I got a heads-up from a couple people on Wednesday that a certain player for a certain team was going to be certainly suspended for a certain upcoming game against a certain Akron Zips. It had apparently been making the rounds on the message boards. Now, I didn't really want to blurt it out at the time given that many rumors float around the message boards and never come to pass. When I heard nothing else about it by the afternoon, I figured it had to be bunk.
Much to my chagrin, and to all our chagrins, that rumor was true. Star wide receiver Mike Williams was suspended before the Akron game for the dreaded "violating unspecified team rules" and did not play. The rumor had been that it was academics-related. Doug, care to expand on that?
"I'm not allowed to comment on an academic matter for a student," Marrone said. "We're not allowed to tell grades. We're not allowed to do that. I'm going to go back - the decisions made and the timing of the decisions were always made in the best interests in the program. That's it."
Well then. Speaking of that decision, despite the fact that it was clearly in the works all week, the official word didn't come down until just prior to game time. The reason Strategy, my good man! !
"I think decisions are made, the timing of those decisions are always made in the best interests of the program," Marrone said. "My philosophy is, I believe in privacy for the student-athlete. That's what I believe in."
Now, in situations like this usually the athlete needs to be a sound, lucid, intelligent statement themselves in order to clear the air and announce their intentions on moving forward. Your Facebook page is probably not the best outlet for that (via Axe):
"I HATE COLLEGE I CANT SEE ME DOING THIS FOR LONG.HINT HINT.-0 LMAO"
LMAO? No LMAO, Michael. No LMAO at all. Williams' has since updated his status:
"Everyone, I am staying in school to get my degree Sorry for the false information out there."
False information? Does Mike Williams have that disease where you hands move independently of your brain? Dude, Mike, you don't need to retract. I agree. School sucks. I just wish you'd be honest with yourself and us that you're leaving after this season. We know it. You know it. No hard feelings. We just ask that you get through THIS season without any further numbskull moves. Cool? Cool.
Jared Diamond at the D.O. let Williams have it in his column, saying Mike betrayed the trust of the fans, the players and Coach Marrone:
By missing Saturday's game, Williams let down his teammates, who count on him to shoulder the bulk of the load. He let down the Syracuse fan base, which has showered him with nothing but adulation ever since his return to the field.
And most importantly, he let down Marrone, who stuck his neck out for Williams just to let him on the team at all. His football career was on the verge of collapse - another NFL-caliber prospect who fizzled out in college. These stories are a dime a dozen.
Marrone gave Williams a second chance. Williams disrespected the one man who had the power and authority to help him.
Certainly I can agree that Williams has in some way betrayed the trust that has been given to him. But I would say that Marrone, being a leader and molder of men, did the right thing and Mike Williams will probably be better for it. It sounds like Williams' is having issues, be they academic or otherwise, and to cast him aside at this point would be foolish for his growth.
Marrone did say that Williams' suspension is over now and he will play against Cincinnati (as will formerly suspended player E.J. Carter). How he responds to this 3rd chance will be critical for Williams' sake, as well as the team's chances against the No. 5 Bearcats. I give the final word to Brent Axe on the matter:
Look, I don't know what he did to get suspended nor do I really care to know. "Violation of team rules" could mean a ton of things. All I know is this team dodged a big bullet by having Williams out for this game and not having that really hurt the team. I don't even know if he'll understand the severity of his actions that led to suspension because the team won without him. You have to wonder if this suspension will even humble him a little bit considering the circumstances.