The Price of Compassion

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With the news of DJ Walton’s arrest and dismissal from the
football team, that time-honored question returns: how many chances should a
football player get before he is dismissed from the team? I don’t know the
answer, but I do know one thing: Frank Beamer gives players lots and lots of
chances, often to the detriment of his team and the university.

Upon the news of
DJ Walton’s arrest, the VT football
program stiff-armed him, much like FAMU’s
Josh Driscoll did last season during VT’s 62-0 win.

Someone asked me this past weekend, “If you were the
coach, would Marcus Vick still be on the team?” I expounded how Vick had
made many mistakes, three to be exact, and had paid his penance and appeared to
be on the right track. “If he stays out of trouble and has a good
season,” I noted, “it will be the comeback story of the year in
college football. The press will be all over it.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” was the
response. “If you were the coach, would he still be on the team?”

We were interrupted before I could answer that question,
and as a matter of fact, we were interrupted before I could even figure out
what my answer is.

It used to be easy. Safely ensconced in my cloak of
certainty and passing down judgment without all the facts, I used to feel that
any player that got in trouble should be dismissed from the team, without
ceremony, permanently. Virginia Tech’s reputation should be protected at all
costs.

Years ago, events supported this stance. Linebacker Tony
Morrison and wide receiver James Crawford became embroiled in the Christy
Brzonkala rape case way back in 1995, a case that played itself out on the
national stage and gave Virginia Tech a black eye for the better part of two
years.

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