Sometimes something happens to a player during a game or interview that gives said player an unfair label. The instances when observers around the nation cry foul and the people at home defend the player however they can. Sometimes it's "look at the entire context of the situation" or "everyone else does it and you don't hear anything". We've seen these before. Sometimes the homers are right and sometimes the outsiders are right. In fact, Arkansas just completed a solid round of it with Bobby Petrino. Razorback fans defended Petrino's character since the day he was hired only to watch in dismay as he decided to go ride a bike. Turns out, even if some of the criticism from his Atlanta departure was unwarrented, Petrino was, let's say, highly flawed.
Just over a month after Petrino was fired, we run into a situation with another Razorback the fans defended against the world, Marquel Wade.
During the Arkansas game against Vanderbilt last October, Wade was not only penalized but ejected after hitting Vanderbilt returner Jonanthan Krause before the ball was able to be caught. Here's video of it.
As you probably remember, Wade was crucified for it around the country. It was called the cheap shot of the year. He was labeled everything someone in that scenario gets labeled.
Of course, lots of Razorback fans defended him. It was called an innocent mistake. A heat of the moment accident. There was also a picture of a Vandy defender hitting Tyler Wilson head first during a play with no flag thrown. Wade did apologize publicly. Even his mother apologized to Krause via Facebook. Once the mom gets involved, that has to score some points, right?
Regardless, Wade was suspended. The incident has been largely forgotten. But lo and behold, Wade is in the news again. He was among a trio of Razorback players arrested for burglary.
I'm not one to advocate for any specific punishment for a player. However, at a certain point, it is impossible to defend them. Wade has been through the fire of public outrage before. He's been blown up on social media. He's been ripped by the talking heads on TV. And if the allegations are true, voluntarily put himself in another situation to go through it all again.
The common theme from these allegations and the Vanderbilt hit is decision making. Wade, a rising sophomore who just turned 20 years old (he spent a year after high school at prep school after initially failing to gain eligibility at Arkansas), is developing a pattern of making painfully awful choices. When people read his name in the stories set to come out about the alleged burglaries, the first thing people will think of is that hit.
Just this offseason, Wade has seen Bobby Petrino get fired. He's seen Jason Peacock arrested for burglary. He's got his own public scars from the Vanderbilt incident. How can he possibly be under the assumption he wouldn't get caught?
Wade may have just lost his last chance to straighten his life out as a Razorback. If he remains on the team, he must learn that his actions as a Razorback will be seen and amplified by college football fans everywhere. You'd think he'd have learned that after the Vanderbilt game, but it appears he has not, or, worse, simply doesn't care. Either way, I won't be able to defend him anymore.
So, cheers to you, Marquel. Looks like your mom's going to be spending Mother's Day typing some new Facebook apologies.