Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Troubling Day in the Falcon Nation

Its a troubling time in the Falcon Nation. It has not been a good off-season, by any measure. Let's look at the latest news, and then sum up via an article from Ryan Autullo in The Blade.

In his blog, Ryan drops the news that we have some departures from the program. Nate Brown, a QB/LB who was highly decorated from his high school days has been removed from the team for academic reasons. Also, the accused home invaders Barrow and Hardwick are formally off the team, as is Tarell Lewis, a DB who was on the two-deep. There is speculation he could be the third player said to be involved in the home invasion, but there is no official word on that.

The Nate Brown thing hurts, because he had a good chance to be a really good player. He was said to be the #54 QB in the country, and was ranked higher coming in that Omar was. Of course, now we see why he ended up at BG--he couldn't make the grades.

Even more, he is the second star player from his class to leave the program quickly--the other is Glen Stanley. Yes, Willie Geter, Eric Ransom and Vrvilo are producing out of this class already, but two of the recruits that really made the class stand out have made little to no contribution.

In other words, Nate Brown contributed as much at BG as Benjy Kennedy did.

So, do we have a problem? Ryan steps up into the print edition this morning in the Blade to pose that question. Here's Ryan's grim summary.

Seven members of the team and a former captain have run into legal trouble since BG's last game. The charges range from underage consumption of alcohol, to felony drug trafficking, to aggravated burglary. There are also some academic issues. Brandon has dismissed two promising young players, including quarterback Nate Brown, because of poor grades. Linebacker Glen Stanley was removed from the team during the spring.

Seven! That's awful, and completely unacceptable. Coach Brandon's responses are:

  • Recruiting rules mean they spend less time with players, which in turn means that they have less time to judge character.
  • He believes in giving second and third chances to 18-22 year old men.
  • English Majors who get arrested don't make the paper.

OK, then. To take it point by point:

  • Seems like a number of other schools figured our Nate Brown might not be able to make grades, so if they had time, why didn't we?
  • I agree with giving second chances, and even thirds. I know a lot of fans are from the "zero tolerance" school of discipline. I just don't see where that makes sense. College age students are immature by definition and will do stupid things. I myself benefitted from second chances here and there, and I think it makes some sense. You worry, though, when poor behavior becomes part of a program's culture that you might have problems.
  • Show me the English major indicted for home invasion.

Coach's statements are typical of the way he normally responds under pressure, which is to make excuses and place blame elsewhere. This is a shame, because I believe his personal philosophy and expectation is different from that. Most fans would have been satisfied with everything he said if he started it with "this is completely unacceptable for our program." And I think that's actually how he feels.

It is unacceptable to me, as a fan. I'd rather lose than be embarassed as we have been in the past few months. I don't believe that's the choice--I think you can win and win doing things the right way, and that's what I expect, I think our AD expects that, and I believe that Coach Brandon expects that too.

I'll look at the on the field implications of all this in my next post.

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