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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Friday, July 29, 2005

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Wherein SMQ chronicles eligibility-crippling troubles - legal, academic, institutional and otherwise...

* SMQ kicks off the first installment of this regular department with despair over the news from his alma mater in Hattiesburg, where two players have been dismissed, two have quit, and two more have been suspended for the season opener:

"Bower said Thursday that he had dismissed two players, starting senior safety Darrell Bennett and reserve junior linebacker Kenneth Boley.
Two other projected senior starters, cornerback John Eubanks and tight end Pedi Causey, were suspended for the Golden Eagles' Sept. 4 season opener with Tulane.

In a matter related to the dismissals/suspensions, two other senior starters, fullback Anthony Harris and strong-side linebacker Naton Stewart, quit the team.

All told, the Golden Eagles will be without be without five projected starters — including its leading returning rusher and half its defensive backfield — when it opens the season on Sept. 4 against Tulane."
SMQ is most surprised here by Boley, a military man who served in Afghanistan, joined the national guard and was on his way to Iraq before a shoulder injury; when SMQ interviewed him for a newspaper story last fall, Boley seemed like a mature (he's older than most players because of his military time), hard-working, leader-type with a good head on his shoulders. His presence, along with Harris, the team's leading rusher and another hard-working type, makes SMQ wonder about the nature of these offenses - especially since Harris and Stewart (who was arrested for a DUI after making the biggest play in USM's upset of Nebraska last September) apparently quit the team in response to their teammates' dismissals rather than any offense of their own.

Sources tell SMQ that the dismissals and subsequent quittings stem from a night club incident, involving either fighting or illegal substances - it's telling, though, that there are no arrest records mentioned to throw some more light onto the situation, which suggests not-so-serious misdeeds. And yet, considering some of the players who are still on USM's roster - a statutory rapist, a convicted manslaughterer and the above-mentioned drunk driver - it seems odd for Bower to institute "the death penalty" for these guys for anything less than, as my roommate suggested, "taking a dump on the dean's daughter's chest."

The report above linked the suspensions to the dismissals, but SMQ's source said the two weren't related, so that remains unclear. Anyway, beating Tulane minus Eubanks, last year's C-USA Special Teams Player of the Year and projected by most as its Defensive Player of the Year this fall (he was also named to the Bednarik Award watch list today), is a much tougher proposition. More on this story a s it develops, and on how losing Harris, Bennett and Stewart will affect USM over the season.

* At Tennessee, defensive tackle Tony McDaniel pled guilty to punching another student in the face during a pickup basketball game in January. He'll miss two games, performa community service, attend anger management and be under a curfew until Christmas.

* New Mexico State has suspended defensive end Chris Sneed indefinitely for his arrest on drug charges. Sneed was still being held in jail this morning.
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12:29 PM

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And don't let the name fool ya - second guessing the phenomenal athletic feats and split-second decisions of college kids under extreme physical duress is for every day of the week.

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