We’ve seen over the years many players go before their time and it wasn’t to an early NFL draft pick.
For the most part outside of the program no one really knows why other than the typical team announcement “breach of team rules”. With the shocking recent announcement of Sam Ukwuachu departure one can be left struggling to understand what’s going on in Boise when you consider all the news surrounding the Basketball team and their shop lifting crimes.
I’m a man of some age and I know some of you are sometimes miffed by my loyalty and understanding of some of these events and the players involved. Especially when you consider what I have done for a living for most of the last 20 years loss prevention. Now I’m not going to write a ten page essay on the phycology of why people steal and who does, but what I will say is this most of you reading this have stolen something in your life and many of you still do. I’m not trying say this has anything to do with Sam’s issues or even others with the football team as we know neither Sam nor Lee Hightower have any criminal charges pending, their dismissal seems to be more a violation of the three parts that make up Coach Pete’s defining OKG (Our Kinda Guys) and as clearly stated in this Forbes article on Boise State Football those three components are.
· Accountability – Make decisions with the knowledge that your actions control not only your own destiny, but the programs too.
· Unity – Understand and embrace your role; use it to lift others.
· Integrity – Do unto others as you would have them do to you; free yourself of pride, arrogance and falseness
As usual with some of the guys like Sam Ukwuachu and Lee Hightower I’ve gotten to know them the only way I can outside of what I see on the field and read written about them, and that’s through Facebook. So when I learned of Lee Hightowers dismissal and now Sam’s I will say I was shocked! There is nothing I have seen produced by them in social media that would indicate these young men are anything but OKG’s . Polite, respectful both showed loyalty and intelligence so these dismissal under the cloud of breaking of team rules with no other attachments to criminal charges always leaves me with this belief that like others before them who have been sent on their way in the past, these young men too might find their way back to the team. Now I’m not believing that so much anymore, as Chadd Cripe whom I have tons of respect for put it in this article “defensive back Lee Hightower (suspended from school; won't return to team)” it seemed as if Chadd was sending a personal message to me as I have held out hope in Bronco Nation of Lee’s return.
I know many bloggers and reporters alike want all the scuttle butt on the how’s and why’s of these young men’s departure and often complain about the tight lid of secrecy around such moves by Boise State and Coach Pete. I do not because I believe that Coach is respectful of the young men’s right to redemption and desires not smear them and burden them with baggage as they go about picking up the pieces left behind after such an event. Trading on bad news of young people for me is a dirty business and none of these folks has done anything that warrants their name to be smeared for all times on the web.
When you consider the three integral pieces to being a OKG that’s no easy task to achieve and I certainly know my membership activities in Bronco Nation couldn't stand up to that kind of scrutiny, certainly I’m prideful and arrogant because what these young men have achieved in the name of Bronco Nation over these many years. With that in mind try not sitting in judgment of these young men certainly feelling the loss of such highly liked players, such losses should be mourned at the same time remember they have brought what they could in the games they played in, try remembering in that way their contribution to the team.
Even in their dismissal they are still contributing. Of all the things that was most striking to me in the Forbes article this spring was the following quotes of Coach Pete.
“If you go into an organization and the culture is way off from what you’re all about, you have to take drastic measures quickly,” says Petersen. “You have to run things with power instead of authority. In college athletics, you have a very short amount time to get things done. If you’re doing it with authority, you end up trying to massage people into changing their bad habits and that just takes too long. With power, you can force people to do what you need them to do to change the culture or you risk losing it entirely because you run out of time,” he adds.
He goes further and say this .
“If you fall in love with talent, you’re making a big mistake. You have to fall in love with the person first and foremost because you can only change someone so much. We have to be mindful of falling into the trappings of looking for great [football] talent and instead go recruit an OKG and make him a football player.”
The first rang so true to me as a business owner over the years I would continually find myself attached to talent and found it hard to let them go holding on thinking I could change that persons culture but inevitably when I did so it always resulted in a train wreck that could have been better handled if I would have just nipped it in the bud. Certainly it’s one thing to talk it’s a whole other thing to do the walk and folks that’s what is happening inside the program Coach Pete is doing the walking and he is walking with power and in his walk he is also demanding of the program that it be all those things he requires even in the handling of the departures of those who didn’t get it who didn’t add up to the OKG. In doing so he doesn’t want to put shame upon those young men and that’s why he will not get descriptive nor talk about it. Though they may not be a Boise State OKG they certainly can be someone else’s, as well I believe coach knows these young men for the most part will learn from this experience and possibly be the better for it. While other schools may take the track if I can’t get them to work for me I just as well bad mouth them so others don’t try.
For years people have marveled at Boise States success, by all accounts Boise State should not have even been the best team all those years in the WAC based on recruiting rank alone, yet there they were year in year out the best team in the WAC. Now just two years into the MWC they have had a share of the title and 1 game back to TCU in the first year. This year most project Boise State not just winning their division in the MWC but winning the first ever Conference Championship game. We all know Coach Pete is great but the more and more over time I’m beginning to believe what really makes him great is his discipline to his beliefs, in short it’s the quality of the person the player is that makes him great not their God given abilities. And it shows in the players after they have moved on.
With or without social media connection you get the proofs of the three Accountability, Unity and Integrity. Example take Doug Martin all those years here and he never once was an ass about his nick name Muscle Hamster, hell he even took a picture with a fan who attended games wearing a Muscle Hamster costume. Even in the way he let it be known that he hated that name, now that he was in the Pro’s he did so with humility and appreciation for the Boise State fans that continue to call him that. Certainly we all know about Titus Young and other issues but there are way more Ryan Clady’s and Alex Guerrero’s in the ranks. Even so we need to look at ourselves Bronco Nation, what is a Nation if it doesn’t rap its arms around one of it’s own who has fallen. Sure it’s easy to cast off Titus Young, today we seem to forget those that have fallen on hard times or have in some way slighted someone or offended them or made a simple mistake. Let’s not be so short sighted and forget the human side, as a Catholic I believe in redemption as a Republican I remember the words of Ronald Reagan “ say no ill word about a fellow Republican.” Forgiveness does require an act of humility by the offender, but shouldn’t we at least give them a chance to make the act before we toss them away.
While I’m at it here I was taken to a link to another Boise Site because someone I respected posted an article there. In the article Jared Zebransky was mentioned in a good way. Then came the comments from members of the site. Horrible things were said and I’m certain many were not rumors, possibly even true. The thing is they were stories from 8-9 years ago of a young man competing at a very high level and the only thing he did as his last act as the starting QB in the greatest Bowl game ever played was win! Yet today if I go on most Bronco Nation sites all I hear is hate why??? I watched that Georgia yeah it was bad so what it happens you DO NOT WIN THEM ALL EVER!!! Perfection is a goal that is never achieved but one we all try for in our own way knowing full well we will never achieve it so why do we put such high demands on Young People dealing with more stress and physical obstacles then we older adults are? I know I’m ranting now but even so I think it is something we all in Bronco Nation need to do look in the mirror and ask ourselves are we worthy of Coach Pete’s efforts in his quest for OKG, are we his BSUKF? (Boise State Kinda Fan) I know at times I certainly am not, does that mean I should ignore that or should I remind myself of just what it is Boise State is trying to do and if I call myself a part of that being a member of Bronco Nation something the School very much embraces and promotes, should we not make an effort to at least consider what it is Coach Pete ask of the players that work so hard to give us what we want every game day? Their best performance! I know for me I have lots of things to work at and most defiantly I could be criticized for past action and comments as I am certainly not perfect in any way, but you will never find me speaking ill of a past, current or present player look all you want. You will not find me speaking ill of Coach Pete either.
In the end I will finally get to my point no one player is responsible for Boise States future or past no talent is better then the team. What has made Boise State great is the heart of the system, Accountability, Unity and integrity. So while other writers may ask what now that Sam is gone; I’ll tell you what now, others step up others take over and trust me they will be OKG!