Commentary: Seferian-Jenkins and Williams Punishment
We start by putting our spotlight on Husky football players, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams, and the tough decision facing Coach Steve Sarkisian.
Until these incidents, I’ve always held both players in the highest regard.
And contrary to some opinions, I still believe they’re good kids who both made horrific mistakes and decisions.
To recap, Seferian-Jenkins, who is under 21, was charged with drunken driving in March. According to the police report, he had a blood alcohol level of 0.18. A witness saw his vehicle going at a high speed before it jumped the sidewalk and ran over a small tree. He was found sitting on a curb with a bloody face after it allegedly cracked the windshield.
Let’s be honest, Seferian-Jenkins is lucky no one else was hurt or killed.
So far, he’s been suspended from spring practices and all off-season team activities. He also immediately took responsibility for his actions.
Meanwhile, just this week, Williams paid a $695 fine for a misdemeanor citation, related to a May incident in which he was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana. While he was not charged with DUI, the police report states that his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit for drivers under the age of 21 – that the car smelled of marijuana, that a glass bong was in the car, and the passenger was Willis Wilson, who was kicked off the football team last year for a violation of team rules.
These are terrible decisions as well. Plus, they came after A.S.J.’s arrest when the microscope was already on the Husky program and when a team leader like Williams has an added responsibility to set a good example.
It puts Sarkisian in a troubling position, regarding punishments this season.
That said, I believe the most fair punishment for both players would be a one or two-game suspension.
In most seasons, it would be considered a fairly moderate punishment. But it’s magnified this year, since it happens to include the first game in the renovated Husky Stadium and isn’t against a cupcake like Portland State. The Boise State game is critical in putting the Huskies on the path to winning more than seven games this season.
But Sarkisian has an obligation to send a message to the rest of his team. He has to use this opportunity to show that integrity trumps winning – that critical off-the-field mistakes cannot go unpunished.
Remember, A.S.J. has already missed months with his team. A suspension will be the culmination of his punishment.
And in Williams’ case, a suspension nips it in the bud – don’t hang with the wrong crowd, and one bad decision can affect not just you, but all your teammates too.
I know there will be disagreement from both sides. That a one or two-game suspension isn’t tough enough for an issue that should have zero tolerance. Or that missing a game or two is too harsh for two kids with no criminal history who have both demonstrated contrition for their actions.
I also understand a DUI charge often leads to termination in the workplace, yet Seferian-Jenkins has endured more public humiliation than most people would too.
With all eyes on Sarkisian, I think it’s best for him to take a middle ground. Be stern enough to send a message, but don’t sacrifice your players’ future in the process.
I don’t envy the position he’s in. But it’s up to him to make the right call.