Douglas Status In Jeopardy, Mason Demoted

As with any player discipline situation, there are always consequences. In the case of the Jason Douglas incident, another player now has to pay the price.

Jason Douglas' status with the Pitt team is not looking good. Douglas, who was arrested early Sunday morning, following a hit-and-run on Pittsburgh's South Side, is currently awaiting his hearing Thursday morning. His charges include aggravated assault while driving under the influence.

Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt met with the media Wednesday morning--his first meeting with the media since Pitt's 38-16 win over New Hampshire. A lot has happened off the field, since Saturday's win. Wannstedt wanted to take the time to address some of the issues he has facing his team.

"The Jason Douglas situation is very, very disappointing," Wannstedt said. "I think everyone knows that's not what this football team is about. He has been suspended indefinitely, we know that. He has a hearing (Thursday). The likelihood of him returning to this team is seriously in jeopardy. I'll have further statements concerning him, as time goes on.

"You're jeopardizing your college career, and your college education. It's very unfortunate for all parties involved."

Douglas returned three kickoffs against Utah, in the season-opener, for a total of 70 yards. He also saw the first action of his career at running back against New Hampshire, carrying the ball three times for eight yards.

Dan Mason, who was a passenger in Douglas' vehicle, took over as a full-time starter this season, as just a sophomore. For being a passenger in the car--and Wannstedt would not elaborate on if there was anything else that Mason was involved in--Wannstedt has decided to demote Mason to the second-team. The reasoning is that even though Mason was a passenger in the car, he expects his starters to use better judgment.

"Dan has got to understand and learn to make better decisions as far as what he's doing, where he's at, who he's with," Wannstedt said. "As a result--this happened two days ago--I moved Dan to second team linebacker, middle linebacker. Max Gruder will be the middle, Tristan Roberts to the other side."

Obviously, there's plenty of time for Mason to make it up to the coaching staff. As only a true sophomore, he was the youngest player in the starting lineup. Through two games, he was the team's leading tackler, and he is starting ahead of some other juniors--not necessarily inside-backers, but he was given an opportunity before some of the older outside backers, Tristan Roberts being one.

Wannstedt took the time to meet with Mason and his family--a meeting he called very positive.

"I met with Dan Mason's mother this morning, and his family," Wannstedt said. "As I told his mother this morning, and Dan, this is for his good. He needs to prove to me that he can do the right things and be accountable off the field, in the classroom, and on the football field. If he does that, he'll get his job back.

"This is not a football decision. This is a combination of accountability with academics and just being smart off the field. He'll be evaluated day-by-day. He practiced well (Tuesday). He was out there. It was a good meeting--very, very positive."

The changes go into effect immediately. Max Gruder, who played middle linebacker in high school, will start there for the Miami game. Greg Williams moves back to the strong side, while Tristan Roberts will make his first career start next Thursday night, playing on the weak side.

Wannstedt's hopes, from all of this, is that the rest of the team takes a strong message from this whole situation.

"Our guys know," Wannstedt said. "Did we address it? Yes. They understand what's involved. They understand right from wrong, and its very unfortunate, uncharacteristic."

Panther Digest Top Stories