No one believes me, but I like Danny Kanell.
The former Florida State quarterback has always been generous with his time. He worked hard for ESPN on radio and in television and while I don’t know the economic details of his departure from that network’s college football coverage, I sense that he may have gotten a raw deal.
Did he take extreme positions sometimes, particularly regarding Southeastern Conference football? Sure. Opinions like that can be good, and disagreement isn’t personal, if they cause you to look at a situation from a different angle.
Saturday afternoon was spent pondering the news that Alabama defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand — one of the players who’ll be counted on in 2017 — had been arrested for a DUI in Tuscaloosa. Inevitably, many people in college football media had an opinion. Here was Kanell’s, via his Twitter account:
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) July 29, 2017
That may be the case, although I’m not sure whether the #SEC hashtag means that incidents like this don’t happen everywhere or that the ensuing discipline is uniform in every other league. But it also made me think — what would Kanell’s college coach, Bobby Bowden, have to say, generally, about discipline. Bowden was historically successful at FSU, beloved by those who know him (including me) and while he had the image of a kindly old grandfather, he didn’t win all those football games without giving serious thought to an important aspect of any college football program.
So I went online and looked up what Bowden has to say.
This is from an Associated Press article in 2000, when FSU had a series of offseason problems. If nothing else, times haven’t changed very much.
“I think one of the most misused conceptions in college football now is the suspension thing,” Bowden said. “Everybody is on the suspension kick. ‘Suspend them!’ Suspending doesn’t hurt him at all. He sits around twiddling his fingers. It hurts your team. Let’s get the kid, he’s the culprit.
“This is what we do, but we don’t announce it, so y’all think we’re not doing anything. Say he has a problem over at the training table and says something to the lady over there. Son, you’re out of there. Go buy your own meals.
“Say a kid abuses his housing. He’s out of there. He can go find his own housing. A kid gets in trouble with the law. Well, he’s going to run those stadium steps. (Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews) has been running Derrick (Gibson) for a week now, up and down those stadium steps. They’re pretty high, and it’s not one trip, and it’s every morning at 6 o’clock.”
That’s folksier than the answer Nick Saban will give when asked about Hand later this week. It is not substantively different, from the most successful coaches of their generation.
That doesn’t mean they are automatically right. Plenty of people took exception to Bowden’s methods — let the one among us who never made a “Free Shoes University” crack cast the first stone. Plenty will take exception to Saban’s.
One point that must be made: DUIs are serious matters. People can die because of drunk driving and not just the person who makes the decision to get behind the wheel. That should be a factor in a coach’s decision. Some people, like USA Today columnist Dan Wolken, think a DUI should result in a mandatory suspension. That’s a fair discussion point, too.
Ultimately, Saban will consider the information — all the information, including Hand’s off-the-field work in three years — and make the call, as he has done in all such incidents. That’s part of being a head coach — but it didn’t start being a part of it in 2017, or 2000, or 1958. There’s never been a blanket solution, and the only guarantee is that some fans will like it and some fans won’t.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.