WVU, Headgear, and SpiderPadGate: Moot Court Asks the Tough Questions
I read the latest minor violations self-report on the Internet at 5:00 am today. Only helmets in the first two days of preseason workouts. Nothing else, especially the small "spider" shoulder pads. Pretty clear violation, and that's just great. That's all West Virginia football needs right now.
This continuing parade of minor violations is more effective than Folgers in my cup.
Say it ain’t so, Stew. Tell me SpiderPadGate is just a bad dream.
Then I saw the photos in this morning’s Charleston Daily Mail.
It could be the old adage, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”
I’m going to set up moot court for this, putting Bill Stewart on trial. After reading the prosecution’s summation and then the summation of the defense, you can be the jury. You decide.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: A violation, however minor, is indeed a violation. Call it what it is.
It surprises this officer of the college football court, this facet of the NCAA legal system, that SpiderPadGate even happened. When you consider the hot water West Virginia is already in, you’d think that at least the compliance officer would talk to Bill Stewart and perhaps observe the early preseason practices.
Since the initial violations came up:
a) Oliver Luck has faced the music with the NCAA and the boosters in a humble and polished manner, and
b) Bill Stewart has not.
The time to send Stew to a finishing school has long, long past. So, we have to deal with the man as he is.
Very simply, Bill Stewart should have:
a) not condoned the wearing of “spider” shoulder pads, and
b) should have faced the NCAA and the fans with humility.
It’s a time-honored tradition for a head coach, when confronted with such controversial news, to tell the public one thing, then in the solace of the locker room, tell the players, “I had to say that in the press conference, but don’t believe it. Let’s play ball.”
The damage has been done, with regard to the violations as well as the public relations snafu by Stew.
In the opinion of the prosecution, this SpiderPadGate is open and shut. Drop the hammer, jury.
Look, boys and girls, This is no big deal. This situation is not Florida and AgentGate. Nor is WVU’s supposedly and allegedly protection of shoulders against wayward helmets the degree of violation like Michigan’s PracticeGate and USC’s ReggieBushGate.
Those are big men out there. A helmet, which is sanctioned by the NCAA, could inadvertently strike a man’s shoulder with the momentum of a 250-pound linebacker running at a 4.6 pace and level a bruise that could put the unlucky student athlete out for weeks.
The Big East wanted this rule to be rescinded, but the NCAA held firm.
My client’s charge is to guard the players from such an unfortunate injury. The players’ safety and health are my client’s number one duties. If he has to commit such a minutely minor ticky-tacky rule infraction to do so, then he stands guilty as a responsible coach.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what say you?
Give us a break, Your Honor. We, the jury, convened in the hallway on this one. It took a minute or two, then we reconvened at the tavern across the street.
Guilty as charged, Your Honor. Guilty of the rules violation and guilty of the audacity and arrogance it takes to break the rule in front of the lens of a camera.
Hand it over to the NCAA and let’s see what they have to say.
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