Adams: It's an easy choice for Kiffin: kick players off team

John Adams

Tennessee’s first-year coaching staff doesn’t make a big deal out of injuries. It laments them but it doesn’t belabor them.

One player’s injury is another player’s opportunity. One guy goes down, the next guy steps up: That’s how it has to work in the competitive world of college athletics.

So, if you want to put a positive spin on one of the dumbest crimes in the history of UT football’s criminal activities, you can look at the opportunity created by the early-morning attempted armed robbery allegedly perpetrated by three freshman football players — Nu’Keese Richardson, Mike Edwards and Janzen Jackson.

By “opportunity,” I’m not referring to the players who will move up the depth chart in their place. The crime has created a greater opportunity for the head coach.

Lane Kiffin has been all about discipline ever since he was hired in December. He has demanded it of his players and hasn’t been shy about saying so.

He has emphasized his team’s arrest-free record, repeatedly stated his belief that lack of discipline off the field is reflected on the field as well, and even taken a shot at Florida coach Urban Meyer for suspending All-American middle linebacker Brandon Spikes for only a half after Spikes’ eye-gouging incident against Georgia.

Now, Kiffin has the opportunity to practice what he has preached. He can kick the players off the team and send a message to the rest of his team as well as the general populace of college football.

The message: He means what he says.

The skill-level of the players enhances Kiffin’s opportunity. He wouldn’t be cutting loose borderline players who might never make a meaningful contribution to UT football. He would be booting three promising players — including, in Jackson, a starter and potential freshman All-American.

But it’s not a hard choice. This wasn’t a drunk player fallen asleep at a McDonald’s drive-thru. It wasn’t an “error in judgment.” It wasn’t “hanging out with the wrong crowd.”

It was a premeditated crime. With a gun.

If proved guilty, the three Vols wouldn’t have just broken the law. They would have broken a trust with their teammates and coaches.

This team has worked extremely hard to change the program’s image, on and off the field. It already has won as many games as last year, overcome a series of injuries to key players, and positioned itself for a strong finish that could put it in a New Year’s Day bowl and the Top 25.

The rest of the team didn’t deserve this. I feel sorry for them, rather than the knuckleheads who couldn’t resist the temptation of hitting up convenience-store patrons for spare change.

I’m only guessing the victims had spare change since the police report states their wallets were empty.

The three stooges really cased the joint, didn’t they? Based on all the thought that went into the crime, guess they didn’t know Pilot is owned by Jim Haslam, one of the university’s and football program’s greatest supporters. That’s “Haslam” as in Haslam Field, where the team practices daily.

The practice field shouldn’t be any different without those three players. Neither should game day.

I’m not dismissing Jackson’s talent or contributions. But this team has proved again and again it can overcome adversity.

It lost three-year starting center Josh McNeil to injury before the season even started. It lost middle linebacker Nick Reveiz to a season-ending knee injury in the middle of the season. It suffered a devastating last-second loss to unbeaten Alabama, then bounced back the next week to defeat nationally ranked South Carolina by 18 points.

Now, it gets another chance to prove how resilient it is. And its coach gets an opportunity to prove he can walk the walk.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 283

bigorangetrain writes:

They gotta go!!! Its the right thing to do and it sets the tone for the rest of the players and future players! Think about the program Lane!!

stinky_pinky writes:

tell them to pack their sh*t

SmokeytheVol writes:

gotta send a message to the rest of the team. this kinda stuff wont be tolerated even if youre 5 star prospects, starting or not. CLK will handle this appropriately.

mahabrando writes:

Yep. Kiffin needs to say goodbye and don't let the Neyland gates hit you on the you know what on the way out!

FatherVol writes:

Their stuff should be packed and put outside on the lawn so they can easily find it when they raise the bail money.

volnbama#241711 writes:

Not gone yet?

bigtangerine writes:

Very well said, Mr. Adams.
Nobody can defend this type of behavior.
The best thing to do is keep moving in the right direction. I believe that's where this program is going.
Win out!

All_Vol_in_GA writes:

Had high hopes for Jackson, but he's gotta go. All of 'em, off the team; the quicker the better.

Thermopyle writes:

From Pahokee to the pokey...you can't outlaw stupid.

orangeblood8456 writes:

a very good article, which says it all!

TommyJack writes:

a no brainer, really.

VolFaninTriCities writes:

Great Article Adams. I hate that these kids have just destroyed their chances. It makes me sick. If I was Richardson though, I would be more scared of his Aunt then anybody right now. She seems like a tough lady. Good luck wearing all orange jump suits boys.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

For once, I totally agree with John Adams.

newtonrail writes:

For once I agree with Adams, IF: charges are proven. Don't see any way Edwards and Richardson can get off, but there seems to be some doubt about Jackson. Now if he was in the car, with Marijuana after last week, that's enough to cut him loose, no matter what comes out of robbery charges. The problem for the public is we will probably never know the entire truth, even all are kicked off team this afternoon. Kiffin just can't legally put everything out there.

stinky_pinky writes:

I am still in shock that they're this stupid

erp3c writes:

The comments and response to this incident at the message boards here is disgusting. Apparently these young men can hit other young men upon command to your roars but they second they do something stupid they are "thugs" and "should be out of tennessee".

How about this - these kids are troubled. They did a horrible thing. How is kicking them out of college and back to their small poor hometowns going to help them? This is what I think Lane Kiffin should do: suspend them for the remainder of this season and all of next season. After they serve their time in jail, perform community service, maintain a 3.0 gpa, they reinterview with both Lane and the team and have a shot of making the team in 2011. These kids did a horrible thing, but to abandon them is just as bad.

BigSwitch writes:

Yes, they should go. Especially since
Judge "hide behing the key board" Adams says so.

hdav06#387651 writes:

Excellent Article - not only have they destroyed their own lives but they have damaged their team mates, their school, and their families. The only wave to possibly save their future lives would be to kick them off the team now.

LDDFC912 writes:

They gotta Go Lane!

VolinaCrimsonWorld writes:

The decision is simple for CLK, and it's based on character. More than any other time during his short tenure as coach, he can make a profound statement that will resonate throughout the nation. No longer will he be known for his run-ins with Slive, Meyer, etc. but he will be known as a coach with principles. This will send a strong message to his players, it will unify the ranks and it will speak volumes to the parents of high school recruits who are considering UT. Doing otherwise will not only compromise the standards that he has espoused, but it will undermine the momentum he has built thus far and slide the program onto a slippery slope of relativism.

Foreveravol writes:

Attempted armed robbery is a mandatory 8-30 year sentence in Tennessee. Two of the three are done for, for sure. Crying shame for all three!

Vol86 writes:

Some orange paasion from Adams? Let me read the article again.

Volunatic writes:

I agree they should be kicked off the team immediately, unless there is some doubt that they are guilty.
If there is any doubt, then they should be suspended until their guilt/innocence is decided by the court. (Judging by early reports, though, it doesn't sound like there's much doubt about their guilt.)

Vol_in_Mich writes:

Time to put up or shut up Coach. They gotta go, all three of them, for advanced stupidity if nothing else. If not guilty, you may consider letting them back next year.

GO VOLS!!! BEAT the Rebs (PLEASE)

OrangePride writes:

Hate to say it, JA, but you are on the money with this one! This is not simply a bad choice or youthful error, this is a premeditated crime and at an entirely different level. From all reports, Jackson didn't participate in the holdup portion, but he certainly was with the group and surely had knowledge of what was going down. Sorry, LK has no real choice here but to dismiss everyone from the team. Even IF charges against Jackson get dropped, I see no way the coaches can overlook his involvement. A sad day for the other young men on this team who have worked so hard all year!

AFVol423 writes:

Is there a question as to what has to happen? If they did it, they have to be cut. No other option.

mborovol writes:

I’m just laughing….AL, GA, FL, LSU, TN….all our programs have this going on….geezzz guys relax. 18 years got stupid with a bebe gun….yeah I’m sure that has never happened anywhere else in the world. Get a grip, have a laugh at the idiots, Kick off Nuke and Edwards, suspend Jackson and just win baby….and move on….

mdvol writes:

See ya. Rest of the players are on lockdown and 10pm bed check. Lights out 11pm.

utfpmd writes:

We love ya Kiffin, but we are waiting. When are the dismissals coming? Time to snuff out this fire.

IdahoVol writes:

Absolutely agree with Adams here. This wasn't some so-called stupid decision by 18 year olds. I made plenty of those - but I never robbed anyone at gunpoint. Kiffin should kick them off the team now, or lose all credibility. And as Adams says, by kicking off these 3, at least two of whom were supposed to be the future of the program, he can definitely send a message that he means what he says. And who know - there may even be another shot at Meyer in there somewhere!

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

Regardless of if they're guilty or not, what in the world were they doing out and about at 2 in the morning? Lack of discipline, lack of respect for their teammates. If Al Wilson were playing right now I think you'd see three broken jaws.

In the Army these guys would be referred to as "those guys" (being "that guy" refers to the idiot who puts others in harm's way out of his own stupidity and/or negligence). "That guy" is also called a Blue Falcon, or a "Buddy _ucker". They're detrimental to the team and they have to go.

mborovol writes:

Just win baby!

JOHNWARD4EVER writes:

such a sad waste of talent!!
Urbans gonna have a field day with this one.

TennesseeJed writes:

in response to utfpmd:

We love ya Kiffin, but we are waiting. When are the dismissals coming? Time to snuff out this fire.

Don't worry, he'll get the facts first, then respond accordingly. Noone wants him to act hastily to appease an angry mob, only to regret his decision later once the facts come to light.

Laydbakvol writes:

I don't think CLK needed to be reminded of what he should do. I think he knew the minute he hung up the phone this morning. The fact there hasn't been an announcment yet doesn't mean he hasn't made a decision and I don't think he'll base it on one of JA's articles.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

Does anyone have any insight as to when Kiffin plans on addressing the media?

mborovol writes:

Jackson failed a drug test...I didnt know that...ok then kick them all off...man I liked Jackson....

UT_LAW_2011 writes:

Here's what they should do. Announce today that all three are suspended for the rest of the season pending further investigation. We do not have all the facts today but you have enough for them not to play anymore this year. There is/was a lawsuit by a player against Penn State for rushing to judgment in an off the field situation and frankly other than suspending them for the season, decisions about their future with the program don't have to be made today.

As for after the season:

What I've heard is that the charges against JJ are gone. Despite the fact that this is the second dumb thing in two weeks, I think he still has a future with the program. Not only is he an incredible player but he did the least amount wrong here. Just being with those other two dolts doesn't warrant kicking him off the team, especially if there are no charges filed. His only provable sin is hanging around morons.

Nuke and Realgeniusmike are G-O-N-E. And they Should be.

give_him_6 writes:

I hope all Phokee players aren't cut from the same cloth as this idiot. Jail and a haircut for him!!!! Have fun being someones 165 pound beyotch!!!

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to TennesseeJed:

Don't worry, he'll get the facts first, then respond accordingly. Noone wants him to act hastily to appease an angry mob, only to regret his decision later once the facts come to light.

I agree. You don't want him to act hastily, however I do want him to move quickly on this so the team can put this distraction behind them and focus on football! Besides, it appears they have been positively identified by the victims... looks like a pretty simple decision, unless it's all part of some major conspiracy... which I SINCERELY doubt!

UTBEATEMALL writes:

Not only should these players be kicked off the team, but the university and football team should really go out of their way to reach out to the victims! No matter who they may be, the threat of an armed crime can be tramatic and the thought of a person going through that should the only thought that is considered before releasing these players. It is sad, because obviously there young men need guidance and direction, but they don't deserve the priveledge of football scholarships at any university. I hope these young men find the guidance they need to reach their potential as MEN, but no university should pay their tuition if they should escape any hard time in lockup.

polymer writes:

This ain't rocket surgery.

volnnwbama writes:

to the football players still on the team,
forget the dummies and worry about beating the
phooey out of ol miss

DennisVols writes:

It is just hard to understand how 3 young men with a promising future ahead of them could make such a DA decision. Just yesterday we see a report with Jackson stating he was sorry for the mistake he made that cost him a game supension and now this. These 3 are going to jail, their college and any chance at a pro career are over.
It saddens me to see such a waste. There are a million kids each year that can't get into college because their parents can't afford it and these 3 throw that away as well.
What in the heck where they doing out at that time anyway. My granny always said "nothing good ever happens after midnight"
That pellet gun could have gotten them killed.
Kiffin has to cut the strings.
Keeping it Real
Go Vols!!!

Slystone writes:

I wouldn't even classify them in the category of the 3 Stooges. The Boys would never stoop this low. I was sitting in the Dental chair when I saw this flash on ESPN. Dayum!!!! And Kiff just dealt with issues from two of these idiots. When you have someone with a "Can't Get Right" behavior you have to cut your ties. This is an embarrassment and hopefully the Vols will not let this be a distraction Saturday. GBO!

marvinVol writes:

I don't think Lane will do nothing other than kick them off without even pausing! He isn't that kind of a person.

Go Vols!!!!

ArealVolFan writes:

in response to FARRAGUT0406:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeh speaking of...what ever happened to that cocaine dealer on Bama's team...or the guy on Bama's team that robbed a guy with a bb gun outside their athletic dept?

vol88 writes:

I googled Marie Montmarquet 5 minutes ago, and got 1,950 hits. Just now, 2,520. Unreal. Does that paint a picture of how the whole country is having a field day with this?

JOHNWARD4EVER writes:

in response to mborovol:

Jackson failed a drug test...I didnt know that...ok then kick them all off...man I liked Jackson....

ME NEITHER!! god this`s getting uglier by the moment!

Mpboldt writes:

This morning, when I awakened and anticipated reading the GoVols Web for exciting news about the upcoming game, I never dreamed I'd see something like this in the headlines. I felt betrayed by very people, whom I held in the highest esteem, if for no other reason, they accepted the challenge to represent the University of Tennessee, on their chosen field of competition and pursue an education at the same time. To me, the acceptance of this challenge deserves my respect and appreciation. My Mother always told me never have "our family name mentioned in a bad light" and that has always served as a guidance for me. I always remember that my actions represent a large number of people throughout my life, none of whom I'd want to disappoint. I wish these young men had taken time to realize how many people will be affected by their actions; their family, hometown community, teammates, University of Tennessee, the victims and many more. This incident is over and has to be dealt with on many levels; however, just as Coach LK said a loss on the field should have a sickening feeling on each player, I hope this incident elicits the same feeling, which I'm sure it will. Maintain your name! Go Vols!

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