If you're a Louisville fan who's spent any time on the Internet or talking to the friend of a friend of a friend of an insider recently, you've probably heard something about Michael Dyer. He's the former Auburn running back who has been linked to U of L in a number of rumors, and billed as Mitch McConnell's opposition in the upcoming U.S. Senate race in another.
Though absolutely nothing regarding Louisville and Dyer has either been confirmed or denied, the rumblings have become too loud to ignore anymore. That means, at the very least, we ought to get to know this guy a little better.
To start with, Michael Dyer is a stud. He burst onto the national scene back in 2010 when he rushed for 1,093 yards on 182 carries and five touchdowns, breaking Bo Jackson's freshman rushing record at Auburn. Not a bad note to start your resume with.
Dyer reached his pinnacle as a national name during the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, in which he rushed 22 times for 143 yards and was named the game's Most Outstanding Offensive Player. He put the Tigers in position to kick the game winning field goal ("for all the Tostitos") with this insane run in the 4th quarter.
There was no sophomore slump for Dyer, who was named first team All-SEC in 2011 when he rushed for 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and 103.5 yards per game. After just two seasons, Dyer found himself at No. 10 on Auburn's all-time rushing list.
The story gets decidedly less warm and fuzzy now.
Prior to Auburn's appearance in the 2011 Cick-fil-A Bowl, Dyer was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules. He was then released from his scholarship on Jan. 6, 2012.
Dyer chose to follow his former offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, to Arkansas State, where he would be forced to sit out the 2012 season per NCAA transfer rules before beginning play with the Red Wolves. That plan also hit a curve when he was pulled over for speeding on March 10, 2012. A police officer discovered a gun in Dyer's car and confiscated it, but only charged him with speeding. A recording of the traffic stop was released to the media in July, and Dyer was dismissed from the team a day later.
Now the story gets a little warmer and fuzzier.
Dyer ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, where he chose to put football on the back burner in order to focus on himself and his academics. It would seem to be a move that has paid off.
Dyer earned his associate's degree in the spring, passing 46 hours in two semesters and a summer session, according to documents obtained by USA Today. He compiled a 3.6 grade-point average in the fall, a 3.337 GPA in the spring and 4.00 GPA in the summer session in June.
Dyer's mentor, Arkansas Baptist College president Fitz Hill, is in the running back's corner as he attempts to land at a school before fall practices across the country begin in August.
"He's been misunderstood," Hill tells USA Today. "I have the utmost belief in him as an individual. I can vouch for him, based on what he's done at Arkansas Baptist College."
So where does Louisville fit into all of this?
According to multiple sources, U of L was one of the schools who had contact with Dyer during his time at Arkansas Baptist, although Charlie Strong and company were initially unwilling to offer him a roster spot. Since that time, Dyer has - according to ESPN's Joe Schad - remained hopeful that Louisville would offer him a scholarship. Enter the recent rumors of mutual interest.
Dyer has two years of eligibility remaining, and he will be able to play immediately wherever he winds up.
The most telling bit of information might be a recent tweet from Zeke Pike, a former highly-touted Auburn signee who also came to U of L after getting into a bit of trouble down South.
I'm Blessed to play for a man that cares more about changing lives and growing boys into men then the game of football! #CardNation— Zeke Pike (@Zeke_P_) July 22, 2013
Pike then followed that tweet up by agreeing with a tweet about Dyer's past issues not being a concern with the staff the Cards have in place.
Louisville has taken players who had run into a bit of trouble at other programs both under this regime and past ones. Sometimes it's paid enormous dividends (Nate Harris, Montrell Jones, etc.) and sometimes it's blown up in their faces (hey, Willie Williams). The best thing U of L has going for it right now with regards to these situations is that it has a no-nonsense staff that makes it known pretty clearly what the repercussions of a slip-up are going to entail. Look, I really, really like candy and ice cream, but if the result of disobeying a no candy and ice cream rule was a face-to-face with Pat Moorer, I'd find a find a way to lay off the candy and ice cream.
IF the opportunity does in fact present itself, I don't think you can pass up the opportunity to add Michael Dyer to your roster. If he does one tiny thing you don't like, then you can ship him out (or keep him on the sidelines) and say "so it goes." If he does everything asked of him - which he's shown the ability to do over the past year and-a-half - then you're adding another potential All-American to your offense.