Should Mandate Be That Player Suspensions Occur in First Conference Game?

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Should Mandate Be That Player Suspensions Occur in First Conference Game?
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Texas head coach Mack Brown

Texas head coach Mack Brown announced on June 3 that two Longhorn wide receivers will be suspended for the first game of the season, according to an ESPN report.

In two separate incidents, Cayleb Jones was charged with misdemeanor assault and Kendall Sanders was charged with driving while intoxicated. They will not play against New Mexico State.

Big whoop. 

Last year the Aggies went 1-11 with their sole victory over Sacramento State. The program has won a total of 10 games in five years. It lost to lowly 3-9 New Mexico last year. It also lost to Texas State—a program in its first year as an FBS team—66-28. The Aggies are certainly not champing at the bit over these latest suspension revelations. 

This is not a real punishment for Jones and Sanders. While they will not play, they will still break a sweat jumping up and down while watching the Longhorns score at will.   

What used to be a practice of scheduling lower-tiered teams for tune-ups could now be perceived as a proactive approach to roster management. By scheduling FCS or non-BCS cupcakes on college football's opening weekend, schools are offsetting the absences of suspended players. 

Texas is not necessarily scheduling lower-tiered teams for that reason, but it certainly is convenient to play New Mexico State without two receivers, isn't it?

One school deftly avoided suspension ramifications by scheduling back-to-back FCS schools in one season.

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Florida State played Western Carolina and Chattanooga in 2008. The program was reeling from an academic scandal where at least 20 players were reportedly suspended from the 2007 Music City Bowl. Some of the suspensions carried over to the beginning of the 2008 season.

Thankfully, Western Carolina and Chattanooga were there for the taking. Getting around multi-game suspensions by scheduling two consecutive FCS teams is not only pathetic, it is egregious. What was a three-game suspension for numerous Seminoles became a one-game suspension against Wake Forest. For what it's worth, Florida State lost to the Demon Deacons 12-3.

If schools routinely get around player suspensions by scheduling patsies in the beginning of the season, shouldn't conferences change the rules? 

A mandate requiring a player to serve out his suspension in the team's next scheduled conference game would be more appropriate. It would be a fairer punishment.

Injuries aside, teams with law-abiding players will be at full-strength when they play the meat of their schedules. Teams with knuckleheads on their rosters will not. 

No conference wants to give its teams a disadvantage in competition. But this is about inter-conference play where the playing field should be level. No team with suspended players should benefit from a suspension. 

Schools and/or conferences are responsible for suspending their own players. It is doubtful that a school would volunteer to suspend one of its players in its next scheduled conference game unless it was obviously warranted.

Conferences can take a proactive step by ending the suspensions of players in early-season, non-conference games.

Until that happens, the laughter over the inevitable and forthcoming suspensions will continue.  

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