After a rather uneventful practice Wednesday morning, things really got interesting Wednesday afternoon when Wyoming announced three players will be suspended for the season-opener against Southern Utah and three others are no longer with the team.
Sophomore starting place-kicker Ian Watts, sophomore cornerback Kenny Browder and true freshman running back Nehemie Kankolongo are suspended for the Sept. 4 opener for that all so popular “violation of team rules.”
Sophomore receiver David Tooley and redshirt freshman safety Larry Mitchell left the team for personal reasons. Redshirt freshman receiver Turmour Battle was kicked off the team for the violation of team rules.
Battle and Mitchell never played so it’s hard to miss guys that hadn’t done anything in a game. They also hadn’t challenged to get into the two-deep roster during their brief time.
Tooley showed promise late last season with a TD catch at San Diego State, and a key grab at CSU that set up a touchdown. He tore two ligaments, some cartilage and cracked a bone in his left leg on that catch and even though he was back for fall camp, he looked tentative.
Obviously, you have to wonder why these kids left or were suspended.
Privacy rules involving student-athletes and schools allow speculation to run rampant on these issues. I’m not going to get into that game. But if you are kicked off a team, it was pretty significant. If it was for one game, it was pretty serious, too. You can punish players with extra running or missed practice time. Taking games away, even if just one, is serious stuff.
Is there a discipline problem in coach Dave Christensen’s program?
Well, you can look at it in two ways:
1. Players did something wrong and that is never good, and it’s never good to hear or read about it. It’s easy to remember when someone does something wrong, and when you see it then the impression is there is a problem.
2. Its not like we see this happen every week. But when it does, action is taken. Christensen seems to be holding players more accountable than they have been in the past. That may be the case with team rules, and other things off the field. Remember, these are college-aged kids. Do you remember when you were their age and in college? I’m not condoning breaking rules, but if these players learn from it and seeing their names in these situations don’t become a pattern then chalk it up to a lesson learned.
I hope the suspended players realize that their actions have an effect on the entire team. Will UW need them against Southern Utah? One wouldn’t think so, but what if the game came down to a final kick and UW didn’t have its best guy because of a mistake he made? Watts made three-game winning kicks last season.
On the other hand, players leaving and being suspended gives others an opportunity to show what they can do. And sports in general is all about opportunity.
I wonder who steps up in this instance?