State’s top schools have work to do to rebuild their reputations

Published 10:02 am Friday, June 3, 2016


It has been a bad few days for two of our state’s major collegiate football programs.

On one hand, Ole Miss is continuing to fill the fall out from a lengthy NCAA investigation and a draft night nightmare involving outstanding Rebel offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, where pictures of him smoking marijuana and then confessing to receiving potentially illegal benefits from coaches.

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On the other, there is Mississippi State, who Wednesday allowed summer admission and acceptance into the university’s football program a young man — who checks in 6-foot-3 and 270-plus pounds — who is accused of hitting a woman repeatedly in an incident reported in March.

Jeffery Simmons, whose talent obviously is far more valuable to State then its reputation, will join the rest of the Bulldog players in the coming weeks for summer workouts and summer classes.

But, he was penalized for his alleged actions. He will miss the first game of the year; a game against South Alabama.

With no disrespect to Southern Miss and native son and new Eagle head coach Jay Hopson, State and Ole Miss rule the state when it comes to college football. They are the torchbearers when it comes to exposure for the state and — for many residents — the be all end all for daily conversation.

It’s just a shame that the conversations lately have been about the moral and ethical shortcomings of these two programs.

In a state that is without a major sports franchise, State and Ole Miss are our professional sports. They are the programs that wage war for our allegiances and their players are the icons and heroes that our children watch, look up to and aspire to be.

To have these two programs with such clouds hanging over them, such as the ongoing investigations, or what appears to be a failure to hold the high ground in allowing Simmons to enroll, is disappointing.

Do we expect Rebel and Bulldog players to be perfect? Absolutely not. They are teenagers and developing adults, many on their own for the very first time.

They will make mistakes and poor decisions.

But, we expect far more from the schools’ administrators, athletic program leaders and coaches. There are examples they must set and standards they must hold their programs, their players and themselves accountable.

It is our hope the investigations end soon with as little a negative impact as possible to Ole Miss and we hope Simmons has learned from his reported mistakes and becomes a gleaming example of redemption.

For many the seasons can’t get here soon enough so we can begin second-guessing decisions made on the field instead of those made off of it.