Geno Smith, Second DUI… Third Strike?
By: Larry Burton
Call it late Friday night or technically early Saturday morning and Geno Smith was not interested in Saturday’s practice, adhering to the “Process” Saban tries to instill in his players or worried about doing the wrong thing. Instead he got behind the wheel of his car for at least the second time with an alcohol blood content that exceeds the state law and was caught doing so.
This was the second time that Smith, a senior who by now should have known better, who by now should be setting an example, was arrested for the same offense. So much for a learning curve for Mr. Smith. His desire to knock back a few too many and get behind the wheel seemed to override his better judgement.
Smith was clearly “The Man” in the Alabama backfield this season to take not only the starting job, but the leadership role in the defensive secondary on a team that is already low at experienced help at safety. It seems that at least in the role of being a leader, Mr. Smith is lacking.
Saturday as the rest of the Alabama Crimson Tide took to the practice field for it’s fifth practice, a day that had many hundreds of high school coaches in attendance to watch the outdoor practice, Geno Smith still sat in jail awaiting bail and release and fellow senior Jabriel Washington had taken his place in working with the first team.
For Smith, who outside these DUI problems, has not been a problem on or off the field, fellow players, coaches and fans are all disappointed in him for failing to learn from his prior DUI.
In fact, in talking to press about Smith about the first arrest in 2013, “We’ve never had an issue with Geno. He’s an excellent person. He’s never been in trouble here before, never been in my office for anything. But I think this is something that everybody should learn from, that when you make a bad choice sometimes the consequences of that choice can really have a negative effect.”
“Some of these guys don’t have enough foresight to understand cause and effect, but Geno has been a really good person in the program and just made a choice, bad decision. Made several of them, so now he’s got consequences for it.” Saban concluded back in 2013. For that offense he sat out one game and had to go through some other “paths” in order to get back in good graces with both Saban and the team.
One can only wonder what things Smith will have to go through this time in order to get back in good graces. Being a senior, he doesn’t have a lot of time to sit out many games. And one may wonder what Saban will do to a senior who clearly should have known better by now and who makes the same exact mistake for a second time.
For Saban, there are two things to consider. Would Geno learn more from being on the team and paying a heavy price for his indiscretion or by being kicked off the team. To Saban, he tries to salvage a player if he can.
But secondly, he has to worry about the message that is sent to the rest of team based on whatever decisions he makes in this fiasco. Indeed, Smith’s problems now have squarely become a problem for Nick Saban.
Whatever decisions Saban makes, we will only learn of few of them should Smith remain on the team. We will learn how many practices and or games Smith will sit out for this second offense should he remain on the team, but will never know the other things Saban will ask Smith to complete.
Early this month I published an article how all coaches hold their breath during the week of Spring Break and hope that these sorts of things don’t pop up. For Alabama, they had a quiet spring break and it seemed that the players were all working the “Process” in a quest for a great season. Now the first crack in that armor has appeared.
We can only hope that this is the rare exception and not the rule for the remainder of the players on this team and that if Smith is kept on the team, that he will have finally learned his lesson this time.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter
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