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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Virginia Tech Suspends Marcus Vick

That's the big news in college football today.

About a week ago I wrote about the University of Miami and its admission of linebacker Willie Williams, who had 11 arrests by the age of 19. Many were questioning whether Miami was right to admit Williams or whether they sent a wrong message about character and should have made him prove that he could stay on the straight and narrow after a year at a prep school.

Well, Va Tech made character an issue today, and they made a strong statement about it.

Va Tech suspended its young QB because of several off-the-field transgressions, from providing alchohol to two underaged girls who were in his dorm room (ages 14 and 15) to marijuana possession to driving too fast. Vick will have to undergo counseling and apply for readmission to Va Tech.

A.D. Jim Weaver and Coach Frank Beamer made a solid call on this one, and it shows that they care more about Marcus Vick than they do wins and losses. Marcus Vick could be a very good football player, but right now the powers at Va Tech are more worried about whether he's qualified to run his own life than whether he's qualified to run Tech's offense.

And that's where their priorities should lie.

There are rumors that Vick might opt to transfer to another school, perhaps even a Division 1-AA school, where he'd be eligible to play right away. It's hard to pass judgment on a man so young, on a young man who obviously couldn't handle all of the privileges and responsibility that are bestowed upon college athletes today. If he stays in Blacksburg, the situation might be more than he can handle. If he leaves, he'll risk being called a failure, a coward, a young man of no character. As bad as his situation was when he got into trouble, arguably being under a microscope as far as your future behavior is concerned is worse than being under the bright lights as far as your past behavior was concerned.

There's an old coaching saw that if you yell at a player and he gets made at you, you've lost him forever, and if you yell at him and he keeps coming back, you've got a player who will continue to improve. Analogously, Marcus Vick has to determine whether a) he takes responsibility for what he did, sits out his year, and becomes a more disciplined, a more humble person or b) whether he blames others for his failures and continues to make mistakes of the type that got him into this mess in the first place.

He may think that what the Va Tech administration did today demonstrated that they don't care about him, but if he has that thought, it's the wrong one. By doing what they did, the Va Tech administration showed that they care about development young men into adult leaders, not just older football players who run out of eligibility.

Hopefully, Marcus Vick will take some good advice and figure out a way to improve his off-the-field performance.

His football future depends on it.

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