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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Monday, August 01, 2005

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

Tim Doherty at the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that the dismissals of Southern Miss players Darrell Bennett and Kenneth Boley and subsequent, uh, resignations of Anthony Harris and Naton Stewart, as SMQ hinted on Friday, were the result of a fight at an off-limits Hattiesburg bar:

"[Harris and Stewart] went into coach's office to say they couldn't play because they thought what had happened to me was too high," Bennett said Saturday afternoon by phone from his parents' home in Lake Charles, La.

Bennett, who was penciled in as the starting rover for a second consecutive season, said Bower got "highly upset" when he learned about the players' visit to the Hi-Hat 2000 on July 21 and that Boley had been involved in a fight with a patron.

Bennett said the Hi-Hat was deemed "off-limits" for USM's players by Bower.

"I guess he had to prove a point," Bennett said of his dismissal. "Do I think I deserved that? Personally, no, but I've got to respect his decision and live with it.

" ... Guys have been going there, and nobody had ever been (suspended or dismissed) before. But I made the mistake of going there, so that's my fault there."

Bower could not be reached for comment Saturday, but when asked last Thursday whether he had intended to send a message to the Golden Eagles about off-field actions and consequences, he replied, "I think I just did."

Hattiesburg Police Department spokeswoman Robin Walker said Boley, 24, was the only player charged in the incident.

According to an HPD report, Boley and Michael McGowan, 33, of Hattiesburg were fighting when police arrived around 1:30 a.m. on July 22.

McGowan was booked into the Forrest County Jail on a disorderly conduct charge. Boley was given a citation for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest before being taken by ambulance to Forrest General Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

The disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges are misdemeanors.

Walker said none of the other players that were disciplined by Bower were charged with any violations.
Bennett said he had been disciplined in-house over the past four years for what he called "little, ticky-tacky stuff" and that that accumulation, coupled with the visit to the banned club, was what could have led to his dismissal.

"But it wasn't anything big," Bennett said. "I've never been arrested. I've never tested positive for drugs. I've never embarrassed the university. It's just crazy."

Bennett said he plans on transferring to McNeese State, his hometown school.

"My (mother) wanted me to come back home and play," Bennett said.
SMQ's Hattiesburg stay never included a trip to the Hi-Hat (he preferred other locales), or even knowledge of this establishment's location, so he can't comment on the validity of Bower's ban. He can, however, say that if his attitude here is any indication (notice he never tested positive for drugs, which isn't quite the same as not taking them, or not being suspected), Bennett won't be missed much.
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Aug. 1

8:54 AM

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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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