor, petty criminal activities. That is natural, they are college kids. Get caught with a joint, punch a bouncer...who cares? Its not an indictment of anything other than that our guys are all in college.
But, home invasions and credit cards...that's different. Those are overt criminal acts not done in the heat of the moment, but thought out. They are things that the vast majority of the students at BG would not even consider doing. And, they reflect very poorly on our program.
I don't believe that you have to choose between winning and doing things right. I just don't. In the MAC, you should be able to win and not have a problem with arrests, dismissals and academic eligibility.
I'm truly sorry that this is bound to reflect on the majority of our football team, most of whom I believe are good people doing the right thing. And I do not condemn them in anyway.
But the direction of the program has to be questioned. In Ryan's blog, he traced a couple recruiting classes that are slowly melting away. Any reasonable fan has to ask this question:
In our quest to win, is our football program recruiting too many players with character or academic issues that make them unfit for being intercollegiate athletes?
I understand all the excuses. The coaches don't get to spend time with the players. You can't tell what people are going to be like. No coach can control 100 individuals.
Those are all valid to a point. Its the reason why I was willing to accept that a few incidents might happen. But, its becoming too prevalent, and the question at least has to be asked.
Ryan also notes that the AD weighed in on the press release concerning the suspensions, and that this is unusual. I hope that the AD is concerned about this. As a lifelong Falcon fan and alumnus, one of the reasons I enjoy following the MAC is that I think our guys are purer student athletes than at the big schools. And, I could feel good about watching, supporting, and involving my son in our program.
I'd hate to see us lose that. Both because I care about the university, and because its simply the wrong way to do things.
Ryan also notes that its a good thing Coach Brandon got his contract extension before this all came out. I was thinking the same thing--that its a good thing for Coach Brandon. All of this would not help his case.
I'm not losing perspective. I'm still willing to be convinced that this is just an unusual combination of events masquerading as a trend. And I understand many of the allegations have not been tested in a court of law. But, it raises doubts, and doubts are insidious things. Its hard to make them go away.
You know what else is insidious? Compromise. You take the first guy you shouldn't and you get away with it. Then you do it twice. Then, there's a new standard. One minute you're taking off with frozen o-rings. Then, you decide its nothing to worry about. Then...... And they call it an accident.
I also understand that the players are perfectly capable of turning things around in their lives. All of them could someday say, "you won't believe the really stupid thing I did when I was in college." I hope they do. But, 99.9% of the young people in the world don't do these things....too many on one team makes you wonder.
You start to think about Coach's relationship with Gary Barnett. And you wonder.
I do think Coach generally responds to these things correctly. He doesn't fall into a dopey zero tolerance thing. Its certainly a tough job. But, something isn't working.
We're still going to Pitt, and we'll still be at the games, rooting for our team. Until I am convinced otherwise, I'm going to assume that our athletic program is run by people who are better than this, and that they're going to fix what needs to be fixed.