OK, I think it is time. It is time to stop acting like Reese Dismukes committed a criminal act or perpetrated some kind of evil on Auburn University.
It is time to stop acting like the actions of a few knuckleheads mean that somehow Auburn's football program is somehow careening out of control and becoming a bad reality show.
It is time to recognize that when a player at Auburn or anywhere else gets drunk, uses drugs, commits a crime or whatever that the coach didn't do it, his teammates didn't do it, he did it.
It is time to stop the hysteria.
Coaches are like quarterbacks. They get too much credit and too much blame. Coaches, at least most of them, don't go out and do stupid things. Players do. Coaches don't graduate players. Players graduate players.
If Chizik is to be blamed for the actions of a very few, if Les Miles is to be blamed for the actions of the Honey Badger and a fight that almost derailed LSU's season last year, should they not then be credited with the actions of the vast majority who do things right, stay out of trouble, go to class and work hard?
If Chizik is to be blamed for Reese Dismukes' stupid actions, should he not then be credited for Philip Lutzenkirchen's determination to do things the right way? Should he get credit for Lutzenkirchen befriending a 10-year-old cancer victim who'd had part of her leg amputated?
If Chizik is to be blamed for players who can't abide by the rules and get sent packing, should he not then be credited for the clear-eyed maturity of Emory Blake?
If Chizik is to be blamed for positive drug tests that show up in the SEC's toughest drug testing program, should he not be credited for Jeff Whitaker, Greg Robinson, Jay Prosch and Pat Miller playing baseball with handicapped kids in the Miracle League in Opelika, for Whitaker volunteering at Storybook Farms?
If it's Chizik's fault that Mike Dyer suddenly wouldn't do what he was supposed to do and threw away his Auburn career is it then to Chizik's credit that Justin Garrett volunteered for Habitat For Humanity and worked in blistering heat to help build a house?
Should Chizik get credit for Cam Newton going to read to elementary school children virtually every Monday of his time at Auburn?
Should Chizik get credit for T'Sharvan Bell volunteering with the Pine Hills Literacy Program summer camp/Greater Lee County Boys and Girls Club, reading to students and assisting with homework?
The truth is Chizik, beyond leading by his own example, deserves credit for none of those things. The young men who gave of their time, worked hard and showed their compassion deserve credit. And by the same token, it is not on Chizik that Dismukes got drunk, that someone else flunked a drug test, that someone else broke the law. That's on them.
I'm not trying to be a Pollyanna here and act like it's OK when good, hard-working young men do bad, inexplicable things. It's not OK, and they should and do suffer serious consequences.
But neither does it say they are beyond redemption, that they are bad people, that the programs for which they play are out of control, that somehow a top-level school that recruits the same players other top-level schools recruit is recruiting the wrong players.
I hope Dismukes, along with every other college kid who has gotten into trouble, deals with whatever issues he has in his life and reaches his potential as a player and as a person. He certainly has that opportunity. I and millions of others have been in similar places to where he is today and come back better for the experience.
But it's time to move on. Football season is upon us. It's supposed to be fun. I hope it is.