The Sooners left Miami this week deflated after an unforeseen loss against Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Regardless of whether or not the Sooners won, the hot topic on media days in Florida was about redshirt freshman RB Joe Mixon, who was able to speak to the media for the first time since stepping on the University of Oklahoma campus.
Mixon hit a woman in Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe, a restaurant on OU’s Campus Corner, on July 25, 2014. The woman, Amelia Rae Molitor, accused the 5-star California recruit of punching her, and later reported she wanted the running back to serve time in prison, whether he was a star football player or not.
I hoped as a Sooner fan and OU student, the University would take action against the freshman, and it happened. But, as always, the football players on campus are able to act as they see fit and are not punished as fellow students are.
So what does that mean for Mixon, other athletes or students male or female?
I believe it is unfair how Mixon’s trial was handled. I support videos being concealed, courtrooms being private and Mixon’s right as an American citizen to his due process rights. But how much of the punishment he received was tied to his affiliation with Sooner football?
Truthfully, the answer is unknown. But, I have not seen a case of violence on campus from a student.
Ideally, the university would handle acts of violence against students, particularly male students to female students, the same regardless of the students’ role on campus.
Remember there was the SAE video that surfaced in the spring with students yelling racial slurs, ending with expulsions. But, Mixon, who knocked out a woman, was suspended and given a second chance.
What does that mean for the football team?
Well, it seems as if head coach Bob Stoops thought one year was enough for the young RB to think about his wrongdoings. If it were any other student, it is more than likely the punishment would be more severe.
The Sooners’ run game did not struggle without the five-star recruit, but they have been able to utilize him throughout this past season.
The team seems to have embraced him, as demonstrated in senior center Ty Darlington’s tweet after the semifinal game. Mixon tweeted at the senior telling him he would miss him, and Darlington returned the gesture, saying he would miss Mixon as well.
As a fan myself, I do not hate Mixon the player. If I did, I would have to void all of the touchdowns, big plays and growth he has been able to achieve throughout the season.
I don’t even hate Mixon the man. There is no reason to. There are times where his action angers me, but people make mistakes. Stoops saw something in the young man and the head coach has been an influential figure to many of his players which leads fans and onlookers to believe we should trust him.
So why did the football program wait until the end of the season for the media to begin talking to him? Well, because they finally had to, per Orange Bowl rules.
When speaking to him on Tuesday, Mixon seemed startled and shy. Many reporters bombarded him with questions about his actions, what it meant for the team, how it affected the team, how it affected female fans, etc. He spent some of his media availability almost inaudible, and looking down or away from reporters pounding him with questions.
A reporter from Sports Illustrated asked Mixon if he thought he affected female football fans, he declined to answer, but she continued, telling him it was “football related”. At the time, it seemed he would not be able to catch a break.
Mixon should have spoken to the media in August with Stoops at his side. It would have been a situation where he is not near the media, but at a table farther away would have helped alleviate the seeming feeling of being surrounded. At this point, I believe it is important to let it be apart of Mixon’s past. Right now, there is not any indication he has not taken it seriously and now it is time to see Mixon the man and player today, not the soon-to-be freshman in 2014.
Stoops said in a press conference in Miami that Mixon has been given strict instructions and has abided by all those he has been given.
When the crowd began to break up, and the questions were related to football, Mixon seemed enthusiastic. He was prepared to show off his knowledge and his great first season.
I asked about a run in Stillwater, where he was able to break one tackle and speed right into the endzone, also a play where his quarterback pancake-blocked a defensive end. He said it was great to have a quarterback who did those things for the team.
At the end of the day, Mixon is college man who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He has expressed remorse, and has been able to grow on the field as a player, but it is unknown whether he has grown as a person, since he is unable to answer media questions unrelated to football.
Hopefully, as Mixon prepares for his third year on campus, we’ll get the opportunity to learn about his personal growth as much as his professional.
This does not affect the way I perceive Mixon the player, Sooner football or my reporting on sports around the University of Oklahoma. These opinions are my own and are not related to any organization I am affiliated with.
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