"I really don’t want to be a distraction to the team," Spikes said to the statewide media Wednesday with Meyer by his side. "I want the guys to prepare without any negative things going on. I feel like if I would play, it would be a big thing. I’m just trying to stay out of the way and just motivate the guys. I’m pretty sure (linebacker Ryan) Stamper’s got my back and my teammates really support me on this decision."
Spikes clearly knows what he did was wrong, but the level of anger at Spikes was unexpected. Despite the dreadlocks and brother in prison, Spikes has been a model citizen and teammate, not a thug. But an attempted eye gouge fits in with the look, making Spikes an easy target for any Gator hater or anyone scared of big black dudes with dreads. (Note the lack of vile for Michigan's recent low blow play. Also, that the Big Ten stepped in and suspended the player, instead of leaving the school and player twisting in the wind.)
On a larger note, I'm embarrassed for the level of anger directed at Spikes or LeGarrette Blount or any college athlete who commits a dirty play on the field. (And this includes fans of both sides.) Apparently, I'm the only person with access to a blog who has ever engaged in dirty play during a game. Everyone else is pure and "plays the game the right way". Everyone else thinks that if you see your player a victim of a dirty play, you turn the other cheek. Returning a dirty play with another one is irrational; you risk a penalty or in Spikes' case, a media pressured suspension. But defending yourself or your teammate is a rational move. If you have ever been the victim of a dirty play and didn't respond with one back, you are a better man than me. This is also part of the reason why I didn't take the incident as seriously as some have. How pissed can I get at a guy for sticking his fingers inside a face mask when I routinely started fights in hockey games only for the sake of getting my team excited?
Personal considerations aside, college is not the pros. College is rough around the edges still, and that includes Spikes playing peek-a-boo and Blount throwing a cheap shot. These things don't happen in the pros because everyone is a businessman and when business is good, you don't take anyone out. College players don't have that concept. All they know is they've been wronged and someone must pay. I'm not trying to make an excuse for Spikes, Blount or the Michigan nut punchers. But I am trying to make at least some people understand that these are still immature college kids playing a game. We may cover them like a pro team and obsess over them like family members, but the fact is that they are raw in ability and personality and we really don't know what to expect of them on a daily basis. (But when a coach screws up, you should go full steam into them. Adults are supposed to be intelligent.)
Blount has handled himself with class and just might restore his image. Spikes is probably a lost cause, unless you root for UF or his possible NFL/UFL/bobsled team. But Spikes is smart enough to remove himself from the Vandy game, leaving the focus on the team trying to defend a National Championship. I just hope all those Georgia fans are able to pull themselves off the fainting couch in time for the Tennessee Tech game.