Did you really think I was going to make it the whole off season without a pirate joke?
Yesterday it was confirmed that after his arrest for 3rd degree theft, shoplifting headphones from Wal Mart, starting defensive tackle Anthony Laurenzi has been dismissed from the team by Mike Leach.
So Laurenzi becomes the 4th player to test Mike Leach’s “No Tolerance” policies and the 4th to be dismissed from the team. Hurrah for consistency. I am on the record as opposed to “no tolerance” policies, but I am also of the mind that this was a very serious and concerning lack of judgement by Laurenzi and one that deserved a severe punishment, including a significant amount of missed playing time. This isn’t the type of behavior that is just par for the course with college kids (a la Travis Long’s MIP), and it is something that cannot be tolerated in an environment such as a locker room where trust amongst teammates is paramount. I know there are many like me who cringe at the thought of cutting loose a kid who is about to graduate and has appeared to be a good citizen and teammate throughout most of his career (note: he was busted on a minor possession charge for marijuana his frosh year which is not a reliable indicator that a person is also a thief). While I would prefer to see Laurenzi put through the proverbial ringer to earn his way back to playing time and eventually graduating this spring, the bottom line is there is nobody else to blame here but him. This was a rock stupid decision and if his dismissal makes the rest of the team a bit wiser about their behavior, so be it.
Now that we all agree that this is an important learning lesson for the Cougs off the field, let’s consider what this means for the Cougs on the football field this year, after the jump...
For a little perspective I am going to refer you to Brian Floyd of Cougcenter who perfectly summed up how I feel this impacts the Cougs:
“While his talent-level can probably be replaced, the loss of a body is problematic -- even more so if injuries come into play. It's not as though losing Laurenzi is akin to losing a cornerstone, but it certainly does hurt.”
I really believe there is better talent behind Laurenzi at the tackle spot, so the real impact of his dismissal is to our depth as Brian points out. While not likely, it was entirely possible that Laurenzi may not have even been the starter after Fall camp. That said, while guys like Toni Pole, Xavier Cooper, Ioane Gauta, and Robert Barber may be better “talents” than Laurenzi, all four of them combined cannot replace his experience. While the loss of Laurenzi isn't something to panic over, I think all of us who witnessed what our defense looked like in 2008/09 after losing big bodies like Andy Roof and Toby Turpin are having a few Javhid Best flashbacks right now... right? The good news is we have a lot more capable bodies on the defensive line than we had in those dark days and thanks to Coach Breske, we are now spreading them accross 3 positions instead of 4. Lets just hope the attrition stops here.
This is the kind of punch to the gut we have become accustomed to for the better part of a decade now, and I am sure most Coug fans, like myself, are fed up. However a couple things are never going to change, namely, college kids make terrible decisions as a rule, and keeping all your fingers and toes crossed during the off season will not stop this kind of thing from happening. Going forward we can rest assured that the example Leach is setting will eventually sink in and as our depth improves we will be in a better position to absorb these blows.
So with that, lets just start fall camp now. The last thing these kids need is free time on their hands. Nothing good ever comes of it.