This is the time of year when you start seeing a lot of arrests involving non-draft-eligible college-football players — underclassmen, mainly. The period between the end of bowl season and the beginning of spring practice is highly perilous; these guys have nothing to do but homework, and, well, by and large, they don't do homework.
BAD LUCK DUCK Oregon running back LaMichael James celebrated his breakout freshman season by allegedly grabbing his girlfriend by the neck and throwing her to the ground.
That leaves a lot of time to get in trouble. And if you're the University of Oregon football program, you've got to be seriously wondering about your running-back position. At the beginning of last year, the team was blasted by controversy when starting back LeGarrette Blount sucker-punched a dude in the Ducks' opener against Boise State. Blount was subsequently suspended and replaced by a freshman named LaMichael James, who ended up excelling in coach Chip Kelly's offense, finishing the season ranked ninth in the country in rushing with 1546 yards.
Now Blount is headed for the draft and James . . . well, James is under arrest on a smorgasbord of domestic-violence charges. He's been hit with five misdemeanors — one count of strangulation, two counts of assault in the fourth degree, and two charges of physical harassment — after a confrontation with his girlfriend last week. It seems they got into a fight in a parking lot, at which time the 5-9, 180-pound James allegedly grabbed her by the neck and threw her to the ground.
This isn't the first time James has been in trouble. In June 2008, he got arrested for third-degree battery after a tussle with rival high-school players in Texas.
Nor is this the first problem Oregon football has had to deal with recently. Last month, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was accused of the boutique crime of stealing laptops from a fraternity house. Receiver Garrett Embry was also charged in that incident, and has since been kicked off the team.
Hell, even the Ducks kickers are getting into the act. At nearly the same time Masoli was allegedly doing his deed, kickers Mike Bowlin and Rob Beard were involved in a crazy-ass campus brawl just a few blocks away. Bowlin quit the team and Beard ended up in intensive care, slapped with charges for initiating the fight. Walk-on defensive lineman Matt Simms was also tossed from the team after getting in another scrap, apparently in retaliation for the Bowlin-Beard incident.
So it's been a busy off-season for Kelly, to say the least. You have to give that dude props, though, for making the Rose Bowl with all this nonsense going on in his locker room.
In the meantime, give James 58 points for the alleged girl-choking, and perhaps more pending the court's decision.
All the way across the country, the antsy-underclassmen bug last week hit the University of Florida, as well.
A year or so ago, Gators coach Urban Meyer thought he had scored a coup when he landed Gary Brown, a defensive tackle from West Gadsden High School in Greensboro, Florida. At the time, Brown was considered the nation's number-two recruit at his position and turned down offers to play pretty much everywhere else in the country, including Florida State, Miami, and Notre Dame.