ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03: Tyrann Mathieu #7 of the LSU Tigers reacts in the 2011 SEC Championship in Atlanta, Georgia. 8 months later, Mathieu would be dismissed from the Tigers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
College football is much different then what it was years ago. Yes, NCAA football athletes are getting stronger, faster, smarter and all around more athletic. However, what is changing even greater is what goes on off the football field inside the offices of the different athletic departments around the country. Three different gentlemen, three different schools, yet one common consequence across the board. Today, I'm going to look into three men, Miami's Ray-Ray Armstrong, FSU's Greg Reid, and LSU's Tyrann Mathieu, and how their repeated and idiotic decisions quickly caught up to them. Oh, and how it costs them all tens of millions of dollars. No biggie.
Oh Ray-Ray. We all know his story, about how a young man went from the highest of expectations out of high school to the bottom of the sinkhole in the matter of three years. In his junior campaign, Ray-Ray was sidelined for four games due to the Nevin Shapiro scandal and his involvement. If that wasn't a large enough wakeup call, I'm not sure what else could be. Repeatedly, from those 4 games until July of 2012, Ray-Ray was caught doing, well, stupid things. Evil NCAA rule-breaking things. However, these stupid things were in the light of everything else going on at UMiami.
Quick Note: I'm from the Orlando area, and I remember watching Ray-Ray play against my old high school all the way back in 2008. As the ongoing ‘lawsuit' goes on, I just wanted to mention a joke based on his attorney representing him, Matt Morgan. You see, his firm played ads all across the region with the tagline "Morgan & Morgan: For the People." Alas, in reality, it's "Morgan & Morgan: For the Money... and Publicity!" Oh and Matt Morgan also graduated from the University of Florida. Draw your own conclusions there.
Now, to go up north, FSU was in their own little pickle this summer. Their starting senior cornerback, Greg Reid, was also dismissed from the team. Just like Ray-Ray, Reid was removed due to "violation of team rules," according to Coach Jimbo Fisher. Reid was arguably FSU's best player on special teams. Off the field, though, he was suspended in 2011, arrested in 2011 AND 2012. Not too shabby for a Seminole.
LSU, as we all know as well, dismissed their star player Tyrann Mathieu due to, ah once again, "violation of team rules." I could write an entire article just describing Mathieu's successes on the field and how he was a Heisman finalist for the 2011-2012 football season. But, just like Reid & Ray-Ray, he was suspended in 2011. Hello, wakeup call! This time, we publicly know it was for a failed drug test.
These three gentlemen all represent some of the best players on their respective college football teams. Ray-Ray was an anchor for a young, growing Hurricanes defense. Reid was a playmaker on special teams and an excellent cornerback for the Seminoles. Mathieu was, well, a highlight reel on both special teams and defense for the Tigers. Yet, in the new day and age of the NCAA, this all doesn't matter. No longer are players just slapped on the wrists for wrongdoing. Arrests aren't being looked the other way. Drug tests are becoming more accurate and easier to test on large amounts of people. If you violate the rules of either your team, your university, or especially the NCAA, expect some consequences in 2012.
This was not always this way. However, due to the large high-profile scandals and problems arising at some of the largest football programs, teams have to jump the gun more often then not now. If Ray-Ray was kept on Miami's football team, the NCAA would have more then likely found some more dirt to bury not only himself but the rest of the program as well. If Reid was allowed to stay, then an arrest-ridden FSU would have had even more outside pressure to act. If LSU kept their star in Mathieu, it would have caused more distractions and ‘looking into' (as the NCAA likes to call it before they begin an investigation) for a Tigers team that is already on the national spotlight.
Now, a year from now, these three gentlemen may decide to enter the NFL Draft. For Ray-Ray and Reid, it's a must. What did the dismissal from their teams cause them? Tens of millions of dollars. All three men were expected to be first round picks, of course depending on their 2012 campaign. Now, they're left running to Division II schools and hoping that NFL scouts won't look too much into their behavior problems as long as their talent outshines it. Talk about devastating some careers.
The game has changed. In order to keep intact their own integrity, schools are jumping the gun more often then not to remove players from their teams that don't go inline with their rules and expectations.
To sum it up, the NCAA has this fancy tagline for all of these scenarios: ""There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again." (Thanks President George W. Bush!)
Mess up once, shame on you. Mess up again, you can't fool the NCAA or your team again. Game over.
Second Quick Note (I'm a fan of quick notes): My name is Seth and I'm the newest addition to the 7th Floor Blog! Born and raised in Daytona Beach, a sleepy town an hour outside of Orlando, I go to the U now as a student. I'm psyched to have an outlet to talk about my Hurricanes! This is my first article yet and more will come throughout the year! Thanks, and Go 'Canes!