Posts Tagged ‘Police’
Once again, the Tennessee Volunteers are in the news for bad behavior, and once more it is a member of the Tennessee football team that is responsible for the bad press that the university and the athletic department is garnering.
According to GoVolsXtra, Tennessee punter Britton Colquitt was arrested and charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. According to the police, Colquitt was arrested near Knoxville's Old City District after driving his SUV into a parked car and then leaving the scene of the accident. The arresting officer indicated that Colquitt smelled strongly of alcohol, failed a field sobriety test, but later refused a breathalyzer or blood test.
This represents Colquitt's fifth alcohol-related incident ...
In response to the arrest and charges, Coach Phillip Fulmer announced on Sunday that Colquitt will be suspended for the first five games of the 2008 football season, will lose his scholarship, and will be required to undergo alcohol counseling, along with other undisclosed "internal punishments." Colquitt was previously suspended for an alcohol-related event in 2004.
Colquitt's arrest is the most recent in a seemingly unending string of off-the-field incidents involving Tennessee Football players. Since 11 January, six members of the football team have been charged by police, one other player (Vince Faison) was also charged with DUI, less than two weeks ago.
Now I understand that a coach cannot -- even under the best of circumstances -- be expected to watch over their players 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That said, the alarming number of arrests in just over four weeks, is a bad sign that something is dreadfully wrong in the football program. There is no question that an occasional misstep will occur -- athletes are no different than the normal population in that regard. Everyone with a brain understands that, from time-to-time, there are going to be athletes which have public run-ins with law enforcement or university discipline. Six arrests in five weeks, however, is completely unacceptable for the Tennessee Football program or any other program.
I understand that members of the football team are only a year or two out of high school, and that we have all made mistakes while young that we wished we could undo. Nonetheless, this rampage of bad behavior by Tennessee Football players has to stop, and stop now. Several weeks ago I wrote -- in response to the arrest of Anthony Parker -- that while I did not condone the activities which had led to the arrest of several Vols, at least all the infractions had been relatively "harmless" crimes. Brandon Colquitt just changed all of that.
Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense, that could have left someone injured or dead. There is zero excuse for Colquitt's actions, and it is an embarrassment to the University of Tennessee. Colquitt only ran into a parked car, but I am not willing to wait until someone is injured or killed for the football program to take actions to end the ridiculous actions of some of the members of the Vols' football team.
Now I understand that the vast majority of the team's members have -- at a minimum -- avoided any entanglements with the police. That said, each member reflects directly on the team and the university as a whole. Thus, if one is guilty, then all are guilty. This sort of institutional discipline is necessary to truly create a "team."
So where does that sort of discipline start? Discipline comes from the top, and Phillip Fulmer is the man ultimately responsible. As the leader of the Tennessee Football program, all the bad behavior of the Vols rests at his feet. While I realize he cannot prevent it completely, he has the ability -- and the responsibility -- to impose penalties which will make errant players understand the consequences of their actions and which will discourage future incidents by others.
While I have been a pro-Fulmer voice for a very long time, if this sort of trend continues, that voice will change -- not due to Fulmer's performance on the field, but due to his inability to control his players while off the field. I am not willing to have the University of Tennessee and its reputation denigrated by a bunch of young men who apparently feel that the law does not apply to them.
Winning is not that important...
Furthermore, in my opinion, the penalty imposed by Coach Fulmer on Colquitt -- while substantial -- is not enough. I understand Fulmer's desire to temper his discipline with mercy, but Colquitt has proven that he does not understand his mistakes. He has already been given more second-chances than anyone should receive. I understand that his family has a long tradition at the University of Tennessee, and that they have been wonderful supporters of the program.
Be that as it may, in the opinion of this writer, there should no longer be a place on the Tennessee football team for Britton Colquitt...
I understand that many will disagree with me on this, but there are some things that simply require a severing of ties. Colquitt has had his opportunities to straighten-up, and he has obviously not taken heed. While I do feel for Colquitt, and hope that he gets help for his problems with alcohol, however, he has made too many decisions which are contrary to the University of Tennessee, its alumni, and the football program. What's more, allowing Colquitt to remain sends a strong message to the remaining members of the football program:
...if you act out, you'll still be able to play for the Vols.Obviously, Fulmer has not taken the step of dismissing Colquitt -- that is his prerogative. If the air clears, and there are no further incidents in the near term, then, perhaps, Fulmer will be vindicated in this regard. I hope that happens. On the other hand, if there is one more incident involving the Vols and the police, it will be time for Phillip Fulmer to go. Period.
As much respect as I have for Coach Fulmer and what he has done for this university, I will not allow it to be embarrassed by the football program. One more off-the-field incident, and it will be time for a change.
I hope both Coach Fulmer and the rest of the football Vols remember this as they go forward...
Image Courtesy of: UTSports.com • Also See: GoVolsXtra
Alright, I admit it, this rant has been building up for a while now ... about 23 years. The first time I saw Ted Valentine officiate a basketball game, I was a kid, and it was the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament which used to be played in my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Up until that point in my life, I never really gave much thought to the referees and their role in a basketball game. Ted Valentine made sure I never neglected to think of the officials ever again... From the moment that game began, it became obvious that Valentine wanted everyone in the Asheville Civic Center to realize that he was there, and he was in charge. He wanted to make sure that no one forgot him. Even to this day, I can hardly remember the name of any of the players in the game, but I still remember Valentine.
[singlepic=473,320,240,,]Since that game, I've probably seen Valentine officiate close to 20 games in person, and who knows how many on television. How do I know that? In every game Ted Valentine calls, he goes to great lengths to make sure that no one in a game ever forgets him, whether they be players coaches or fans. When Ted Valentine is on the floor, he makes it clear that the players get to compete at his pleasure. His overly-aggressive and antagonistic on-court persona dominates. When Valentine is officiating, it is about him -- God forbid the actual game get in the way of his opportunity to strut. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that officials do have a difficult job. They are charged with overseeing the collision of, often legendary, drive, strength, and egos -- and that's just the fans in the seats. I know they get a lot of lip, and very little credit -- when they do their job right, no one realizes they were there. They are supposed to be cool, objective, and dispassionate. They have to deal with mad coaches, jacked-up players, and fanatical boosters. I know this because my father used to referee high school basketball, and a close family friend is a college official. Still, that is what they sign up for; it's not like a person is required to serve as a basketball official. Ted Valentine has never been accused of being cool, objective, or dispassionate. He has had run-ins with the coaches of almost every major school in the country. Don't take my word for it, a quick Google of "Ted Valentine" will yield a litany of rants and raves -- some from respected journalists. Even I must admit, however, that Valentine is some kind of genius. Valentine is the only person I've ever seen that, the worse he did his job, the more rapidly he moved up the ranks... In my opinion, Valentine has no business officiating any basketball game. Of course no one cares what I think, and the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Big XII, NCAA, and numerous other conferences continue to give Valentine choice assignments -- including the NCAA Final Four. So why am I writing all of this now? Valentine officiated the Tennessee vs. Florida game, and yet again he managed to make himself known. In this instance it was a technical foul called against J.P. Prince immediately after getting hammered to the floor by Florida's Dan Werner. As he slammed Prince to the ground, Werner was immediately called for an intentional foul by one of the other officials. Prince got up -- admittedly -- angry, yet no shoving occurred. Valentine, however, ran all the way across the floor and immediately called a technical against Prince. Now, I wasn't standing there. I cannot say that Prince didn't earn the technical honestly (Yeah, I know that's an odd way of putting it...). In fact, I can guarantee you that -- most likely -- Prince did earn the foul -- I'd have been pissed too if I had just taken an elbow drop the way he did. I have to give all of that to Valentine. Still, sometimes, as an official you have to exercise a little discretion. Sometimes, you have to balance a "technical" violation of the rules against the intent and purpose of the rules. As every official I've ever spoken with has told me, you could call a foul on every single play, but that's not what the referee is there for. You have to let the players play the game. That is, unless you are Ted Valentine...