A cynic would contend that an athletics program grows a conscience a size inversely proportionate to its winning aspirations.
Much is made of college sports criminality on ESPN and the blogosphere and we all enjoy clucking at the latest antics of our hooplehead rivals when they demonstrate that People From That School are beyond the pale of human decency and this explains their degraded economy, morality, and inability to internalize the teachings of One To Grow On.
Of course, we also experience disgust when our own student-athletes feel the need to pistol whip a drug dealer or declare their affiliation for the Aryan Nation on Facebook.
Some find exotic ways to qualify misconduct, but once you reach a public relations carrying capacity of thuggery and mayhem, fans with conscience implore the coaches to clean house and, if the coach has a unsatisfactory record on the field, off-the-field antics are a useful means for sprinting to the moral high ground to urge their firing.
I don't envy Mack Brown's task here one bit. Aside from one shameful period when lazy recruiting allowed some bad guys to reach critical mass, he has acquitted himself extremely well.
Consider the hand college football coaches are dealt.
A football team consists of around 125 guys (walk-ons + scholarships) all told.
125 college age males specifically selected for their high levels of aggression (until we coach them in the running game).
General crime statistics are also instructive: Males lead females 7:1 in terms of major criminality. Males between the ages of 16-24 are at their most violent. Blacks outpace whites. Whites outpace Asians. Southerners outpace Northerners.
A football team is a demographic sample seemingly ripe for mischief.
Now, consider your college experience.
In college, without luck, some judgment, a general ability to communicate wholesomeness to a police officer, and a greater prevailing societal tolerance in the 1990s that boys will be boys, I might have managed the following representative, though not exhaustive, sample on my official record:
Fighting that guy at OU Weekend counts even if you bought him a drink later.
No matter how much I consider hitting a trash-talking Southwest Texas guy in a sleeveless polo shirt with razor-blade lines in his eyebrows on 6th street to be God's work, the law doesn't see it that way.
Minor In Possession -
The lawyers can chime in on this one if this isn't the correct designation, but I had a fake ID for two years.
A federal judge to drop RICO charges.
Slapped with MIP in South Padre on Spring Break. Cops say my friends and I can pay a summary fine to avoid a weekend in jail. Fantastic! We all drive to the ATM con policia escort. Pull out cash. Hand cash to officers. Congrats, you boys are free. Officer, do we need any paperwork to show we paid? No? Okay. We'll just go, then.
Petty Theft -
Grocery store carts for placing friends into and ramming into things.
Yard gnomes for torture and dragging behind trucks.
On a dare, I went to Cain N' Abels and ripped the We Will Card You If You're Under 100 And Breathing sign off of the front door. Bouncer paralyzed by bold action, rendering him impotent. Still possess. No longer displayed as wall art due to marginal growth in taste and/or maturity.
Failure To Pay Traffic Tickets -
What? I really have to pay these? Got a few hours in the pokey.
Not proud of fact. Never caught. Modified behavior quickly on my own.
Public Intoxication -
There is a Whataburger off of Oltorf still experiencing post-traumatic stress syndrome from my late night visit there my junior year.
Incited others to place obnoxious acquaintance in back of U-Haul. Transported to Bastrop. Catch and release.
Incitement to Riot -
Commandeered microphone at bar in Steamboat after Texas-hating Colorado ski bum owner announces it's time for "All Texans to GTFO!" well before closing time. While evading bouncers, I implore bar patrons to "burn this place to the ground!" in the provocative speaking style of Il Duce. Bar patrons enthused but wisely refuse to follow command. See Public Intoxication.
Disorderly Conduct -
Police may use a disorderly conduct charge to keep the peace when people are behaving in a disruptive manner to themselves or others, but present no serious public danger.
A solid summary of my freshman year at UT. Grades reflective.
Your grade in...Biology...One...Oh...Three...Is......Deeeeee...as in David. Good bye, and good luck!
Drug Transportation -
Didn't do them myself, but some friends did. Surely must have transported at some point. A traffic stop away from a possible charge.
Friend shattered front window of Esther's Follies with his ass during a live show after mooning audience from street and losing his balance.
Late one evening, angrily kicked down front door of a Colorado condominium while screaming threats when passed out friends refuse to unclasp front door chain. See strangers cowering in living room. Where are my friends?!?!
I Am Sorry.
I Will Go Now.
Was your experience so different? My offenses were largely of the boys will be boys variety, but they would still fill up Deadspin.
Zero tolerance is foolish and draconian. It disallows personal growth and learning. The puritannical condemnations when one of our players jaywalks makes me chuckle. And excusing the truly inexcusable: Violence against women, shootings, violent assault, mugging, bullying the weak, costs a program its soul.
I listed a representative, though not exhaustive, catalogue of my offenses. Offer yours. After, say, 134 more contributions, then we'll have some idea of the youthful indiscretion that Mack Brown has to deal with, and, perhaps a little more sympathy for his challenge.
We'll also have an array of excellent stories to get us through the early week.
Who is our Ellis T. Jones?