Saban should remove criminal players without question

Glancing at the muted television, I watched the words scroll along the bottom of CNN: “Four Alabama players arrested.” Obviously, I was embarrassed.

These words were soon followed by: “Saban removes players indefinitely.” I regained some of my pride.

We are told that an individual’s actions are representative of the group as a whole. And while this assumption is true in some cases, more often it is the leader and how he or she responds to the individuals they lead that makes the lasting impression.

The alleged acts of Brent Calloway, Tyler Hayes, D.J. Pettaway and Eddie Williams are embarrassing and unfortunate for The University of Alabama community. Still, our leadership has a chance to act in a way that will represent us as respectable and honest.

Before these players’ fates are decided, they have rights under the law to give them a trial. Nick Saban will then have the choice to remove them from the team or keep them as players. They have already admitted to mugging a fellow student, and there is proof of their fraudulent use of an ACT card, so more than likely a decision has already been made.

The removal of these players is necessary for the growth of the Alabama football program. We live in a world where athletes are given a larger circumference of acceptable behavior than the average student. As unfortunate as the situation may be, it has become expected that football players, especially those at the University, will receive some kind of special treatment.

Football players like Cam Newton, Tyrann Mathieu and Johnny Manziel are certainly talented, but their off-the-field antics gain them as much attention as their on-the-field plays. And maybe at schools like Auburn or LSU, ethical and behavioral lapses are allowed to slide for the sake of a winning record.

But at Alabama, our leadership hopefully understands that a strong team is based on far more than a winning record – but rather discipline, hard work and honesty. A swift and stern response by Saban would inform the nation that behavior like that of these four players is entirely unacceptable, regardless of athletic ability.

The nation of college football fans is watching us under a microscope, hoping to catch us stumble. Acting in the way our four players did shows their apathy for what the University has provided them and disrespect for the community that has supported them.

And yet again, Saban has the chance to save us.

It is an honor to play for The University of Alabama. And not only for the rings athletes can sport on their fingers after winning a national championship, or the likelihood of playing in the NFL, but also for the education and scholarship that the University provides to so many of its athletes. Saban’s adherence to a zero-tolerance policy reflects the respect he has for the school, our community and his team.

Since his arrival on our campus, Nick Saban has become the face of the UA community. Despite criticisms of his bitter attitude or manners towards the media, I could not choose a better face to represent our school. He has created an organized, honest and successful program, and although those adjectives are not true for the entire University, his successes have played a huge role in how the rest of the nation views Alabama.

While players decide the momentum a team will move, the coach narrates the direction. Nick Saban’s high expectations for his players have crafted not only a strong team on the field, but a respected one off.

To build a dynasty, you must have a “D” – discipline. This message of Alabama’s prowess will be lost in scandal and embarrassment if these players remain on our team. As such, they should be removed without question.

SoRelle Wyckoff is a senior majoring in history and journalism. Her column runs weekly on Mondays.

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