Sport of football hits new low with Mixon's vile logic to release video


Sport of football hits new low with Mixon's vile logic to release video

There’s a freshly constructed veranda overlooking hell where lawyers can decide it is in their client’s professional interest to release a video of him assaulting his girlfriend.

But this is big-time American college football, the place where shame goes to retire, and where public disgrace is a small price to pay for potential glory and ensuing riches.

There is no other profession – save perhaps politics, of course, which is an abattoir of an entirely difference class – in which Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon can have his lawyers release the tape showing him punching then-university student Amelia Molitor after an incident in an off-campus sandwich shop in which she is shown shoving him and he subsequently knocks her to the floor with a punch to the face.

The reasoning for releasing the tape, however, is more Kafka-esque than logic would suggest. His lawyers made it public so that the public furor surrounding the visual evidence of the crime would dissipate by the time of the NFL draft.

We will now give you time to collect your mandible and reattach it to the lower half of your face. And then you may return to the abyss to seek your reflection in the brackish water below.

In a week in which a bitter radio analyst spread game plan information to as many as four opponents of the team for whom he worked . . . in a week in which the offensive coordinator of one of the beneficiaries (Louisville) has been suspended for accepting that information . . . in a week in which the Minnesota football team is about to refuse to go to the Holiday Bowl to protest the suspensions of 10 of their teammates for their alleged roles in a gang rape . . . in this week of darkest absurdity, Joe Mixon sees releasing a tape showing him knocking a woman out as a tactically beneficial decision.

Mixon claimed at the time he was spat upon and provoked racially, but pleaded guilty without an admission of guilt and received a deferred sentence of one year and 100 hours community service as well as counseling. He has also formally apologized to Molitor, who has filed a civil suit against Mixon.

As for the university, it suspended him for a year (2015), but coach Bob Stoops restored him to the team this past season, saying at the time, “In our situation, we felt this (the suspension) was the right way to proceed. In the end, we felt that he's been disciplined. He was removed totally from all team activities from that point on. And he's earned a way to be back to have an opportunity for a second chance to redeem himself with strict guidelines that go with it.”

In sum, he is eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl against Auburn January 2., with the story he wants to go away being brought back to the forefront at his insistence.

I’m not sure how much more opportunistic cynicism you can coat this with, but it will take a team of woodworkers to sand this back down to the grain.

You have the persistent minimization of the violent act itself. You have Oklahoma’s storied ability to look the other way to one extent or the other when star players are involved in legal problems. You have Mixon waiting nearly two years to issue a formal apology as what seems a carefully planned reconstruction of his image.

But the fact that he released the video is a brain-melter, in that the idea that the criminal act is also his vehicle for career rehabilitation, and that in the world of football where nothing matters but the football, his method has a certain vile logic to it.

It reminds us yet again, as though we needed it, that in too many places, football trumps everything else, and anyone who thinks that their team’s school stands for the highest level of character, morality and dignity will have to provide written evidence of same, and show their work. This is a new low, and too many people – not just at Oklahoma, but throughout the sport’s diaspora – are very comfortable with it.

But it’s the new deal for people in the industry and those who pay attention to them. As guilty pleasures go, the Joe Mixon story tilts the needle a bit closer to guilty and a bit further from pleasure.

But bowl season starts tomorrow, and those who need to forget what the game is capable of standing for will do so happily. It’s what the game demands, and the game gets what it demands.

In this case, a panoramic view of hell.

WNBA All-Star sues Cal over alleged sexual assault


WNBA All-Star sues Cal over alleged sexual assault

BERKELEY — Former California women’s basketball player and current WNBA All-Star guard Layshia Clarendon has filed a lawsuit against Cal claiming she was sexually assaulted by a longtime member of the athletic department.

The school acknowledged the lawsuit Wednesday night and said the staff member, Mohamed Muqtar, had recently been placed on paid leave. The assistant director of student services, Muqtar has been working for the university for just more than 25 years, the school said. An e-mail to Muqtar’s Cal email account was not immediately returned.

Cal said in a statement “the University is aware of the complaint, but has not received a copy of the lawsuit nor had the benefit of reviewing the allegations.”

Clarendon, who plays for the Atlanta Dream and was at Cal from 2009-13, posted on Twitter her thoughts about the lawsuit.

She said in three separate tweets:

— “Regarding the news today: I want the shame to not be my own anymore, because it’s not my shame to carry, but it’s something that I’ve had to carry. It’s a horrible thing to live in silence, to carry that pain and that weight and the guilt.”

— “My biggest hope is that he never does this to anyone else. That no one else has to suffer under his hand, or him violating their bodies again. That this would be the end of him assaulting people. #TimesUp.”

— “It feels there is a big level of responsibility there for me, to make sure this doesn’t continue. And he doesn’t continue to harm other people.”

Cal explained in its statement that this case goes beyond the athletic department for investigation.

The statement reads: “Our department policy states that once anyone in Cal Athletics is made aware of any instance or allegation of a violation of University policy involving a coach, staff member or student-athlete, those matters are referred to the appropriate departments on campus responsible for investigating them. Athletics does not have its own specific conduct process nor does it investigate allegations or cases on its own, but follows the University’s policy and works in concert with campus professionals who are responsible for those areas. All university staff are also required to complete sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training, and those programs have increased in recent years. Cal Athletics is and will always be committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected. We encourage anyone who is feeling distressed or troubled to contact the PATH to Care Center and other campus resources.

“Layshia holds a special place in our history for her contributions to Cal women’s basketball both on and off the court and we are saddened to hear of the allegations that are coming to light today.”

Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


ATLANTA -- To add another championship to the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, Alabama turned to its quarterback of the future, and Tua Tagovailoa proved that his time is now.

The freshman quarterback, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.

Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.

"He just stepped in and did his thing," Hurts said. "He's built for stuff like this. I'm so happy for him." The Tide might have a quarterback controversy ahead of it but first Alabama will celebrate another national title.

For the third straight season, Alabama played in a classic CFP final. The Tide split two with Clemson, losing last season on touchdown with a second left.

What was Saban thinking as the winning pass soared this time?

"I could not believe it," he said. "There's lots of highs and lows. Last year we lost on the last play of the game and this year we won on the last play of the game. These kids really responded the right way. We said last year, `Don't waste the feeling.' They sure didn't, the way they played tonight."

Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbably victory of his unmatched career.

After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation , Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.

Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama's first play of overtime, losing 16 yards. On the next play he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.

Tagovailoa was brilliant at times, though he had a few freshman moments. He threw an interception when he tried to pass on a running play and all his receivers were blocking. He also darted away from the pass rushers and made some impeccable throws, showing the poise of a veteran. Facing fourth-and-goal from 7, down seven, the left-hander moved to his left and zipped a pass through traffic that hit Calvin Ridley in the numbers for the tying score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.

He finished 14 for 24 for 166 yards. The winning play was, basically, four receivers going deep.

"After the sack, we just got up and took it to the next play," Tagovailoa said. "I looked back out, and he was wide open. Smitty was wide open." Freshmen were everywhere for the Alabama offense: Najee Harris at running back, Henry Ruggs III at receiver, Alex Leatherwood at left tackle after All-American Jonah Williams was hurt. It's a testament to the relentless machine Saban has built.

But this game will be remembered most for his decision to change quarterbacks trailing 13-0.

"I just thought we had to throw the ball, and I felt he could do it better, and he did," Saban said. "He did a good job, made some plays in the passing game. Just a great win. I'm so happy for Alabama fans. Great for our players. Unbelievable."

Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama's last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.

This was nothing like the others.

With President Trump in attendance, the all-Southeastern Conference matchup was all Georgia in the first half before Saban pulled Hurts and the five-star recruit from Hawaii entered. The president watched the second half from Air Force One.

"I don't know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama," Tagovailoa said. "Thank God he found me and we're here right now."

The Tide trailed 20-7 in the third quarter after Georgia's freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass that had the Georgia fans feeling good about ending a national title drought that dates back to 1980.

Fromm threw for 232 yards for a while it looked as if he was going to be the freshman star for the game, the first to true freshman to lead his team to a national title season since Jamelle Holieway for Oklahoma in 1985.

"I mean, if you want to find out about Jake Fromm, go ask those guys on the other side of the ball, and they'll tell you because that's a really good defense he just went against," Smart said.

A little less than a year after the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, there was more pain for many of the local fans. Two years ago, Georgia brought in Saban's top lieutenant, Kirby Smart, to coach the Bulldogs and bring to his alma mater a dose of Alabama's Process.

Smart, who spent 11 seasons with Saban - eight as his defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa - quickly built `Bama East. It was Georgia that won the SEC this season. Alabama had to slip into the playoff without even winning its own division.

With the title game being held 70 miles from Georgia's campus in Athens, Dawg fans packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but it turned out to be sweet home for Alabama and now Saban is 12-0 against his former assistants.

But not without angst.

Alabama drove into the red zone in the final minute and Saban started playing for a field goal that would end the game and win it for the Tide. A nervous quiet gripped the crowd of 77,430 as `Bama burned the clock. With the ball centered in the middle of the field, Pappanastos lined up for a kick to win the national championship. The snap and hold looked fine, but the kicked missed badly to the left.

For the second straight week, Georgia was going to overtime. The Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in a wild Rose Bowl in double overtime to get here, and after Jonathan Ledbetter and Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa for a big loss on the first play, Alabama was in trouble - second-and-26.

Not for long. Tagovailoa looked off the safety and threw the biggest touchdown pass in the history of Alabama football.