State of the Hogs: The Brooks Saga

Team captain Jermaine Brooks was arrested early Wednesday morning on drugs and weapons charges. Brooks was a fan favorite and supposedly a shining light for the UA football team. All of that has come crashing down, and is hard to believe right now. Here are Clay Henry's thoughts on the Brooks saga.

Usually, I'm a pretty good read on character. I can tell when I'm being hoodwinked and I don't like it when someone tries that on me. I've been covering college sports for almost 30 years and seldom have I been fooled, and my confidence is shaken.

I must admit, I was caught off guard on Jermaine Brooks. Really, I thought he was a good person, and a good example for our youngsters. I've been around him quite a bit over the last few months, mostly just by coincidence.

I know many fans who thought a lot of Jermaine Brooks. Some had them in their home for dinner, all in a way approved by the NCAA. I know those fans are also stunned by what we've learned in the last eight hours.

I've written more about Jermaine Brooks and talked with him more than any player on this football squad in the last six months. When I was looking for our cover boy for our summer magazine, I polled several UA assistant coaches for their suggestion, and all felt that Jermaine Brooks was the right person for the cover.

Obviously, they misread Jermaine Brooks, as did his teammates, who voted overwhelmingly to make him a captain. So, everyone misread Jeremaine Brooks, not just one or two.

There are always a few players on every team that I know have character problems. That goes for every team I've ever covered, in Arkansas and in Oklahoma. You are always going to have a few bad apples. Usually, I can spot them in quick fashion, generally during their freshman years.

Again, this one caught me by complete surprise. If you'd told me that Jermaine used a little marijuana from time to time, I might have nodded my head and written it off as a college kid doing his thing, even though I would also file that away as someone that was breaking the law. But, what we've learned about today is not in that category. It's a horrible thing. It appears he was running a business of selling dope in his apartment, if these reports are accurate.

I guess what we have to do now is think about what damage has been done to the program. It's hard to minimize that right now. I can't help but wonder what the ESPN camera crew that's on campus right now is going to do now. They spent yesterday with Matt Jones and other players at a local elementary school where athletes read to youngsters. It's hard to believe that anything positive like that will be shown on ESPN now. So the damage done to the program could be tremendous, especially with the history of other star athletes being in trouble from this team.

Of course, then there's the matter of what happens with the team. It faces a must-win game Saturday with Ole Miss and Eli Manning on the way to Fayetteville. The task of beating Ole Miss would be formidable without the problems of having your team captain picked up for drug dealing. If there is anyone that this team followed over the past few months, and anyone that stepped out to speak as a leader, it was Jermaine Brooks. It's anyone's guess as to how the team will respond to his arrest and dismissal.

I've said for about two weeks now that this team is bizarre and hard to explain. I guess those words are even more on target now. How this turns out is anyone's guess. I could see it going either way at this point.

I hate like heck to say that I don't know how it's going to turn out, but that's how I feel right now, and I always try to be honest.

Right now, my confidence is shaken. It's not shaken in Houston Nutt. It's not shaken in Jermaine Brooks. It's shaken at the root of my soul. I don't really care if everyone else was fooled by Jermaine Brooks. I don't really care that he fooled his coaches, teammates and many fans that came to know and love him. What bothers me right now is that I've learned that my own judgment is not to be trusted, and I don't like that feeling.

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