This graphic: so much no. Harsh truth time.
As I made clear in my post earlier this week, Will Grier deserves his suspension if indeed his second sample also pops positive–I have no expectations that the result will be anything other than a confirmed positive test. Will Grier will miss a calendar year, but by all accounts will not be penalized with an extra lost year of eligibility. Obviously, if you are a Florida fan, as I am, you are upset by this news since Grier is the X Factor in Florida’s revitalized offense. You are permitted to be upset, what is not allowed is group stupidity. Hating the severity and lack of standardization in the NCAA drug model is an example of the former; comparing Winston and Grier on the sole basis of length of suspension is very much the latter.
Before I start talking about Jameis Winston, please understand that this is not an analysis of the timeline of his circumstances at Florida State. I am pointing out his challenges for illustration purposes.
Winston’s main dark cloud during his tenure as the Seminoles’ quarterback was obviously the protracted rape investigation and the proceedings, out of which no discipline was handed down by either FSU or the NCAA. In addition, Winston was cited for shoplifting shellfish from a Tallahassee Publix. He was suspended by FSU for a period of time but not the NCAA for this crime. Winston later yelled a vulgar phrase in a crowded student mess hall at Florida State. FSU suspended him for one game. The NCAA handed down no further punishment for this action either.
So, a one game suspension in football and a period suspension in baseball from FSU precipitated from the entirety of Winston’s questionable off-field decision making. Right or wrong, that’s what happened. He was neither investigated nor tested by the NCAA for any of his related actions as they were beyond the scope of the NCAA’s purview.
Will Grier tested positive for a banned substance on an NCAA drug test–enough with the “he took it to get over the flu argument,” do you know how ridiculous you sound? Yes, schools often conduct their own tests in order to remain compliant, but the penalties for positive tests there are decidedly less severe–had Florida caught him for PEDs, Grier would have been suspended for half a season. Call the NCAA’s punishment framework draconian if you like, I certainly do. But, competitive fairness is completely within the scope of the NCAA’s powers, and drug testing is designed to ensure fairness. It boils down to a simple formula: Athlete + Cheating = Banned.
The NCAA does not discriminate on substance either. Mitch McGary for Michigan basketball popped positive for marijuana on an NCAA test–you know, the same drug that gets countless athletes suspended for one game when the schools catch them–and McGary was handed the same punishment as Grier, one calendar year of no collegiate competition. McGary basically told the NCAA to pound sand and went pro instead, that option is not available to Will Grier.
The point is that Grier was tested by the NCAA and punished according to the scope of the NCAA’s powers, which are basically used to regulate competition. Winston was not punished by the NCAA in any fashion because nothing he did fell within the scope of college football’s regulator. That’s why comparing Grier’s “honest mistake” to embattled Winston is a false equivalency. The NCAA had nothing to do with the punishment or lack thereof for Jameis, so stop acting like they’re related. They’re not.
Now, for those who would ask the NCAA get more involved in the non-competition issues, I have one thing to say to you: HELL. NO. If the NCAA were to begin attempting to regulate athlete behavior and conduct, we would see college football become the same circus as the NFL, except this time the players have negligible rights and resources. If the NCAA took over adjudication of athlete conduct, we would find ourselves squaring the blame on the NCAA instead of the school, coach, or athlete.
Look at what’s happened in the NFL. Whenever a player does something stupid and gets punished, we blame Goodell. We at least still blame the player and the school in college sports. And we should! It’s the player’s fault for committing a crime or breaking a team rule, and it’s the school’s fault when they don’t hold the athlete accountable. Schools by and large have extensive disciplinary guidelines for violations, e.g. you smoke weed, you’re suspended for a game.
Schools are actually better equipped than the NCAA to mete out discipline as they are far less removed than a sluggish rule making body. Additionally, the NCAA doesn’t have the manpower or resources to oversee every single aspect of the lives of student-athletes. Finally, schools have graduated discipline guidelines, whereas the NCAA is one speed: banhammer. The NCAA should supervise the disciplinary decisions of its member institutions, but the number of cases it should be able to directly discipline ought to be incredibly small. Thankfully, it is.
So, let’s give it a rest. Let’s stop comparing two circumstances that are, quite frankly, incomparable. If Winston had gotten caught doing anything to directly impact the equity of the game on the field, then he would have been hammered with a major suspension. Feel free to roil and complain that Grier’s suspension is too severe, but please don’t compare them.
You’ll just look ridiculous if you do.