OU beat reporter Jason Kersey of NewsOK.com has a very evenhanded piece out dissecting the scrutiny facing the football program now with running back Joe Mixon and linebacker Frank Shannon returning to the squad. As such, I figure that this is as good of a time as any for me to address this. (It will probably be the only time I do.)
If you disagree with the supposition that Bob Stoops and David Boren are walking a public relations tightrope right now, I have no idea what to tell you. In light of the ongoing controversies related to domestic violence in professional sports, whether or not Mixon and Shannon should be back with the team is a subject that will probably generate plenty of attention. (See: Solo, Hope.)
Personally, I don't have a problem with bring the two players back into the fold, but I'm generally skeptical of a football program's place in disciplining its players for off-the-field transgressions in the first place. I tend to view these as legal issues, so they should be treated as such. I honestly believe that the insistence on making the NFL or major college football programs into moral authorities in these matters does more harm than good.
However, plenty of people will make very reasonable arguments that Mixon and Shannon don't deserve to be back on the field for OU. If Mixon, Shannon or the Sooners have particularly strong years, national writers won't hesitate to weigh in. Plenty will take OU to task in that case.
Frankly, I worry more about how Sooner fans will react to this kind of criticism more than the criticism itself. It's the kind of thing that tends to produce abundant pissing and moaning from fans about "trolling" and "hot taeks" mixed in with personal attacks on writers. Some pundit might get a death threat. Ya know, all the #FSUTwitter stuff.
It sucks that OU is in the middle of this, but it's no less of a worthwhile conversation because of that. If this comes up and you start feeling like telling someone on Twitter to meet you in Temecula, count to 10 and hit delete. Don't go making us all look bad.