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On Urban Meyer & Player Discipline

Bri'onte Dunn probably won't face any severe team punishment, but maybe he should.
Bri'onte Dunn probably won't face any severe team punishment, but maybe he should.

It's hard to forget last month's Bri'onte Dunn drama. Dunn, who impressed many observers in spring practice and summer two-a-days, was cited on July 29th and briefly faced drug and paraphernalia possession charges until the charges were dropped, due to a lack of evidence. Dunn was ultimately never charged with any felonies, and was instead charged with a failure to buckle his seatbelt and improper lighting of a license plate. Legally, Bri'onte Dunn did nothing worse than get pulled over for speeding.

However, recent developments have changed the Bri'onte Dunn narrative, if not the case itself.

This video of the traffic stop was released last Friday, and with its release, presented a new view of the entire situation. So, what should Urban Meyer do about it? What can he do to prevent the Mike Bianchi's of the world from flying completely off the handle and bringing back the old #hotsportstakes (as Bianchi has already done) from Meyer's Florida days? What is the best way for Meyer to deal with Bri'onte Dunn, and for that matter, Storm Klein and other players who had legal issues crop up this offseason?

The answer for Dunn is more complicated than the rest of the players such as Jake Stoneburner and Jack Mewhort, who were forced to spend the summer earning back their scholarships. Dunn, legally, did nothing more than get pulled over for a minor traffic violation. In the court of public opinion, however, Dunn has already been convicted of using marijuana - particularly in lieu of the video of Dunn's detaining and the reaction of his female passenger.

Meyer has promised several times this offseason to harbor a no-tolerance policy for players who exhibit criminal behavior on his Buckeye team, especially in the wake of the issues he faced at Florida. Now as we already know, Bri'onte Dunn has not been formally charged with any felony or misdemeanor crime. However, to head off any potential future problems with Dunn, Meyer must take charge of the situation. It wouldn't be out of the question for Bri'onte Dunn to be suspended for the first two games of this season.

Under Jim Tressel, we can infer with some certainty that everything would have been handled in-house with this case. Dunn would probably not be suspended and practice would have continued as usual. Perhaps Dunn would have missed playing time that he normally would have gotten, but Tressel was all about protecting his players from the media. Nothing about the specifics would likely have ever been made public.

With Meyer, everything has to be different. Players like Dunn must be held accountable for their decisions, regardless of the legal ramifications. Dunn should never have put himself in the position to be pulled over with marijuana in the car he was driving in the first place. He should not have been hanging out with the young lady in his car if he knew that they had previous history partaking in illegal drug use. And most of all, he should never have put both his mother and his friend in a position to have to make excuses for his decision to use marijuana, assuming based on the circumstantial evidence.

College kids are pretty much assured of trying things they might not necessarily at other stages in life - drinking, pot, or otherwise. This is an undeniable truth and comes with the territory of running a college football team. DJ just did a piece about the mistakes regular freshmen make, and Bri'onte Dunn is hardly the only college football player ever to face drug charges. However, he is one of the foremost players in the young Urban Meyer era to put himself in this position. Despite the fact that Dunn did nothing illegal as far as his record goes, maybe it shouldn't be out of the question for him still to be made an example out of to the rest of the team for putting himself in the kind of situation that could have gotten him in far more hot water. A two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team - made public - would go a long way toward teaching the young freshmen that any behavior that reflects poorly on himself and his team is unacceptable. Sometimes you ride with an outlaw, you die with an outlaw.