Boclair: Vandy must ask: Is this what winning football includes?

Friday, July 5, 2013 at 12:46am

It was roughly 10 months ago that Allen Pinkett infamously offered his opinion that Notre Dame’s football program needed a few “criminals” in order to be successful.

To be exact, he said: “I’ve always felt like, to have a successful team, you gotta have a few bad citizens on the team,” Pinkett said during a radio interview. “I mean, that’s how Ohio State used to win all the time. They would have two or three guys that were criminals. That just adds to the chemistry of the team. I think Notre Dame is growing because maybe they have some guys that are doing something worthy of a suspension, which creates edge on the football team. You can’t have a football team full of choirboys. You get your butt kicked if you have a team full of choirboys.”

That he said it out loud was enough to get the former Notre Dame running back suspended without pay for three games from his job as a member of the school’s radio broadcast team.

It also was enough to make one wonder how many folks at Vanderbilt thought the same sort of thing to themselves over the years. Or at Rice. Or at Duke. Or a number of other places, for that matter, where winning football games is much harder than at Notre Dame.

In light of the Metro Nashville Police Department investigation, which began a week ago, of four Vanderbilt football players, among others, for their role in an alleged sex crime, the Commodore faithful now face more serious questions.

Is this what winning football includes? If so, is it worth it?

These, after all, are the good old days for Vanderbilt football. Three bowl games in five years, including back-to-back appearances in 2011 and 2012. Two victories in those three games. Nine wins overall last fall.

Those things don’t happen all the time — or ever — for the black and gold. Those who have waited so long for it to happen have every reason to revel in the sudden success. They also have every reason to be revolted by the current allegations.

No one can deny that the team now plays with more of an edge than it has at any time in recent memories, and last year that was a winning edge.

The four players immediately were suspended and shortly thereafter dismissed from the program and the university. High-profile school employees such as athletics director David Williams and football coach James Franklin clammed up completely in stark contrast to their typical willingness to engage the media in all things Vanderbilt. Absent any sort of meaningful official response, everyone has been left to make up their own minds about the state of affairs on West End.

Pinkett’s comments were deemed worthy of punishment because no one at Notre Dame or anywhere else wanted to believe they were true.

Then again, anyone who recalls Tom Osborne’s time at Nebraska and some of the incidents he dealt with there, namely the Lawrence Phillips affair, can’t help but wonder. Ohio State has, in fact, had its share of off-field issues. The current Aaron Hernandez situation has led many to wonder about Urban Meyer’s tenure at Florida, which included a pair of national championships. Folks in Knoxville, who have enjoyed way more football seasons than those who support the local team, also have seen their share of action on the police blotter.

It would be so easy to just accept this latest incident and conclude that success on the football field comes with a cost beyond what it takes to upgrade facilities, to expand recruiting budgets and to attract a quality staff.

The question Vanderbilt really needs to be asking, though, is this: What can we do to make sure that is not actually the case?

10 Comments on this post:

By: sparkernash on 7/5/13 at 6:59

Absurd. DB, these guys are not high profile super stars, and nothing in their past would have indicated that they were "criminals". They were not high risk guys. You might know who these guys are, but if you don't, let the names come out and do some research on them. They aren't the players that a coaching staff would reach for and hope that they stay out of trouble while they are at Vanderbilt.

So, this isn't a case of ethics getting in the way of big time sports. It's a case of people making bad choices, and I don't see how any of this should reflect on Vanderbilt or the football team.

By: vandyman on 7/5/13 at 9:19

May I point out that no arrests have been made. Also show me any program in the country that hasn't had an "issue" with an athlete. I also would ask you to name a profession that had an issue including politics, clergy, law and medicine. If Vandy was 0-12 who would care. It took Saban 2 weeks to dismiss his players arrested for robbery and assaul. It took VU 6 hours. This article is bad journalism

By: morriscat on 7/5/13 at 10:02

Anyone who attempts to force a choice between the two elementary tasks of academics and athletic enjoyment by suggesting one is bad for the other, when in fact the bad that occurred arose from individual behavior, definitely has an agenda. This world is full of bad individual behavior. But how you can repair the bad by destroying something good is beyond me. I suspect this Boclair dude just doesn't like football. He is also probably an opponent of individual responsibly. He prefers the Village approach.

By: wiseguy1 on 7/5/13 at 11:33

Gotta agree with sparkernash ... ABSURD to link criminal behavior to Athletic success. The concept failed for the 'Crimi-nole' era and Nebraska, and others. I believe what you are seeing is a reflection of our society selectively accepting if not rewarding bad behavior. Exhibit Alec Baldwin and Charlie Sheen. To support my 'selectively' assertion, look at he difference in publicity over Aaron Hernandez being suspected for murder and Paula Deen getting raked over the coals for something she said 27 years ago. Is the difference one is a court of law requiring 'evidence or proof' and the PC police?

Props to VU for supporting Metro police investigation and dismissing players for violating team rules. We don;t know which rules in particular, and don't need to either. Scholarship athletes have an agreement with the university and I'm certain that staying out trouble is part of that agreement. We know good grades are required, certainly good behavior is too. Could be phrased as simple as 'any behavior that would embarrass the University or athletics programs ...'. Part of the recruiting theme is preparation for life after football. Good lesson learned for 4 kids that had a reat opportunity and tossed it in the dust bin for an edgy cheap thrill.

Boclair is obviously struggling for subject matter if he repeats this rubbish.

By: joe41 on 7/5/13 at 8:31

Boclair is obviously in over his head. He neglects to consider that no facts have been put out on this incident so he has no reason to state anything about criminal elements or bad apple. We don't know that and I doubt very seriously that Boclair knows anything that we don't know. I have been a Vandy fan and I remain committed to the program and the coaches. If he knew anything about the program at Vanderbilt, he would know how football players have been instructed in many subjects beyond the Xs and Os and that includes life beyond football. So Boclair, give us facts and not your dribble on subjects that you know little about.

Joe

By: ATFD!!!! on 7/8/13 at 3:50

Really really really bad article. And I usually prefer this paper compared to their competition. But seriously, how about you write an article exposing the other SEC teams who would sweep this under the rug. Find some big donor to financially assist the victim with their pain. At Vanderbilt ABSOLUTELY NOT. Four student athletes who have not been charged yet, presumably did something horrible. Vanderbilt immediately acted and suspended/banned them from campus. Vanderbilt has from what it seems complied with everything Metro has asked. So four athletes, who let's not forget, have probably never played a down at Dudley Field, (making an assumption based off message boards) are what Vanderbilt are using to win football games. Good reporting chump! Thanks for the laugh.

By: courier37027 on 7/8/13 at 7:43

Mr. Boclair, the next time you are on The Zone make sure the screener/producer dumps each caller wanting to discuss this article. Bad reporting makes you an easy target for ridicule.

By: Bellevue on 7/8/13 at 7:55

Is this the City Paper or a Vandy message board? Looks just like a VU message board where paranoid, self righteous VU fans are indigent when any one offers an opposing point-of-view counterproductive to Vanderbilt's image.

By: 4gold on 7/9/13 at 5:44

No No No, not Vandy too. Made me sick to my stomach when I first heard this news. Seems VU fans never get to celebrate for very long. So when they do well, damn right we are going to enjoy it and be proud of our guys. Like it or not State school fans. VU has run a much cleaner program than anyone in the SEC for quite some time and suffered slow rebuilding because of it. This incident is a black eye that will heal but don't want to see anymore repeats for a good long time.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: amabelmathews89 on 7/23/13 at 12:11

That he said it out loud was enough to get the former Notre Dame running back suspended without pay for three games from his job as a member of the school’s radio broadcast team.

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