Kyle Rose is, without a doubt, one of the leaders of a West Virginia team fighting to regain a spot in the top 25. Throughout his career, he has been a vocal presence, both with his teammates and with the media. When the WVU team imploded at the end of the 2013 season, he vowed not to let it happen again, and took responsibility to become a leader on the squad. A year later, while WVU did lose a couple of games down the stretch, it didn't give away contests to the bottom teams in the Big 12, and managed to work its way back to a bowl game.
That, in essence, is what makes the allegations and charges in this case so disappointing. Rose was charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, obstructing an officer and battery on an officer -- more serious violations than your standard public intoxication or traffic violation charge. If they are true, it's something that is, at least from a public viewpoint, very out of character for the senior from Centerville, Oh. Rose worked himself into the defensive rotation early in his career as a redshirt freshman, and owns 20 starts in 38 career games. He has been a role model for hard work, morphing from a defensive end into a solid nose tackle while transforming his body into the beefy mass needed to hold ground in the middle of the line. The question now becomes, do the charges, if proved or admitted, set a bad tone for his leadership in 2015?
Before we go any further, this should not be construed as either a defense of or an attack on Rose. If he did commit the charged acts, he needs to receive consequences. The severity of those have already been debated on our message boards and in hundreds of other conversations, so that's not the intent here. There's no aim to put the blame on others, to say "boys will be boys", or to demand capital punishment. Instead, it's to examine the potential harm to the team down the road.
Admittedly, this concern might amount to nothing. The matter will be adjudicated, and, if necessary, punishments will be doled out, both public and private. And by the time the season rolls around, it might all be forgotten, just as several offseason incidents over the past few years have been. What we don't see, however, is the internal reaction. How will that play out? Will Rose still be a commanding voice in the locker room? Or might it be muted, or its strength compromised, by such an incident?
One thing to remember in cases such as this is that we all view them with our own set of filters. Some advocate a hard line -- only banishment from the team and a scholarship revocation will suffice. For others, much more lenience is in evidence. And for many more, it's a position somewhere in the spectrum between those two extremes. The key in answering our question is, how will his teammates view it? Therein lies the key. It would figure that the majority would stand with him, being of his own age range and a member of the same community, but that's not always the way instances like this shake out.
Of course, we probably won't get any indication of how all this plays out internally for a long time -- if at all. Head coach Dana Holgorsen, in an emailed statement to The DPost.com, gave his standard one-line response -- the same one he has issued in nearly every instance of this ilk during his time as head coach: “We are aware of the situation, and the matter will be handled internally.” At the end of the year, based on team performance, we might be able to make a judgment, or get a few more revealing comments that what we'll get now -- which is nothing.
While it would be nice to have something more definitive, we'll have to watch for clues as to how, if at all, this matter affects the West Virginia defense, which is expected to be the most experienced and productive unit on the Mountaineer team this year. It's likely that this will be nothing but a footnote by the fall, but team chemistry can be a funny thing, which makes the reaction to this incident -- one that involves one of the strongest leaders on the team -- an important item to track.