Perhaps the football players at the University of Texas didn’t realize that Charlie Strong’s reputation as a no-nonsense coach was well earned. But if any of them doubted it, they discovered in recent days that Strong has zero tolerance for the kind of criminality and craziness that have become too prevalent on college campuses.
Six players have lost their scholarships since Strong took over the program from Mack Brown earlier this year. Strong has handed out justice with the speed of Usain Bolt.
Justice delayed isn’t anything that speaks to Strong and how he runs a football program. Bend the team rules, and you can expect Strong to tell you to leave, which is what running backs Joe Bergeron and Jalen Overstreet, safety Josh Turner and defensive back Chevoski Collins found out.
And so have wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander, who have been accused on multiple violations of team rules and face felony allegations of sexual assault.
"It's been made clear to everyone on our team that treating women with respect is one of our core values,” Coach Strong said in a statement. “I'm extremely disappointed that two young men in our program have been accused of not doing that."
It would be easy for a coach to offer excuses for such conduct. Coaches do so on the campuses at the major sports factories all the time. Athletes there are revered. They get privileges that other students can’t even imagine. They are rock stars just as if they played for a big rock band.
But with stardom comes accountability, which is not something you see a lot of in college sports. The temptation — actually, the reality — is to excuse misconduct, to say these young men filled with testosterone deserve compassion no matter how badly they misbehaved.
Compassion for the immature is a wonderful thing, although those who ask for it are often trying to prey on a person’s worship of their flawed character. Forgive me, for I have screwed up.
Darn right you screwed up. Dude, you ought to have known that no one can show endless compassion when you’re accused of sexual assault, busting up a bar during a alcohol-fueled brawl or of taking a substance that you knew was either banned or illegal.
At some point in a man’s life, he has to take ownership of his conduct, and to Coach Strong, he wants the men who play for his Longhorns to own up to their behavior now, not after they’ve misbehaved.
In college sports, men misbehave so often that you must wonder if they understand that campuses aren’t the place anymore to run buck wild and mistreat a woman.
Do so at your peril.
Still, we do know that some colleges are more forgiving of renegade behavior than others, so we will continue to hear stories of athletes in the public’s eye for what they’ve done off the playing field. That won’t change soon.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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