You would have to search far and wide to find someone who thinks Mississippi State’s decision to admit defensive end Jeffery Simmons and suspend him from only one football game was the right thing to do. But Simmons has been admitted and it’s unlikely that Mississippi State will back down. There is nothing in the Southeastern Conference handbook that can prevent it although the league does have a “Serious Misconduct” bylaw that would prevent a player transferring in from another school. The rule, which defines serious misconduct as “sexual assault, domestic violence, other forms of sexual violence, dating violence or stalking, or conduct of a nature that creates serious concerns about the safety of others” does not apply to incoming freshmen.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has admitted he’s not comfortable with the decision. You can imagine that both the SEC and Mississippi State will take plenty of heat, not just in the summer months but probably during the season for allowing Simmons to play in 2016. Tony Barnhart, as respected a college football writer as there is, has opined that if Mississippi State admits Simmons he should, at the very least, have to sit an entire year. That’s what Oklahoma did with Joe Mixon, who broke a woman’s jaw, and the school is still being questioned for even allowing Mixon to enroll in school.
Florida running back Chris Rainey sent a threatening text message to a Gainesville woman in 2010 and the result was a 5-game suspension. Rainey never physically assaulted the woman but the mere threat was enough that Florida sidelined him for 5 games and didn’t reinstate him until he had completed an anger management course.
So a single game suspension for Simmons does seem like a slap on the wrist.
In making its decision, Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin says the school did a thorough background check and found no evidence of any violence in Simmons past prior to an incident when he was caught on video striking a woman several times as she lay on the ground. Investigators in Noxubee County ruled out sexual or domestic violence and filed charges of simple assault against Simmons. Stricklin said last week that sexual assault or domestic violence charges would have changed the equation when the decision was made if that’s any consolation.
Perhaps Simmons is a fine kid whose temper simply got the best of him for the first time in his life. We’ve all heard of or known someone in our lives who made one bad mistake but turned his or her life around and never once crossed that line again. And, most of us can recall someone who made that first mistake, said it would never happen again and then what followed was a lifetime marred by one mistake after another.
Maybe Simmons is that kid who is truly shocked that his temper could get the best of him. Maybe he’s that kid who would never in a hundred years strike a woman or anyone else in anger ever again.
If Simmons stays out of trouble and becomes a model citizen during his time in Starkville, then we’ll one day praise Stricklin and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen for sticking with the kid and giving him a chance when just about everyone in the country was howling for harsher punishment at a minimum; turning their back on the kid at a maximum.
But what happens if Simmons loses it again? What happens if he hits someone in anger and that person is permanently injured or disfigured? We have to remember that every single inmate in every single prison or jail began their road to life behind bars with one incident. In some cases once was enough for some judge to sentence him or her to months or years in the slammer. For others, once was like turning on a faucet of bad.
I don’t profess to be wise enough to know all the answers in this case but I do believe that a single game suspension doesn’t in any way seem appropriate.
SEC IN ATHLON UNIT RANKINGS
Athlon’s Southeastern Conference football magazine is on the stands. Here is a look at their unit rankings for each team in the SEC.
National unit rankings:
QB: (7) Ole Miss
RB: (2) LSU, (7) Georgia, (8) Tennessee
WR/TE: (2) Alabama, (3) Texas A&M, (4) Ole Miss, (10) Arkansas
OL: (2) Alabama, (3) LSU, (10) Tennessee
DL: (1) Alabama, (4) LSU, (6) Missouri, (7) Ole Miss, (10) Tennessee
LB: (1) Alabama, (3) Tennessee, (8) Georgia, (9) Florida
DB: (1) Alabama, (2) LSU, (3) Florida, (10) Georgia
SEC Unit Rankings:
QB: (1) Ole Miss, (2) Tennessee, (3) LSU, (4) Texas A&M, (5) Alabama; (6) Georgia, (7) Arkansas, (8) Florida, (9) Kentucky, (10) Mississippi State, (11) South Carolina, (12) Auburn, (13) Vanderbilt, (14) Missouri
RB: (1) LSU, (2), Georgia, (3) Tennessee, (4) Alabama, (5) Auburn, (6) Kentucky, (7) Vanderbilt, (8) Texas A&M, (9) Florida, (10) Arkansas, (11) Ole Miss, (12) Mississippi State, (13) South Carolina, (14) Missouri
WR/TE: (1) Alabama, (2) Texas A&M, (3) Ole Miss, (4) Arkansas, (5) LSU, (6) Mississippi State, (7) Tennessee, (8) Kentucky, (9) Florida, (10), Georgia, (11) Auburn, (12) Vanderbilt, (13) Missouri, (14) South Carolina
OL: (1) Alabama, (2) LSU, (3) Tennessee, (4) Auburn, (5) Georgia, (6) Ole Miss, (7) Texas A&M, (8) Arkansas, (9) Florida, (10) Kentucky, (11) Mississippi State, (12) Vanderbilt, (13) South Carolina, (14) Missouri
DL: (1) Alabama, (2) LSU, (3) Missouri, (4) Ole Miss, (5) Tennessee, (6) Florida, (7) Texas A&M, (8) Auburn, (9) Arkansas, (10) Georgia, (11) Mississippi State, (12) Vanderbilt, (13) South Carolina, (14) Kentucky
LB: (1) Alabama, (2) Tennessee, (3) Georgia, (4) Florida, (5) Vanderbilt, (6) Missouri, (7) LSU, (8) South Carolina, (9) Mississippi State, (10) Arkansas, (11) Auburn, (12) Ole Miss, (13) Texas A&M, (14) Kentucky
DB: (1) Alabama, (2) LSU, (3) Florida, (4) Georgia, (5) Ole Miss, (6) Tennessee, (7) Texas A&M, (8) Vanderbilt, (9) Auburn, (10) Missouri, (11) Mississippi State, (12) Arkansas, (13) Kentucky, (14) South Carolina
QUOTE OF THE DAY
From Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen via Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated: “Every SEC West team had a winning record last year. Somebody’s got to finish last.”
NEWS FROM AROUND THE SEC
Alabama: Kendell Jones, a 6-5, 375-pound defensive tackle who signed with the Crimson Tide, won’t qualify and will enroll in Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Mississippi.
Arkansas: The Razorback Foundation, which raises money for Arkansas athletics, reported $39.2 million in gifts last year, which is an increase of $11.2 million from the year before. The foundation reported that former head coach and athletic director Frank Broyles received nearly $3.5 million for speeches and former head basketball coach John Pelphrey was paid $136,000 as part of a settlement for the final payment of his buyout from when he was fired in 2011.
Auburn: Octavius Matthews, the nation’s top junior college running back for 2017, flipped his commitment from Louisville to Auburn ... Gus Malzahn’s contract was extended through 2020. He got a raise to $4.725 million but the buyout remains the same at $2,237,500 per year.
Georgia: For someone who has never been a head coach, Kirby Smart is being paid like a veteran. His first year contract at Georgia is $3.75 million, which ranks him 21st nationally according to USA Today.
LSU: Incoming freshman defensive tackle Edwin Alexander isn’t enrolled in summer school because he’s still trying to become academically eligible. Freshman DE Andre Anthony isn’t enrolled but his transcripts are being reviewed by the NCAA clearinghouse.
Missouri: There are reports that Oklahoma graduate transfer running back Alex Ross will enroll at Missouri. Ross gained 786 yards in three years at Oklahoma, gaining 595 while scoring 4 TDs in 2014.
Ole Miss: The south end zone construction is nearly complete at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. When finished it will raise seating capacity to around 66,000.
South Carolina: Will Muschamp says the priority at South Carolina is “Score more points. Make the scoreboard go up. That’s going to help … If I had to point to one thing, that’s what we need to do and that falls on my shoulders – nobody else’s.”
Tennessee: Not everybody is going ga-ga over Tennessee. Jon Solomon, the fine reporter for CBSSports.com writes, “There’s no doubt they should be the favorite based on talent, based on who’s returning. I still have to see it to believe it with Tennessee these days. We hear it every year – they’re back, they’re back.” Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated isn’t sold on the Vols, either. Staples writes, “They need to beat Florida for the first time since 2004. It’s insane to say that Tennessee hasn’t beaten Florida since Facebook was in its infancy.”
Texas A&M: Texas A&M is the only school in the nation to reach the postseason in the five highest profile sports – football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball.
The SEC Baseball Tournament isn’t going anywhere. After hearing pitches from Jacksonville, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans, the conference elected to stay put in Hoover, Alabama, where there is a commitment to
Among the pallbearers for Muhammad Ali’s funeral are Will Smith, who played Ali in the movie “Ali,” and former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis.
Terrance Ferguson, once committed to Alabama but signed with Arizona instead, is thinking to play pro basketball in Europe next year rather than spend a year on a college campus. He goes to school at something called Advanced Preparatory International in Dallas, which was once called Prime Prep. What this tells me is that Ferguson is probably a non-qualifier.
Long-time O.J. Simpson buddy Ron Shipp believes that O.J. will confess that he actually killed Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goodman. A jury has already acquitted O.J. for the murders so he could confess without fear of double jeopardy. Simpson is in prison in Nevada where Shipp says he weighs approximately 300 pounds.
If you want to see a college baseball coach go ballistic, check out North Carolina State HBC Elliot Avent lose it over ball/strike calls against Coastal Carolina Monday afternoon. I’m actually surprised the home plate umpire waited as long as he did before he rang him up.
And speaking of North Carolina State, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an uglier baseball jersey than the one the Wolfpack wore in the second game against Coastal on Monday night.
Dave Bing, one of he great shooters in basketball history and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, calls Stephen Curry “absolutely the best shooter that has played the game.” The only shooter Bing puts in Curry’s league is Larry Bird.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Should SEC commissioner Greg Sankey to intervene at Mississippi State? Should he at least suspend Simmons for one year?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
The rise and fall of The Box Tops in the 1960s had everything to do with the band figuring out they were being fleeced by managers and record companies. For about three years (1967-70), however, they were one of the best blue-eyed soul bands in the country. Today’s music is “The Best of the Box Tops.”