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

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

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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.

Five FSU players subpoenaed in De’Andre Johnson case

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Just when you thought the De’Andre Johnson situation was slowing down, the case bubbles back to the surface yet again.

Florida State’s Attorney Willie Meggs (pictured) confirmed to the Tallahassee Democrat that he has issued subpoenas for a total of five Florida State football players: redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Wilson Bell, sophomore defensive back Malique Jackson, sophomore linebacker Jacob Pugh, redshirt freshman tight end Mavin Sanders and freshman wide receiver Auden Tate. Bell and Tate have already been questioned by Meggs, while the other three will meet with him Friday.

Meggs stated that there’s a possibility of additional Seminole football players being subpoenaed, although he declined to divulge any names.

The five players already subpoenaed left a Tallahassee bar with Johnson, per the Democrat’s report, the night of June 26 when he was arrested and charged after punching a woman in the face.  The Democrat, though, went on to write that “Meggs said he did not know if all five players were at the bar at the same time or if they all went out together.”

The 2015 four-star quarterback signee was initially suspended by FSU, then dismissed from the football program after video of the incident became public.

 

Meggs stated that, in his questioning of Bell and Tate, he “gained some information” as to what transpired that night last month. The video seems to show Johnson making the initial physical contact, which is exactly how Meggs and his office viewed the video and why the female victim is not facing any charges.

“A person’s entitled to use self-defense if they’re being battered by someone else, and she certainly was entitled to do what she did,” Meggs said. “She didn’t commit a crime is the reason she’s not charged with a crime.”

Johnson’s lawyer has publicly claimed that racial slurs were directed at his client by the woman prior to the punch.

Tony Casillas chastises Sooners for handling of Joe Mixon in wake of FSU’s dismissal of QB

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You just had a feeling something like this was going to happen.

As you are well aware, Florida State dismissed touted 2015 quarterback signee De’Andre Johnson after video of him punching a woman in the face surfaced.  Some in the media had compared the situation to one at Oklahoma, with the obvious difference being that touted 2014 signee Joe Mixon was suspended for one season for doing the exact same thing as Johnson, punching a woman in the face at a bar.

The fact that the Sooners allowed Mixon to return is something that’s not sitting well with a former OU great, especially in light of FSU’s handling of Johnson as well as how the university handled a recent fraternity hubbub that drew national headlines.  From Tony Casillas‘ Facebook rant he posted on Twitter:

The biggest difference between the Mixon and Johnson cases?  Johnson’s video was released, leaving FSU with absolutely no choice but to boot him from the team.  While Mixon’s video was viewed by select members of the media, it was never released publicly per the order of the judge presiding over the case.

Would OU’s decision have been different if the video had seen the light of day?  It’s highly likely it would’ve as the calls from fans and the media would’ve been extremely loud and forceful based on the fact that the woman he punched suffered four broken bones in her face as a result of the punch.  Should it have made a difference that the public didn’t see it?  That’s for the readers to decide, although I’ll subscribe to The Ol’ Ball Coach’s theory when it comes to any man who lays his hands on a woman.

One final note on one similarity between the two cases: in both instances, the lawyers for Mixon and Johnson went public in stating that the punches thrown by their respective clients were preceded by racial slurs being lobbed at the players by the female victims.

Lawyer: woman hurled racial slurs prior to ex-FSU QB’s punch

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Not surprisingly, there’s yet another twist in the De’Andre Johnson saga.

Charged with a misdemeanor for an incident at a Tallahassee night club late last month, the quarterback was suspended and ultimately dismissed by Florida State after video of him punching a woman in the face went public, with FSU’s president issuing a statement of support for head coach Jimbo Fisher‘s decision.  According to Johnson’s lawyer, however, there are mitigating factors behind the punch.

From our pals at NBC News:

The woman raised her fist and shouted “racial epithets” at Johnson when the player accidentally made contact when he was walking up to the bar, lawyer Jose Baez told NBC News.

Johnson “tried to deescalate the situation” but the woman “kneed him in the groin area” and “took another swing before he retaliated,” the attorney added.

The lawyer stated that he has witnesses who heard the racial slurs, although Johnson “makes no excuses for what happened.”

Baez, mostly known as the defense attorney in the infamous Casey Anthony case, added that while his client wasn’t the initial aggressor, he’s “owning this” situation and trying to learn from it.

“All he wants to do is learn from this experience and move on and get an education,” Baez said. “We certainly don’t want him to pay for the rest of his life for an incident that occurred in a bar.”

According to Baez, Johnson is currently volunteering at a battered woman’s shelter.