So the news broke yesterday that Sekope Kaufusi, the athletic linebacker heading into his junior season and a guy looked at to be a possible force in the new 3-4 defense at WSU, has been dismissed for violation of team rules. The story goes that someone(s?) in the Kaufusi residence was smoking weed, and a neighbor called the police, complaining of the odor. The police gathered the information, enough so to get a warrant, went to Kaufusi's apartment, and the rest is history.
There are so many questions and reactions to consider in this particular case.
1) Was Kaufusi the one smoking the weed? Or were there others in his residence who were lighting up and Kaufusi was just hanging out? It seems pretty damning that he was charged with possession, plus paraphernalia, so one would be able to connect the dots based on the reports that he was at least one of the offenders. It's not as though the Pullman PD was hiding in the bushes and looking through windows, hoping to catch Kaufusi doing something he shouldn't have....right? Although Victory Bell can recall some stories of Pullman's finest lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce and give those intoxicated, under-21 the dreaded MIP! But by all accounts, it at least sounds like this wasn't some sort of "witch hunt".
2) Shouldn't they let this all play out in the courts first? Was coach Leach too hasty to give him the boot? Well, Victory Bell is all for freedom and liberty and all that good stuff that comes with being a citizen of these here United States! Yes, Kaufusi has been charged with a misdemeanor for possession, but has he been found guilty by a court of law? Maybe it's just a matter of time before that happens, but being charged and being found guilty can be two different things, as witnessed by the DeAngelo Casto "situation" last year. Remember the Casto story, where he was basically in the same place as Kaufusi is now, caught by police smoking weed in his apartment? The charges were eventually dropped as it was deemed an illegal search and seizure, and Ken Bone had full knowledge that there were some unusual circumstances surrounding the whole thing. Casto was allowed to return to the hoops team after being temporarily suspended from team activities, and then a month later, the charges were dropped.
3) It this really the end-game for Kaufusi? Or is there a chance he can come back, perhaps by fall camp? It's really hard to know right now if there is a path for Kaufusi to return. In Mike Leach's book, he described a situation where a player was dismissed from the team, but the coaches provided the player a path to return in the future, provided he met a series of benchmarks as set forth by the coaching staff. The player did meet all the standards and did come back to the team. BUT THIS WAS THE EXCEPTION under Leach at Tech, not the rule. By and large, if Leach shows you the door, the odds are extremely long that you will in fact return to the playing field, at least under his watch anyway.
Kaufusi now makes the third potential defensive starter coming back for the 2012 season who has been kicked off the team (linebacker CJ Mizell and d-tackle TJ Poloai the others). Factor in the graduation of Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Brandon Rankin, and suddenly you have a below-average-at-best defense from 2011 looking awfully young and thin all of a sudden for 2012.
If any of you have read Leach's book, you will likely have been struck just as much as Victory Bell over the hard-and-fast rules that Leach lives by, and how harsh he is in dealing with the rule-breakers. It's easy and clear to understand as ABC:
A) No fight....err, STEALING, yeah, that's it (whoops!).
B) No drugs.
C) No violence against women.
Seems simple enough. Mizell was booted for assault, Poloai and now Kaufusi for drugs. And Leach makes it clear in the book, and has reportedly made it crystal clear to the WSU football team on at least two different occasions - you break one of these rules, you are off the team.
OK, fair enough. Mike Leach has won a hell of a lot of football games as a head coach, and has a ton of experience coaching division I athletes from all walks of life. A huge part of what has made him so successful is Leach building his system his way, adhering to his rules, and taking a seriously hard line approach to those who simply cannot or will not toe the line. Who can argue with his track record of winning seasons, bowl games, and excellent graduation rates? And Leach himself says that while the rules might sound harsh, he can look back now and say that he never regretted kicking a player off the team or felt like it was the wrong thing to do. In fact, Leach writes that one of his only regrets is that he didn't kick Adam James off the Tech team, a player who would eventually start the process of sending Leach to the unemployment line!
But it also has to be understood that life is simply not black and white. Nobody is perfect, and making mistakes is a big part of growing up. And hey, we all break the rules at some point or another? As meaningless as they seem at the time, almost all of you break the rules here and there, right? There are areas of gray that we all dabble in our daily lives, from an 8-year old who eats a grape at the grocery store to the 40-year old who regularly drives 5 MPH over the speed limit. Against the rules, sure, but they don't seem like that big of a deal at the time.
But hey, whoa, hold on a second. This isn't like Kaufusi stole some food or was doing 30 in a 25 MPH zone. This is drug use, and it's not good! But that said, there are many who are fighting like hell to make pot legal in this country. And there are medicinal MJ prescriptions out there, all across the US. Is pot use really that much worse than drinking? I won't debate that here in this space, there are many other places on the interwebs to go there. But it is it really THAT bad?
Yet, here we are. Did Kaufusi screw up? Sure, absolutely he did. For a player who would be an upperclassmen next year with a decent amount of experience and talent, he was likely going to be looked at as a leader of some kind for a new, young defense. And Kaufusi had a lot on the line in all this, including a full ride scholarship and the dream of one day playing professionally. With a 3-year old son to take care of, that's a hell of a lot to risk just to smoke a bowl, don't you think?
I'm not here to judge however. Victory Bell has stepped outside the law a few times, sure, and especially in his younger, impressionable days. And he was known to "spark a fattie" or two back in his run of youth and freedom and really, really bad decisions. But if I have one reaction to all this, it's just an incredible sense of DISAPPOINTMENT more than anything else. And it's disappointment at all levels that makes Victory Bell down in the dumps about this.
I'm disappointed in Kaufusi's decision to get high, with so much on the line (even knowing how damn boring Pullman can be this time of year!). All the while, Kaufusi knew the harsh rules of the Leach program, saw two other players get kicked off the team, and STILL decided to get high.
I'm disappointed with the black-and-white law of the land with Leach on this situation, and wish that Kaufusi, as well as Mizell and Polaoi, would get a chance to redeem themselves, learn from their mistakes and come back to the team. After all, can't we look at mistakes as an opportunity to learn?
But that doesn't sound likely.
Ah well. Rules are rules....right?
i just had to comment this. We all know that Ken Bone does have tolerance for dope smokin, and they just lost to a team that they beat twice this year. I wonder what Tony Bennett's policy is? When the Bennetts were at WSU we were known as a BB teams that hustled, played defense and could make a free-throw when it counted. What are Ken Bones teams know for???
This totally sucks, at least in the short term.
A poor defense loses 3 guys in the middle, 2 of whom were among the best players (at least athletically) on our D.
In the long term, this will be fine. It establishes precedent for any future football players under Leach, and is one more part of creating the culture of teamwork and selflessness that Leach wants.
I'm disappointed in all 3 players. It hurts the team, and hurts our APR down the road.
I should think that all 3 guys will learn from their mistakes. This is how things go in the real world. You know a rule, you break a rule, you face the consequences. This is a powerful lesson for all 3 of them. Hopefully they all end up somewhere where they can finish their degrees and become successful on and off the field.
I wish they would have finished out their careers as Cougars. I wish them all the best.
Man this hurts. As a Coug fan this stinks, but as an employer myself I put on my "suit" hat and realize that this has to be done. I guarantee if an employee was arrested for any of Leach's 3 strikes, they would be gone as well.
This is simply real life. Schollie athletes are employees whether they like it or not. They are technically getting paid to perform (maybe not well but who is paid well?). These rules were spelled out for each of the players.
I am just waiting for the pro-PW crowd to come along and attribute these 3 suspensions to Leach. Leach just kicked off 2 of our 22 starters. That is huge gentlemen, huge!
the're not suspensions.
@ptowncoug3012 What do you mean, the pro-PW crowd coming along and attributing these to Leach?
@Soze Just puttin it out for food for thought. We all know how many "bad" eggs PW inherited with Doba and how he had to do a thorough clean up and bring in his character guys, right?
I could probably link to the 100 stories about how Doba left the program in shambles with "bad" eggs and everyone, including PW, was happy to toss little ole Doba under the bus for recruiting these bad eggs.
Rule #1: Coach makes rules.
Rule #2: Player now has rules to follow.
Rule #3: Player abides by rules. If he/she doesn't, player has consequences to pay.
Rule #4: Some consequences are harsher than others.
Rule #5: Rules are not fair to all, they never are, and life isn't fair.
Rule #6. Deal with it or get out of Pullman.
Simple. There is a choice to be made. It's the choice of player whether they want to follow "The Rules" or not.
I've decided to be hard-nosed today and say what I'm thinking and what is true.
"With a 3-year old son to take care of, that's a hell of a lot to risk just to smoke a bowl, don't you think?"
Let's see, you are 21(?) and you have a 3-year old. Hmm...let me do the math. Also, was he hitched to the kid's mom when they made him? Are they married or still married? If the answer to either or both is no, then I would say responsibility is not Sekope's strong suit. Maybe, this being kicked off the team life lesson will help. But, dang, I hate seeing little kids brought into these situations just because two young people decided to get it on one night. I hope the best for Kaufusi, his child (cute little booger) and the child's mother. It's just that statistics don't lie and the odds aren't good for them. Prove me wrong Kaufusi. I want you to prove me wrong and beat those odds. Go get another scholie. You can do it!
It is extremely disappointing, no doubt about it. What is interesting is to compare/contrast with how Bone has handled "boys being boys" vs. the no-BS approach from Leach. It would be nice to see them all on the same page, across all the sports, but that may not be realistic. Maybe Moos has athletic department guidelines, but the individual coaches still make the final call, I guess?
I don't know, it's not an easy situation all the way around. Maybe this is a by-product of being 9-40 the last four years, and some hard realities had to come crashing down around them. Maybe creating a new hard-ass culture is what's needed, growing pains be damned? I wish too that Kaufusi didn't make the choice he made with so much on the line, but he did and that's all that matters. As Ambush and others said below, he knew the rules and they were spelled out very clearly, and he chose to break them.
@SeanHawkins I have to completely agree here. Somewhere there HAS to be (and maybe there is) an Athletic Department guideline regarding behavior for student athletes. If there is, then there's no excuse for SK thinking he could get away with lighting up. Right now it seems the guys two major sports seem to have the problems. Have we seen track or baseball players diciplined for drug use, or any of the women? I'm asking here.
Moos has discussed the WSU drug policy. The athletic dept. policy is : schools in the state of Washington cannot randomly test athletes for drugs, due to a court challenge from the ACLU. I think schools in other states can randomly test, but I'm not sure. WSU can test if there is "probable cause" to suspect drug use, as spelled out in the policy. Three positive drug tests lead to termination from the program. Coaches can make the policy tougher if they wish; they cant make it looser. Leach has made it tougher.
I dont agree with Leach kicking Sk or TJ off the team for smoking pot. suspended?sure I can see that. But I think its way too harsh for a non violent misdamenor. For crying out loud at Oregon they would be suspended for a game at most. I just dont agree.
@ErikAnderson We're not Oregon, and thank God for it, we're better than that. Individuals notwithstanding, we are simply better than that.
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Want me to drop you off a dose of reality?
@ErikAnderson I deleted the previous comment, because while I was trying to be funny, I was just being mean. I'm sorry. We disagree and that's that. I just wish you'd think differently.
I dont believe fighting gets you booted. If i remember correctly the 3 cardinal rules are: no drugs, no hitting women, and no stealing.
I'm fine with the decision if it's a two strike policy. Meaning, there has to be a path to redemption. Otherwise, there's not a great learning component attachéd to this. I am hoping that both Mizell and SK are ready to do the work needed for reinstatement.
@Sutra "I'm fine with the decision if it's a two strike policy. Meaning, there has to be a path to redemption. Otherwise, there's not a great learning component attachéd to this." I think there is a great learning component attached to it. Just because you don't get a 2nd chance with your same team doesn't mean he will not get a 2nd look from somebody. It's kinda like getting fired (happened to me when I was young). That company isn't giving you a second chance, but you have every opportunity to get back on your feet and apply somewhere else and do a much better job there. Now, you realize how serious this is. You no longer take things for granted and treat your job like you treated your teachers and your school work when you were 18. This should be a huge wake-up call for Kaufusi...IF he points the finger at himself and not at somebody else.
@Sutra It is a two strike policy. Coach Leach warned the players that they would definitly be kicked off the team for smoking pot. At that time SK had the oppurtunity to make a decision to not smoke weed anymore. As well, at that time he was given the oppurtunity to quit smoking pot and still be a part of the team without paying any consequences. He was given a chance. He chose to do it anyway.
The rules were made clear from the get go. My feeling is whether we agree with them or not, if you get caught breaking the rules, you must suffer the consequences...regardless. I personally feel too that there sould be a road to redemption if you will, but that's not my decision to make. I'm very disappointed an upperclassmen would take such a chance. He knew the consequences. Leach is putting his stamp on this team, for better, or for worse. The message is being sent loud and clear; "Don't break the rules if you want to play football here."
Yes, we all make mistakes and learn from them. Learning from others mistakes is called "wisdom." Let's hope wisdom breaks out in mass quantity, and soon.
most people are missing the obvious fact that Leach is not waiting for due process because he is not concerned about conviction or no conviction. Kaufusi is kicked off for breaking TEAM RULES there is a difference. Leach is the police, judge, and jury and I am sure he spoke to the young man. Case closed. He knew the rules. He is the only one to blame @Ambush184
@Ambush184 And BTW the three rules for immediate dismissal are 1) Stealing, 2) Hitting a woman 3) Drugs
Fighting was not mentioned in immediate dismissal