If you're a Buckeye fan with any sort of regular internet connectivity, then you're by now no doubt aware that this past weekend saw another Homer Simpson "D'oh!" moment for an Ohio State football player. This time, early enrollee Bri'onte Dunn, a running back who appeared to be destined for significant playing time combined with an early arrival on campus, was charged with four misdemeanors in connection with a Saturday night traffic stop. It was the second traffic-related incident for Dunn in the past two months.
The most serious of those charges, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, means that Dunn will likely see a golden opportunity to seize an advantage on what was once a logjam at running back for the Buckeyes. Dunn's fate has yet-to-be-determined, but it's a safe bet he'll be suspended for a handful of games. No player charged with a marijuana offense at Florida avoided suspension, but none missed more than three games, so barring some unforeseen additional charges that would be a good "safe" number to place wagers upon. Of course, with Meyer's documented history of law-breaking players (31 players over his tenure in Gainesville) there is a chance that he could use this relatively minor offense as a teaching tool for future players, and I hope that he does. I hope that despite Jordan Hall's foot injury, despite the inconsistency that plagued Rod Smith last year, and despite how good Dunn has looked in the spring and throughout the summer; that he is suspended for a significant portion of the season. Red-shirt him, suspend him and blow his eligibility for a year, whatever: send the message.
You are in a position that many people in this country and throughout the world would die to be in. You are expected to treat it with a measure of respect commensurate with the level of opportunity it will provide you. You are not entitled to anything and you will not be given any breaks because you possess above-average pass catching skills for a 6-foot-1, 215-pound man-child. You are special because of the chances you've received, the chances you're receiving don't make special. They don't make you above society's laws, even the most out-of-date ones.
Of course this isn't a problem only at Ohio State, it's an epidemic that hits close-to-home for every major program, and obviously it's not always about kids that like weed. It's drinking and driving, it is home invasions, it's stealing laptops from teammates, weapons, etc. If it's not one thing, it's another. It's simply out of control
When will the players, who are given chance after chance to succeed, stop making these colossal errors in personal judgment? When will talent not mean as much as character? Can you build a truly successful football program on the field while maintaining as much dedication to the development of the young men off of it?
Mark Twain once said "I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one", and I hope for Dunn's sake that this moment serves as a wake up call. You are who you associate with, and more often than not, as cliché as it sounds, birds of a feather do, in fact, flock together. I'm not suggesting that Dunn be removed from the team for good as some will no doubt call for, as I don't think his offense is, in itself, egregious.
I do however, think it's time for Urban Meyer to step up and deliver a punishment that is going to open the eyes of his team and future recruits, and it's also time for Bri'onte Dunn to find some new birds to hang out with.