Mississippi State University has chosen to become an embarrassment to the state of Mississippi, the Southeastern Conference and college football in general. Mississippi State and Bulldog head coach Dan Mullen were forced to make a decision on whether or not to allow five-star defensive line recruit Jeffrey Simmons to enroll after a video surfaced of Simmons repeatedly punching a woman that was lying on the ground.
Mississippi State says it has done in-depth investigation of the incident and of Jeffrey Simmons himself. They claim that they talked to people in his hometown and at his school and that they have found no evidence of him being a bad or dangerous person. The video says otherwise. What Mississippi State did was make a cursory investigation for the sake of appearance and then rationalize out the decision they planned to make all along. If this sound familiar, that is because you have heard this story before at Penn State, Tennessee and at Baylor. This stench is spreading across our college campuses like dog flatulence.
If you have not seen the video, take a moment to search it on the internet. It is disgusting. This is not a person who just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and made a bad decision. No decent person does what that video shows. They just don’t. Rewarding that kind of behavior with a college scholarship is bad enough, but putting this man among your student body is unacceptable.
The real story here is that Mississippi State doesn’t sign many five-star recruits. They do not want to give one up once he has signed. If this was some three-star kid that might not ever contribute to the program, he would already be gone. Nobody outside of Starkville questions that in the slightest. What is taking place in this decision is exactly what has created situations like what has transpired at Baylor. But coaches will never learn. They have multi-million dollar jobs at stake and they have to win to keep them. In the end, for these coaches, winning overrides all else. At least for most of them.
As a Gator fan, I was less than impressed with Urban Meyer’s handling of discipline but even “Win at all Cost” Urbs had a strict policy about abusing women. In my opinion, that offense should be an automatic dismissal and permanent ineligible status at all FBS schools. If there is a conviction or, as in this case, video evidence of a male athlete abusing a woman in any way, they should be done with scholarship athletics at any FBS school.
Again, before you get on your podium and declare that I am overreacting and spout out about second chances, watch the video. This isn’t about where somebody grew up or what music they listen to or what culture I fail to understand. And I don’t want to hear about us not knowing the whole story or “extenuating circumstance”. When you have video like this or like the Ray Rice case, there is no room for extenuating circumstances. There are no circumstances that make that acceptable. Any man who would do what is on that video is a bad human being and is just the right circumstances away from doing something horrific again. Putting that individual on a college campus full of coeds is like tossing a fox into a chicken coop. Mississippi State should be ashamed of their blatant effort to field a talented team regardless of the risk it means for the school’s students.
If Dan Mullen insists on putting this thug on his team, I will spend Saturdays this fall pulling for my Gators and whoever is playing Mississippi State that day. I will hope that the Bulldogs go 3-9 and Mullen gets canned come December. There needs to be at least some hint of decency left in the sporting world, especially at the collegiate level. This case would suggest there is not. It is a sad day for college football and for America in general.