Think UT's got problems?

You probably know the feeling: You try on last summer's clothes and realize you put on several pounds over the winter. You're feeling awful about this until you notice your next-door neighbor has put on even more pounds than you did. Suddenly, you feel a little better about your own waistline.

That's the feeling I got while reading today's lead story at It concerns former Florida State University linebacker A.J. Nicholson, who is such a trouble magnet that he makes the University of Tennessee's most troubled athletes look tame by comparison.

According to the report, Nicholson was arrested twice during his FSU days on alcohol-related charges. He was suspended from the Seminole squad prior to the Orange Bowl because a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her at the team hotel. No charges were placed, however, so the Cincinnati Bengals selected Nicholson with a fifth-round pick in the recent NFL Draft.

Nicholson suggested he'd justify the Bengals' trust by rising above his checkered past. His halo has sustained a little tarnish, however, now that he is wanted on burglary and grand theft charges in connection with the robbing of former FSU teammate Lorenzo Booker's home two weeks ago. Nicholson reportedly will meet with police authorities on Saturday.

Another former FSU teammate, Fred Rouse, confessed to Tallahassee police that he and Nicholson broke into Booker's home. Nicholson allegedly removed several items, then returned later to grab a few more. Why take from a teammate? Booker says Nicholson shared the house until he was kicked out for failure to pay rent.

Nicholson is an athletic linebacker who probably could make a good living playing pro ball. If the latest allegations against him are true, though, he may spend the next few years in prison stripes, rather than Bengal stripes.

You can't help feeling sickened when a talented athlete destroys his future with drugs or other criminal activities. At the same time, though, you can't help feeling a little better about UT's disciplinary problems.

Compared to Nicholson, the Vols look like a bunch of choirboys.

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