C.J. MIzell has been dismissed from the Washington State football team following a Sunday arrest for assault, according to a report by Cougfan. Mizell was reportedly involved in an altercation just after midnight on Sunday morning and was apprehended later that day. WSU confirmed the news just before noon.
Mizell's dismissal doesn't come as a huge surprise at this point. Yes, he was given a fresh start by the new coaching staff, but one would have to assume the clean slate came with a warning to not mess it up. After all, Vince Grippi notes that only a coaching change saved Mizell following last season.
After all, there have been some on-field incidents with the former coaching staff - if Paul Wulff had been retained for a fifth year, I know for a fact Mizell would no longer be a member of the team after pulling himself out of last year's Apple Cup - and now an off-field problem, something that Leach can't be too happy about
Vince's blog post was written this morning, and he also added he wasn't sure whether a fight would be the last straw. As anyone who's read Leach's book, Swing Your Sword, knows, he tends to come down hard on players that fight, but does so with strength and conditioning punishment.
However, there may have been more to this, and assuming a late-night altercation was the only thing at play may be incorrect. As Cougfan reports:
Prior to his arrest, Mizell had come under scrutiny of the new coaching staff for academic concerns, but he appeared to have gotten those in order. Mizell also returned several days late to Pullman for the start of classes in January, a move that got him into hot water with Leach, said the source.
So that's it for Mizell, but don't wring your hands. It's never good to lose talent, but there comes a point where the negatives outweigh the positives. We've hit that point and, truth be told, we probably hit that point in the Apple Cup, when Mizell came out of the locker room in sweats for the second half.
It sucks because I thought he had turned the corner. He showed up last season and seemed like a different player. His practice habits had improved, he had taken on a more vocal leadership role and he seemed ready to be a positive member of the team.
Then he got dinged up and it all went out the window. The injuries reduced his role to something more akin to a reserve, with the coaching staff trying to manage his use while keeping him on the field for at least a portion of the game. Everything came to a head in the Apple Cup, and we saw what happened.
But let's be clear about this: C.J. Mizell can be replaced. I understand he's a fan favorite -- his play during his freshman year, including a bodyslam and whatever you want to call his out-of-bounds hit on Jacquizz Rodgers won over a lot of people, but he was not irreplaceable. I'd argue Alex Hoffman-Ellis, though he left due to graduation, was a bigger loss, and I'd probably be right.
As for the on-field replacements, Darren Markle, Sekope Kaufusi and Darryl Monroe are all candidates to take over in the middle of the 3-4. Kaufusi has practiced at middle linebacker before, and the other two are each natural middle linebackers.
Personally, I'm not even bothered by the loss at this point. Mizell's path to Pullman was filled with some bad stuff -- stuff I don't want to get into -- and he was given a chance. He blew that chance, and many subsequent chances, eventually leading to his dismissal. It had to happen, and there's no sense being upset about it. And now we'll see who steps up and takes his place in what's sure to be an interesting competition.