Brian Murphy: Something smells rotten about Southwick situation

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comDecember 24, 2013 

Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick (16) watches a second-half kickoff against Washington on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013.

JOE JASZEWSKI — Statesman file

Joe Southwick wanted to clear his name. Instead, the suspended Boise State quarterback pulled back the curtain on the football program’s approach to discipline, raised even more questions and turned the story into a national punch line.

Peeing off a hotel balcony?

Lie detector tests?

Tell us more.

Despite Southwick’s comments, we still don’t know what happened in Honolulu on Thursday night when a Boise State player peed off a hotel balcony, or Friday morning when coaches and administrators scrambled to hold someone accountable.

What we have learned is something may be rotten with Boise State football.

Former coach Chris Petersen talked often about recruiting “our kind of guys (OKGs),” but the rapid rate of player dismissals and the increasing frequency of one-game suspensions proves the Broncos are failing in many cases to identify their kind of guys.

Petersen’s teams kept winning games and kept succeeding in the classroom — and, hey, not everyone is cut out for Boise State and its football program.

In Pete, Bronco Nation trusted.

The program’s dirty laundry was handled in-house, where most people would prefer it remain.

Southwick broke that silence Sunday night, daring to tell his side of the story and not accept the standard “violation of team rules” line offered by Boise State.

Good for him.

Southwick’s version of events: a teammate urinated off a hotel balcony, but multiple teammates lied and said it was Southwick. Coaches and administrators believed the others, in part, because of Southwick’s explosive reaction. A team official dropped him off at the airport nine hours before his flight, and others refused to talk to him about the suspension. Southwick took a polygraph test and passed it.

Try unpacking that. It’ll take days, and it will bring many, many more questions than answers.

Southwick is a fifth-year senior who was expected to play a huge role in the Broncos’ game plan against Oregon State (that’s right, the Broncos are eventually going to play a game in Hawaii) after rehabbing his broken ankle. He avoided off-field troubles until this point in his career.

So we’re left to believe one of two very different things:

That at least three teammates repeatedly lied to Boise State coaches and administrators about the events of the evening, knowing Southwick — the team’s expected starting quarterback — would be suspended and his career would be over.

Or Southwick did, in fact, pee off that balcony and was willing to lie, blame it on a teammate, take a polygraph and try to stain the football program on his way out the door.

Those are your two options.

Pick one.

Neither makes much sense. Someone is lying — Southwick or his teammates — about something with a clear answer:

Who peed off that balcony?

It seems like an easy question.

Having been caught, a Boise State player (an OKG) was willing to lie, willing to have a teammate sent home and miss a bowl game to protect himself.

No matter who it was, this situation stinks.

Southwick accused Boise State of a rush to judgment, willing to ship him home before gathering all the facts and making a better decision. The Broncos surely could have used a few more hours, even a day, to comb through the facts.

Former Boise State cornerback Quaylon Ewing-Burton, who was dismissed from the program after the 2011 season, said the same thing happened to him.

He was accused of selling his complimentary bowl tickets. Despite his protestations that he had given them away to friends, Ewing-Burton says, Petersen dropped him from the team while he was on winter break at home and before he could mount a full defense.

“I never sold any bowl tickets,” he said Monday. “My case wasn’t proven. My case was still open. Nobody had any type of proof I sold tickets.”

Ewing-Burton said he was encouraged by officials at Boise State, including Petersen, and at Sam Houston State — where he transferred — to admit to selling the tickets in exchange for leniency from the NCAA. He said he did, against his better judgment, and was banned for more than one year by the NCAA.

So is there, as Southwick and Ewing-Burton allege, a lack of any sort of due process for players accused of wrongdoing? Are they just players with an agenda trying to embarrass Boise State? Can both be true?

We don’t know the entire story of what went down in Hawaii and likely never will. But, this much is certain: No one is going to come out clean.

And that smells rotten.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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