When the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Michigan State Spartans in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Eve, they'll be without sophomore cornerback Tony Brown.
On Thursday, Matt Zenitz of AL.com, citing sources, reported Brown was sent home after he started a fight with a defensive lineman during one of the team's practices and that the decision was made by the team's player leadership council.
According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Brown was the No. 2 CB and ninth-best player overall in the 2014 recruiting class. Since his arrival in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, though, he has failed to register much of an impact for the Crimson Tide.
In 13 games this year, Brown has made 16 total tackles, including one tackle for loss. He has also broken up two passes and defended another two.
Brown's absence will leave Alabama a bit thin at cornerback, but the Tide will still have Cyrus Jones and Marlon Humphrey prowling the secondary. Slowing down quarterback Connor Cook and the Michigan State passing attack remains achievable with or without Brown.
This suspension could, however, put his future on thin ice. The Tuscaloosa News' Cecil Hurt noted Brown was already causing some headaches for the coaching staff:
Tony Brown sent home from the Cotton Bowl for a team rules violation, capping a season when he was rarely out of Nick Saban's doghouse.— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) December 30, 2015
Saban is unlikely to dismiss Brown from the team once the season is over, but he will have the player on a shorter leash from this point forward.
Should Brown have another misstep in the coming months, it could result in the end of his time with the Crimson Tide.