What Happens Next?

A college student was arrested early Tuesday morning. Somebody from that demo visits the slammer all the time. This particular college student was Darius Paul, an athlete at Illinois.

It was bound to happen.

A college student was arrested early Tuesday morning. Somebody from that demo visits the slammer all the time. This particular college student was Darius Paul, an athlete at Illinois.

That doesn't happen all the time.

In fact, no active Illini football or basketball player has taken a mug shot since I started covering Illinois in August 2012. That's not to say every member of the football and basketball teams has acted like a perfect angel.

After all, these are college kids here, 18 to 20-something year olds, we're talking about here.

This is the first instance in a long time where a major mistake was made in public, where a bad decision led to the spotlight and embarrassing headlines.

It's not a good look, but it's the first of it's kind in a long time. That speaks to the type of kids John Groce and Tim Beckman have recruited and the culture each has established.

Kids at Illinois don't get in trouble very often. It rarely happens. That much we know.

Now we get to find out what happens when they do.

If what we know about Paul's actions late Monday/early Tuesday is it (underage drinking, resisting an officer), if there's nothing more beneath the surface and he's been honest with Groce and the staff in the follow-up… what can we expect?

Perhaps a suspension to start next season and plenty of in-house punishment to make sure a point is conveyed thoroughly enough. Clearly Paul made a few mistakes. He compounded those mistakes with more mistakes. Looking it over, there's plenty of teaching moments stemming from this.

Groce knows his kids. He'll decide what action to take with Paul based on what Paul needs and who Paul is. Is this isolated? Is there a pattern? Wrong place at the wrong time or is there an underlying problem? Groce will know. How Groce handles this will tell us what we need to know.

A mistake like this, on paper, shouldn't end a career. It should serve as a major wake-up call and not just for Paul. Nobody is invincible. Nobody is perfect, either.

It's just been so long since an Illinois player showed up in an arrest report.


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