Saturday News and Notes: More on the Ben Axon Story and Ed Orgeron ARGH!!!

Well, I got a few minutes to spin off a blog tonight after all. Granted, I'm sipping a glass of wine in a Boston hotel room while vacationing in New England (first time I've been in this part of the country), but with news like we have today, who could resist?

UPDATE: We exit the SEC Tournament after a 4-1 loss to LSU. Tigers ace Louis Coleman dominated the game, giving up only one run in eight innings. Things looked like they might go our way in the ninth when we loaded the bases with no outs, but Tigers reliever Matty Ott got LSU out of it after serving two strikeouts. I didn't get to watch the game, but I hear that some of those strikes were a little questionable on the last at bat. At any rate, on to the regionals. Unfortunately, I can't really see us hosting after this--a win against Vandy or LSU and maybe, but we didn't make it happen, and there are other teams fighting for a hosting spot like Virginnia that are lighting it up in their tournaments.

While I was reading the Ben Axon story before hitting the road this morning, I was a little rushed and didn't have time to read the whole story. After taking a look at Leftover Hot Dog, however, I see that Axon not only had pot on him, but had 23 little bags. Folks, I'm not one to judge if Axon got caught with a joint in his pocket. I wouldn't think it's great for an ambassador of our program to get caught red handed like that, but at the same time I think we all know that young people do foolish things from time to time, and, while they should be shown that there are consequences for their actions, we should ultimately give them another chance. Indeed, most of us that went to USC have our stories about stuff we got into, in Five Points or elsewhere. Hell, I went to USC in grad school and still have some pretty awkward stories, a few of which are pretty regrettable. However, having enough pot to sell isn't just doing something stupid. It's a felony, prison-worthy offense that shows that Axon has a warped ethical point of view. If a guy thinks it's cool to sell pot (and although he says that's not what he was doing, I think we should be honest with ourselves and admit that it probably was), he probably thinks it's cool to do a lot of other things.

The question now, of course, is whether or not Spurrier should boot Axon from the team. My gut instinct is yeah, he should. I'd love to see Axon get a chance to contribute here, but Spurrier has been saying that he wishes to establish a more positive atmosphere around the program, and I just can't see how keeping Axon around would be consistent with that. When I think about the issue a little harder, however, it makes me wonder what will happen to someone like Axon if Spurrier cuts him loose. He clearly seems to run with the wrong crowd, as a commenter noted in my column yesterday. Would he fall off the deep end if we don't keep him around? Perhaps. However, he might also learn that what he did isn't cool, get his act together, and explore his options at other colleges and go on to have a successful college career and get his degree. As someone with only a limited sense of the criminal justice concepts of crime and punishment, I'm a little hesitant to come down on either side, but my gut tells me he needs to go. I'd be interested to hear what others have to say.

A few other pieces of news: Joe Person reports that Mark Smith, former Gamecocks strength and conditioning coach, is on his way out at Tennessee. Reports are that Smith had a run-in with the famous Ed Orgeron, who apparently was a little too hands on with the conditioning program for Smith's tastes. One can only wonder if what in fact happened was that Orgeron defeated Smith in a steel-cage submission match for control of the program.

Also, remember the "Cocky Cloths" that were present at the LSU, UT, and Arkansas games last year? Well, now the designers of the towels, a couple of USC boosters and lifelong Gamecocks, are suing the athletic department because the department failed to give the designers 50% of the proceeds from the sales of the cloths, as stipulated by the contract. I don't know what sucks more, that the athletics department may have reneged on a contract or that we won't get to see the cloths, which I thought were awesome, again.

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