Since yesterday's announcement that Syracuse Orange wide receiver Mike Williams quit the team, rampant speculation has permeated throughout campus as to why the team's star offensive weapon would abandon his team and possibly his first-round aspirations.
After the 2007 season, in which Williams was named the team's offensive MVP, the receiver was accused of cheating on exams and was removed from the University, missing all of last season. After a very repentant year-off spent getting his grades in order at community college, Williams burst back onto the scene this past spring, as he was allowed to re-enroll at Syracuse under new head coach Doug Marrone.
However, the star who was given a second chance did not shy away from controversy.
Before Syracuse's game against Akron, rumors circulated about the possible suspension of an offensive star, and were given more life by Williams' own Facebook page, which read:
""I HATE COLLEGE I CANT SEE ME DOING THIS FOR LONG.HINT HINT.-0 LMAO""
The "status" was soon changed, with Williams telling fans:
"Everyone, I am staying in school to get my degree Sorry for the false information out there."
The suspension, which was said to be for an undisclosed violation of team rules, was announced the day of the game. Williams did not contribute to the 28-14 Orange win, the team's third of the season.
Williams was immediately re-instated after the game, and played against No. 5 Cincinnati at the Carrier Dome this past weekend, catching four passes for a total of 34 yards.
Since Monday, when Williams' departure was announced, campus has buzzed with speculation as to why the Biletnikoff award semifinalist has left.
The rumor with perhaps the most backing deals with Williams' past academic troubles. He has already been removed from school once, and may have merely gotten fed up with the college lifestyle. After a tough loss to a good team, perhaps Williams just made a rash decision to forego his classes and his final four games, and wanted to focus on getting ready for NFL draft combines.
Another rumor, which probably stems solely from the raging debate over which quarterback should start for Syracuse—graduate student Greg Paulus or redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib—has been that Williams is fed up with the offense. This rumor is probably wishful thinking from the pro-Nassib contingency of the Orange fanbase.
Williams accounts for 49 of the team's 150 receptions, and 746 of the team's 1624 receiving yards—over 45 percent of the team's total productivity through the air. He also leads the team in touchdown receptions, hauling in six of the team's 12.
There is little room for Williams to be getting more attention from his quarterback, whoever it is. And nothing shows that there is anything but a great relationship between Williams and Paulus, Williams and Nassib, or even Williams and the coaching staff, in terms of play on the field. He has always been the focal point of the offense, even in lieu of a mediocre game against an excellent Cincinnati Bearcats team.
All speculation might become moot due to a very new, and very unfounded rumor that is blowing up as this article is being written. Two Syracuse radio personalities are hearing news that Mike Williams may be coming back to rejoin the Orange. At 12:19pm today, Matt McClusky of "Matt Mc's Sports Fix" on ESPN 1410 WNER sent the following message via Twitter:
"Inbox blowing up on Mike Williams and coming back—I have no official word at all. I have received 20 to 30 emails at least on this."
Radio host and Syracuse.com blogger Brent Axe is also following the story, coming out with a "tweet" of his own shortly thereafter:
"I'm hearing that Mike Williams is going to be let back on the team, but he definitely won't play Pitt. Nothing official yet."
News that Mike Williams may be let back on has not been verified by the football program, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard, but a rush of new information about player suspensions—including runningback Antwan Bailey, offensive lineman Andrew Tiller, and defensive end Torrey Ball—has come out in the last few minutes, all for a "violation of team rules."
Many suspect that the violation is directly linked to the transgression that may have caused Williams to quit. All three players will be suspended for the upcoming game against Pittsburgh.
Although there is no official word that Williams may be back on the team, the possibility is a relief to many Orange fans who believe that he is the key to the team's success. Some may be put off by his being allowed back, as quitting on a team is never something that is looked upon lightly.
No matter what happens from here on out, it does not sound like it will be the last we've heard from Mike Williams.