Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Not good news for Berry, Duhart, and Jones

As was reported by the PG today, Aaron Berry, Tommie Duhart, and Wayne Jones have all been suspended for the rest of spring practices due to unrelated violations of team rules.

This certainly could be the final straw for Duhart and Jones. Duhart was already on thin ice as he was suspended during the season last year and seemed to always be in Wannstedt's doghouse. His past problems coupled with the fact that Craig Bokor has passed him on the depth chart means that more than likely he has seen his last game as a Panther.

Wayne Jones was brought in a couple years ago as a gray shirt. He was always viewed as a project and until this point really hasn't developed. He really hasn't been a guy that we have heard about getting in trouble in the past. Despite this, I think that he may end up leaving team which will open up a scholarship to help us stay under the 85 scholarship limit and allow us to take an extra guy next year.

Lastly, we have Aaron Berry. This one was a huge surprise as Berry is considered to be a leader of the defense and is being projected as a 1st team all Big East player. Berry's situation is very similar to what we saw with Elijah Fields. The difference here is that this is the first time we have heard publicly about Berry getting in trouble. He is the only one of the three that I feel will be back this year.

I'm of the mindset that we need to run a clean, hard disciplined program. If a player gets in trouble people, examples must be made and precedents must be set. We saw Shane Brooks and Mo Williams forced out due to grade issues. Elijah Fields was suspended for a year due to drug problems.

Now we have these 3 latest incidents plus the off season news of TJ Porter's DUI's.

While it may not be the popular opinion here, if the violation is severe enough, the players need to be removed from the team. I certainly don't want to be seen as a school that lets the players get away with anything.

Hopefully all of these guys learn from their mistakes. Playing football on Saturday's isn't as important as it is to make sure they don't end up continually getting in trouble throughout the rest of their lives.


rkohberger said...

I'm of two minds about these suspensions, one as a football fan another as older guy who has lived through these kids ages and - somewhat- circumstances. As a fan I think my first priority is that PITT and DW set high standards and adhere to them. It appears that the PITT administration and the HC have done that well over the last five years. Not being naive, I realize that out of 100+ kids on a football roster there is always going to be kids who test those standards and sometimes step out of bounds. The key is how they are dealt with.

So I agree with your comment that PITT needs "to be seen as a school that lets the players get away with anything". But your next thought is the important one. It's the fact that the Head Coach - whether fans want to believe this or not - is entrusted with these kid's futures by their parents, and as such have to weight heavily what is best for the kids involved as well as their teammates who see discipline handed down.

I've been luck enough to make friends with a few player's parents and grandparents, and since I'm interested in how things play out when a parent has a son so talented they are recruited by schools to play football - I've asked all of them "What convinced your family to make the decision to have your son come to PITT?", and without fail the answer has been to have their kids play football, and be under the influence, of Dave Wannstedt. So, when I see decisive actions like these suspension it reiterates that he's doing what the kid's families expected him to do.

Us fans think in terms of wins and losses, who gets what playing time and who may make it to the NFL. Player's parents don't discount that obviously, but IMO they think way more about 'How different is my son going to be after he spends four or five years at this University' - way more concerned that he'll grow into good character and be ready to have a happy and productive life after football. That's really what parental love is all about.

I think suspensions are good for everyone as they send a formal message that tolerance has limits, and when coupled with decreased playing time or loss of a starting role tells every kid on the roster that what may be important to you at this very moment isn't necessarily football - that can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

I have no idea what these were for, and greatly support DW's respecting the young men's privacy in these matters. What I am interested in seeing is how the TJ Porter situation is handled - that is in essence a decision that can truly impact not only Porter's life in the future but society as a whole. That kid needs real professional help and he needs it right now. I think we'll hear soon that he's either suspended for the year or off the roster all together because he's going to have to work very hard to get healthy after what he's been experiencing.

rkohberger said...

... Obviously I meant "NOT to be seen as a school that lets the players get away with anything."