Sophomore RB Glenn Winston has been released from the Ingham County Jail and has rejoined the MSU football team as it starts practices this week. This is significant as it gives us a glimpse into how Coach Dantonio will work with his student athletes who make significant wrong choices in life and end up having to make amends to more than just a coach or a professor. It got me thinking about the differences, if any, in approach between Dantonio and past MSU coaches when it came to significant issues such as legal trouble.
One of the most obvious and serious events that comes to mind was when TE Eric Knott and QB Damon Dowdell were involved in an incident with a 13 year old girl in Detroit. The incident occurred while they were both recruits, and it occurred during the "changeover" year from Nick Saban to Bobby Williams. Both were eventually admitted to the university and saw playing time with the team. MSU student groups, including the Womyn's Council, protested outside Spartan Stadium during games. (Anyone remember the 49-3 thumping UM gave MSU in 2002? Starting at QB that game was Damon Dowdell. Who did he throw the most passes to? Eric Knott.) 2nd Chance.
After the aforementioned UM game, RB Dawan Moss dragged a police officer with his car while he was out drinking and driving, and was quickly charged with felony eluding a police officer. He was kicked off of the team about the same time that Coach Williams was replaced by Morris Watts. Kicked Off Team.
A few years ago Jeff Smoker had his substance abuse issues. He left the team mid-season and was checked into a drug treatment facility. While this is technically different than legal action against him, it brings up many of the same questions. It helped to contribute to the downfall of his coach, Bobby Williams, and one of the first major issues Coach Smith had to deal with was the steps Smoker needed to complete to rejoin the team. 2nd Chance.
And last summer, three football players were cited for briefly running from police on campus. Charles Burrell, Mitchel White, and Cameron Jude were all allowed to stay on the team after the situation was resolved. 2nd Chance.
So, it looks like 2nd chances are somewhat normal in these situations, even when the events that trigger them are major, such as sexual assault and substance abuse. Some will argue that football players are role models and these things should not be tolerated. Others will say that these are kids who make mistakes in life, and need this amazing 2nd chance to keep from falling into a worse situation in life. What do you think?