This was the image that
graced disgraced my Facebook wall when I sat down at my computer last night. Placed there by a cheap shot artist who wishes more than anything else in the world that his blood really was Wildcat blue instead of beautiful red. A reference to Michael Dyer's presence on the Louisville football roster despite situations where he was linked to synthetic marijuana and a legally owned/ registered firearm. It was jab taken despite the fact that Michael Dyer was never formally charged with any crime, in so far as those situations were concerned.
Alright. That kind of trollish response is to be expected from a UK fan. That type of response can be easily handled by merely pointing out that the University of Kentucky's football team has had plenty of real run-ins with the law in recent memory that resulted in real charges being filed. Most notably (Courtesy of A Sea of Blue):
Raymond Sanders, RB, Jr. (Sept. 13, 2012): who was arrested for possession of real marijuana, and suspended for just one game, senior at Kentucky.
T.J. Jones, OT, Fr. (Jan. 4, 2013): carrying a gun on school property at Myrtle Beach High, Dismissed by Stoops.
Marcus Caffey, CB, Fr. (Sept. 13, 2012): marijuana possession, missed the season because of failing to qualify academically. Dismissed by Stoops.
Bookie Cobbins, WR, Fr. (Sept. 13, 2012): marijuana possession, sophomore at Kentucky. Told to transfer by Stoops.
Ridge Wilson LB, Sr. (Feb. 26, 2012): felony drug trafficking, dismissed by Joker Phillips from the team, transferred to West Alabama, undrafted free agent with Kansas City Chiefs.
Ridge Wilson, LB, Fr. (Sept. 2009): fourth-degree assault, suspended, reinstated.
Mark Crawford, DT, Jr. (Feb. 27, 2011): careless driving, failure to maintain required insurance and driving on a suspended or revoked license, suspended four games.
Mike Hartline, QB, Sr. (Dec. 10, 2010): second-degree disorderly conduct, alcohol intoxication in a public place and failure to notify the Department of Transportation of an address change, completed court-ordered community service and alcohol counseling to get charges dismissed, suspended one game.
Matt Roark, WR, So. (Oct. 24, 2010): driving under the influence, failure to maintain insurance. Pleaded guilty, sentenced to four days of house arrest with no alcohol during that span. Suspended one game despite UK's "no tolerance policy" for alcohol related offenses that was instituted back in 1998 after the death of football player.
Ashley Lowery, Safety, (July 2013): Cited for DUI after a crashing a car with a blood alcohol content of 1.38 (nearly two hours after the accident). Still on the team and "waiting for the legal process to play out" despite the aforementioned "no tolerance policy" for alcohol related offenses.
A Cardinal fan expects this type of hypocritical response from the BBN. A Cardinal fan expects a UK fan to lash out wildly without looking in the mirror first. That's what makes it so easy for us to to laugh it off and respond with facts that illuminate the planks in their eyes. However, a Cardinal fan doesn't expect such ignorance to come in the form of a college football writer
employed empowered by a publication like USA Today.
Yesterday, in response to Coach Strong's comments regarding Michael Dyer, Dan Wolken tweeted out that:
"Taking a guy with Dyer's past and talking about rehabilitation is the height of cynicism in sports. You're a FB coach, not a therapist."
Then, today, Mr. Wolken appeared on ESPN 680's "In the Zone" with Jason Anderson and said that:
"Charlie Strong is not giving a scholarship to a guy who can't play....... that's just a a fantasy...... man up and admit you did it because you think it will help you win games."
Well, Dan, aside from the fact that you just told the manliest man on the planet to "man up," as a national sports writer for a publication as prestigious as USA Today, you should probably go ahead and remove your foot from your mouth.
You see, I don't think that "cynicism" means what you think it does, Dan. To be cynical is (according to Websters) to "have a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest." Charlie talking about rehabilitating Dyer isn't cynical on his part, because he knows he can help kids turn their lives around. Implying that Coach Strong's motives are not what he claims them to be, and that he has accepted Dyer purely in his own self interest? Well, that is the definition of cynical.
In Charlie Strong's second year at the University of Louisville, during the summer of 2011, a young man named Darius Ashley was charged with his second DUI in seven months. Ashley had been a major contributor to the team the year before after making the switch from running back to defensive back, and would have been a major contributor to the team in the 2011-2012 season. Yet instead of cutting Ashely loose, Strong embraced him and manned up to his decision in front of the media by saying:
"It’s more than just a game. He may never play another down for us but we can help him and make sure we can get him on the right track. Right now he’s suspended but we’re going to provide him the proper resources to get him the proper help so he doesn’t make this decision again."
In spite of Mr. Wolken's claims, even though he wasn't playing, Charlie did keep Ashley on scholarship. Without playing another down of football for the University of Louisville, Darius, with the help of a football coach, addressed his issues with alcohol abuse and became the first person in his family to earn a college degree. He went on to earn his MBA from the University of Louisville on his own dime.
I suppose that to a guy who comes from a place that claims to be "America's First Resort," and earned his degree out of state at Vanderbilt, this story would seem like a fantasy. I don't know for sure, but I'd venture to say that Dan wouldn't know the first thing about about growing up in an environment like the one Dyer did. I'd also venture to say that Dan wouldn't know the first thing about needing a strong male figure to reach out when everyone else thinks he should cut his losses.
It is only Dan's fault that he didn't have the journalistic integrity to look at Coach Strong's track record in similar situations before making a fool of himself; but, I suppose that it's not really Dan's fault that he doesn't understand that dynamic. I suppose that if you were in Dan's position and you saw a highly coveted coach like Charlie Strong turn down a destination job like Tennessee to stay at Louisville, you just might think you were hallucinating. I suppose that if you write about coaches like Les Miles putting it to his players on whether or not to let a kid who assaults someone in a bar play again, and then throwing his hands up and saying, "they made that call, not me," you would think the story of Charlie Strong is fantasy.
To say that Michael Dyer is here at Louisville because he can help the team win is merely stating the obvious. Any player accepted into a program, and given a scholarship, is there to help the team. That's a given. However, to insinuate that college coaches coach football and nothing else is a pretty narrow lens to look through. To say that accepting a player like Dyer, or not cutting a player like Ashley loose, is nothing more than an ulterior motive aimed at increasing your win total? Well, that is the height of cynicism.
You see the way Coach Strong publicly handles things like the Dyer situation and call it fantasy, we call it Tuesday.