Well, I think it's safe to say that we all thought these sorts of things off the field were as behind us as the 50-point blowouts on it. Yet, here we are, talking about the impact of yet another really stupid off-the-field decision by WSU football players.
First things first: This should immediately spell the end of the careers of Jamal Atofau and Andre Barrington -- no questions asked. This isn't the sort of thing where you need some sort of deep investigation to find out what really happened. They were living in a rental home where 38 -- THIRTY-EIGHT! -- marijuana plants were being grown. That can't be explained away.
I don't care whose plants they were. Atofau and Barrington lived in the house, and they had to know they were there. They're culpable. And whether it's through incredible audacity or sheer stupidity (or both), these two guys have brought tremendous embarrassment on a program that is headed in the right direction -- including a head coach who went to bat for both of these guys -- and that, to me, is unforgivable. Both should not only be kicked off the football team; they should be expelled from WSU.
On the field, this doesn't have an enormous impact -- at least in terms of personnel. Atofau was potentially the heir apparent to Myron Beck at strong-side linebacker, but that was far from a sure thing. He had exhibited potential, no doubt. But I wouldn't classify this as a major loss.
As for Barrington? The dude had never seen the field, was suspended from football activities because of his academic ineligibility, and I think there had to be serious doubt as to whether he was ever really going to get his crap together, anyway. Looks like the classic case of a million-dollar body with a five-cent brain.
However, this doesn't mean I think the team is completely out of the woods on this one. There exists the considerable potential that this becomes a major-league firestorm surrounding this team.
Consider: Is it really plausible that no one else on the team knew about this?
Imagine how many players had to have come through that house this year. Granted, it sounds like the grow was happening in a room in the basement, so it's not like it was in a high-traffic area. Maybe it is plausible to believe nobody knew anything. However, those of us who have known pot dealers know it's not exactly a secret what they're doing. If someone on the team knew what was going on and didn't do anything about it, that's bad news.
But what if it's even worse than that? What if it turns out these guys were actually supplying guys on the team? Is that so far out of the realm of possibility? We want to believe this group is made up of high-character guys who would never do something so stupid ... but here we are. And we've seen a heck of a lot of stupidity over the last three years.
We just don't know how deep this thing goes yet. And even if it ends with Atofau and Barrington, it will, at the very least, become a distraction for a team that has so much going for it right now.
Instead of talking about what this team was able to do against Oregon -- I've got a whole bunch of ideas of posts to write -- I'm spending my time writing about this crap. Instead of focusing 100 percent on Arizona, Paul Wulff is now dealing with a completely unnecessary headache. Instead of answering questions about how to slow down Nick Foles, defensive players are going to be talking about their idiot teammate.
And so on.
All we can hope is that this has a galvanizing effect on the team, one that really seems to believe it's on the verge of coming together.
But as a fan who has seen a lot in the last few years ... I can't help but wait for the other shoe to drop.