It was an odd start to 2019 Big 12 Media Days with Les Miles the first head coach on the podium. If you saw his press conference, then maybe you saw the same things I did. To me, the new Kansas head coach looked all out of sorts, speechless at times and a bit confused. We all know about the whole Pooka Williams situation and coming in (a one-game suspension, you can read more details here), this was probably the biggest topic for me. I didn’t understand why the Pooka Williams punishment was announced last week before Media Days because of the circus that it would create here. Well, after announcing the slap on the wrist, I mean the punishment, Les Miles didn’t shy away from addressing the situation early on during his presser.
Les said: “I know that there is an issue that we must discuss so let me get into if you will. First of all, there is no proper way to put it, there is no violence, violence will not be accepted with women, period. Action was taken immediately. We felt like a strong point was made not only with Pooka Williams Jr. but with the team. For seven and a half months Pooka was going through a process and he didn’t have the opportunity to spend time with his team, go to the weight room, you know just be a part. Pooka went through legal investigation with the legal community. Pooka also had a proceedings that went thought the conduct board at the university., and he basically understood very much that if he did not meet the criteria that the board asked that this would not last long and he really met every criteria that he could. He has taken responsibility. He’s been remorseful. He’s learned from this experience as has our team. We’re thankful to have him back, and, again, no violence against a woman is ok. I did not make this decision, but I stand by it and see it as a right one.”
Before I go off on my rant, I want to clear up a few things: I am not attacking Kansas because it’s Kansas. The name on the front of the jersey, to me, is irrelevant. It’s the mishandling of the situation that I have an issue with. Also, earlier Monday morning Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said that Kansas followed protocol that the Big 12 has regarding the Williams situation, but that it would be up to the school for the punishment they see fit.
Now with that out of the way, how in the hell is Les Miles OK with the punishment? Fine, he didn’t issue the punishment, but I am sure that he had every opportunity to do something about it. Instead, he did nothing. Maybe he agrees with the punishment 100% or maybe he just wants his best player on the field as early as possible, but it is still head scratching to agree with a one-game suspension against Indiana State at home for putting his hands on a woman. The conduct board at Kansas issued the punishment and I would like to know that if this issue involved someone’s daughter of that conduct board, would the punishment still be one game?
Now Pooka Williams Jr. has already done what he has done, and he can’t take it back. I believe in second chances and I believe that he most certainly should get one at Kansas. It’s not his fault that the university dropped the ball on his punishment and that nobody had the guts to change it. Even if they personally all felt that Pooka has learned his lesson, how do you justify a one-game punishment for something like this? So he missed spring ball and weightlifting with his team? Big deal. That is nothing. And if that is part of the so called “punishment” then it doesn’t surprise me that they settled on a one-game suspension.
The biggest question I get is, “How do you handle this and what is the correct punishment?” Maybe there is no right answer to this, but I think we can all agree that a one-game suspension is NOT the answer. Half a season, full season, whatever you may think, but there is no logical person (outside of Les Miles and the Conduct Board at KU) that think that this punishment is fair. Maybe Pooka has learned his lesson and did change, but this is just a bad look for Kansas because not only are people disappointed in what Pooka did but are disappointed in the way it was handled by people who mentor young men. Unfortunately, what Les said today just made the situation worse and his words just put gasoline on a burning fire.
**We now have FREE Big 12 Forums here at Heartland College Sports. Go sign up here and join our conversation! **