Should we care?
We are lucky enough to have Sunday's only because we have Saturday's. The modern iteration of professional football would not be possible without the minor league system that is college athletics. The irony of referring to it as amateur athletics has been well documented, but needs to be addressed again in light of recent events.
The Honey Badger burst onto the season last year for all football fans. After a video of his namesake went viral, LSU cornerback/kick returner Tyrann Mathieu became a cult sensation of sort as the Tigers made a run to the national championship game. The story of his trying upbringing emerged during the lull of bowl season, but it was ignored as soon as he stepped onto the field. Some considered him a Heisman candidate, a rare consideration for a primarily defensive player.
But new broke yesterday morning that he was being dismissed from the Tigers program by Les Miles and co. Rumours began to swirl that it was another failed drug test.
So now the question will be brought up for the first time. Should we care?
Almost immediately as soon as his dismissal was announced, draft pundits begun pegging his stock as sinking from a mid-first rounder into the second or third round. Rumours of a transfer to an FCS school where he would be immediately eligible, away from the eye of NCAA transfer rules, swirled within minutes. Word is that he is already committed McNeese St., a school just hours from his home in New Orleans.
This is the same school that Tennessee castoff Janzen Jackson attended last season after he got he heave from the Vols. His wrongdoings include being loosely involved in an armed robbery near the campus before eventually being dismissed for "unspecified" reasons. The one time five-star ended up signing as an undrafted free agent with the Giants this offseason.
Isaih Crowell has the best back in the nation in the class of 2010, and thought to be a future star. After a stellar freshman season with Georgia, he too ran into some trouble. Pulled over with a gun. Dismissed from the team. So off he goes to Alabama St. Another immediate transfer.
Michael Dyer was the star back during Cam Newton's magical season at Auburn. The true freshman ran all over the SEC as they were too busy worrying about Cam. But wouldn't you know, he too ran into some issues and made his was to Arkansas St. You know the rest, except this went a little further as he was dismissed from the second institution as well.
One star player after another, and likely dozens if not hundreds more dismissed from teams across the country for various run ins with the law. These schools are offering them access to play football under the veil of an education, so they feel as if they have the right to dismiss them if they do not abide by their rules. The ones that work for the money are dismissed by the ones making the money, but that is an argument for another day.
This all traces back to Sunday.
Should we care?
Many of these players that fall out of favour in the college ranks are still able to make their ways into the pro ranks. While many of their stocks fall, they are gobbled up in the late rounds or quickly once free agency opens up following the draft. There is the adage that they have red flags due to character issues. But at the end of the day it seems as if the pro teams are more concerned with their skills than their track record.
Marvin Austin. Greg Little. Robert Quinn. All three were dismissed from UNC for agent interactions. All three got drafted fairly high and are going to be impact pros.
Should we care what players do on their own time? Or how about in their past? Should that hang over their heads, or be dismissed as kids being kids? If you kicked out every pro with a rap sheet, it would be hard to keep the rosters full.
Bryce Brown made his debut for the Eagles in the first week of preseason action. The former jewel of Lane Kiffin's Vols class had bounced around for years until getting drafted with a 7th round flier this year. He showed good jump on a long run down the sideline in his pro debut.
Should we care what happens from Monday to Saturday? Or just accept the players as part of our obsessive need for football related entertainment? That is truly what the sport has turned into. Entertainment.
Fantasy football. Following the draft. Following players on Twitter. Consuming entire days on the couch on Sunday. We use these players as a way to entertain ourselves, and then act holier than thou when they slip up. Surely I am no fan of guns and robbery, but we cannot begin to understand what life is like for the athletes.
It has been stated by college coaches that upon reading the Facebook and Twitter postings of some of their recruits, they have become less inclined to recruit certain players. We want all the good and none of the bad. We would like to imagine that these athletes are robots, hired to perform for us without being alive. Bring them in on recruiting trips, and they will act on their best behaviour, but when the veneer is removed and we see that they are flawed just like you and I, we cringe and go in search of more wholesome candidates to represent our institutional corporations.
Should we care? Sure we should. But think before you start caring.