Twelve Boise State football players have been suspended for at least one game this season.
Nine of them have joined the program in the past 15 months.
The last couple (recruiting) classes, theyve seemed to struggle a little bit, senior linebacker J.C. Percy said, but theyve started to come around a little bit more the longer theyve been here and the more theyve hung out with the older guys.
Weve shown them the right way and the way were supposed to do things around here. Hopefully this is the last year that we have to mention those guys names with any kind of suspension or trouble.
Coach Chris Petersen takes a hard-line approach to rules. He has disciplined players frequently since taking over the program in 2006 but never this many in one season.
He sent tight end Jared Hunter home from the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and suspended cornerback Kyle Wilson for the first three games of 2006, wide receiver Titus Young for most of the 2008 season and defensive tackle Mike Atkinson for most of the 2010 season.
One-game penalties have been scattered throughout his tenure.
This year, he has played without starters at long snapper, defensive tackle, defensive end and free safety because of disciplinary actions. The suspensions will cost the culprits a total of more than 30 games.
Were going to operate a certain way, Petersen said, and if youre not, were not changing our standard for your actions.
Five players were suspended for last weeks loss to San Diego State for unspecified violations of team rules. Kicker Jake Van Ginkel has been dismissed from the team, and Petersen wouldnt say when the other four will return.
The players walk past a sign every day that lists three key team rules: Be early. Make good decisions. Finish everything.
The second rule covers a lot of ground. The number of players violating it could be a sign of immaturity for a young team.
I dont know if its that or a people issue, Petersen said.
Said senior left guard Joe Kellogg: I feel like everyone on the team is a great character guy. Just a couple guys made bad decisions and theyre paying for it.
Boise State President Bob Kustra is notified of suspensions, he said. He considers it reassuring to know Chris Petersen doesnt put up with much.
Its always an unfortunate moment, Kustra said. After all the work we do with these young men and women, they still make mistakes. Thats the price of growing up. Chris Petersen is going to make you pay for it and hes going to uphold the integrity of the program.
Players say the expectations are clear and the consequences are appropriate. Petersen, they say, is a no-nonsense coach.
Its definitely one of those things that needs to be done, Percy said of suspensions. Because if you dont do that, people will look at it as a free pass and say, So-and-so got away with this, so I should be able to get away with it as well. You have to kind of have that no-nonsense approach with everybody regardless of if hes a starter or not.
Suspensions arent necessarily the result of one significant bad act, Petersen said. Of this years suspensions, only tailback Jay Ajayis stemmed from a known legal issue and that happened more than a year ago. He sat out a game this season because he redshirted in 2011.
Past history is a key factor in Petersens decisions.
Thats the worst part of the job, he said. Thats not why were doing this. But it is part of the job. All that matters, in terms of how youre going to treat each other and the standards and how youre going to operate. Its as important as anything we do on the field.
That this years problems have involved mostly young players is not surprising.
When you first come out here from high school, its like, Oh, college, lets have fun, said senior cornerback Jamar Taylor, who was suspended for a game in 2010. But you have to understand theres a price to play on the blue. You have to do all the things right in order to play on the blue. It takes some time to adjust sometimes youve got to get in trouble a little bit. Eventually, youll learn. You just have to keep maturing.
The seniors have tried to mentor the younger players, Percy said. When players return from suspension, he reaches out.
I always say something to them something positive, but its not sugar-coating anything, he said. I just let them know that we need them and what they were doing at that time wasnt very important compared to what they have here.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat
MISSING IN ACTION
Boise State players who have been suspended this season mostly for unspecified team rules violations
Eric Agbaroji, defensive back, redshirt freshman (second year): one game*
Jay Ajayi, tailback, redshirt freshman (second year): one game (for guilty plea to petit theft in December)
Geraldo Boldewijn, wide receiver, junior (fourth year): four games (for impermissible benefits from his host family)
Dallas Burroughs, wide receiver, sophomore (second year): one game
Lee Hightower, safety, sophomore (second year): two games*
Jimmy Laughrea, quarterback, redshirt freshman (second year): one game
Demarcus Lawrence, defensive end, sophomore (first year): one game
Hayden Plinke, tight end, freshman (first year): two games*
Chris Roberson, long snapper, senior (fourth year): one game*
Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, defensive tackle, junior (fourth year): one game
Jake Van Ginkel, kicker, redshirt freshman (second year): Dismissed from the team
Jeff Worthy, defensive tackle, redshirt freshman (second year): 12 games* (out at least the rest of the season)
* No return date announced
Injuries to players considered starters (not including center Cory Yriarte, who sustained a career-ending injury during the summer)
Mitch Burroughs, wide receiver: Expected to miss six games, return Dec. 1
Gabe Linehan, tight end: Has missed five games; no estimate on his return
Mike Atkinson, defensive tackle: Will miss final four games
Bryan Douglas, cornerback: Will miss final five games
Dextrell Simmons, nickel: Missed one game; no estimate on his return
Joe Kellogg, left guard: Missed one game
Jake Broyles, right tackle: Missed seven games; returned to depth chart this week