McDaniel

There are many things I don't understand. Why is it that Tennessee football player Tony McDaniel breaks somebody's jaw during a pickup basketball game and most people scream about the leniency of a two-game suspension, but Robert Ayers breaks somebody's jaw, gets two games, and nobody complains?

Why is it that McDaniel gets little sympathy as a first-time offender?

Why is it that when McDaniel warns everyone on the court that the next person that fouls him will get decked, it's considered premeditated instead of fair warning?

Make no mistake, what Tony McDaniel did was wrong.

But should he be kicked off the team for a one-punch lapse of judgment? Should he be suspended for the season? Should he be kicked out of UT?

Should the public embarrassment be considered part of the punishment? Was he given special treatment because he's a football player? Would a regular student have been suspended for the fall semester?

I don't know the answer to all of these questions. But let's tackle a few.

First, why has McDaniel been ripped by the majority of UT fans and Ayers almost ignored?

Maybe it's because McDaniel sucker punched his victim from behind while Ayers was embroiled in face-to-face combat. Maybe it's because McDaniel weighs almost 300 pounds while Ayers weighs 251. Maybe it's because McDaniel is a bigger name.

It's worth noting that the judicial system was harsher on McDaniel than Ayers. Both had felonies reduced to misdemeanor assault, but Ayers got judicial diversion, meaning his record can be wiped clean within a year, but McDaniel did not. Apparently, Ayers' victim didn't fight judicial diversion while McDaniel's did.

McDaniel was offered felony judicial diversion and his record could have been expunged after three years. But he didn't want to plead guilty to a felony.

Secondly, the fact McDaniel was a first-time offender does matter. That's why the courts agreed to reduce the charge from a felony. Prior history is a strong factor in the eyes of the judicial court, if not the court of public opinion.

You might argue that if McDaniel had killed Edward D. Goodrich, it wouldn't matter if he were a first-time offender. You're right. But what if Goodrich had escaped with a black eye and no broken bones?

You can play the ``what if'' game. But you have to deal with what happened, not what might have happened.

Thirdly, I don't see evidence that McDaniel was given special treatment by the courts because he was a football player. He was treated the same way as most first-time offenders – with a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor.

What exactly happened between McDaniel and Goodrich during that fateful pickup game on Jan. 8?

I finally saw the video Wednesday. It's disturbing.

After a frustrated McDaniel warned against being fouled again, McDaniel drove the lane and was bumped by Goodrich, who was trying to block a shot. McDaniel was knocked to the floor. McDaniel quickly regained his feet and waylaid Goodrich, who never saw the punch coming.

McDaniel did not stand over Goodrich and taunt him, as some have claimed.

According to sources, there was no evidence Goodrich had fouled McDaniel in three previous pickup games. And for the record, a warning by McDaniel does not justify slugging someone for fouling you.

Almost as disturbing as the punch was what happened afterward. The court cleared. People walked away. No one tended to Goodrich for a full 60 seconds.

McDaniel walked away and out of the gym. So did four or five other UT football players involved in the pickup game.

That, folks, is shameful -- an embarrassment to the football team.

A man gets cold-cocked and no one – not one football player – cares enough to come to his aid. Are you kidding?

What a sad commentary on Phillip Fulmer's program.

One source said one person playing in the pickup game – not a football player – went to the front desk to report the incident.

If I were Fulmer, everyone of those players who showed disregard for a fellow man would be banned from playing intramural or pickup basketball games and would be punished. Hopefully, Fulmer didn't let them get away with such insensitive behavior.

Of great debate is McDaniel's team punishment.

Mike Hamilton, Tennessee athletic director, said he supports the two-game suspension of McDaniel, noting that McDaniel was suspended from the team during the spring and that hours received the first semester of summer school were negated.

Considering UT has had more than a dozen players cited or arrested over the past 18 months, you might suggest a one-year suspension for McDaniel. But it would be unfair to punish McDaniel because numerous players were arrested or cited AFTER McDaniel punched Goodrich.

Was the two-game suspension too lenient?

Yes. But kicking McDaniel off the team would be too harsh.

I would have suspended McDaniel for five games and not allowed him to redshirt. That way, he would have about 20 games left in his college career, not 25 or 26.

And I'd warn the rest of the team the way McDaniel warned his victim: The next Vol to commit a criminal foul gets decked – kicked off the team.

The time for tolerance is over.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories