Not a lot to parse out about the details of Joe Mixon's one-year suspension from the football program, so let's talk about some of the fallout:
*I don’t have the requisite sportswriter hard-on for “discipline” and eradicating “entitlement” from college athletes. If you’re looking for someone to tell you if Oklahoma did the right thing, go somewhere else. Frankly, I find it weird to use the duration of a football suspension as some kind of crude measuring stick to judge its validity as a punishment in this situation.
In light of what I expected, separating Mixon from the team for a year certainly falls on the more severe end of the spectrum. It definitely exceeds the fallout from misdemeanor charges for players in the past. The closest comparison to this situation for a true freshman would be Ryan Broyles in 2007, but even he was allowed to practice on the scout team that season. Mixon will be on his own for a year.
*My most immediate question for Bob Stoops: How is this going to play in the locker room? I have to wonder how OU’s players feel about this kind of penalty for a young black man who alleges to have fought back in response to being slurred and slapped upside the head by a young white woman.
None of that justifies how Mixon acted, but I can understand how a team full of college-age kids would view this as the coach and school not having their backs.
(Note, by the way, that the press release from Oklahoma explicitly states that this penalty was recommended by Stoops and athletics director Joe Castiglione.)
*I don’t know what the suspension means for Mixon’s future at Oklahoma, but I can’t imagine that it helps. That goes double for a freshman so far away from home. If he does decide to leave, I can’t imagine OU’s athletic department would put up any big roadblocks to keep him from going where he wants.
*In the short run, losing Mixon won’t dent OU’s offense too badly. Yes, he’s a huge talent who undoubtedly hits the field right away. Even so, the Sooners still have a talented stable of backs to tote the rock, including Keith Ford, Alex Ross and Mixon’s classmate Samaje Perine.
I’m sure offensive coordinator Josh Heupel would rather have Mixon’s services than not, but it’s far from a death knell -- more like a flesh-wound knell.
*I get the impulse to somehow link the decision on Mixon’s case to what’s going on with linebacker Frank Shannon and Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham. I absolutely believe that OU President David Boren’s involvement in Mixon’s punishment has everything to do with the bad press that the program has received this summer. With the Ray Rice incident still fresh of the sporting public’s mind, the stench of violence against women has hung over the football world for months.
If we could unring the bell, though, I do wonder how people would view each of these cases, as well as how Oklahoma has handled them, on their own merits.