It is November 15th, 2013 and the Washington Huskies have just lost to the UCLA Bruins. But Washington football fans all around are extremely optimistic about the future of two of UW’s most highly touted underclassmen.
True freshman Damore’ea Stringfellow burst onto the scene with eight catches for 147 yards and a touchdown, proving to many husky fans that he is the NFL-caliber talent Steve Sarkisian claimed he was when he signed him.
Furthermore, redshirt freshman Cyler Miles came in for senior leader Keith Price in relief duty and shined in short work. More importantly, husky fans got a chance to see a glimpse of what many assumed would be the future of Washington football and bore witness to the immense potential and chemistry the duo possessed.
Flash forward five months and both players are suspended indefinitely and Stringfellow is currently facing two counts of fourth degree assault and one count of third degree malicious mischief.
Stringfellow is scheduled for arraignment in the King County District Court on April 16th per Adam Jude of the Seattle Times.
So the $60,000 question remains: What will Chris Petersen do with Stringfellow and Miles?
The initial response I gathered from Husky Nation is that fans both wanted and expected Coach Petersen to take the “no nonsense” approach and remove both players from the program. With the recent developments from the county prosecutor’s office, namely Miles being let off, the situation has changed dramatically.
Coach Petersen has already not ruled out the possibility that Miles may be back for spring ball, but that seems unlikely to me. His willingness to even entertain the idea that Miles could see action in the spring tells me that it would not be surprising to see Miles at the start of fall camp, although he may not see action in a game until October or maybe even later.
In Stringfellow’s case, it is tough to say with any certainty what will become of him until his arraignment later this month.
While I tend to agree with many husky fans on Coach Petersen’s need to establish himself as a strict presence and distance the program from the more ‘fast and loose’ approach that Sarkisian brought to the program, I can’t help but wonder something that I think applies to all programs dealing with off field disciplinary issues:
At what point does a coach’s obligation to discipline players interfere with his obligation to help mold young boys into grown men?
Since his arrival Coach Petersen has preached his OKG (our kinda guy) recruiting philosophy and the emphasis on high character athletes and developing them in to complete men. Most would agree that Stringfellow and Miles have not helped their case in proving to Coach Petersen that they are OKG’s. But shouldn’t it be that the likes of Stringfellow and Miles are the ones most in need of the guidance and mentoring of someone like Coach Petersen?
They have proven that they are young, naive, and incapable of making smart decisions all the time. So the solution then is to kick them off the team and leave them to figure things out on their own? Somehow that does not sound like the logical solution to the problem.
They deserve punishment and I am sure they will receive it, but don’t deny them the opportunity to better themselves as individuals by removing their entire support system. Suspend them for multiple games, suspend them for the entire season, but don’t squash their opportunity because of a horribly misguided decision one February night.
If they no longer want the opportunity the University of Washington has provided them and choose to transfer to a different program, that’s their decision. But don’t claim you are in the business of developing young men and then give up on the ones who need it most.