USC Was Wrong to Suspend Running Back Marc Tyler

Ben SullivanCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16:  Marc Tyler #26 of the USC Trojans warms up before the game against the California Golden Bears at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

My brother went on a bachelor party weekend recently with some guys that we grew up with. They had a good time, I mean a really good time. And I know this not just because he told me, but because he came home with video evidence. 

Nothing special, it was one of those cell phone videos, taken after plenty of adult beverages were consumed, that we’ve all seen hundreds of times by now. The best part was how they all kept asking the man of honor questions that they knew would illicit humorous and sensational responses. 

And boy did they get them. The answers were crazy and funny, and my brother and I had a good laugh at them when he played the video for me. But then he did what any responsible friend would do: He deleted the video right there on the spot.

It was enjoyed for a minute, then we let go of it. Sure, the things on that video were outrageous, but nothing to be taken seriously. 

After all, now that we have a camera in front of our faces at all times, don’t we have to start using a sliding scale to rate our outrage to someone’s comments? 

Too bad USC forgot about this when they decided to suspend running back Marc Tyler for his drunken rant that TMZ caught on tape. 

He’s a kid who made a mistake. A mistake that hurt no one. His remarks weren’t insensitive or hateful or anything like that; they were just careless. 

He wasn’t making any actual claims that he had been paid to play at USC. He was clearly making a joke, trying to look cool. He failed at that, but his comments cannot be taken seriously. 

He’s just another college kid who got drunk and did something stupid when a camera was on. If USC is going to start suspending their students for that, then the libraries and lecture halls are going to be empty this fall. 

The fact is that everything these college athletes do these days is captured on film or some digital equivalent of film, and then published to Facebook and YouTube moments later. 

Our collective outrage meter has to be recalibrated. Marc Tyler should have been smarter that night. He should have seen the camera and ran the other way. 

But he shouldn’t be suspended because he didn't. 

Sure, Tyler’s comments were stupid. No doubt about it. But when did we start punishing stupid? If that’s our new standard then I think we’re all in trouble. I mean, who hasn’t said things they regret—or could be taken out of context—if they were immortalized forever on tape? 

It’s not like he said these things while being interviewed in the USC locker room after a game, or in a press conference, or in any formal situation where he would expect to be viewed as a representative of his university. 

Marc Tyler should not be suspended for his remarks to TMZ
Marc Tyler should not be suspended for his remarks to TMZStephen Dunn/Getty Images

In fact, he couldn’t possibly have been in a more informal setting. 

He’s a college athlete, someone we’ve been told over and over again can’t be paid for his services, but we can track him down off the field and entrap him into damaging remarks? 

Is this what we’ve come to? Stalking amateur athletes late at night so that we can find them drunk and ask them leading questions? 

This isn’t journalism, this is sensationalism. Which is exactly what TMZ claims to be. They make no bones about it. This is what they do and they’re proud of it. 

And they should be, because they’re in the business of creating entertainment, not news.  And believe me, this video was seriously entertaining. We should all get to watch it and get a good laugh. 

But we shouldn't take the video they produce seriously, and USC shouldn’t punish Tyler for what he said on it. 

I’m not saying what he did was right or what he said was good. 

He should certainly use this as a learning experience of what not to do when a reporter starts asking you obviously leading questions, but he shouldn’t lose the right to play his sport because of it.