The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


You just can’t make this stuff up

Just when I had decided to keep my mouth shut for a while, the gods come along and drop a story in my lap so rife with irony that I had to break my vow of silence.

Just as the SMU Drug Task Force releases its report and recommendations in the wake of three student alcohol- and drug-related deaths, the SMU football program signs a player with an arrest record that includes carrying a fake ID in a bar while a minor.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Whether bad timing, bad luck or just plain ol’ bad judgment, it seems that the more SMU tries to dig itself out of PR hole, the deeper it digs the hole.

First rule of PR: When you dig yourself into a hole, stop digging.

Normally, the chances of my reading a story about SMU’s new football recruiting class would be nil. But something – the gods? – whispered in my ear and told me to read Thursday’s lead article about SMU’s 28 new recruits.

The recruits include three new quarterbacks (watch out, Justin), a 219-pound linebacker (SMU’s top recruit according to ESPN), someone who picked SMU over Vanderbilt, Colorado State and Oklahoma State (not bad), and a 6-foot-6-inch wide receiver from Virginia who runs a 4.5 second 40 (ain’t shabby).

Then there’s a 6-foot-2-inch, 244-pound offensive lineman from Garland (local boy), a high school senior who played quarterback his freshman through junior years before switching to defense his senior year, during which he “collected” 14 sacks (of what I’m not sure).

Finally, at the end of the story, comes an oblique reference to a “problem player” – the buried lead.

And then I heard it again, the same voice whispering in my ear, “What kind of problem player?”

The kind that was arrested in a Stillwater, Okla., bar for possessing a fake ID and violating a protective order against a former girlfriend.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Nothing the Bush twins didn’t do, right? Have fake ID’s, not violate protective orders against their girlfriends. If you’re under 21 and don’t have a fake ID, raise your hand. One, two, three…

According to ESPN, “[t]he emergency protection order was issued July 5 [2006].” ESPN also reported, “Odiari’s ex-girlfriend claimed he had thrown her to the ground, thrown her against a wall and repeatedly grabbed or shoved her in their ‘dating relationship.'”

She also claimed in the order that Odiari threatened to kill both her and any guy she dated in the future. Nice. In fairness, the charge relating to the protection order was eventually dropped. But questions linger.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think Mr. Odiari doesn’t deserve a second chance. We all do – deserve a second chance, that is. I’m just not convinced that SMU, in the wake of drug and alcohol deaths and amid a campus struggling to come to terms with its own demons, is in the best position to offer him that chance.

I’m sure more than a few people will line up to tell me I’m out of line. (Form line here.) That doesn’t mean, however, the issue doesn’t deserve to be raised. Nor does it mean that I am conspiring against Coach Jones. After all, I didn’t make this up – because you can’t make this stuff up.

To defend his signing of 21-year-old Odiari, SMU’s new coach told The Daily Campus that he, in fact, likes to give problem players second chances.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the problem player is a 6-foot-1-inch, 225-pound first-team academic all-Big 12 linebacker who started for football powerhouse Oklahoma State and finished his sophomore year with 14 tackles.

The good news is Odiari, now over 21, will be able to go to off-campus bars – and the on-campus pub – without the need for a fake ID.

And chances are he hasn’t had time to find a girlfriend yet, so no one will have to worry about protective orders. And, well, if he goes to an off-campus party in violation of curfew, slugs a fellow student and calls him “faggot,” the most he’ll have to worry about is a one-game suspension.

I’m certain many of you – perhaps a majority – are willing to ignore any risks that giving Mr. Odiari a second chance might occasion in exchange for whatever chance SMU has to field a winning team (dare I say, go to a bowl game?).

The bottom line is Mr. Odiari has the support of a very forgiving coach, alumni and administration, for whom football trumps just about everything else. That, after all, was the source of the death penalty 20 years ago that no one likes to talk about.

On the bright side, at least he wasn’t arrested for running an illegal dog-fighting operation.

About the writer:

George Henson is a lecturer of Spanish and foreign languages and literatures. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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