Let me just start by saying that while I may end up sounding very harsh with regard to these three people, I do not think that all people who commit crimes, even violent crimes, are bad people incapable of being redeemed. I'm an attorney who sometimes represents criminal defendants. If I believed that all my clients are bad people, I doubt I could do the job. I do believe, however, that people have to respond to bad acts.
Most people are generally in agreement that Thomas and Giddens needed to go for what they supposedly did. To recap, they supposedly broke into someone's apartment and stole some stuff. Giddens then supposedly used a stolen credit card to buy some more stuff.
People are divided on whether Kyle Anderson deserved to be dismissed. To recap, Anderson allegedly laid in wait outside of a bar and attacked someone, causing permanent injuries and a trip to the hospital.
People ask, "You think the same would've been done if it was Flynn or Doucet that got in trouble?" I don't know if the same would have been done if it was Flynn or Doucet, but I challenge the conventional wisdom that the same should be done in that situation.
Let me use an analogy. Let's say two people work at a medium sized place. Employee X is vital to the operation of Employer. He is conscientious. He is at the top of his game. Replacing him would be a great hardship. Employee Y is a peon. He's not exactly worthless, but he is not a vital cog in Employer's operation, and is fairly easily replaced. Employee X and Employee Y both get caught, say, using their company computers to access pornographic web sites.
Should Employee X and Employee Y be treated the same? Not necessarily. Employee Y, being really low on the totem pole, will probably be summarily fired. Employee X, by virtue of his past and expected future contributions to the bottom line, may be let off with a warning, or maybe even tolerated.
Early Doucet is Employee X. Kyle Anderson is Employee Y. Early Doucet is going to be heavily relied upon by the Tigers next year. Kyle Anderson was not likely to ever be a starter. Why should it almost go without saying that they should be treated the same by their bosses? If you're more valuable, you get treated better. Welcome to life.
In sports, no one is bigger than the team, but that doesn't mean that everyone is the same size.
Am I suggesting that Doucet, Flynn, Glen Dorsey, Ali Highsmith, Keiland Williams, Tyson Jackson, Ciron Black, and Darry Beckwith should be allowed to get away with whatever they want to do? Absolutely not.
I'm saying that when a player gets into trouble like these three young men did, every coach is faced with a decision that has several competing interests:
- Punish him lightly, thereby achieving a short term benefit of having the player available when needed, or
- Punish him severely, thereby protecting the long term interest the team has in preserving its good reputation, or
- Do whatever may be best for the player himself.
Focusing on the first two, you have an obvious trade-off. Either go light and help your team win immediately but potentially develop a reputation for coddling wrongdoers, or be tough and protect your long term reputation while putting the immediate future at risk.
Obviously, the better the player, the bigger the risk in immediately suspending/dismissing him. If a player is not important, there is no obvious reason not to be severe. Corporate America figured this out a long time ago, and no one thinks anything of it when a peon gets fired for something a valuable employee could have gotten away with. Why should it be OK for some people to acknowledge the trade off, but for some reason be illegitimate for a football coach to acknowledge that there's a trade off.
The point is though that thinking purely selfishly, Les Miles had no reason not to lay the hammer on Kyle Anderson. A backup lineman doesn't do much to help Les win games, and Anderson had embarrassed the program. Kyle Anderson isn't going to make anyone say that Les Miles doesn't run a tight ship. Maybe Early Doucet would, but Kyle Anderson won't.
There's also another issue. One that can be tough to quantify as well. Suspending or dismissing players can hurt the morale of the team. For those of you who don't know, Trindon Holliday didn't approve of the dismissals. I don't begrudge Trindon his opinions. These guys were, after all, his friends. I think he'll eventually get over it though, and if not, well, Miles will figure out something.