Jeffery Simmons And The Cloud That Hangs Over College Football

Nov 28, 2015; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen on the sidelines during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi won 38-27. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2015; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen on the sidelines during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi won 38-27. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jeffery Simmons, a consensus five-star recruit, will still be allowed to enroll at Mississippi State “under conditions” that were not specified other than a simple one game suspension in the season opener. In the spring, Simmons was charged and arrested with simple assault of hitting a woman that was captured on video.

Simmons is easily the biggest recruit Dan Mullen has ever recruited and by far Mississippi State’s most recognized talent ever — being only one of six five stars to ever even play in Starkville.

But what this case in particular proves more than just Dan Mullen saving his recruiting class is that it is safe to assume fans and coaches have become okay with players that have problematic pasts sport their school’s logo just about every Saturday. Hell, it has become okay with players doing even worse things under the radar and pretending it just isn’t happening (looking at you Baylor). So how did this point of numbness to reality become?

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In simplest terms: money talks. It is the worst kept secret that head coaches of football programs, especially in the SEC, make more money than anyone on campus and sometimes are even the highest paid state employee. When money goes in, results come out.  At least that is what is expected by the people cutting the checks. Most schools rely on the football team to not only keep every other sponsored sport afloat in the athletic department, but provide a substantial portion of funds towards the rest of the university.

The pushing of the envelope has become second nature in every dimension of college football, just like offensive tempo, social media presence, cool jerseys and sketchy recruiting. But why do they have to push so annoyingly hard for recruits? To win, make money for their school and, subsequently, keep their job (duh). Every intention of the coaching staff ties back to money.

Every school is pursuing the same goal by using the same questionable tactics.  So if a school is competing in this way and falling behind quickly, coaches are more or less forced into taking calculated risks each offseason on recruits and transfers.  Which, in the case of Dan Mullen, turns out to be a PR nightmare.

Here’s something that people don’t take into consideration: football coaches know one thing and that is football. Football coaches are football lifers and wouldn’t want it any other way, because without football they would be an insurance salesman with a much smaller salary.

So when coaches bring in these players, like Jeffery Simmons, and media members as well as Twitter “experts” scream about “how can these coaches look at their mothers, sisters, wives, or daughters?”

Here’s why: it’s easy to look past something when they could be the reason you are putting food on the table, clothes on backs, toys in a playroom or making a car payment. Coaches are taking risks on players with troubled pasts that may be filled with domestic violence because it strengthens their job security.   Consequently it makes their families’ lives better.

must read: Mississippi State is Embarrassing College Football

This era of crookedness has been going on for a long time, and whether that cleans up anytime soon is indeterminable. College football may have to collapse in on itself for the problem to be solved, but the money that is so tightly intertwined between it and universities may be too tight. Talented players make the game as exciting as it is regardless of their off field behavior, and there will always be a roster spot for them. Until that narrative changes, we can look the other way, not care, or not watch.  Jeffery Simmons, though, is not a unique case.  Jeffery Simmons, though, is just the latest example of what is wrong with college football.