Fourth season develops in football

Published 12:36 am Sunday, May 4, 2008

It’s always been said there are three seasons in college football in the South — the regular season, signing day and spring practice.

Well perhaps it is time to add a fourth season to the sport. You can call it suspension season, dismissal season or something to that effect.

That is the season where players from major universities do something stupid like breaking the law or failing a drug test and getting booted off the football team.

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The most high-profile of those came Friday when LSU coach Les Miles finally had enough of quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and kicked him off the team following an alleged failed drug test.

Perrilloux had already been suspended multiple times by Miles for transgressions including bar fights, counterfeiting money and trying to enter a casino boat with a fake ID.

The alleged failed drug test was finally the last straw and Miles had to boot him, whether he be the starting quarterback or not.

LSU is definitely not the only school to have problems with football players in the country, the SEC or even the region.

In fact, on the same day that Miles dismissed Perrilloux, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt did the same to reserve defensive back Jamariey Atterberry for breaking unspecified team rules.

But the most serious trouble that happened during the offseason came in Starkville, where starting offensive tackle Mike Brown and reserve defensive player Quinton Wesley were not only dismissed from the team, but expelled from school after firing guns on campus.

They both pleaded guilty in court on Friday to possession of weapons on educational property and will be sentenced Tuesday. The maximum sentence is three years in prison.

Mississippi State players have also had a couple other brushes with the law in the off-season, including safety Derek Pegues being arrested for DUI.

These three schools are not the only schools with players getting in trouble. The problem is all around the country.

I love college football probably more than most people, but the actions of some players both off the field and in the classroom are troubling.

In addition to the trouble with the law, some football players are also known for their lack of performance in the classroom.

Every year, the Clarion-Ledger produces a Dandy Dozen team, highlighting the best 12 players in the state.

Rare is the year when at least half of those players fail to qualify academically for college.

Twenty years ago, Pulitzer Prize winning author Buzz Bissinger wrote “Friday Night Lights,” which chronicled the 1988 football season of Permian High School in Odessa, Texas.

The contents of the book were mostly appalling, as players didn’t have to go to class, were fawned on like gods and used for the benefit of the townspeople’s pleasure.

In the time I’ve spent covering high school athletics in the Miss-Lou, I have yet to run in to anyone who fits that description.

Athletics is important here, that’s for sure. Just look at how successful all our athletic teams are. But they don’t come at the expense of academics and character.

For that, we are fortunate. While there are many bad stories across the country regarding college football players, here in the Miss-Lou, it seems that we are doing our part to help our athletes stay in school and off the police blotter.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or