Players Getting Arrested: What is the Impact on Their Teams?
by Trevor Whenham - 10/19/2006
Oklahoma Sooners starting linebacker Rufus Alexander was arrested early on Sunday morning and charged with disturbing the peace and interfering with official process. The story is that someone stepped in front of the car that Alexander was riding in. The driver of the car, Alexander's friend, got out to confront the pedestrian and Alexander stepped in to stop the situation from getting out of hand. Alexander is a legitimate NFL prospect and the team's leading tackler. Last time out, against Iowa State, Alexander had nine tackles and an acrobatic interception.
There is no indication that Alexander is going to be suspended, probably because the charges were just misdemeanors. Still, the situation has been a distraction for a team that really doesn't need any more distractions. We're interested in betting, not law and order, though, so there is a bigger issue - what kind of an impact will this have on the Sooners? It's probably impossible to tell, because of the loss of Adrian Peterson and the injury to starting DB Reggie Smith, but it doesn't hurt to look at other teams that have had players arrested recently to see what impact that had. If nothing else, it will be fun to see what stupid things these guys get into.
The first thing I uncovered with my research was that a staggering number of college players get themselves arrested. I was expecting to have to do a little bit of digging around to find what I was looking for, but it was easy to find more than I could ever need. Between school and practice and travel and the weight room and everything else, these guys are supposed to be really busy, but apparently not too busy to do really, really dumb things.
Adron Chambers, Mississippi State - Chambers found out the hard way that you can't break into someone's dorm room and take your clothes off. Charges included a couple of misdemeanors - assault and indecent exposure. Chambers, a non-starter who had played in every game, was also suspended from the team. The Bulldogs have played two games since the arrest. They lost badly to West Virginia and crushed Jacksonville State, but that doesn't tell us much because those are exactly the results you would have expected whether there was an arrest or not. On to the next hooligans.
Josh Morgan and Chris Ellis, Virginia Tech - This may be a better comparison. Like Alexander, Morgan and Ellis are both major contributors to a top-level program. Morgan is a starting wide receiver and Ellis starts at defensive end. The two were out at a club when they found themselves in the middle of a developing fight. The cops showed up to break it up, and the two players decided to take their aggression out on the cops. Needless to say, that's a bad idea. The incident happened before the team's Georgia Tech game, and the Hokies promptly went out and lost in embarrassing fashion. They followed that up in their next game by losing again to Boston College. So much for an undefeated season. It would be easy to determine that Oklahoma is in line for a loss of their own based on this example, but there's a key difference - Morgan and Ellis both missed playing time, and the team's depth couldn't sufficiently fill in for them.
Tarell Brown and Tyrell Gatewood, Texas - These two DBs really did it right - they got caught with guns and drugs and got tasered. The arrest happened just before the huge game against Ohio State and both players missed that game. It would be great if Mack Brown could point to the loss of these two players as the reason for the poor performance, but Gatewood hardly plays anyway, and though Brown sees more playing time he is hardly in the Heisman picture. The team will still have to blame their non-existent offense and lacking defense for the loss.
Marvin Taylor, UConn - Taylor lifted someone's credit card number and used it to go on a shopping spree. The starting safety was kicked off the team, but getting kicked off the Connecticut team is really easy to do - several players just got booted for buying beer on a road trip, even though the purchaser was 21. Between the arrest and his dismissal, Taylor played in the Wake Forest game. The Huskies were favored by 6.5 points, but they lost by 11. Since he was booted the team is 2-2 ATS, but none of the results have been particularly surprising.
The end result of looking at all these arrests is about what we would expect - they tell us very little about what might happen in the Oklahoma game. Alexander might be distracted and the team might suffer, but they will be affected much more by the Peterson injury. Only the Taylor situation in the game against Wake Forest provides even a remotely similar parallel. This research hasn't been entirely wasted, though - I have come up with some great stories. I thought that the Northern Colorado kicker story was a good one, and it is, but my new favorite is the Michigan player who was arrested before the Rose Bowl game against Texas for urinating on the floor in the VIP section of a club, then trying to do it again on the cop car after he was removed from the club.