In the past, we’d discussed the type of job Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden was doing to clean up the program’s image, but also acknowledged that there’s plenty more work to be done. The news back on June 29 about Ray Ray Armstrong and Seantrel Henderson doesn’t necessarily help matters then, despite the seemingly minor infractions for both.
Initial reaction to the news was all about a lack of institutional control and additional flying off the handle using tired, cliched tropes about “The U’s” thug image (which arrest records haven’t really supported for a decade now). Both players appeared to be suspended indefinitely, which meant more headaches for Golden and more heat from the NCAA. But now, it appears that that’s not the case.
Armstrong’s father is on the record claiming that his son will be playing at Miami this season, and has not been suspended for his supposed interaction with a booster on Twitter. Henderson has also disputed reports that he’s out as well, after arriving to camp one day late.
Removing these two players from the status and symbolism associated with Miami, especially with its current NCAA issues, would this even be a blip on the radar were they playing elsewhere? No, neither is necessarily a saint — specifically Henderson, who’s had a rocky collegiate career for the most part — but arriving late for practice and briefly interacting with boosters via Twitter aren’t the type of offenses that get star defenders or any lineman suspended for good. While watching ESPN’s College Football Live on Monday, I saw commentators were quick to call for more sanctions and declare a doomsday scenario for Miami’s recruiting class of 2011 (missing two or more postseasons due to NCAA violations). I’d say let’s hold off judgment for the time being.
For what it’s worth, I believe Al Golden is doing a fantastic job in his commitment to cleaning up the program, and that appears to be everyone else’s impression as well. He’s pushing for recruits who walk the straight-and-narrow, and wants to permanently rid the school of its negative image. While the iconic teams of the 1980s prevent that from ever coming to complete fruition, you can see the road map he’s following, and it looks like it leads to a better, more successful program later on.
This also brings to light a growing issue, though, one which is not just exclusive to Miami, either. It’s Twitter and the recruiting process.
Google “Twitter Recruiting Violation” and discover well over two million results. Everyone from schools to coaches to family and alums have accidentally broken rules over and over, getting schools in hot water for something that appears highly innocuous. Fans and bloggers from my own alma mater regularly issue warnings across the Twittersphere, just to do their part to ensure we’re not creating problems for ourselves. The rule is obviously ridiculous, and needs to be altered (along with a good portion of the NCAA rulebook. Until that point though, tweets just fall under behavior to be avoided.
So given the questionable stature of the rule, and the fact that Armstrong’s in violation of it anyway, what’s an appropriate punishment? For the university, I say nothing, and maybe, this one time, the NCAA will air on the side of sensibility and agree. From what I’ve seen, this was self-reported, and the university has attempted to be as proactive as possible lately, with the hope of leniency later on. For Armstrong, I do not think he deserves to miss any games whatsoever. Rather, hold him out of a day or two of camp, and use this as a teaching moment for the rest of the squad. For once, let’s use these accidental happenings in a constructive manner and try and use them to prevent future “misbehavior.”