New Washington head coach Chris Petersen wasted no time taking a definitive stance against off-field issues, suspending Huskies quarterback Cyler Miles and wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow indefinitely following alleged altercations with Seattle Seahawks fans on Sunday.
GoHuskies.com writer Gregg Bell confirmed the suspensions via Twitter:
Washington is stocked with veteran talent and plays a favorable conference schedule in 2014. Coming off nine wins in 2013, the program's most since it reached the Rose Bowl at the end of the 2000 season, the Huskies have the look of conference championship dark horses.
In suspending two promising young talents, both of whom emerged in the final month of last season, Petersen's message is clear: Wins will not come at the expense of conduct. Neither Miles nor Stringfellow were arrested, according to Adam Jude of the The Seattle Times, and both could be exonerated in due course.
That makes Petersen's decision all the more emphatic. He's working to stomp out even the possibility of issues.
Petersen did not inherit a program in turmoil. Predecessor Steve Sarkisian notably suspended All-American Austin Seferian-Jenkins prior to the 2013 season opener for a DUI the tight end received in the offseason.
Petersen didn't need to send a message by suspending the quarterback Miles, who shined against Pac-12 North foe Oregon State and made a few big plays in the bowl victory over Brigham Young, or the celebrated freshman receiver, Stringfellow, who had his eight-reception coming-out party on national TV against UCLA.
Petersen chose to do so. And he made the right choice.
While Stringfellow is a genuine talent, should his absence last for any meaningful length, it won't have too much of an impact on the Huskies' wide receiver corps. Fellow 2013 freshman John Ross has breakout potential, and former honorable mention All-Conference selection Kasen Williams returns from injury to anchor the unit.
Miles, on the other hand, was to enter an intriguing quarterback competition at the beginning of spring practice. Washington is crowded with candidates to replace three-year starter Keith Price—Jeff Lindquist, Troy Williams and incoming signee K.J. Carta-Samuels—but only Miles had meaningful game experience.
Nevertheless, suffering some initial growing pains on the field is a fair trade-off to avoid reigniting scrutiny of the program. There are enough fresh memories of a time when Washington had more than its share of ugly off-field moments to raise the possibility that inaction might open the wounds.
When that Rose Bowl season began on Sept. 2, 2000, against the University of Idaho, the UW's starters included:
• A safety...wanted on an outstanding warrant.
• A linebacker under investigation for robbing and shooting a drug dealer...
• A tight end under investigation on suspicion of rape.
At least a dozen members of the Rose Bowl team were arrested that year or charged with a crime that carried possible jail time. At least a dozen others on that team got in trouble with the law in other seasons.
Winning the program's first conference championship since the 2000 season is a goal of Petersen's. But his decisive action with Miles and Stringfellow shows he'll pursue that goal without comprising core principles.