On July 19, 2016, in downtown Dallas at Big 12 football media days, I asked Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops the following question:
Mac Engel: “Coach, in light of all the increased public awareness on domestic violence, on-campus sexual assault and things like that, have you found it difficult to rationalize or justify the existence of Joe Mixon as a full scholarship athlete?”
His response to my question that day was: “You’re talking about a situation that occurred three summers ago, I believe, right? And Joe Mixon was punished. We’ve already been through all of this. He’s met high standards. Continues to have to meet high standards to remain a part of the football team, but he has done so all along. So everybody has different measures of what’s enough punishment and what is not.
“In the end, we felt, myself along with our administration, that this was the right punishment and he’s met all the conditions we put in front of him and he was removed for a full season.”
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Right away he’s annoyed because, as he said, the incident of Mixon hitting a girl was in 2014, and he addressed it. It’s done.
Predictably, Bob has changed his mind since the video of Mixon punching the young woman in the face was recently released after a long legal battle.
It is one thing to read about this incident, and quite another to watch the disturbing violence.
On Wednesday, Stoops addressed the video for the first time. He has had a change of heart since I asked him about it in July.
Stoops told reporters on Wednesday, “After two and a half years, it’s obvious (the suspension) wasn’t enough. But I feel like Joe has moved ahead in a very positive way. Two and a half years later, dismissal is really the only thing that’s possible.”
Stoops was asked about his reaction to the video, and said, “It was horrible. I hated it. Hated it as much as anybody did. Absolutely.”
Not everyone agrees. One reader, a man I like named Jim, wrote me and said: “Am I missing something here? Because I watched this several times and what I saw was her put her hands around his neck then hit him then he hit her one time!”
A lot of people agree with Jim on this, too. I don’t. The physical prowess between men and women is not close, making this Ultimate Unfair Fighting.
Back in July, Stoops said, “Joe Mixon was punished. We’ve already been through all of this.”
The punishment was to be on scholarship as a freshman but to sit out that season. Because a lot of college football players don’t normally redshirt.
Now Stoops thinks that tough suspension wasn’t enough, even though he said it was. Funny how that works — Stoops says this after Mixon scored 24 touchdowns and accounted for 2,741 yards receiving/running in two seasons with the Sooners. And Mixon could leave (will?) for the NFL after this season.
Stoops saw what he wanted — a great talent who could help him win. All coaches use the same rhetoric when defending decisions to add a player with a disgusting past: “I know his heart. He’s a good person who is trying to move on” blah blah blah.
Many times it’s actually true.
All coaches, and people, are right when they say you can’t give up on people. You can’t. But there was no real punishment here. At all.
A better solution for Mixon to pursue his college football career was to take the same route Cam Newton did when he was kicked out of Florida after reportedly stealing a computer and cheating on tests — he went to junior college.
Newton spent one season in exile at Blinn College in Blinn, Texas near College Station. It’s not paradise. After one year, Cam’s dad arranged for Newton to play at Auburn, where he won a national title and the Heisman Trophy.
What Cam did compared to Mixon was nothing, yet he had to go away and do “time.” Mixon merely had to “suffer” through a redshirt year on campus, at Oklahoma, before he could play.
OU embarrassed itself with this from the start and the release of the video confirms it. It could dismiss Mixon now, days before the Sooners play Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, but what’s the point?
Mixon got off with a slap on the wrist for a punch in the face.