Another Syracuse football season, another dismissal – this time Brice Hawkes. That’s the sort of statement that Doug Marrone and Co. want to stop being uttered about the program. Yet, here we are in April, most of the way through the spring practice period, and another promising young player has been booted from the program for good.
The Fizz has reason to believe it was for academic reasons. It wouldn’t be surprising if Hawkes ignored his grades, walked the tightrope of probation, and eventually eliminated himself by failing to reach certain GPA mandates.
The Fizz knew pretty early Hawkes was a knucklehead judging from his wardrobe, and discussed why he was already on thin ice entering the spring. Still, it’s hard not to have the feeling it didn’t have to turn out this way. Despite his extreme lack of common sense, people never regarded the linebacker from Florida as a mean-spirited guy (come on, look at that baby face!) or, ahem, a criminal like one of his teammates.
Fans and media would have a much easier time stomaching the instant end to a player’s time in Orange if we had any idea why he was dismissed. In fact, The Fizz spoke to a member of the football team who told us players showed up for practice one day and were simply told Hawkes was gone, with no other explanation. The Dougie is truly keeping information close to the vest if there’s not even an explanation to teammates of the permanent disappearance of a projected starter on defense.
It’s certainly frustrating knowing what Syracuse could have at the linebacker position, and what it actually has now. Orange Nation could have enjoyed three years of watching Malcolm Cater, Hawkes, and Marquis Spruill play side by side. Then Cater had to go steal a television (allegedly, of course). Hawkes got himself booted. Spruill moved over to middle linebacker, where he is currently flanked by a couple of question marks.
As the problem children continue to pile up for SU under Marrone’s tenure, Orange fans are beginning to grumble – just as they did when he first showed up in town and began dismissing players.
Keep in mind, Marrone went out of his way to laud the character of this year’s recruiting class, one that amazingly is composed entirely of kids who were captains of their high school squads.
But now into Marrone’s third spring, who’s fault is it when players are still being dismissed? The Fizz asked this question when a rash of behavior problems hit the Orange in the weeks leading up to the Pinstripe Bowl. How many student athletes need to get kicked to the curb before the focus and blame shifts over to Marrone? I didn’t give the coach much leeway:
“I’m just wondering how many rotten apples need to be tossed aside before only the good ones remain. My expectation is that next year, the suspensions, the dismissals, and the silliness stop.”
Well, it’s next year now. Still seeing a lot of silliness.
Isn’t the point of disciplining a player to make an example out of him, so that everyone else knows how not to behave? What good does it do to “suspend” Hawkes for three practice sessions (like running laps around the field Petey-in-Remember the Titans-style while the rest of the team practices), and then give him the boot without explaining the circumstances to his teammates? Players may believe Marrone is just a hardass who could suspend anyone for for just about anything.
It’s a point I’ll continue to make until The Dougie can piece together a season without the sketchy departure of a key player. For all we hear about Marrone turning the attitude of the football program around, there still seem to be recruiting pipelines on The Hill flowing in opposite directions.
It would be nice to finally clog the one that carried two of SU’s three probable linebacker starters out of town.
Posted: Andrew Kanell