Friday, January 14, 2011

Trade Him!

Posted by on Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 10:20 AM

A quick thought on the Wesley Witherspoon situation.

Wesley Witherspoon

College athletic programs (basketball, football, volleyball, rifle, whatever) are in an unenviable position when it comes to malcontents or the chronically misbehaved. When scholarships worth thousands of dollars are invested in a student-athlete, a school is committed to that athlete in a way even professional franchises (built around players with contracts, mind you) are not. Because in the NBA or NFL, a malcontent can be traded. With NFL contracts not guaranteed, it's that much easier for a team to tell Terrell Owens (or his ilk) enough is enough. Even when a contract must be eaten to get rid of a player, a pool of replacements exists that is simply not there — particularly midseason — for a college coach.

And the problem is that much more vexing when a college player reaches his junior or senior season, and when the player was counted upon to make a difference (in uniform and out) for the program's development. Sending a new arrival (like Jelan Kendrick) on his way before the air around him grows toxic is one thing. But what to do with the likes of Witherspoon, a player clearly talented . . . and clearly disengaged from his team's mission at hand?

How easy (and convenient) a trade would be. Instead, a cloud grows darker over a team already far short of expectations. Wesley Witherspoon is stuck with the 2010-11 Memphis Tigers, and they are stuck with him.

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