Everybody Drops The Ball

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By Fernando Juncadella

The whole basis of this website is to make sense of the numbers on the field of play. However, this time I’m going to look at alarming numbers off of the field. So for those of you reading this to escape the real world, I suggest you stop now. What you are about to read is going to make you think, or at least I hope so.

What sparked my interest to write this piece was the national debate about Greg Hardy. To put it in a nutshell, Hardy was arrested and found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend (he appealed and the witness in the case never appeared in court), was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and was controversially signed by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2015 offseason.

Recently, images from the police report of Hardy’s ex-girlfriend were leaked and displayed the severity of her injuries from the domestic dispute Hardy was found guilty of. This stirred the national media into a frenzy of outrage and disapproval. A whole other article can be written about the Hardy situation and its’ public reaction, but let’s focus on college football.

In each of the past three years, athletes in college football were arrested, charged or cited 100 more times than any other sport, professionally or collegiately. Yes, the numbers are skewed toward athletes playing college football, but that is still alarming considering the fact of how structured these athletes’ schedules are.

Very similarly to what people are saying about Greg Hardy, opposing college football fans love to rag on each other about how many “criminals” the other team has. The bigger the school, the bigger the criticism.

That’s especially true for the Florida State Seminoles. In 2014, eight football players were either arrested, charged or cited with a crime. None were bigger than Heisman trophy winner, James Winston, who was accused of rape (not calculated as an arrest/charge/cited). What was calculated, however, was his theft of crab legs. Head coach Jimbo Fisher and the entire Florida State football program was the center of national scrutiny for having an atmosphere where bad behavior was tolerated. But keep this in mind:

Most College Football Players Arrested/Charged/Cited By School In 2014

University of Tennessee – 11

Texas A&M University – 10

University of Georgia – 8

University of Kentucky – 7

University of Mississippi – 7

Florida State University – 7

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Did Butch Jones, Kevin Sumlin, Mark Richt, Mark Stoops, or Hugh Freeze receive close to half the criticism as Fisher did? No. Obviously, the severity of each crime ranges. The profile of each player ranges, the significance of each crime ranges, and a host of other factors. But, the gist of this piece is to understand something much bigger.

A part of college football that makes it special is how high schoolers all over the country play for their respective colleges and become one common force on the football field. Everybody has different nuts and bolts installed in their brain that make each person unique. Next time you attempt to dish out blind criticism at someone, try to understand everything about that person’s life. Certain people and programs get highlighted, but there is a greater sense of disappointment to be shared.

We all make mistakes. Just because some are bigger than others and are made by people who make a ton of money doesn’t warrant unrelenting criticism.

All statistics were recorded by Arrest Nation, The Sports Arrest Database.

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