De’Andre Johnson

Woman-punching ex-FSU QB gets second chance at East Mississippi CC

7 Comments

Just to be clear, just about everyone is entitled to a second chance, even those caught on security camera punching a woman right in the face at a bar. What you do with such a second chance may not erase what happened before, but every college football player is fully capable of changing their ways and getting back on the right track. This is the situation for former Florida State quarterback De’Andre Johnson, who has now enrolled at East Mississippi Community College after being dismissed from Florida State earlier this summer.

Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reported Friday afternoon Johnson had enrolled at the community college, saying he expects to play football this fall. Classes begin on Monday for Johnson.

Johnson was indefinitely suspended by Florida State in early July after being accused of hitting a woman at a bar. He was charged for misdemeanor battery by local authorities, and that was soon followed up by the revealed security footage showing the act in all its viciousness. Once that video made the rounds, Florida State dismissed Johnson from the program. This, coupled with the ongoing Dalvin Cook situation eerily similar in circumstances, led Florida State president to step in and meet with the football program to ensure players on the football program are educated about behavior. A course specifically designed to focus on off-field responsibilities has now been outlined.

As for Johnson, a former four-star recruit, the time to make changes is now. Gone is the spotlight that comes with being a Florida State player, but if he can clean up his act off the field and put in work on it, then he will very likely be given another chance to play big time college football somewhere in the future. Scouts will be sure to keep tabs on his performance on the field while continuing to monitor what happens off the field. It is not too late to turn things around and play out a successful career in college football.

People can change. They do so all the time. Here’s hoping Johnson has truly learned his lesson and will become a better man because of it.

Jimbo: ‘There’s no tolerance for hitting women’

18 Comments

Florida State has faced a P.R. nightmare the last month or so, with one player dismissed from the football program after a video surfaced of him punching a woman in the face at a bar and, a short time later, the star running back accused of the very same thing.

Not surprisingly, the off-field issues for his football program have taken center stage for Jimbo Fisher at the ACC Kickoff event in Pinehurst, NC, this week.  According to the FSU head coach, neither he nor his football program has any patience for a player who lays a hand on the opposite sex, which he (correctly) states is a problem that’s not unique to the Seminoles.

There’s no tolerance for hitting women,” Fisher stated. “You’re judged by what you do and we’ve had a couple of instances, just like other people have, too. It’s not a Florida State problem, it’s a national problem. It’s not just an athletic problem, it’s a domestic problem across our country. … we don’t tolerate it or accept it.”

Fisher, though, has been criticized because of his handling of the Cook situation, with many suggesting he’s still a part of the team, albeit suspended, because he’s the team’s top back — Cook led the ‘Noles in rushing as a true freshman last season. In explaining why Cook remains on the team (no video of the alleged punch has surfaced) while De’Andre Johnson was booted (video surfaced), Fisher stated plainly that “[w]ith each case you wait for the facts to come out.”

Because of the negative attention brought on the university by these situations, FSU president John Thrasher had what some have described as a come-to-Jesus meeting with the football team earlier this month.  Fisher says that’s simply part of the ongoing effort to educate all of his players.

“You have to continue to educate your kids,” Fisher said. “We’ve had a very extensive program. We go 40 days a year of bringing in character-building people, developmental conditioning with issues: drugs, alcohol, opposite sex, domestic violence. We’ve done it from the very first day I’ve been there.”

ESPN.com writes that, as part of that ongoing education, “[t]he players are in a new four-step program and are coming off a five-hour seminar that was originally planned for August.” Just one week prior to Johnson’s arrest, former Navy SEALs spoke to the team about making good off-field decisions. Fisher is also good friends with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has agreed to work with the football team as part of his “Pass the Peace” campaign, which supports victims of domestic violence. Former Seminoles, including Charlie Ward and Myron Rolle, have offered their services to come back and speak to the team.

Both the Cook and Johnson incidents took place at Tallahassee drinking establishments, which led to reports that Fisher had banned his players from bars. According to Fisher, the players themselves were involved in the decision to “avoid” bars and nightclubs and the like.

“They said they’re not putting themselves in those positions,” said the coach. “It’s a collective ban. They collectively as a group said the same thing, ‘we don’t need to be in there.'”

FSU president meets football team: They will be held accountable for their actions

26 Comments

On Friday Florida State president John Thrasher issued a statement that called for head coach Jimbo Fisher to meet with the football program following a week of troubling headlines tied to the program. On Saturday Fisher did just that, issuing a ban on players attending bars in the process. On Monday, Thrasher took manners into his own hands and addressed the football program himself.

“In light of recent off-field incidents, I reiterated to our players that they simply cannot put themselves in situations that reflect poor behavior or cause harm to others,” a public statement from Thrasher read on Florida State’s official website after the meeting. “They must remember that playing football for FSU is a privilege, not a right. The actions of a few have the capacity to do serious damage to the reputation of our entire university.”

“I told them their coaches, the Athletics administration and I will do all we can to support them and help them learn the values we expect them to uphold,” Thrasher added. “But they will be held accountable for their actions.”

Florida State dismissed quarterback De’Andre Johnson from the program after security video footage surfaced of him punching a woman in a bar. Running back Dalvin Cook was suspended for allegedly punching a woman several times in a separate incident just one day after Johnson’s incident.

“We need to do better,” Thrasher said in his public statement, echoing the words from Fisher’s statement on Friday. “[A]nd I want to assure you changes will be made to address these concerns.”

FSU’s Dalvin Cook cited last year for chaining three puppies together

50 Comments

And the P.R. hits keep on a coming for the Florida State football program.

Shortly after FSU announced that true freshman quarterback De’Andre Johnson had been dismissed from the team for punching a woman in the face at a bar, reports surfaced that teammate Dalvin Cook had been arrested and charged after punching a woman in the face at a bar, prompting head coach Jimbo Fisher to reportedly ban his Seminole players from frequenting drinking establishments.  As it turns out, this isn’t Cook’s first distasteful brush with the law during his brief time in Tallahassee.

Andy Staples of SI.com has uncovered an official document that shows Cook was cited by the City of Tallahassee Animal Services in July of last year.  From Staples’ report, as well as a redacted copy of the citation Cook was issued:

Meanwhile, on July 25, 2014, Cook was cited for violating two aspects of Tallahassee’s city ordinance involving animal care. According to a report attached to the citations, Cook had three pit bull puppies—the officer estimated one to be eight months old and two to be two months old—chained together. “The dogs were tethered directly around the neck by a heavy chain,” animal control officer Sheree Mifflin wrote. “The dogs were unable to move and the smaller puppies were choking.” Mifflin wrote that Cook could not provide any identification, so she called a Tallahassee police officer to identify Cook. Cook was fined $275 for chaining the dogs in that manner and $275 for failing to provide shelter. According to Leon County’s official records site, the cases for both citations remain open.

Dalvin Cook Dog Citation

(Expect to see a Dalvin Cook/FSU/PETA post at some point here this week.)

But wait, there’s more. Cook’s actually had three off-field situations as the running back was charged with criminal mischief for the infamous BB-gun fight that damaged several vehicles.

What if any impact this pooch narrative, when combined with punching a woman, will have on Cook’s status with the team moving forward is unclear. Barring a Johnson-like video surfacing — and given the fact that Cook led the ‘Noles in rushing as a true freshman last season — the guess here is that his status with the team will be just fine. Whether that’s right or wrong is another story for another day.

Report: Jimbo Fisher bans FSU players from bars

81 Comments

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said he would make it a point to demand better from his players away from the football field. It looks as though banning his players from going out to bars is one of those steps.

Jim Henry of The Tallahassee Democrat reports, via Twitter, Fisher met with his Seminoles program earlier on Saturday. During the meeting, Fisher issued a program-wide ban from bars for his players after two players — quarterback DeAndre Johnson and running back Dalvin Cook — were linked to separate assault incidents at nearby bars. Hey, it’s one way to try to change something. It may not be entirely effective, but it is most certainly an effort on the part of Fisher, who

“We spend a good deal of time educating our student-athletes about appropriate behavior and their responsibilities as representatives of Florida State,” Fisher said in a public statement Friday. “The majority of our players are exemplary, but clearly we must place an even stronger emphasis on this, and I personally promise we will.”

Fisher’s statement was accompanied by another release form the university president, promising action to change whatever the university can to ensure the football program is not an embarrassment in the headlines.

“I have asked Coach Fisher and Athletics Director Stan Wilcox to develop a plan to help our student-athletes understand the consequences of these kinds of actions,” Florida State University president John Thrasher said in his own release Friday. “This will include Coach Fisher meeting immediately with his team to reiterate, in no uncertain terms, our expectations of them.” Fisher upheld his end of the bargain and, if true, took some action in attempting to prevent his players from getting into trouble at a bar.

Now the responsibility falls back on the individuals it really always belonged to in the first place; the players. Administrators can lecture all they want and seek guidance form as many resources as possible. Coaches can make all the rules they want for their players. Just as it has always been, it is now up to the players to hold up their end of the deal and represent Florida State in a positive way, rather than a negative fashion.