College Football Needs A Makeover From The Inside
It seems as if college football is spiraling out of control.
Sure, there have always been arrests and suspensions in college football. It's pretty much par for the course when you have a bunch of young men who supervise themselves, and don't always make the right decision.
However, lately, it seems as if the arrests and suspensions are increasing at a dramatic rate, highlighted by the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu from LSU last Friday. The amount of talent being wasted is almost too much to be believed.
In fact, so many star players have been dismissed from their respective programs, CBS Sports' Bryan Fischer compiled an "All-Castoff Team" made up only of players who had been dismissed from a program this year. On paper, the team would easily make a bowl this season.
Locally, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are not immune to the rash of suspensions and arrests sweeping the country.
OU suspended four players, Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks, Kameel Jackson, and Quinton Hayes, indefinitely in May, and added Stacy McGee to that list Friday. Reynolds, Franks and Hayes are practicing once again with the team, but won't be playing in games anytime soon. Jackson has been dismissed and has moved on to Louisiana-Monroe. There is no timetable for McGee's return.
For OSU, their main issue has been the law of the land, not the law of the football team. Several players have had run-ins with the law since last season began, with Christian Littlehead having three all by himself, although the charges from his last run-in were dropped. Michael Bowie was dismissed at the beginning of August for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
It's sad to see football players young men live their lives as if they are above rules and laws. Sure, they're going to make mistakes, but it's one thing to make a mistake and a completely different thing to choose to violate a rule because you want to have fun, or you think you're entitled to something.
The people who are in the worst position of all are their coaches. Many athletes have said their coaches were some of the most influential people in their lives, and that's how it should be. A coach should be a role model, a mentor. They should never have to be the parent, explaining what is right and wrong to a 22-year old man.
OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops says dealing with players that have broken rules is the hardest part of being a head coach.
"You try to educate them and teach them the right way to do things, but there are consequences for all our decisions and they're no different," Stoops said. "They certainly know right from wrong, the teams' goals and values and what is sacred to us. Sometimes kids can stray away from those and you try to educate them and bring them back."
His brother, OU head coach Bob Stoops agreed, saying coaches try to help players in the right direction, but in reality, there is only so much they can do.
"We do try to be positive influences, guide them, teach them, direct them," Stoops said. "You have patience when you can, and to certain degrees, the patience is over. You've done all you can and they're not willing to do things they feel need to be done to improve themself."
Mike said no coach ever wants to dismiss a player, but when it does have to happen, there is pain involved.
"They get rid of themselves," Stoops said. "It's hard because they don't get it sometimes. The hardest thing is when a great player doesn't get it. It hurts you. Sometimes it hurts you more than it hurts them because you see the potential they possess but you can't want it more than they want it."
If that's the case, there is a lot of pain amongst college football coaches right now.
Ultimately, it's the players themselves who have to grow up and be responsible for themselves and starting being mature adults. Teenagers hate it when parents hold their hands, but when pull away from their parents' grasp, they prove they're not ready to make decisions on their own.
There are too many players like that in college football, and it's giving the standup young men in the sport a bad name.
College football needs to change, but this time, it's not the structure of the sport itself, but the attitudes of those who play.