Missouri’s Michael Sam may or may not be drafted by an NFL team. He may or may not ever play a down in the NFL. Time will tell how many doors he has helped open to those hiding their sexual preferences from others. One thing we do know is that Sam’s announcement earlier this week has forced athletic directors and football coaches everywhere to take a good hard look at their programs to ensure they would be able to address the situation of having a gay football player in the their program as admirably as Missouri’s football program appears to have done.
Sam opened up to his team in August before the start of the season. Missouri’s football team and coaches came together and showed support for their teammate by not leaking the information to the media or public, which allowed Sam to confirm the news on his own terms. Some players from other programs have said their school would handle it the same way or that Sam would have no problem being in the same locker room as the rest of the team, but the Associated Press learned multiple schools are reviewing their policies to ensure they would have the same kind of environment Missouri created.
“One of the first things I did was go back to our senior staff and say, ‘OK, let’s look at our policy. Let’s make sure we don’t have any issues here,” said Troy AD John Hartwell. “Because at the end of the day, you’re going to have teammates that are of a different race than you are, of a different nationality, of a different economic background, possibly of a different sexual orientation — with a whole variety of beliefs.”
“In today’s society, it’s more of a media (thing) — are you prepared for the media?” TCU Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said. “And if you’re not, let’s give you the tools necessary to help you.”
Sam is not the first gay football player, nor will he be the last. With schools around the country taking the time now to ensure they would be able to properly and respectfully handle having a gay football player in their program, it may not be much longer before another player breaks his silence.
Normally in-game violence doesn’t result in off-field legal ramifications, but this is (rightly) one of the rare exceptions.
Earlier this month, Tennessee State defensive end Latrelle Lee was not only dismissed from the FCS program but expelled from the university after he punched Tigers strength & conditioning coach T.J. Greenstone twice in the head on the sideline during a game. Greenstone serves as TSU’s “get-back” coach for players, charged with keeping them from creeping toward the field of play and, in the process, keeping the team from drawing a flag.
The unprovoked assault was caught on video and quickly went viral.
As a result of that incident, Lee, who had been a criminal justice major prior to his expulsion, has been arrested on one count of felony assault, The Tennessean is reporting. Lee was subsequently released Monday night after a $7,500 bond was posted, and has an initial court date scheduled for Dec. 8; he had been scheduled to graduate Dec. 9.
According to the arrest affidavit, “[t]he victim has subsequently been having medical difficulties as a result [of] the altercation.”
“We, of course, do not condone any act of violence within our department and are very disturbed by the action of one of our students,” a statement from athletic director Teresa Phillips released shortly after the Nov. 11 incident began. “We are committed to supporting the coach who was personally affected and our concern now is with him.”
Thus far, there has been no public comment from the football program or the university on this latest development, nor have they updated the status of the coach who was the victim of the assault.
While Baker Mayfield‘s crotch-grabbing histrionics last weekend will cost him this weekend, the same can’t be said for his Heisman hopes — at least when it comes to wagering establishments.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold opened the 2017 season as Bovada.lv‘s favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, only to be overtaken after Week 1 by Louisville quarterback and reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson — he was the prohibitive favorite in mid-September… only to see Jackson leapfrogged by the Oklahoma quarterback two weeks later… only to see Mayfield overtaken by Penn State running back Saquon Barkley — he was the overwhelming favorite in late October… only for Barkley to be overtaken by Mayfield the first week of November. Mayfield has been a steadily increasing favorite since, with last week’s odds featuring just him (as the overwhelming favorite at 1/20), Barkley and Love.
This week’s odds? There are none. From Bovada:
Heisman odds are currently off the board as Baker Mayfield is too big of a favorite. He was 1/20 last week and would be even bigger this week.
Other oddsmakers followed suit, as noted by ESPN.com:
MGM had Mayfield listed at -250 as of last Monday, when the book took the odds off the board in compliance with Nevada Gaming Control regulations. The Westgate SuperBook closed Mayfield as even a bigger favorite at -2,000 on Sunday.
Those odds were pulled, however, as the NGC requires all betting on the Heisman to cease on Nov.19, per ESPN. Bovada doesn’t fall under the auspices of the NGC, so they could’ve technically continued laying odds on Heisman race.
The assistant manager at Westgate confirmed to ESPN that the book is looking at a loss if (when?) Mayfield wins the Heisman. It’s likely that other books could very well be facing the same predicament.
Much-needed, hard lesson learned, maybe?
While he was subjected to a lack-of-class moment by Kansas in the pregame and then a couple of questionable hits during this past Saturday’s game, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield showed his backside by very graphically grabbing his front in a heated response. While he truly apologized in the postgame aftermath, OU announced Monday that the Heisman Trophy front-runner will not start this weekend’s regular-season finale against West Virginia.
Not only that, Mayfield was stripped of his captaincy for that finale. On Senior Day, his last-ever game in Norman no less.
That latter aspect of the punishment proved to be almost too much for Mayfield to deal with, with the quarterback becoming visibly emotional when discussing with the media his lost captaincy Monday night.
“Playing at OU was something that I always dreamed of,” Mayfield said. “Not starting, it is what it is.
“But not being a team captain is so much more. It would be hard if it were a regular game or not, but it being my last one here ever, it means a lot more. It’s going to be tough, because Saturday was going to be — without all of this — an emotional one. It’s going to be hard to handle, but … it’s going to be hard.”
OU has already secured one spot in the Big 12 championship game, most likely against TCU. The Sooners are also ranked fourth in the most recent College Football Playoff Top 25 and will earn one of the four semifinal slots if they win their next two games.
Arkansas’ one-time starting quarterback will return for the Razorbacks’ season finale. Whether he sees the field is another matter entirely.
Cole Kelley was arrested for driving while intoxicated and reckless driving earlier this month. A day after the arrest, Kelley was indefinitely suspended by the football program and missed UA’s Week 12 game.
Monday, that suspension officially came to an end after one game as head coach Bret Bielema confirmed that the redshirt freshman has rejoined the team.
“He’ll be back full-go with us again,” Bielema said by way of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Left unsaid is whether Kelley will play in the Week 13 matchup with Missouri Friday afternoon, in part because he’s still recovering from an injury.
Austin Allen started the first five games of the season before going down with a shoulder injury. Kelley replaced him and started the next four, with Allen returning to his starting role the last two weeks against LSU and Mississippi State.
Kelley is 2-2 as the starter this year and Allen 2-5 for a Razorbacks team that won’t be going bowling for the first time since Bielema’s first season in 2013. This week’s game could also mark Bielema’s last as UA’s head coach.