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As Promised...THE WORLD
(of alcohol- and testosterone-fueled police brutality)
Posted: Tuesday, July 20th, 2010, 3:24 PM • Permalink
First of all, I don't pretend to know who did what exactly or even really who all was involved in "The Brawl" at Bar Knoxville. There are names that come up consistently, and I believe a few of those to be guiltier than others. But there are too many conflicting reports for me to have any reasonable level of certainty.

So, like any decent, respectable sports fan, I'm going to give my half-informed yet fully formed opinion anyway.

Anyone who receives a second (or third...or fourth) chance and proves they can't stay out of trouble deserves to be dismissed from the team REGARDLESS OF TALENT LEVEL (see Myles, Darren and Jackson, Janzen). So, I think Dooley got the Myles thing right. On the other hand, I don't think he's gotten the Jackson thing right. Maybe JJ's getting some slack by having his publicly known deeds spread out over two different coaching tenures--if you can call Kiffin's time here a "tenure"--but I do think he was holding more Get Out of Jail Free cards than Myles thanks to the stars by his name and his future NFL Draft potential. It's not fair, but then again, neither is talent distribution. I, for one, truly would rather lose with so-called "character" guys than win with today's edition of the late 20th century Miami Hurricanes. That's just me. My dad and I had season tickets to the Wade Houston basketball Vols. We're both alumni. Our Vols are our Vols, especially when they go to class and live and play with class. But when they consistently fail to act like Volunteers, they AREN'T Volunteers.

That said, I understand the various sides of the argument. I can see the point of those who say, "They're 18- to 21-year-old kids. They're gonna make mistakes. It was a bar fight, not a gun fight. Give them a chance to earn their places on the team again." That's fine for the first offenders who were only marginally involved, like, say, a Matt Milton. Everyone needs a second chance. (Notice I wrote "needs" not "deserves.") Even for those with more serious involvement (short of leaving a guy in the ICU), perhaps there should be a second chance. That second chance, however, doesn't have to be here, and it doesn't have to include playing football. I know Derek Dooley is trying to build a program that helps develop a player's character at least as much as his on-field ability, but sometimes the best thing for a person's character is to hit bottom and suffer the fullest consequences of his most egregious errors. Sure, some other school will likely pick up the players we dismiss, but you can only control what you do. And I don't want my school to be USC East or Miami North.

Which, by the way, leads me to AA's stance. He wants it covered up, smoothed over, etc. because he invests a tremendous amount of time and energy into his alma mater's sports teams and wants them to win. This, of course, assumes that we cannot win without the players involved in the brawl. And I don't disagree that it would be next to impossible to have a winning season without those clowns. But as much as I respect AA and his honesty, the day I start to care more about winning than about doing the right thing is the day I stop watching and playing sports.

In that vein I will say that I really like that Dooley suspended Marlon Walls and Greg King who, at the time, hadn't been arrested. I also like that he hasn't suspended Da'Rick Rogers even though he was arrested. (Although I am troubled by the fact that Rogers managed to get himself involved in this mess or at least with this group of people in his first two weeks on campus). Cops, like anyone else, make mistakes. If the accounts I've heard and read (that I trust) are true, then Rogers was merely trying to stop the madness. That doesn't warrant a suspension; it warrants a promotion...if it's true. But if what I'm hearing about Marlon Walls is true, it doesn't warrant a suspension, either. It warrants incarceration.

Hopefully, Dooley has been able to glean a little more information through his own investigations than I've been able to gather from the media and my scant sources. And, hopefully, those "internal disciplinary measures" he keeps talking about actually fit the transgressions of the offenders. He's an attorney, so one would expect him to respect the legal system. That may be why we haven't heard anything more concerning suspensions since the few days immediately following "The Brawl." But his job hinges upon the success of the football team, so people (including myself) will expect him to show leniency if for no other reason than to protect his own wallet. But if Dooley truly is committed to discipline, integrity, and class, here's his chance to put his $1.8 million where his mouth is.

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