Saturday, January 07, 2006

Marcus Vick A Hokie No More

Quarterback Marcus Vick was dismissed from Virginia Tech on Friday after school President Charles Steger was made aware of a traffic violation Vick had committed on December 17.

This decision hurts the Virginia Tech football program, Head Coach Frank Beamer, and ACC football. Marcus Vick? Too soon to tell.

President Steger told the media that Vick “no longer deserved the privilege of playing Virginia Tech football.” That was a very refreshing statement to hear, a reminder that no one, not even a member of the Vick family, has a God-given right to play intercollegiate sports. It is an opportunity that should be earned. President Steger felt Vick no longer deserved that, and I wholeheartedly agree.

It would have been even better if Beamer had more strongly reinforced that view instead of acting as an apologist for Vick. I suspected this decision was thrust upon him, and watching the video of the news conference only reinforced that view.

I don’t want to come across as too harsh toward Beamer. I think he is a good man who really does care about his players, but he’s been down this road before. Back in the late 1990’s off the field problems drew some very negative attention toward his program and the school. The administration had to step in then and lay down strict guidelines regarding player behavior, and it appears that they took the initiative on Friday to cut the school’s losses with Marcus Vick.

This move will obviously hurt the quality of the product Virginia Tech will put on the field next season. The backup quarterback listed on their two-deep for the Gator Bowl was Sean Glennon, who threw 11 passes in 2004 and did not play this season. Since the Hokies lose their top two running backs from this year’s squad, seniors Cedric Humes and Mike Imoh, having a quarterback with almost no experience will be a problem.

Viewing this through a broader lens, Vick’s dismissal will also hurt ACC football. The conference has been a very defensive oriented league the last two seasons and there’s nothing wrong with that. There has been a lot of good football played in the ACC during that time.

Unfortunately, it’s players like Vince Young and Reggie Bush who garner the media attention, not Mario Williams or D’Quell Jackson. Marcus Vick would have been the marquee player in the conference in 2006 and may have developed into a Heisman Trophy candidate. I don’t see anyone else on an ACC roster poised to fill that role.

Frank Beamer said that Marcus Vick was “deeply hurt, deeply saddened” when told of his dismissal from school. Shortly after Beamer said that, Vick issued a statement where he said, "I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to proving my athletic ability at the professional level. I believe I am ready for this challenge and the next chapter of my life."

Boy, youngsters sure do bounce back quickly, don’t they? Speaking of that, I bet his mother gave him some stern parenting after getting kicked out of school. Vick’s mother, Brenda Boddie, told the AP in a telephone interview Saturday, “Everybody does stupid stuff when they’re 19, 20, 21, years old. Everybody goes through that. Nobody’s perfect. He just did the wrong thing.

"Everybody does it in the NFL and college football," Boddie continued. "He just got caught doing it, and since he's been in trouble in the past everything just got blown all out of proportion."

That sounds more like enabling than parenting to me. If I had done even half of what Vick is documented having done when I was his age, my mother would have introduced great pain into my life. Of course, knowing that, I kept my nose pretty clean.

Vick announced that he will make himself eligible for the NFL draft, a logical move since he had only one year of college eligibility left. Early analysis seems to point toward him being taken on the second day of the draft, somewhere in the middle rounds. That fact alone will cost him millions of dollars in signing bonus money, but he will have a chance to make that up if he gets his act together and plays up to the level of his physical gifts.

As I think about this new scenario for Marcus Vick, I recall a player who was recently dismissed from a major football program due to legal problems. You may have seen his name in the news recently. I’m talking about Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State running back who was charged with armed robbery after wasting his opportunity to make the Denver Broncos last summer. He was also a mid-round draft pick.

I would much rather see Marcus Vick in an NFL lineup in the future and not a police lineup. In my opinion, at this point neither one would surprise me.


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