I must relate that I am a proud alumnus of THE Ohio State University, the winners of the inaugural 2015 College Football NationalChampionship Game. I feel it is necessary to relate to this fact because this blog posting deals directly with one of the football programs, The University of Alabama, that my Buckeyes defeated on their path to the above distinction.
From the moment that Spring Practice began for the Buckeyes, Head Coach Urban Meyer poked and prodded his team toward “The Chase.” What were my beloved Buckeyes pursuing? The Alabama Crimson Tide! Put simply, the Crimson Tide knew that they were college football’s gold standard; more troubling is that the rest of the college football world also knew it.
One cannot describe the euphoria surrounding THE Ohio State University when the Buckeyes defeated the Crimson Tide and then the University of Oregon to claim the 2015 College Football National Championship. Put simply, it is a good time to be a Buckeye. Unfortunately my status as an African-American man who not only studies, but also cares deeply for African-American males has led to my jubilant emotions being tempered a bit. The catalysts behind my declining joy are recent developments on the University of Alabama campus involving: Brent Calloway, Geno Smith, and Jonathan Taylor.
During the past week, all three of the aforementioned ‘student-athletes’ have found themselves mired in some form of legal trouble. Unfortunately for the trio, this is none of their initial run-ins with local law enforcement officers. Brent Calloway, the number one ranked player in the state of Alabama during his senior year was charged with ‘fraudulent use of a credit/debit card’ that was apparently stolen during a robbery conducted by several of his teammates. This arrest followed an earlier arrest for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The alluded to trouble forced Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban to remove Calloway from the University of Alabama football program. Apparently, Calloway learned little from this situation as he was recently arrested for felony unlawful possession of dangerous drugs and second degree possession of marijuana.
Geno Smith, a defensive back who started six games for the Crimson Tide last year, joins Calloway in not learning from prior mistakes as he recently was arrested for his second drunk driving offense. To his credit, Smith hurriedly issued an apology to all in the wake of his second arrest via twitter. “I apologize to the University of Alabama, the football program and all the Alabama fans. I have made an awful decision on my part.” “I know I have lost respect from a lot of Alabama fans and that’s understandable but I will be better from these events in my life!”
Last but certainly not least is the saga of Jonathan Taylor, an individual that Nick Saban gave a second-chance. Taylor was previously dismissed from the University of Georgia after being charged with aggravated assault on a female. This charge followed earlier criminal trouble for Taylor when he and three of his teammates were charged with theft by deception; the victim in this case is unbelievably the University of Georgia’s Athletic Department.
Apparently desperate to rebuild a defensive line that the Buckeyes dominated, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban agreed to allow Jonathan Taylor to join the Crimson Tide; with significant restrictions I might add. Predictably, Taylor has already found himself arrested in domestic violence charges that are eerily similar to the charges that contributed to his departure from the University of Georgia.
Now I am certain that you are anticipating me to go a diatribe against Nick Saban and the University of Alabama. However, you would be in error as I find significant fault in each of these young men who were provided something that has been fleeting to say the least in the lives of most African-American males, that being a significant opportunity to improve their lives. Far too often it appears that opportunity never appears for many African-American males born into impoverished backgrounds. So the fact that these young men chose to waste this opportunity is darn near criminal. Their stupidity places one in the mindset of ‘when will they ever learn.’
Quite possibly the most frustrating aspect of this entire tired sordid tale is the fact that so many will search to find elements of racism and racial discrimination in the demise of these student-athletes, the truth of the matter is that those who do such things are doing these young men a disservice. It is time that they be held to task for their monumental part in their demise, it is only by grasping such a position that African-American males may be able to understand that the power of both success and failure lay in their hands and failure to grasp success dooms them to disappointment and missed opportunities. I would hope that they would start their investigation to the catalyst behind their problems by looking deeply into any mirror.
James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015