HOOVER, Ala. — I was wrong.
When news broke that Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall had been cited in Reynolds, Georgia, for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and illegal windows tinting, my first reaction was that he should absolutely still attend SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, during Auburn's session Monday afternoon.
He should own it. Be a leader. Stand up in front of the assembled masses at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel and say, "I messed up."
After sitting out Media Days and, as a result, becoming the biggest storyline of the event, it's clear that this punishment was enough.
"It's a privilege and a reward to come to this event and represent Auburn University," head coach Gus Malzahn said. "Last Friday, he lost that privilege."
Brandon Marcello of AL.com wrote over the weekend about what drives Marshall and, in particular, his motivation to be successful in his football career to help his family.
Marshall wrote this text message to his mother Shalena Cliett, according to Marcello:
I go hard for one reason. I go hard because my mama doesn't want to work no more. I just want to say I love you more than you think I do mom. I have got older and see things different than what I used to. I appreciate everything you have done for me up until this point. You're my role model and Lord willing this season goes how it should, I'm ready to pay you back in return. Owe you every penny. Love, Pie Face.
Auburn making a spectacle of the incident at the highest-profile event of the summer and leaving Marshall at home hurts his reputation—something quarterbacks need to have intact when they leave college and embark on a professional career.
"He's going to have some consequences to pay," Malzahn said. "I haven't decided on what they are. Up to this point, he's been a model student, model teammate and a model citizen. But there's going to be a price to pay, and he's going to do that."
He's going to have to answer those questions now at the next level. While that may not seem severe in the world of college football, it's very important to players—particularly to quarterbacks, who are supposed to be leaders of the team.
What happens if Marshall does miss some time during the season?
Malzahn and several of the Auburn players were complimentary of backup Jeremy Johnson in nearly every stop along the Media Days circuit.
"Jeremy Johnson is a guy who could start for the majority of teams in college football," Malzahn said. "He can really throw it."
Center Reese Dismukes echoed those sentiments in the main ballroom, according to Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com.
Reese Dismukes: Jeremy Johnson would start (at QB) for a lot of other teams in this conference. We have full confidence in him.— Alex Scarborough (@AlexS_ESPN) July 14, 2014
Make no mistake—Marshall will be punished.
Will Nick Marshall be suspended to open the 2014 season?
He already has been.
By pulling him at the last minute in favor of tight end C.J. Uzomah, Auburn sent the message to Marshall that even though he's been a model citizen, he's expected to be better, act better and carry himself as a leader.
Last Friday in Reynolds, Georgia, he forgot that. By missing SEC Media Days, he will be reminded of his poor judgment for the next several months.
That's punishment even if he doesn't miss any games.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.